I woke up the morning of the 4th with two goals in mind: do what I had to do to finish the race and finish in under 1:10. I had a plan to achieve these two goals: string 10:1 intervals together until there was no more distance to go (I finally accepted there was no shame in having to add in walk intervals). My biggest fear was finishing dead last. I met up with the Body & Soul Road Runners at 7:15 to check-in. Of course it was pouring out (if you’ve been following my blogs you remember the terrible blisters I got running in the rain) and I was no longer nervous about being able to finish but terrified of developing terrible blisters from wet feet. I did the best I could do to keep my feet dry and take in all of the energy that would get me to the starting line. 8:30 rolled around and it was time. The pace markers came out and suddenly it was happening – I was crossing the starting line of my first race.
Not knowing how the start would work with different groups of runners, I had set up my interval timer on my phone and was going to start it when the first runners left…I didn’t have enough time to start the timer before I was off…my game plan changed and I decided I would just run until I felt like I needed a break and not worry about intervals. I had heard from many runners that the adrenaline often makes people want to start running fast at the beginning and they get tired quicker so I was very aware of my pace and wanted to keep it comfortable. I had no idea how many runners were behind me and felt comfortable with the distance between me and the runner in front of me. It was at the first mile marker that everything about the race shifted for me. I was starting to pass walkers on their way back to the finish line and I was getting a lot of thumbs up, you go girls, and looking good #10. I didn’t know these people but their words of encouragement warmed my heart and gave me a confidence boost. Not too much further along I started to be passed by runners on their way back…I wasn’t even half way yet! Runners were cheering the same for me. Strangers were giving me high fives as they passed and told me I was looking strong. Fellow Body & Soul runners were starting to pass and I was hearing”you go, Ang – you got this.” I was feeling overwhelmed with all of the support. I tried to say thank you to every compliment I got and let other runners know they were looking strong along the way.
By the time I finally hit the half way mark the course was cleared out…I couldn’t see a single runner in front of me any longer. The runner who had been pretty close to me up until this point suddenly was gone…her fire was lit and she was off (you rocked it – you know who you are). Oh no, my worst fear was coming true. I was going to be dead last. I was comforted in knowing there was one person behind me because as we reached a station he said “I’m the last one, you can pack it up,” but anxious knowing that there was a very strong possibility of finishing dead last. With probably 1.5 miles left to go I was relieved to see Sara running towards me…she came back to finish with me and I am so grateful she did. She shared a secret, we talked with a fellow runner that was on his way back for a second round, and kept running. Sara helped me come up with a game plan to finish. Once we were close and had crossed water street I would take a short walk and finish strong and proud.
We crossed water street and the pride started to swell within me. I looked up to see my dad waiting for me…I wasn’t expecting to see him there. We ran a little further and then took the short walk Sara and I had agreed on. It was time…finish strong! As we turned onto the last stretch of course I saw a group of neon yellow not to far in front of me…my fellow Body & Soul runners had gathered to support me as I finished the race. I think Sara and I both got choked up by the overwhelming show of support. As I rounded the last corner hearing the cheers of fellow runners and Ted on the loud speaker getting read to start the awards I felt the rush of adrenaline. Maybe my pace didn’t really change, but as I ran the last stretch down Rail Road St with twenty or so fellow runners surrounding me and seeing my mom and nieces and nephew on the sidewalk cheering me on I felt like I was cruising. I remember hearing Sara say “do you see that clock Ang?” I kept saying to myself “I’m going to beat my goal, I’m going to get it.” I crossed the finish line at 1:04:18 with so much support I still get overwhelmed thinking about it. I could not have asked for a better finish to my first race. I had my running buddy by my side to keep me company towards the end, friends behind me for the last stretch, family at my side and a best friend at the finish. It didn’t matter that I was dead last when the results were published (I still wondering what happened to the guy that was behind me). I finished my race and I finished well under my goal!!
I want to extend my gratitude to Sara, my family, my friends and fellow runners for this unforgettable experience. To say it was life changing experience with an incredible story to cherish forever is an understatement. I cannot wait to see what is next for me personally and am excited to cheer on my fellow runners in the fall as they participate in the DeMar 1/2 marathon and marathon. Keep running ladies!