|Best day ever since I married this man!|
I finished and was still smiling, too. Which is a victory in itself. We crossed the line holding hands, and I think running the whole 26.2 miles together is one of those things that makes a couple stronger than ever. It was nothing to brag about time wise, but crossing that finish line in 5:41:36 is still my biggest running accomplishment to date. I may not be fast, but I am TOUGH!
Let's start with the highlights:
1. The expo is pretty well organized- you can spend a ton of time shopping, or just breeze through, get your bib and get out. Though, last year we were there at the time that the 5K was about to kick off, which made it a zoo.
3. The course- spectators, aid stations, etc. Though I heard afterwards that some of the half marathoners got lost and ran extra (I speculate that they had headphones in or weren't paying attention and followed someone else who wasn't paying attention), the full course was well-marked, and staffed with plenty of volunteers who guided the various runners along their respective courses. There were very few "lonely" places- it felt like we never ran more than half a mile before there were more small groups of spectators, or the scenery changed.
4. MILE 10! Not just the physical mile ten, but the whole region in Fairborn from about miles 9-12 where the street was LINED on both sides with spectators, bands, and more motivation than I've ever had during a race. The town of Fairborn has organized this cheering block for about 6 years now, and they are AMAZING. The only problem was that we got so pumped, we picked up the pace a bit too much.
5. My personal experience from mile 6-8- Best runner's high ever. I felt like I could have tackled Everest. It was amazing. I fear I will be chasing that high for a while before I ever get close again.
6. Running the entire race with my husband. Talk about a bonding experience! We were never out of each other's sight. Every time one of us was suffering more than the other, the leader served as motivation. We had no time goal (5 hours would have been phenomenal for us, even 5:30, but as first-timers we really just wanted to cross that line!), so when one of use needed to slow down, walk, or make one of 8 porta potty visits between the two of us, it was no big deal. We even paused to pet a giant black Newfoundland around mile 8, and a dachshund at mile 23! Yeah, puppy power!
Running something like this with my husband shows me how tough he is, and how much he cares for me. We held hands across the finish, and our official chip times are identical because of it. Disgustingly cute, yes. :D
7. The After Party at the Greene- they had live music in a lawn area at a shopping area- a giant party for runners. Can it get any better than that? Well, YES! Add an army guy parachuting in with a giant American flag!
Now, for the bad, which is thankfully a shorter list:
1. Hotel pillows- TERRIBLE! I understand when the mattress is crappy (which is was) but giving me a pillow that it 2 feet thick doesn't make up for it! It was seriously the thickest pillow I have ever seen.
2. No complimentary coffee at the hotel. For the price we paid (twice what you pay at billeting), I thought there would at least be hot coffee in the morning. But if you used your one tiny coffee pod in the room (which tasted like it was 50 years old and half made of dirt), then you had to pay $1.50 for coffee.
3. The shuttles arrived a little too early- which meant we had to stand in the cold morning air for almost 1.5 hours before the race started.
4. The walk to shuttle pick up after the race was over half a mile. Seriously? We just ran 26.2 and you want me to stumble another half mile more? Good thing we didn't sit down to relax after our finish, since the last one left at 2, and we boarded at 1:50!
All in all, I love the Air Force Marathon. Sure, I'm a little biased because my husband is in the Air Force, but as far as a running event goes, I think it's very well done. You can't eliminate human error when 15,000+ humans are involved (like the mistake for the half marathoners). But at least there was nothing dangerous like complete lack of water or dismantled water stations before the runners had passed (hey, Kosciosko Runner's Association, you could learn a ton about that!).
I got tons of compliments on my Team Tough Chik gear, but there were a few ladies out there who were straight up TOUGH in their own right- we caught a couple half marathoners who were still trucking along, and I bow to them. They each had personal situations that most people would have used as excuses, but not these ladies- there were out there, doing it, and finishing their race. Not your race, not mine, but their race. I made sure to high five them and pass along a little encouragement.
With that, I need a nap. 8 hours of sleep over a marathon weekend isn't nearly enough. Perhaps that's why my dear husband left me home while he went to go pick up our dogs- he saw my zombie-like countenance and decided it would be better for us both if I stay off the road!
What did you do for fun this weekend? Any advice to retrain my stomach that I'm no longer marathon-training, and therefore can't empty out the fridge? I've still got some pretty serious Runger going on!