Running this race 3 weeks post-Covid, I had unrealistic expectations that I’d be pleasantly surprised by my performance. However, my only unexpected blessings came in the form of support from my friends on the course. This race went about how I thought it would. It sucked. I took the entire 3.5 hours, and I was one of the last to finish.
However, my race began with my team, the Pink Nation. We had an amazing benediction. And, to our surprise, the real bathrooms near the sports fields where we parked on the campus of Randolph-Macon were actually open. No porta potties for us! After a final bathroom stop, we lined up on the start line. I had tried to conserve energy by sitting as much as possible, parking my butt on the curb until the final moments before the beginning of the race.
As soon as the race began, I felt like I had to pee again. This is common when racing, actually. My friend and fellow Pink Nation coach Malerie exclaimed, “That’s not real. It’s just anxiapee!” Ha! She needs to trademark that expression.
By the end of the first mile, I already knew this would not be my day. There would be no magical recovery from Covid, no stunning comeback, no matching my last normal half marathon time. There were lots of walk breaks. My friends Malerie and new friend Amy kept me company, seemingly unconcerned about time. We simply took “intuitive walk breaks,” that is, stopping to walk whenever it seemed fit to do so.
I was determined to finish, no matter how much the race sucked. That’s how I am. I paid good money for this race, and I was going to earn that medal! Even over each rolling hill of Yowell road, the extreme camber of Blanton Road (route 666, by the way), and the never ending uphill mile 11 that is Blunts Bridge road, I was stubborn. Even with the brutal heat and humidity. Even as my legs complained, locking up after so many weeks of relative inactivity and unhappy with my sudden surge of physical effort, I was not going to let this race beat me.
Another Pink Nation coach, Chris, ran about a mile with us near the beginning of the race, and then met us before that big uphill at mile 11. He was a welcome sight! He ran with us all the way to the finish. We actually had to pass our tailgate party on our way to the finish line, and the cheers of our teammates were awesome!
I crossed the finish line and promptly sat down. My friend Maria gave me my medal. And for the second time after a race, my friend Selina rescued me with a towel. After the ultra I ran in December, it was a warm towel. This time, it was a smaller, ice towel! She was a finish line volunteer for both races. Needless to say, it’s amazing to have great friends who volunteer at races!
We finally made our way to the food tent, picking up not only the usual fare of water and pretzels, but also chips, an applesauce pouch, Hanover tomatoes, and home grown golden delicious apples! The apple was the best I’ve had in a long time. And I’m still working on that tomato!
If I hadn’t signed up for this race months ago, I certainly wouldn’t have chosen to run it. But I was not going to let Covid spoil yet another summer plan, just like it did to my summer vacation. So run it, I did. I earned my swag, which was awesome, by the way. And I may never run this race again.
Yes, I say I’ll never run this race again. Every year. And yet, I still sign up for this misery. I keep hoping I’ll get to run during one of those amazing early fall-ish days that we sometimes get in August. I really do think that my participation in this race jinxes the weather for this event!
As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.