SPOILER ALERT: A-goal ATTAINED!
…but, here’s a few details, anyway 😉
Celebration is about a two-hour drive away, so after a morning of dropping off the pups at the pet resort, tidying up the house a little, and a quick run, we were off! We reached the expo at around 3 PM and were met with super easy parking and an efficient packet pickup experience at Celebration Town Hall. The swag for this race was pretty awesome for the price (I paid around ~$75 a few months back) and included a Raw Threads race tee (they’re the sponsor of the race), a cool insulated tumbler, and a buff, along with a nice drawstring bag with the race logo.
Even after getting our picture taken at the free photo booth, we were in and out in a snap, and then hit the road to make a quick Target spot since hubs realized he forgot a jacket and it’d be getting a bit chilly over the weekend! I also picked up a donut for race morning (my favorite fuel) and then we headed to the hotel to check in and get situated.
We were staying at the Celebration Hotel since there was a decent race rate (still pricey, but the location was awesome) and I have to say, that’s all we paid for – location. Staff was not overly friendly (with the exception of one staff member) and the walls/windows were incredibly thin! I could hear our neighbor’s phone conversations, and lobby music all night, and the cold air from outside you could feel standing several feet away from the large windows! But back to the recap 😉
After getting settled in, we took a walk around the downtown area. Abby enjoyed walking around in the grass by the park, and around 5:20, we headed to Thai Thani for an early dinner. I had their chicken pad thai, which was really good. After dinner, we made a quick stop at Kilwins and hubs and I shared an ice cream sundae.
We had brought along a stack of books for Abby, so we did her bedtime routine and she was out by around 8:15 (about 40 minutes later than usual, but not bad, considering she had slept most of the drive up). At 9, it was lights out and I attempted to get some shut eye (despite the aforementioned loud interruptions). Abby got up two times before my alarm went off at 5:30, but all in all, I probably got about 7 hours of sleep, which was great.
I probably could have slept in a little more, because it only took me about 25 minutes to get ready, but I think I was mostly just excited, despite hearing the rain outside. I threw on a rainjacket (to ditch) over my garbage bag and headed out around 6:40 and met up with my friends Rick and Sher before the race kicked off. We chatted for a bit before settling into our self-seeded areas, and before long, it was go time!
The race itself started with little fanfare (which was nice). I was lined up somewhere between the 3:40 and 3:45 pacer, and decided that I’d make it a priority to keep the 3:40 in my sights and not get passed by the 3:45!
The thing that I didn’t like about the start was that both the half and full started together. I mean, I can see why they’d do that, but it was quite congested. That fact, along with the general observation that I’ve made that people often don’t know where to line up when there aren’t corrals makes the first mile a bit of a weaving cluster, as proven in my first mile split (slowest by far, at 9:04).
Other than the initial crowding, the first few miles were nice. It was misting, but not really all-out raining at that point. It was in the mid-high 40’s so I actually felt super comfortable, temperature-wise. Right before Mile 2, I ditched my throwaway raincoat, and right before Mile 5, I discarded my trash bag.
It was pretty smooth sailing through those next few miles, and around Mile 10, I even caught up with (and passed for a brief while, until we reached an aid station – I grabbed water at each one, and walked a few paces since I am not very coordinated at running and drinking, lol) the 3:40 pacer. At Mile 12.5ish, we hit the 2nd loop sign (I took the picture the day before) and I began to wonder if I made the right choice, haha!
Okay, I will admit, between mile 12.5 to 13.5, I really questioned my decision at running a full. What was I thinking? Would I burn out? Where did this ACTUAL FULL-ON RAIN COME FROM? Was my stomach cramping?
Thankfully, I pushed through that dark spot (LOL) and before long, I was off the weird connector to the second loop (we were on sidewalks, and when I say we, I mean it really felt like just me, and I was concerned that I might go off course at any minute, before seeing another friendly race volunteer).
I actually really enjoyed hitting the second loop, because I kinda sorta had an idea of where I was this time. There was more rain and my feet were a lot more wet, but from miles 13 to about 19, the course was a lot more wide open.
When we hit the boardwalks again (which were my main klutzy concern), I was sure to watch my footing and they weren’t as scary as I thought they’d be (though I did hear a few falls). Around Mile 20, however, we were meeting back up with half-marathoners on the course, so I had to call out a few “on your left” exclamations. Thankfully, we were all suffering together out there in the soggy weather, and everyone was encouraging.
My pace was slowing a bit, but in a few glances to my Garmin, I began to realize that the 3:40 pacer (who was still in my sights, but getting a little farther away) was probably running a little faster than goal, and so I could realistically get in a 3:40 – my A GOAL!
As we were rounding back to the downtown area, I was feeling some fatigue, but told myself to just keep pushing, because it was almost over. When we exited the last boardwalk area, and hit the course split section again, I told myself to just keep going. I could see the Mile 26 marker, and beyond that, the finish area (but not the actual finish line, yet). They seemed SO FAR!! And the rain was coming sideways at this point…but I visualized a strong finish, and of course, FOOD (I was so hungry! All I had had on course was GLUKOS tabs and water).
Running past the cinema, I saw Rick and Sher! They yelled my name, and that energized me for the last turn, up the street and to the finish 😀 It was a great feeling to see 3:40:XX on the digital screen – a 3 minute PR for my 15th full marathon, and 9 minutes faster than my last marathon finish almost two years ago at Tokyo!
After collecting my medal and a bottle of water, I hobbled toward the finisher food and grabbed a delicious mimosa and a bowl of rice and beans from the Columbia restaurant before making my way back to the hotel (again, the location was amazing).
I was really excited about the finish, and in fact, am still kind of in shock that I was able to hold my pace so well. I will admit, around Mile 22, I started thinking about why I run marathons at all, but by the time I crossed the finish line, I started thinking about what my next goal would be.
Did you race this weekend? How did it go? Do you like running in the rain?