I was really looking forward to walking around the exhibit hall ... that's where you see all the cool new running stuff, get samples of stuff and pickup information about upcoming races. I love seeing what other races are out there and we can do. Oh well.
We met Bucky and two of my training group ladies, Bonnie & Treici for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. Way yummy food!! It was a great dinner ... getting to chit chat and hang out before our big race.
Hubby and I stayed at a fancy hotel, Hawthorn Suites, and I woke up early, 3:45am. Bucky met us at our hotel at 4:45 and we headed to the starting line ... the race started at 6, but you've gotta get there early to meet your buddies, stretch and get pumped up!
At the starting line area ... ready to run!!! L to R, Rhonda, Trecei, Me, Bonnie and Jenny ... Christina and Bucky were there too, just not in this picture!
It was so exciting to see everyone so excited! :) I know I was finally feeling good and ready for the race, even though the weeks leading up to it had been hectic. I was ready. As we got lined up, we lost our training group ladies, Rhonda, Trecei and Bonnie, I think they were further up, they planned on staying together, so we weren't worried, plus they're a lot faster than me! :) Jenny, Christina, Bucky and I stayed together for the first mile ... Christina, who had not trained at all, started falling back, (I later found out she fell that morning) ... so Bucky, being the cool guy he is, stayed with her for the entire race ... they walked it.
The race started with a cool breeze and a little fog, it was perfect! Here's Rhonda, Trecei and Bonnie stickin together! On the left is probably around mile 4 and on the right was around mile 7 ... they're always smiling!
I love the picture on the left ... there was one part of the race where you turned around, between miles 6 & 7 ... this is our group around the 7 mile mark and Jenny & I around the 6 mile mark, passing each other ... this really pumped me up. I was so excited to see them doing so well and still smiling. We high-fived each other!
Jenny and I at the 10 mile mark ... Still together and smiling!
During the turn around point, we saw a younger "big" guy and we said we had to catch up to him .. around the 9 mile mark we did. And we told him we were trying hard to catch him, it made him laugh ... we played leap frog a few times, him passing us, us passing him ... and we started chatting with him as we did this ... his name is Simon, he had an accent although I don't know from where ... there was a thin girl in front of him, running backwards, cheering him on and encouraging him. I'm guessing this was his trainer or a good friend. He was struggling. But he was pushing through! I think it was around the 12.5-13 mark that we finally took off ahead of him. When we finished, we went back to the finish line to cheer him on ... it made me cry. It was his first half marathon and you could tell it took everything he had to finish. That's him in the picture below on the far left side.
The time on the clock is from when they started the race, but with so many people, it took a while for us to cross the starting line. We wear a "chip" on our shoes which is our real time ... our chip time was 3:38:53, our pace was 16:42. This is the best I have ever done ... so it's my new "PR" Personal Record!!! I've completed 3 half marathons so far.
Jenny & I stayed together the whole time ... it really meant a lot to me. She pushed me when I wanted to walk, encouraged me when I ran ... it was great! I also pushed myself pretty hard, at one point, I think I ran for 3.5 minutes ... which is a lot for me, considering we do a 30 second run with our training. It felt great to be with her the whole race! We caught up on each other's lives and talked about everything and anything. We are a great team. Towards the end I was hurting and tired, but I listened to Jenny and pushed through it ... it was out of this world having her next to me at the finish line ... and yes, I cried.
Jenny said it was the best she felt after a half ... that's great, considering this was the 5th half marathon she's completed!! WOW!
Us with our hubbies ... they're the best! They're both really supportive of our running. Santiago was all over the course ... snapping pictures, cheering and encouraging us along the way. It was great seeing him every few miles.
We hung around waiting for Bucky and Christina ... we were worried about them, but they made it!! YAY!! It was Christina's first (and I think last) and Bucky's 3rd ... he's usually by my side, but he didn't want to leave Christina alone. Kudos to them both!
Jenny, Christina, Bucky and I after we all finished ... look, we're still smiling!!! :)
I saw this sign as we were leaving and it really hit home ... 7 years ago, I tipped the scales at 374, yes, three hundred seventy-four pounds. I could barely get around, much less go walking or running. In 7 years, I've kept off 100 of the pounds that I lost, and although I'm sure my gastric bypass surgeon wouldn't be jumping up and down with my long term results, I am happy with where I am. If anyone would have told me years ago that one day I'd complete ONE half marathon, I woulda laughed ... and here I am today ... with the help of my family and friends ... happy and looking forward to many more races.
Here's our Galloway training groups' finishing time & pace ... what a great race!!!
Bonnie 3:04:40, 14:06
Teresa (Trecei) 3:06:13, 14:13
Rhonda 3:06:15, 14:13
Me 3:38:53, 16:42
Jenny 3:38:53, 16:42
Bucky 4:59:50, 22:53
Christina 4:59:56, 22:53
For some perspective ... the 1st male finished the half in 1:14:18, pace 5:41 and the 1st female finished the half in 1:25:56, pace 6:34. The 1st full male (26.2 miles!) finished in 2:28:03, pace 5:39 (yes, he finished the full before we finished the half!!) .. and the 1st female finished the full in 2:55:35, pace 6:42 - and she is 50 years old! Isn't that just amazing!
After we finished the race ... Santiago & I stood watching people finish while we waited on Christina & Bucky ... we cheered on lots of strangers, most of them finishing the full marathon, screaming extremely loud for the half finishers.
During this time a running friend, Kathy, came up to me ... I trained with her in 2006 for the Palm Beach Half ... I immediately started crying ... she lost her husband, Mike, suddenly just before Thanksgiving, he was an avid runner and a great guy. Everytime he saw me out running, he telling me how good I was doing and encouraging me to keep going. I must have hugged her 10 times. It was great to see her, but I can only imagine how hard it was for her to be there. Mike was registered to do the full, so Kathy had one of her fast running friends wear his chip ... Kathy said it was the fastest Mike had ever done a full ... we laughed ... she was able to get his finishers medal and the special 5 year finishers medal (for those that have done the Palm Beach since it started 5 years ago) ... I hugged her some more. It was great to see her, but it hurt my heart. I'm not quite sure why his death has affected me like it has, but it's hit home with me. He was a healthy, active man ... I never thought I'd be going to his funeral. It hurts.
The 2008 Palm Beach Half Marathon was the best ... the weather was perfect, not too cold, not too hot, just perfect ... my company was great, my time was awesome ... the entire day was a great day ... I was on cloud nine ... telling everyone that would listen about my race.
My life has changed so much in the last two years ... and I am so very thankful. :)