The day before the race I headed down to the expo (my first race expo attendance) with my buddy Derek. It was kind of cool to see all the runners but it was in a small hotel convention donut shaped hallway and way too crowded so I was a little overwhelmed. We started off by finding our names on the wall to retrieve our bib numbers. I started scanning the never ending list of Smiths. There's a few of us out there but only one Jordan in this race. Problem though....according to the list he's 53.....That's not me I thought....I'm 26 but I bet I could kill in that age group haha. I informed the lady at the bib table of the mistake so they could change it in the computer. As she was writing down the info I noticed she wrote my bib number as 1917....not 1719 which it actually was. AHA! I bet she's the one who typed my birth year in as 1958 instead of 1985 too lol. It's okay I've seen a billboard with Whoopie Goldberg on it that says she "overcaem dyslexia" so there's hope for the bib check lady, someone should probably help the guy who typed up the billboard add though.... ;-) With my bib and shirt in hand, years taken off my life (at least as far as the race is concerned) I ran into a frined working one of the booths for the local running store. They were having a shoe lacing contest. Free pair to whoever does it the fastest throughout the course of the day. After I dropped the shoe for the second time I realized I'm better at running in them than lacing them. Guess I'll be buying the rest of my shoes. On the way out of the expo I saw a couple of guys I recognized from Thursdays group run so I thought I'd say hey. I knew one of them was running the full and one the half but I had no clue what their names were. This lead to one of my most blonde and awkward moments of my life. I approached and said "hey guys, I think we ran together Thursday, I'm Jordan" reaching out to shake hands. The first guy who has brillo pad like red hair and looks to be in his mid 20's says reaching out his hand "Oh yeah, Jordan". This is where it got awkward. No more words were exchanged while I waited for him to tell me his name, you know, the polite response when someone introduces themselves. After I stared blankly at him for a few seconds too long I realized he had just told me his name....I'm stupid. His name is ALSO Jordan. Did I mention I'm stupid. I've met one other Jordan in my life....when I was in Kindergarten. I realize there are plenty of us out there I'm just not used to meeting them in person and apparently it was too much for my small brain to comprehend. After we figured that simple dilema out we talked about the upcoming race. Jonathon, the other kid....the one not named Jordan and therefore less confusing was to run the full and "Jordan 2" was running the 1/2. Plot thickens. I'm slightly competitive from time to time. It happens and now I find out that number 2 (it's easier this way) who is basically the same age as me is not only running the same race, already attempted to Bogart my name but he is also shooting for the same time as I am! Challenge accepted! I should mention that he's a really nice guy and he didn't actually challenge me but in my head I had to beat him....for posterity sake. We were both aiming for 1:35:00 and both running our first half marathons.
If you had asked me a couple days prior I would have told you I thought it would be no problem, and there were plenty of people I had run with saying the same thing. Then one girl runner I know who is crazy fast said in response to my goal time "wow, kind of ambitious!" WHAT!!! Of course then I start over analyzing EVERYTHING. maybe it is too fast, I mean I did have 6 weeks off....
The night before the race a couple from the EPIC CREW had everyone over to the house for a spaghetti dinner. It was a good time, good food and good people. I had only met a handful or so at a few group runs so it was nice to meet more of the group in a more social setting.
Race morning came bright and early. I met my friend Derek at the starting area. He was also running his first, but hadn't been training as much. We found my parents before too long and talked to them about where they were going to be on the course to give me a honey stinger packet. At this point I hadn't found a Gu flavor that didn't make me wanna yak. The honey stinger brand gel tastes just like it sounds. Honey. It can be a little on the sweet side so if you're not a big fan of sugary sweet flavor it probably wouldn't be for you. I went for a mile warm up and did some light stretching. Said goodbye to my parents and located a few EPIC members in the start corral. Most of them were running the full, but the races started and the same time and followed the same course til the split at 3 miles in. I lined up with a few that I knew were heading for the same pace I was planning on.
The first 2-3 miles is a steady downhill. It's not crazy steep but it's very easy to find yourself cruising along a lot faster than you want to for the beginning miles. Thankfully I had invested in a Garmin 210 the week before! There were plenty of times people were passing me on both sides in the early downhill miles and I had to constantly look at the watch and slow myself down so I wouldn't kill myself early on. I was with a good size pack for the first miles but when it split I found both the rest of the runners more sparse and spectators as well for a few miles.
These middle miles seemed to cruise by. I saw my parents at mile 6 and grabbed my gel from them conveniently right before a water station. It's like we planned it that way or something ;-) My dad told me that a the guy in front of me was someone we knew, the father of a couple kids I went to high school with. I caught up with him and shared a couple words, some good luck and continued on. I was picking up my pace a bit and getting closer to 7 min. miles but not trying to push it too hard because there are 2 decent grade up hills in the second half. One just before mile 9 and one in the last half mile.
Around mile 8.5 I knew what was coming. I had run this hill in high school cross country a couple of times and I had run a majority of the course the week before with my friend Brett. About 200 yards from the start of the hill I was running along with a kid I recognized from other races. I realized he was pacing someone which explained why he was so far back from the front. The year before he was a top 5 finisher in the same race. As I caught up to him I was feeling pretty good like I was moving at a good clip. Then out of nowhere two girls cruised past us all on our left and they started to storm up the hill! Show offs... my plan was to just keep the same pace through the top of the hill and keep right on at the summit. There isn't an immediate downhill though. That doesn't come for another mile. I passed the too show boaters 3/4 up the
mountain hill and kept on cruising. over the next mile I realized there were 4 miles to go and I had dropped down to a 6:59 pace. I realized it was a fast pace for me but I still felt pretty good. I decided I was putting in a 4 mile push to the finish. I just kept telling myself I had to keep it up because it didn't matter if I hit 6:59 for one mile if I had to drop back down to an 8 min mile because of it.
I mentioned earlier I had run most of the course the week before with Brett. When I reached mile 11 during the race I cursed Brett's name. I said we ran most of the course because we left out a section that went through a park. At the time he said you just go up ahead, turn left into the park down a hill and then back out to the road at the bottom of the last hill. he failed to mention it was 2 miles a mile ahead, then a mile through the park. At this point I was starting to feel fatigued but I was still cruising along and my 11th mile was 6:47. There was a nice downhill into the park and even though it was down hill, I knew there was an even steeper uphill within the next mile and half. I was starting to feel the pressure now and I see at the bottom of the hill a cone 100 meters ahead that we had to hairpin turn around. As I'm heading out to the cone I see a surprisingly familiar face. One I hadn't seen all morning. Jordan 2! and he was beating me! Surely I can't let this happen! Adrenaline boost go! I dropped my pace again with my renewed vigor and set my sights on the prize. Before exiting the park there was a huge group of spectators who had made a human tunnel and were cheering loud and proud for yours truly! I didn't know them and they didn't know me but I got the biggest rush of excitement and energy that start in my thighs and shimmied its way through my body before exploding on my face in the form of the biggest, cheesiest grin you'd ever seen. That was it, all I needed to carry me to the top of the impeding hill. I cruised up the hill passing a couple of people along the way. From the top it's just about half a mile to go. I caught Jordan 2 shortly after reaching the top. I looked at my watch when I got next to him and realized that short of an earthquake (highly unlikely) or a tornado (not as unlikely but not very probable) we were gonna beat our 1:35 goals. I was still cruising on the high I got from the human tunnel and I said "hey buddy lets go get that 1:35!" He told me we were going to kill it! I picked up my pace a bit and cruised down the road. Two turns remained. I saw my dad up ahead on the right with camera in hand cheering me on just like it was HS cross country all over again! There was a bit of a head wind in this last stretch. Strong enough to grab the bill of my hat and make it feel like it was pulling my head backwards. I took off my hat flung it to my dad and I was off! Nothing was stopping me now. I knew I was going to beat 1:35, now I was going to see by just how much. I don't know how many people I passed in the last stretch but I know it felt AMAZING I felt as I was flying to the finish and recorded a 1:32:46! I qualified for start corral B for the Chicago Marathon (my motivation for a 1:35). I found my parents in the crowd and we cheered Derek in as he finished strong under 2 hours.
I went back out on the course to cheer on friends running the full after I had snacked a bit and hydrated. I decided in between the last water stop and the last hill, about a mile out was the best spot. After cheering a few people on I saw my friend Scott from the CREW come into the last water stop and he wasn't looking too good. I knew he was off the pace he was shooting for and he looked like he'd seen better days. I got him some water and told him he now had a personal escort to the finish line. we cruised up the hill and through the last mile. (as if I hadn't run enough already) I split off from him before the last turn to the finish and he kicked it in for a great finish.
Post race celebrations included tailgating in the parking lot with random strangers who needed help drinking some delicious micro brews. Who am I to turn down free beer! Best part is I was on my way to get my ID for the beer tent from my car when I ran into these friendly chaps and their fully stocked coolers. By the time I made it to the beer tent I was already 3 beers deep! Add that to the quickly rising heat and the race I'd just run and it was a good thing I had a driver to take me home! When I got to the tent the first person I recognized was one of my new friends Tim. He was sitting in the grass with a beer in one hand and a gauze covered bandaid on the inside of his elbow. Tim is a trooper, 20 minutes earlier I saw him on a stretcher with an IV in his arm; The reason for the gauze and bandaid! After showers and naps we all met up the bar for celebratory drinks and shenanigans! A great race to start off the season and I was looking forward to the next one. Little did I know at that point it would be a 25k the next Saturday!
|EPIC CREW Members who ran the Kalamazoo Full and 1/2 Marathons|
|Pretty Sweet Bling, the ribbon is my favorite|