The race was low-key in the sense that there is no race medal. There is no race t-shirt. You just show up, run, and go home. They were still setting up when I arrived to register (for most runners, its race-day registration). As much as I love the big races with their swag and hoopla, I really love the small races that you run because you love to race. Its fun because you make friends along the course. Or you just insert yourself into other people's conversations, without any introduction, leaving them to wonder, "Who the heck is this person?" (oops. More on that later).
I arrived around 6:00am to register. There was no line yet, so the process was super quick. I attached my bib and race chip and headed to the porta-potty (which was also lineless, thankfully). Using a porta-potty is never fun. Using a porta-potty that is sloped downhill is EVEN LESS FUN. Granted, it was a very gentle decline, but the slope was very obvious from inside. Talk about a balancing act.
I hung around and people-watched, waiting for the race to begin. A few minutes before 7:00, they steered us towards the start, and though there were no corrals, they did encourage runners to line up according to their expected pace. Since this was more of a training run for me rather than a big race, I planned to run about a 10:00m/m. So I lined up in the back.
|About to start!|
The first few miles were downhill, which of course means we will be running back uphill towards the end of the race. I kept that in mind as I ran. Everything was going well, I was feeling strong...until mile 3.5.
Thats when I got stung by a bee.
All of a sudden the couple in front of me started yelping and hopping around, and just as I thought "What the..." I hear buzzzzz-buzzZZZZ-BUZZZZZZ from multiple directions and these little buzzing monsters start flying into me. I start yelping and hopping around too, while also still trying to run (because, of course, through this mayhem I'm thinking, don't break your stride!) I feel one hit me in the arm, and one hit in on the right thigh, and then I feel a sharp sting on my left calf. Dammit. They got me.
Even though I told myself this race was really a training run, I wasn't about to DNF (did not finish) all because of a "silly" bee sting. So I kept running. The man of the couple ahead of me got stung as well, but the women managed to escape sting free. That sting really hurt and it took me another half-mile before I was mentally back in the race.
Luckily, there were no further encounters with wild animals for the rest of the race. Around mile ???, I caught up to a group that was keeping a good pace. It was too much effort to pass them, so I decided to run with them. Like, literally, with them. I just inserted myself in their conversation and everything, laughing at jokes and offering my own one-liners. At the time I thought, "Hey, we're all runners. We all like to chat and meet new people on the course, don't we?" No, apparently not. In hindsight, I think I just came off as that socially awkward dork who tries to fit in with the cool kids. At a certain point their pace dropped and I felt I was running too slow, but because the road was narrow and they were running abreast, I couldn't pass them. So I stuck with them longer than I would have wanted.
It wasn't until we hit the hills towards the end of the race that things opened up and I was able to pass. I was feeling really good. In fact, I was feeling REALLY great. I felt strong going up all the hills and felt even stronger coming down. Even on the last hill of the race, I managed to pass a runner who was already half-way up when I started my ascent. We have a few hills in our neighborhood that DJ Research and I try to tackle regularly, and I'm happy that my hard work was paying off.
I crossed the finish line at 2:00:55. I was a bit bummed that I didn't run sub-2:00, but considering the factors--I wasn't racing, I got stung by a bee, I ran at a slower pace for a while due to course congestion--I think I still ran a good race. I'm pretty confident I can run my next half-marathon in under 2 hours. But thats not my goal. My next goal is to
So, with that in mind, and considering the fact that I felt great as I crossed the finish line, I kept going. My long run for that week was supposed to be 15 miles, so I ran another two miles after I finished my half. And let me tell you, those last two miles were the most difficult of the day. My body knew to keep running, but my mind was screaming, "What do you mean we have to keep going? We're done! Get back to that finish line and have some oranges and watermelon! This is insane!" Needless to say, mile 14 was slow. But once I started running mile 15, I told myself to grow a pair, this is your last mile so make it a good one.
Oh, and that "silly" bee sting. Not so silly. Admittedly, I probably didn't care for it as I should have; I just cleaned it and put a little cortisone on it. By the end of the night, I had developed quite a large rash around the sting. And by the next night, my leg from the sting downward, including my ankle, was completely swollen.
I was a little nervous, so I went to the doctor, but he said it was too early to tell if it was an infection or not. He suggested I watch it for a few days, and if it doesn't improve, he would prescribe antibiotics. Luckily, the swelling decreased significantly by Thursday night (5 days after the sting!), and by Friday my leg was back to normal (though the rash was still there). Based on my reaction, I'm guessing this was a wasp and not a bee. Either that or I've developed an allergy to bee stings in my old age.