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There were shannanigans afoot last week. Unbeknownst to me, Tony and my Mom were in cahoots and Friday afternoon, after spending the morning emailing me regarding his desire to register the same day, Tony did a complete switcheroo and asked that the boys come on down to watch the race.
The trip down included our first threatened spanking on the side of the road and our first actual pull over for a spanking, but thankfully was otherwise uneventful. We met up with Matt and Gina quite quickly and while I knew the race would be very different than Grandma's Half in Duluth, that point was made abundantly clear when we drove onto main street New Prague and didn't hit any race traffic, plus saw ample street parking.
When I approached the check in tent at 7:35am for an 8:00am start, I was not expecting to walk right up to the A-F [yes A-F, not A-C!] and be handed my bib. Add in that the prerace music was rocking polka through the loud speakers and it was very clear that we were at a race in Southern Minnesota. Also, the runners at this race were all very fit. While it's always really encouraging and surprising to see runners of all shapes, there really wasn't a lot of variety at this race and I started to take bets on where I would finish. It made me a little anxious, but instead I tried to just eat up the polka, because I mean really, who jams out to polka before 13.1? It was just hilarious.
I went to use the restroom and returned to our little group to see Tony did an odd head nod. Next thing you know, my Mom was popping up from behind a truck. When we first started running, my Mom had no idea that the sport welcomed spectators or what a big deal Grandma's was, which means it's slowly eaten her alive that she missed it. She'd text me earlier in the week asking about the Half, but I told her given the travel, that I had no expectations that she'd come down. She thought otherwise!
It was so fun to have her there, plus it explained why Tony changed his mind about bringing the boys. And with a final kiss good luck from Tony, we were directed to find our pacers and get towards the starting line. Things started to move very quickly at this point, as Matt and I lined up with the 10:00 minute/mile guy and told Gina good luck. Suddenly, we were running on the most perfectly overcast cool day.
We started out with the 10:00 minute pacer, but quickly locked in on the 9:33 lady and I locked in right behind her letting my footfalls synchronize with hers. After a bit I found my pace and Matt and I started to play Running Bingo, just like the Auto Bingo we played on the way up to Brainerd. We'd claim power lines, barns, lakes, ladders, flag poles and the like, all while running through the countryside.
We blew through the first 5 miles, easy peasy. It felt incredibly good to run and just seemed like an amazing day! And then, I got to be one of those people. The ones that make you misty eyed. I got to have my boy shouting and cheering for me, and even gave me a high five at one of the mile markers! Talk about an energy boost!
It's amazing what the mind is capable of. I distinctly remember at mile 10 of my previous half feeling quite certain there was no possible way I could continue at my race pace without dying. It was as good as fact to me, but this time, because I knew better, it wasn't even a question. We reached mile 10 and I knew I would finish strong. This kid was waiting for me!
And this one too, but obviously, less enthused.
Isaac had so much fun cheering with my Mom, I just love the look on his face!
I continued on my clip of 9:33 min/miles until mile 12, which is when I started to lengthen my stride a bit and I felt great! Once we got into town, I could hear the loud speakers once again, but was really uncertain how much further I had to go. Tony and I had a major mistake at Grandma's where we thought the finish line was just around the corner, but didn't know it zig zagged a bit, so we wasted all of our after burners before we even got close. I very much wanted to avoid that again, but was really surprised to round a corner and see the finish line just 1/3 of a mile down!
I began to sprint it in. And I had it. I actually was sprinting. It felt fantastic!
[wah wah wah :: felt much better than I look!]
Do you see Isaac? Best part of this picture!
Isaac was soooo excited to congratulate me, but was really grossed out by how sweaty I was!
Matt had an awesome race too and finished just seconds after me!
Gina's plan was to run 6-7 miles and have no issues with potentially walking the rest depending on how she was feeling, as she just wrapped up the MTH tour last week. I wasn't hungry, and could pass on the offerings of bananas, salted nut rolls and ice cream, so I parked it to watch the runners come in. Just minutes later, I started yelling, because I saw Gina come sprinting in!
I was SO happy for her, because I knew she killed her previous half marathon time! And by killed, she choppy chunked [not even close to shaved] off over 16 minutes! Seriously exciting stuff! And of course, she was on a first name basis of everyone who ran in a 2 minute radius of her. :)
We didn't get medals, which is pretty lame since it's been put on for almost 30 years.
But my experience overall was much better than any medal!
Official Time :: 2:02:52
Pace :: 9:23 minute/miles
And, I've already got my sight's set on another one in August.