Last weekend I ran my first race in preparation for the half-marathon. It was a 14k, which is about 8.7 miles. Every long run that I do from now until the half-marathon sets a new personal record for me. Each added mile is one more mile that I haven't ever run before. It's a pretty amazing feeling once it's done, but it's a little daunting when I set out.
I knew that it was a morning race in Februrary, so it was going to be cold. When I did my 7 miles the week before, I ran outside when it was about 40 degrees with a decent amount of wind so that I could prepare. Unfortunately for me, even that was not enough to prepare me to run in the freakin' blizzard that blew in over the weekend.
At racetime, it was 22 degrees with 15 mph winds. That's a windchill factor of about 7 degrees. SEVEN! I thought it was pretty crazy cold as we stood around in a huddle, but I had no idea how cold it would be once we started running against the wind.
That would be: silk thermals, Under Armor cold gear, a hoodie, a jacket, and a toboggin. Overkill? Perhaps. It did get a little musty in there. But hell, I'd take musty over ice-covered anyday.
You think I'm exaggerating when I say ice-covered, but I'm not. The four miles against the wind were absolutely awful. I think if Cory would have slowed down when he drove by and honked (really!), I would have hopped in the car and gone back home to climb into my toasty bed. During these miles, it was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other. My muscles were tense and angry. A girl who started running beside me had a bottle of Gatorade that was freezing into slush. I could feel ice crystals on my lips.
When we turned the corner, it got a little better. The wind was still blowing at our sides, but Mom, Cate, and Cory were cheering me on and keeping the stray dogs away. I ran harder because I knew they were watching. Finally, we turned again and the wind was at our backs. Hallelujah! I started to warm up, and I fell into my stride. I would never have thought the last few miles would be easier than the first. I was just so grateful to be running with the wind. The girl beside me asked me to hold her frozen Gatorade; that's the first reason I knew we were now BFFs.
The last .7 mile was against the wind again. I had fallen behind my BFF because I stopped at a water station, but she waved me ahead to catch up with her. Somehow, I picked up my speed. We struggled against the wind, and she yelled at the two spectators that we saw, "Where's the finish-line, dammit?!" That's the second reason I knew she was my BFF. We crossed together, and fell into a triumphant embrace. We did it!
I tried to turn my music off and stop the timer on my phone, but my iPhone was frozen. Cory hugged me and took me inside to warm up. He looked so proud of me. I don't think I'll forget that.
One hour, twenty-eight minutes. Not too shabby, for a first-timer.