So, this weekend I took a trip with my father to Harrisonburg, VA to visit my cousin and run the Waynesboro Park-to-Park Half Marathon. My cousin and I planned to run it, my aunt(mother's sister) and father planned to walk it.

The Park-to-Park is a point-to-point run from Ridgeview Park to Stuart's Draft Park, on a course equaling 13.1 miles. While I've run that distance often enough, it was my first official half marathon. Also, something I totally didn't account for with living/training in my flat land city at sea level, my first time really running with near continuous, and sometimes large, hills and at a higher altitude.

That said, a rough report.

The week leading up to the race was blah for me. First, the Saturday before, my day off and when I was supposed to take my last long(ish) run, I got called into work and spent eight hours there rather than the hour and a half or so I planned to spend running. I figured I'd be able to just do it the next day. Only, it poured heavily all day, and when I got home at five I was informed I only had about forty minutes of freetime due to 'plans'. I ran, one of those horrible but fun as hell runs that rain leads to, but definitely not what I'd planned.

By then it was Monday and I only had three days left to run, deciding I'd take two days off leading up to it. Due to a schedule issue, I accidentally-ish did the opposite of tapering off. That is, Monday I ran 3.5 miles. Tuesday I ran 4 miles. Wednesday I ran 6 miles. Still, it wasn't much, so I don't think it hurt any. Either way, other than sneezing a bit from the cold weather mixed with a stuffy nose I'd been battling the last two weeks, I felt fine.

Drove up the day before the race, was a relaxing day. Four hour drive, three-ish hours chilling at my cousin's place(it was sunny then so I set myself outside with a book and her one cat nosing about), a decent meal from my cousin(green curry w/ jasmine rice), a brief walk, and to bed early. Slept pretty bad, ngl, on an air mattress in the same room as someone snoring, but had enough adrenaline going that I was pretty full of energy at our 5am wake-up.

Getting to the race was an ordeal, almost ended up late due to my cousin's rejection of gas station coffee in favor of Starbucks, but got there with enough time for the bathroom, shirt/number pick-up, putting shirts back in the car, bag drop-off, and making my cousin jog with me while doing these things to warm-up(both in the exercise sense and in the sense of it being freezing).

Not sure if the race started exactly on time, 7am, but soon enough we were moving and that was the last I saw of any of my family for over two hours. Tried so hard to pace myself, despite being electronics-free and therefore unable to keep track of time, and think I did okay though being unfamiliar with the course and just how many hills there'd end up being, it was difficult to figure out how fast to go.

That said, a break down as best as I can recall:

Mile 1- Always the worse mentally since it takes me a moment to just relax and run. As we passed the marker the guy running next to me was all 'only 12 more to go!' and I responded with 'Well, 12.1, but who's counting?'

Miles 2 to 3- Passed some farms and whatnot that smelled just awful. Very fertilizer/chemically. Not fun.

Mile 4- Someone's cow was loose. Runner ahead of me was trying to shoo it away from the road, laughed.

Miles 5 to 7- Started to think about how much further it was to go, definitely going to listen to music for all future races that I can. After passing up the first aide station, tried for some water at the second. Due to a poor hand-off, most of the water ended up on my face rather than in my mouth... nice. Third aide station was a little better, though sipped at the water forcing me to hang onto the cup(not a fan of tossing on the road). Random other runner complimented my tattoos(gargoyle wings on my shoulder blades. one plus of running = runner's back tops, or whatever they're called, show them off perfectly).

Mile 8- Speaking of, guy running behind me sped up a little to jokingly tell me how 'it's unfair, you have wings!' I laughed and was all 'well, to make it more fair, I live in a place with no hills. Those things are killing me!'. And they were... D: Okay, so they were a work-out, but it was more that being at the top of them made it hard to breathe. Like, the air was just plain thinner and I found myself gasping to fill my lungs at times.

Miles 9 to 11- Everything started blurring a little together. Random folks at random points along the way cheering everyone on, hills upon hills upon hills, lots of beautiful scenery, and my stomache beginning to revolt for some reason. I was pretty sure, for a good mile or so, that I was going to throw up and started wondering about if an upcoming aide station would have a port-a-potty and sizing up trees/bushes should I end up getting sick. Don't think this slowed me too much, but I started to feel fail-y and was convinced I was going to die and not finish in under 2 hours, the hills killed my original between 1:30 and 1:40 planned time, but mostly just die(fine. eye roll, lol. I just like being over dramatic at times, makes reality easier to take).

Mile 12- I never saw the marker for the 11th mile, so when I noticed it'd been awhile and I saw a marker up ahead I started squinting and begging it to be a 1 and a 2 rather than two 1s and... it was! I literally cheered out loud and ditched any idea of stopping due to death or stomache rejection or whatever.

Finish- Threw anything I had left into the last mile or so and crossed the finish line in a single-minded manner that left me completely missing seeing my time, though was all relieved after I managed to pull myself together enough to walk around the side of the finish line and see it still wasn't at 2 hours.

After that I wondered around. Had some bagels, tried the sweet tea, couple cups of water, retrieved my bag as even with the bit of sun coming out for a little while it was cold. Threw on my coat and changed into my recovery socks, had another runner come by while I was changing socks and tell me I was fast(recognized me by my wings, again, lol), felt good.

While waiting for my cousin I walked along the path a little and shouted to people entering the final stretch. Worried I said something wrong at one point when I was all 'Come on! Push! Almost there!' at random and some woman who was running shouted back 'Girl, we are pushing!' Idk, idk, maybe I'm bad at encouragement. Stuck to the broader 'good job! almost there!' mostly after that.

Wandered back toward the finish and was about to fetch some more water when I noticed my cousin approaching the finish line. Fussed a little over it, but eventually found a decent spot and took a pic of her crossing, then directed her to the water/tea/bagels to pull herself back together again.

From there, it was nearly an hour wait for our parents. We spent half of it cursing their asinine plan to walk the whole way as the spectators and most everyone else cleared out and the weather got colder. Finally, after what seemed like ages, we spied them slowly making their way toward the finish. In a race of 443 people and a time limit of 3.5 hours, they barely made it. Aunt finished in 441st place, my father in 442nd place. The 443rd place person at least tried to run and made it with just a minute to spare. They told us the people at the aide stations and cleaning up the mile markers and arrows kept circling back behind them, impatient to clean up. Luckily, the last shuttle back to the start arrived not too much later.

Had lots of fun with the whole experience, despite the whining at parts of this, and can't wait for the next race, 10k(hope to place for that on) at the end of May. :D

So, that all said, stats...
I finished at 1:51:41 giving me a 8:32/mi and placing me at 6th in my age group(20-29). I'm happy enough with it.

My cousin managed 2:25:43 with a 11:07/mi, about four minutes faster than she expected, and 59th for her age group(30-39).

My aunt and father finished at 3:21:40 and 3:21:41, respectively, for 15:24/mi and last for both their age group(s)(50-59) and beating just one person overall. Heh.
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