This was my 5th half marathon, and for my husband Joel, it was his first. I was a little worried about him since he had never ran that far before. This race was my first half marathon last year, so I wanted to do it again and see how much I could improve my time in 1 year. I wasn't trying to PR since I still feel as if I am not fully recovered from ironman Louisville, so I wasn't trying to PR, but was trying to beat last year's time of 2:05:13. The day before the half marathon was our 6 year wedding anniversary, so we made a weekend out of it. The race was on Saturday, so Friday afternoon we headed down to Jacksonville to spend out anniversary together.
When we got to Jacksonville we went to the running store and registered for the race and picked up our race packets. After that we went to Jacksonville Beach so we could have our anniversary lunch at Joe's Crab Shack. The food was great, but maybe it wasn't the best choice for the situation, more on that later.......
After lunch we went to a local bike store that carries both Felt and Cervelo bikes. For about an hour we drooled over the beautiful bikes. It hit me how much things have come full circle, and how since I have changed my lifestyle, Joel has changed his too. They had "the bike" that he lusts for, in his size, the Felt AR5. I realized right then and there that he really does love cycling, and is serious about making it his "thing". I also learned that Joel doesn't actually hate running, he just hates running in the Army. I don't blame him, I always found running fun until I joined the Army, the Army just sucks the fun out of running.
Race morning we woke up at 5 am and started our routines. Well, I started mine, since this was Joel's first half marathon he didn't really have a routine yet. Then, to my horror my seafood lunch from the afternoon the day before came back to haunt me in the form of GI distress. Oh No! Not today! Not NOW!!!!! This problem went on for about 40 minutes or so, and I seriously though I was going to have to DNS and be a Sherpa to Joel for the day. Miraculously, it finally stopped, and I learned a new lesson, NO SEAFOOD BEFORE A RACE!
Made it to the race site around 6:30 am. Was glad we stayed at a hotel, had we not, we would have had to leave home at 3 am. Stood in porta potty line, and as soon as we were done doing our thing we headed to the start line and the gun went off as we approached the crowd of runners. We crossed the start mat to start our personal time and we were off.
The first 2 miles is over 2 bridges, the first one small, the second one bigger, but not huge. This is the most challenging part of the race, so when we cleared these 2 bridges I knew the rest of the race would be smooth sailing. Me and Joel stayed together for the first 3 miles. At mile 3 Joel broke away in front of me, I let him go because I knew how long this race it, I know my pace, and I knew he wouldn't be able to maintain that pace. A mile 4 I caught up to him and he stayed with me for about half a mile, he dropped his pace, I increased mine since I finally felt warmed up and I didn't see him again until after the race. The rest of the race went pretty smooth, no IT band pain, I felt good, I took a gel at mile 4 and 8. During the race I still felt like I had some lingering fatigue from ironman Louisville, but it was only a month ago.
I was rocking and rolling, then I saw something that really affected the rest of my race. At mile 10.5 I saw an older man with a bib number, meaning he was in the race, on a backboard with paramedics frantically giving him chest compressions. My heart sank and I wanted to cry. After witnessing that I couldn't maintain my pace and did what I could to get to the finish line as quickly as possible. I crossed the finish line, got a medal from a Marine, and went back to the finisher's chute to wait for Joel. My time was 1:52:20. To my complete surprise, Joel came in just a few minutes later at 1:59:43. I was so proud of him for completing his first half marathon in sub 2 hours! He didn't even train for it. I would love to see what he could do if he could actually train for one.
We had an awesome time doing this race together. This was our best anniversary celebration ever. A celebration of our new life, both of us healthy and fit.