Yesterday was a great day! So great that I have to blog about it today, since there was not much time or energy left to do it justice last night.
So let us begin….
We started the day with a lunar eclipse! A rare blood moon lunar eclipse happened while we were packing up and heading out. The camera does not do it justice as the lighting for that time of day is messed up. It forces the camera to over expose the shot so the sky looks brighter and the heavenly bodies ( Moon) are slightly out of focus since I have to remain totally still while taking the shot. In addition, This was only the beginning! Just before the sun came up over the horizon, the moon was down to a mere sliver. Unfortunately, I was unable to capture that since I was driving and the opportunity never presented itself.
So onward to the Race! It was rather cold in the morning, with a thick layer of frost blanketing our car. We were unsure how Cheryl should dress for the race, knowing it was bound to get warmer later, but not knowing exactly how warm and how much later. She decided to leave on the leggings and remove the two outer top layers. We headed for the start area as the race was set to kick off at 7:30 AM. The sun was just up high enough to blind us.
And then, Cheryl’s dream came true! She got her picture with the president and his wife! I saw that the President showed up and just started posing for pictures. I quickly grabbed Cheryl and headed out. The Sun was rather blinding, but I still think the shot looks pretty good. You may notice that Mary Todd is pointing at their numbers. They all have the magic number 16! ( Lincoln was the 16th President, in case you didn’t know) Moments later, there was a line waiting to take pictures of the President. It was pretty cool and the First Couple played their parts Wonderfully!
As we waited, the other players appeared gradually. First the Pace Setters. ( The folks who will run the race at a pace that their sign shows) They all wear orange shirts and carry numbers so you can match up and follow them to get the time they plan on finishing. These guys are great when you are looking for your significant other and you have an idea of where she should be in the crowd. Cheryl was planning on a 1 hour 50 minute pace for the race ( faster if she could) and all I had to do was find the 1:50 guys to begin to look for her.
Next to the pace setters were the Civil War artillery group. I thought they were just for show, but their job was to fire off the cannon to start the race! ( Scared the CRAP out of me!)
Soon the crowd was lining up and I turned my back for a second only to lose Cheryl in the crowd. The Sun was not much help! I slipped down a route a bit trying to get a picture of her at the start…..I missed her! I ran down to the next loop to catch her at the 2 mile mark….I missed her again! ( she saw me, but I missed her.) The only guy I could identify was the Penny guy.
Finally, after being convinced she was NOT with the folks who were walking at mile two, I ran down about 1.5 miles to the 7 mile mark on the route. ( No easy task in my good shoes, By the way!) I walked/jogged to the intersection only to see the Elites had already ran past! I had not panicked yet even though I was 0 for 2 attempts. Not the best Photo Journalist if you can’t get the shot!
Having secured at least a few pics at the half way point, I ran back tot he start. By this time, I realized I should have put on running shoes or taken my bike for this part. I was not dressed at all for running, and here I am running back to the start. Even then, I STILL missed the first three finishers crossing the finish line. ( They were movin’! The fastest guy came in at around 1hour 12 minutes!)
I waited by the corner of the final stretch looking out for Cheryl. Again, I managed to take a couple of pictures of the Penny Guy. The first female came in and the crowd went WILD! It was a great moment because Abe jumped out onto the track. At first I thought he was only going to high five her, but instead he grabbed her hand and ran along side her as she came in first! It was AWESOME to see this 6’6” guy in top hat and coat tails running ( sprinting!) along side this short, petite ( FAST) female runner. The GREATEST MOMENT: Seeing his coat tails literally fly up like superman’s cape as he ran! Hilarious! It was too bad I did not have the camera at the ready for that.
As the 1:45 pace setters came by, I knew Cheryl should be close. I was surprised to see that she managed to pass the 1:50 pace setter and was finishing strong. I snapped a few pics before she turned the corner and headed for the finish line.
And that is when her Second Dream came true: She finished under 1:50 minutes! That is 13.1 miles with a time of 1hour 49 minutes 18 seconds! Her previous record for that distance in training was 1hour 56 minutes 59 seconds. Time to Celebrate!
The old capitol lawn had bagels, fruit, chocolate milk, granola bars and BEER! The Local Micro Brewery we sampled on Friday was set up giving away free beer to the participants ( and their husbands….Lucky me!) We tried the only beer we did not sample the previous day: The Abe Ale. I thought it would taste like typical malty dark beer, but surprisingly there were notes of vanilla and caramel. It was surprisingly smooth! Even Cheryl liked it and I went up for a second cup.
As the music died down and the last few people crossed the finish line, they read off the award winners. Cheryl placed 8th in her age group in this race..the competition was a little more fierce. She would have had to take another 10 minutes off her time to even be a contender! At least she beat the 11 year old who came in at 1: 52 minutes. He got this HUGE trophy for coming in under 2 hours. Did I mention he was 11 years OLD!!!!
Having stayed for most of the after party, we finally headed home after some much deserved Ice Cream from Cold Stone Creamery. Cheryl ceremoniously positioned the 13.1 magnet onto the Subie so now we can Identify ourselves to the “People in the Know” as Half Marathon Finishers.
Onward to HOME! Garmin managed to display another “episode” as we traveled; Telling us that the road we were on did not exist! Cheryl happened to capture it just before we hit the bridge that would bring us to our home state. It till is strange to think of Iowa as our home/state of residence. We have been here 5 years( almost) and I still feel like I can’t identify with “Iowa” Maybe it will take a few more years. We shall see.
So there is it! Cheryl complete her first Half Marathon with a Personal best ( and currently ONLY 13.1 Race) Time of 1:49.18 She ran and Average pace of 8:21 mile. She placed 8th out of 150 women her age. 69th out of 977 females. And 295th out of 1707 total runners ( both male and female) over all! Not a bad start! The Next MOUNTAIN to climb is the FULL MARATHON! 26.2 miles. IF she cam maintain the pace she set for the half marathon, she will qualify for Boston. And Boston is one of those “Mount Everest” races for the marathon world. She will have to first qualify, then register a YEAR IN ADVANCE! Then hope and pray that her name will be drawn out of a hat. ONLY AFTER THAT….Will we worry about Logistics and entrance fees. The Entire process could take 2 years. Once you finish the Boston Marathon…well, that is IT! There is nothing higher except ULTRA- MARATHONS! And IRONMAN Marathons. But those are probably not on the table.