Back in the Saddle

They say there’s a certain level of forgetfulness or, perhaps, denial associated with childbirth and parenting. A mother forgets the pain and discomfort of labor when the baby is placed in her arms and the memories fade even further as the baby grows and smiles and coos and develops a charming, loveable, irresistible personality. Eventually, the painful contractions and sleepless nights have all but vanished.

Which brings us to the Fayetteville Half Marathon.

This race, last year, was my second half. And it was seven days after my first half. And evidently, a full year is plenty long enough to forget about the hills, hills, and a few more hills that make up the Fayetteville Half Marathon.

So, with my fuzzy memories of a few “challenging” hills, and not having run a long race since April, I showed up at the start line last Sunday.

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Last year, it was cold and I knew exactly what to wear. This year, the weather around here has been unpredictable, but mostly unseasonably warm. So I had no idea what to wear. As icing on the cake, there were thunderstorms in the forecast.

Luckily, no real rain fell during the race, but the clouds stuck around and made sunglasses unnecessary the entire morning. It was a bit humid, but otherwise really great weather. I ended up wearing a tank and shorts – in December!

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My half marathon PR is 2:15, and I know I have one faster than that in me — so Jennifer, Daniel and I started out with our eyes on the 2:10 pacer. The pacers were all dressed in goofy holiday costumes so they were hard to miss. The 2:10 guy was wearing a full Santa suit and carrying a bouquet of balloons — we were set.

This race doesn’t even ease you into the hills, it just starts out at full blast. So our trio actually split up early – during mile 2. Jennifer and Daniel were feeling springier than I was on the first few climbs so I dropped back a bit, hoping to catch up to them on a downhill stretch. But I didn’t see them again until the finish line.

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Around mile 4 I watched the 2:10 pace group pass me and I mentally prepared myself for a 2:15. Then I watched my pace slow a little more on the hills and I recalibrated for a 2:20. THEN, I realized I wasn’t breathing very deeply and I started to feel like my heart rate monitor strap was suffocating me. Around mile 7 I took it off and whether it was a mental difference or an actual, physical difference — I felt better. I gave it to Jeff the next time I saw him. I just couldn’t settle in and get comfortable. And before I knew it, I looked up and saw the 2:30 pacer.

Around mile 9, I met Jennie. She took one look at my shirt and asked, “how do you know Amanda?” I laughed. My friend Amanda — you’ve met her here,here, and (her kids) here — has been out there evangelizing for the Foundation, wearing her Keeping TIME shirt to everything from a Turkey Trot to a Half Ironman. So I was thrilled that I was “recognized” by my shirt!

Jennie was the 2:30 pacer and I was determined to stick with her for the rest of the race. It worked beautifully. That race, that morning – I was a solid 2:30. So I chatted a bit with Jennie and focused on knocking out the last few miles. The hills kept coming, but I was in it for the finish line.

My friend Daniel, running his first half marathon, had ants in his pants that morning and danced a little jig every time he saw Jeff with the camera. I WISH I had this kind of energy during a race…

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As has become my favorite part of any race, I was energized to see the goofy, four-year-old grin waiting for me near the finish line. The course ends with a loop around the university outdoor track so if Colt wanted to run with me, he had to run the entire loop — not just the last 20 yards like he usually does. Here we are heading onto the track. He is instructing me to run over the number four.

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Finish line photo! There we are on the big screen! Official time – 2:30:58.

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And here I am with Jennie, the friendly pacer elf who salvaged the last half of my race and got me across the finish line with a smile on my face. Thanks Jennie!

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I am so, so proud of Daniel and his first half marathon. Jennifer and I are trying to talk him into a spring full, but I don’t think it will take much convincing — he’s got the bug. The three of us have had some fun weekend runs the last few months, and with full marathon training starting right away – it looks like we’ll have plenty more. It’s always best if crazy, running fools surround themselves with other crazy, running fools — right?

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One Response to Back in the Saddle

  1. Amanda C. January 12, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

    From one crazy runner fool to another, I’m so proud of you!! That is a tough course, and you are definitely back in the saddle. Annnnndd…. your pictures of you and Colt running together are priceless. The one above is so frameworthy. :) Let me know what full you decide to train for – there’s one in Olathe in April called Land of Oz that looks fun…

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