Since I began this wild and crazy ride called runcationing, I have completed five half-marathons. However, I have never ran a half in my actual city or even county of residence. Through each of these races, I’ve had Meri, my mega-motivator, by my side. On a whim, I signed up for three local races in the Run Riverside race series. Why? For the medal, of course! For some reason, I decided that one of those races would be a half-marathon. I felt ready. I felt confident. I had kicked ass at the Hometown Heroes 10k last month.
It wasn’t until the weekend before that I realized Meri wouldn’t be there to dance with me or bribe me with laffy taffy. In fact, I wouldn’t have anyone with me. I would be spending three freaking hours by myself. Running.
What the hell was I going to do with myself? Would I even be able to finish this on my own? As we all know, I’m the least self-motivated person on the planet. I excel at procrastination. It’s my superpower. Did I train for this half? I think we all know the answer to that one. And yet, I woke up on Sunday at the crack of dawn and got myself downtown to the start.
Riverside, CA has an awesome downtown area centering around an old hotel, the Mission Inn. I’ve lived in the area and use to walk downtown to get fresh produce at the farmer’s market, or to pick up a book from the used book store. I’ve spent some nights dancing or listening to bands in one of the many bars and lounges. Every year, the place is lit up for the holidays with vendors, Santa, and even an ice skating rink. It’s a place where I’ve spent many a day and night. However, I’ve never ran a race here!
The best thing about running in your hometown? You run into people you know everywhere! I had my fella drop me off at the start so I wouldn’t have to park because parking sucks downtown. I picked up my bib and chip and got all pinned up and made my way to the start. Where I ran into some friends! We chatted and compared compression socks and stretched. You know, all the stuff friends do when they’re getting ready to run 13.1 miles.
And then we were running.
I had bought this new headset, you know the fancy kind that’s also a hands-free headset and I had downloaded this HIIT interval app for my phone. For some reason, the volume on my headset kept going down. On its own. I’d turn it up and the damn thing would mute again, like it was possessed or something. I spent the first 3 miles trying to figure out what was wrong with my phone. Was it the app? My music player? I couldn’t figure it out until I realized my headset was the only thing that was new. The little button thing that you push to make it a headset was malfunctioning. So I ripped it off. Yep. I had to break my headset. Because this was more logical than spending 10 more miles with just my thoughts.
Once I figured this out, my music worked like a champ. So I reset my interval timer and waited for the buzz. This worked for a good five more miles. Then it just stopped. I was running for what seemed like forever and when I checked my phone. It had reset. Well, now I would never be able to trust this app again. And trust in my interval app is very important! I would have to find an alternate strategy.
Girl Talk to the rescue! I don’t know if any of you are familiar with the artist, but he’s this guy who mixes a bunch of popular songs from all different genres into one continuous stream. The songs blend into each other, like one long epic mash-up. It’s my favorite running music. I just started counting music changes. After 5 music changes, I would walk for one until it changed again. Then it was back to running. The music kind of lends itself to intervals perfectly because the beat also changes often; there’s a definite up and down in the rhythm.
Right around this time, I saw more friends! The course had a portion of out and back running along a bike trail. So I got a good look at all those peeps up ahead of me and it was nice to see familiar faces.
After I made the turn around, I started to overheat. It was hot. And my hamstrings were cramping up. I hydrated with powerade and water at every water station, but between miles 10-12, there wasn’t a water station in sight. This was also where the course meets up with the 10k course. Dozens of fresh runners started passing me up while I limped on. I kind of wished I had worn my bib on my back, so they knew I was running funny for a reason.
*Side Note: Telling a runner “You’re almost there, don’t give up!” is the equivalent of asking a pregnant lady if she’s having twins or telling someone they look tired. I know you mean well, avid race watcher/volunteer, but just don’t. Because your idea of “almost there” and my idea of “almost there” after 13 miles is completely different. Just saying.
But I made it! And my guy was waiting at the finish. This was literally the best thing in the world to see. Because that meant the car was near.
Have you every done a hometown race?