This race was a race I had been looking forward to for several months. I don’t actually really remember what is was that caused my sister to want to run a half but I do remember being in Ohio when I got an email that she said she thought she might want to run one and could I help her figure out training. I was of course excited but honestly I wasn’t sure how serious she really was. I made her a training plan and would ask her occasionally about it but I didn’t want to push her, I wanted it to be her idea. We officially started training on December 24th with a pre-Christmas family run.
Training started out well and we got a couple of long runs in together but then one or both of us got sick, I was away for a couple of weekends and things just got busy. Rachel had already put in a couple of long runs but she still hadn’t signed up for the race so I kept waiting for her to tell me she didn’t think she wanted to do it anymore. I know I would have been disappointed but I would never want to force her to do something she didn’t want to do. I told her from the beginning that it meant a lot to me that she wanted to run a half marathon but in no way would I be disappointed if she decided not to do it. However, I did tell her that I would encourage her to follow through with it once she committed to the training. I’m so glad she did.
Sunday morning was another early start of 7am so we were up and out the door by 4:30! It was also another cold morning but not quite as cold as it had been on Saturday and we had our toss away clothes so we were good. We were able to use the bathrooms indoors and then take all our stuff back to the car before heading into our corral. On the way back to the corral I used a port-o-potty one more time, like always and we easily found our corral and waiting. Dad and Denise found us before the race and wished us luck, they said they would be at the starting line and we knew mom was up there too. We couldn’t hear anything at all that was going on at the start line so I had no idea when the race started. Mom said it started right at 7 but we just kept waiting and waiting. We were in corral 4 but it seemed to take forever to get moving.
We shed our sweatshirts as we approached the start line and then we were off. Rachel was so great, I was worried that she might be nervous or freaking out about running but she never seemed to be nervous at all. I was actually feeling really well considering I had run a HUGE PR the day beforehand, I wasn’t sore and felt rested so that was really good. I was still a little unsure how my legs would hold up for 13 miles but all I could do was do my best. We started out on a downhill portion as the sun was rising; it was honestly one of those “this is the most perfect morning and I’m doing one of the things that I love the best with my sister, could life be any more perfect right now?” moments.
The first 2 miles were a bit rough as most are on any race; you are weeding through people, finding your pace, settling in and warming up. Rachel did well but I know she was having a hard time adjusting to the fact that her legs went from being cold from standing around to warming up all of a sudden. She mentioned that this was something new to her since all of our long runs we just set off straight from the house and we have no chance to get cold. Our first 2 miles were probably a bit too fast in hindsight but they honestly weren’t that bad and some of that is just race excitement that can’t be helped.
We agreed to run out the first mile (or 2) and then start our 6:1 running/walking. I know we ran the first mile out to get out of the crowds and I want to say we continued on to mile 2 but we may have taken our first walk break around 15 minutes in, I can’t really remember. I tend to zone out when I’m running and forget when I’m supposed to walk and at what minute.
At mile 3 we saw our Dad and stepmom for the first time. It was great to see them and hear all their shots and cheers! It was also about this time that we passed the 5K mark although we forgot to step on the timing belt so it didn’t send mom a text to let her know where we were. Before we knew it we were at mile 4 and climbing a short incline. Rachel did great up the hill and then we took another walk break and she took the first half of her GU. Those first 4 miles just FLEW by for both of us, we couldn’t believe we were already at 4 miles in. We were chatting and enjoying the gorgeous weather. About mile 5 Rachel requested that we just run for a bit and not take a walk break, she said that her stomach would bother her when we stopped but felt ok while running. I said sure and we slowed down just a tad but kept running.
As we approached mile 6 we were heading into the history stockyards of Fort Worth and this was a portion that I was really looking forward to. We hit the 10K point at exactly 1:10 and immediately saw my dad and Denise again. Rachel and I had so much energy through this portion! We were feeling great, the crowds were great, seeing our parents and running through the historic part of Fort Worth just really gave us a pep in our step, mile 6 was actually our fastest mile of the day. At the half way point Rachel and I sang our “Half Way There” by Bon Jovi song, like always and kept on.
I could tell that mile 6 really gave Rachel a boost and I kept telling her she needed to slow down. I didn’t really want to hinder her but I also knew that we still had half a race left and we were currently sitting at one of our faster paces so I tried to be smart and keep her in check. Miles 6-9 were are fastest miles of the day but I’m glad I kept her in check. I was still feeling good at this point and also quite confident in our abilities to finish in our goal time, but I also have done enough races to know that there was still a good portion of running left.
About mile 7.5 we started walk breaks again about every 10 minutes or so. Right before mile 9 Rachel took some water and a bite of banana that they were handing out. Up ahead of us we saw a huge hill, the hill that we had to climb. I have to say I was excited for it and was ready to head up but I could tell Rachel wasn’t quite as thrilled. We walked for a bit at the bottom so that we didn’t have to stop while on the hill. At the base of the hill we saw Dad and Denise one last time and I told them to expect us in around 2:20; I was serious at that point and had high hopes of finishing closer to 2:20 than 2:30 but the next 4 miles were a bit rougher than I had planned.
We almost made it to the top of the hill without walking but Rachel was wearing out so we walked the rest of the way up. Once up there was a flat portion through Sundance Square. I made her run to the 10 mile marker flag where we took another walk break and I took a GU. She took a little bit more of her GU too. I could tell that she was starting to wear out some and we had run a good race up to this point and I didn’t want her to give up just yet. I could also tell that she was getting hot, even though the race had started at 7 the sun had been up and out the whole time and it was starting to warm up. Miles 10 and 11 were pushing as much as we could and me trying to encourage her to keep a consistent pace, she did really well despite the fact that I could tell she was getting tired.
We walked up another hill around the mile 11 marker and then we had a HUGE decent and I told her to run as much of this out as we could. At mile 12 we took a walk break and I could really tell she was getting tired. I tried to be encouraging but not too pushy, I wanted her to finish strong and reach her goal, she had run such a great race I really didn’t want to see it fall apart in the last mile.
As we were coming into the finish she took a few walk breaks here and there but she kept moving and I was proud of her. At one point she told me she felt like she needed to puke but I told her that she could puke at the finish and we were almost there, haha.
|I LOVE this picture of Rachel|
We finished in almost the exact same place as the 10K so I knew when we were getting close. I told her that once we turned the corner she was going to give it all she had and we were going to make goal time. We saw mom with her awesome sign and then a little ways down dad was there and Denise. The really cool thing about our finish is that the announcer announced our names together as we crossed the finish line!
I stopped my Garmin and looked down and saw 2:29 I was so happy and relieved at the same time. I showed Rachel and the look on her face was priceless. We had a sweet moment to hug and celebrate our victory and then stumbled our way to find water and get our medals. We wished that someone had gotten our hug on camera but alas that did not happen so we reenacted it later!
I could not have been more proud of Rachel at that moment, she did a fantastic job and worked really hard. I know those last few miles were tough for her and I partly blame myself for that but she did great. I was so relieved that I was able to help her get there. I’ve never paced anyone before and especially after racing the day before, let alone racing to a PR. I was really nervous that I wouldn’t have it in me to keep up and help her reach her goal. But thankfully my legs were great the whole run and I was able to help her achieve what she set out to do. However, I in no way take any credit whatsoever for her getting to that finish line, that was all her! She did all the work, she trained she pushed herself and she ran a great race. I just happened to be there to keep her company!
Over all this was a fabulous race! The weather could not have been more perfect, the course was great and I loved running with my sister. All in all it was a great racing weekend. I’m really excited too because just like I said, Rachel is already wanting to do another one so I know there will be more training and running together in our future!