NC Half Marathon recap

NC Half Marathon – 3/25/2012 and I am addicted!
When I jumped in bed the night before the race, I set up two goals:
1. Not walk
2. Most importantly, finish!

I was lucky enough to be tweeting with a friend who tried to calm my nerves, reminding me that I trained for this race and to trust my training. Oh how many times I repeated this during the race the next day – thank you Amber!
At 5:45 am my alarm clock went off, I laid there thinking about hitting snooze for 5 more minutes, but decided having those extra minutes at the race track would be better than in bed.
The night before I had laid out all my gear, so I got dressed in the dark, put on some make up in the bathroom (had to look nice for pictures) and went down my checklist to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything.
Out the door at 6:25, 5 minutes ahead of schedule!
I arrived at the Charlotte Motor Speedway at 6:40 from highway 29 with little traffic. I noticed the cars were backed up from the Bruton Smith Blvd entrance and was glad I decided to take 29 instead. Parking was easy breezy, I loaded up my gear and started walking to the H.A.R.T. meet up location. I did see one bus, but it was parked right outside the entrance into the stands, seemed silly to catch a ride for .25 miles when I was about to run 13.1 😉
I was the first to arrive at the meet up location, instead of waiting for the rest of the girls, I decided to jump in the bathroom line because it was long. After standing around for what seemed like 15 minutes and the line not moving at all, I decided to see if I could find another bathroom. I headed up to the garage and there was another one there. Much shorter line – was in and out in 5 minutes.
At 7:15 I met up with H.A.R.T. member Carrie H and I finished my last minute preparations before we took some pictures and said good bye to her family.
We walked over to the start line at 7:27 for a 7:30 start and jumped into the back of the 9 to 10 minute coral – for my next half, I will get in the front of this coral. There was a lot of bobbing and weaving around people who were definitely in the wrong starting position.
Since we were near the back of the starting line, we couldn’t really hear any of the announcements, other than the race car revving its engine and doing donuts. I think it was about 7:40 when we finally got going. I started my Garmin as I crossed the line and was off!
The first few miles were surreal to me, it sort of felt like an out of body experience. You train and train and train for this one race – here I am! I just couldn’t believe I was doing it. I was tearing up. I was so proud of how far I had come in my weight loss and running journey. Carrie and I chatted, enjoyed the weather and crowd for the first few miles.
I made sure to stop at every water station and get some water – I had never run more than 10 miles and it was warmer than I was used it. From now on, I will carry my own water for races, I didn’t like having to slow down or chance spilling the water all down the front of me – which happened twice.
I finished mile 4 at 39:16 with an average pace of 9:49. I ate half a bag of Honey Stinger Chews to keep up my energy. I was feeling great as we snaked our way around the outside of the race track towards the bridge to cross over highway 29. The hill up to the bridge was steep with a short/tight turn, it was awful and unexpected! You could hear everyone around us grumbling. I made it up and over the bridge, and to my surprise, saw Virginia H from H.A.R.T.! Seeing her cheering me and the rest of the team on was just what I needed after that hill! Thanks Virginia!
I was still feeling great as I headed down the course towards the dirt track for the out and back. I could definitely feel and see the hill we were running down – which meant I’d be running back up it in a few minutes. Carrie gave me some great advice at the base of the hill – pretend like you are driving a big school bus with your arms. The pumping of my arms seemed to, at least mentally, help me get up the hill. I knew once that was over, I would have about 2 miles of flat before the beast of miles 8 and 9.
Carrie and I met up with Lisa, another team member of H.A.R.T. at the top of the hill. It felt amazing to know or recognize so many faces at an event!

I entered the drag strip at mile 7. I thought this might be the most exciting part of the race, and it was, for about 30 seconds. Then my knees started to ache – Carrie was experiencing the same pain. After complaining for a few more seconds, we moved over to the right onto the side walk and ran there until we reached the paved portion of the track– so much better! The drag strip surface didn’t give AT ALL. I ended up eating the second half of my Honey Stinger Chews during this flat portion of the race.
The course had us running down the drag strip and back. I couldn’t tell at the time, but once we reached the end of the strip and turned to run back up, it was a gradual incline, that continued on thru mile 9. Those were the hardest, physically, miles of the entire half marathon. It seemed like it would never end. We snaked our way around the speedway property and back over highway 29 on another bridge – oh these bridges, I hope to never see one again! I did enjoy seeing Virginia again as I made my way over, she had no idea how nice it was to have her there – thank you AGAIN! At this point Carrie and I separated for the remainder of the race.
I was feeling great, but I felt like there were a lot of hills throughout the race, which I wasn’t expecting. The course ran back into the track thru a tunnel, which was DARK and STEEP and SCARY. I really thought I was going to bite the dust – you could hear complaining in the tunnel from all the other runners too.

Back in the stands, yay! At this point I was feeling like I was almost done – jokes on me! There were lots of twists and turns thru the infield to get us back on the track. I stopped for water and a few more chews right before mile 12 and I didn’t think I’d be able to start back up. My legs were aching and I was tired. I knew if I could just get my legs running again, I wouldn’t stop until I crossed the finish line.
I completed mile 12 at 1:57 and new that if I kept my pace up I would be able to finish under 2:10 – this was my new goal! I ran by a few runners who had started to walk. I tried to give them some encouraging words – and it worked for one man – “Griff”. He came up to me after the finish and thanked me for pushing him on for that last mile, my prodding was just what he needed.
I ran thru the final turn and could see the finish line! I felt the tears starting to fill up my eyes – I couldn’t believe I was about to finish my first half marathon! I willed the tears away because I didn’t want to be a blabbering mess for my finish line pictures 😉
I crossed the finish line with an unofficial finish time of 2:09:28 and distance of 13.22 and was thrilled! I would have never been able to run 13.1 miles 2 years ago – losing 50lbs and taking up running has been the best thing I could do for my body, mind and soul.
Official Results:
Overall Pace: 736/1794
Gender Pace: 277/995
Division Place: 38/117

Overall – it was a great race! I was concerned and frustrated in the days leading up to the race because multiple questions were asked on the official Facebook page and no one was responding. There were more than enough cheerful and helpful volunteers as well as post-race food and water. Next time I would like 2 beers instead of 1, thank you very much 😉

Oh and next time? Is April 14th, I’ve been bitten by the racing bug!
** I wrote this post back in March to be included on the H.A.R.T. website**


About thegassfamilystation

Mom/Wife, CPA, runner, photo booth extraordinaire
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