…a very good place to start.
After signing up for the race MONTHS ago, Long Branch Half Marathon weekend has come and gone. I could write a marathon (pun intended) post about the entire weekend – driving down to New Jersey with my friends, spending a Saturday “down the shore,” the race itself, our amazing cheerleaders, and all the things I learned about myself and running throughout the weekend. But it’s Sunday night, it’s 9:03 PM (okay, it might NOW be Tuesday at 9:17 PM, but whatever, I’m still really tired) when I’m starting this, I got up at 4 AM and ran a half-marathon, and I want to crawl into bed and fall asleep. For a really, really, really long time. So I’ll start by quickly recapping Saturday, and maybe sometime this century, I’ll get around to recapping the rest of the weekend and the race.
Saturday started with an oh-so-necessary bagel and iced coffee/tea run with Beth, then cabbing it to midtown to meet Nicole and Jen at Avis to pick up our wheels for the weekend. And for those who know me well, don’t worry, I wasn’t driving. I parked my incompetent self in the backseat and tasked myself with comic relief, and did not help with driving or navigation in the slightest.
After an uneventful drive down to Jersey, we headed to the expo, where we picked up our bibs and (if I do say myself) SWEET race shirts, chatted with two Ashleys and Shelly, and miraculously did NOT buy anything, despite my valiant search for a headband that wasn’t Sparkly Soul. Which was a big fat fail.
At the expo, we were able to pick up turn-by-turn directions for the race course, and decided it would be fun to drive the course so we could get a sense of where we’d be running the next day. Despite the fact that it went through some iffy neighborhoods and finished with a 1.5-mile straightaway, we were pretty psyched at how flat the course seemed (minus a bridge, which in hindsight I can say we definitely all underestimated) and getting the chance to run along the water. Beth navigated (and hydrated) like a champ.
After arriving in Long Branch, we grabbed a quick lunch of quesadillas and guacamole (race weekend always has the best food. On Monday, I promise I will start eating like a normal human again) and wandered around the waterfront for a while. It was WAY colder than expected (especially because I had stubbornly refused to wear an outfit warmer than shorts, a sweatshirt, and flip flops), but it was a beautiful day, and the beach didn’t disappoint.
The rest of the afternoon included a drive to Target to stock up on race weekend essentials (Goldfish crackers, Gatorade, pretzels, Twizzlers, Tums, long socks to make arm warmers, and nail polish remover for pre-race manicures, obviously), pizza for dinner, a big chunk of legs-up-the-wall/foam rolling/stretching/cheering Jen on while doing a FOUR MINUTE PLANK (Jen, lets strength train together sometime, mmkay?), picking up Jess (who had just run 18 miles that day. NBD)… And the first pre-race nerves I experienced all training cycle.
A long time ago, I decided that I was going to ENJOY this training cycle. I wasn’t going to run any more than I damn well felt like it, and I was going to mix in cross training whenever I wanted. And I did. I never ran more than 5 miles before work, I said a relative “feh” to speed work, I maxed out my long runs at 11 miles, and my weekly mileage never got very far north of 20, and I enjoyed every second of it… Until Saturday night. Maybe it was jealousy of watching Beth get amped up to chase a PR, the realization that HOLY SHIT IN 12 HOURS I WAS GOING TO BE RUNNING 13.1 MILES, or just plain old nerves, but all of a sudden, I turned into a basket case worrying about not finishing the race, or doing so with a time that was flat-out embarrassing. The girls graciously put up with this, talked me down off the ledge and didn’t slap me across the head (because they are awesome. Thank you guys!!), and I eventually breathed my way to a place where I figured I would probably finish the race, and even if I DESPISED my race time, I’d still be finishing my fourth half marathon, and that would be DAMN impressive, even if I had to walk across that finish line.
And with that, we all headed to bed, and 1.5 iPad episodes of Sex and the City later (I am a horrible sleeper when I’m not in my own bed, and tend to freak out if I’m lying awake staring at the ceiling when I know I should be sleeping), I drifted off to dreamland, knowing that in a few short hours, this would be waiting for me…