Today was so much fun! Everything went better than I could have hoped. Jeanie and I got up pretty early this morning to get ready for the race. Shawn had worked all night long, and was planning to run the half-marathon after work--crazy, right?! But he didn't really have a choice.
We went to downtown Rockford and had no problems parking or finding the starting line, or anything like that. We used the porta-potties before the line got too long, and took some pictures at the starting line.
Jeanie and I lined up behind the 5:00 marathon pacer, because she was planning to run about a 12:00/mi pace. She said the best case scenario would be 2:30, but that was really unlikely, so she was aiming to have a 12:00/mi average pace for the race. (Shawn lined up closer to the front, because he was aiming for "anything under 2:00" (but I figured he'd run between 1:45-1:50).
The race was pretty small, so when it started, it only took us about minute to get to the starting line. And we were off! The course was awesome--one of the best courses I've ever run. And the race was VERY well organized--I would highly recommend this race if you're looking for a half- or full-marathon in Illinois (Rockford).
Jeanie was doing REALLY well--her splits were faster than she'd expected, and she kept commenting on how good she felt. A few miles in, we saw an older man in front of us wearing a yellow shirt that said, "1000 Marathons Larry". Jeanie and I looked at each other with our eyebrows raised. I said, "Hey there, are you Larry?" and he was very friendly. We learned that it was his 1,020-something marathon in 13 years. Last year, he ran 157 of them! I really wished I could talk to him for a while, because I'm sure he has some great stories, but we passed by him and kept going.
At around mile four, Jeanie's friend Jen jumped in and ran along with us for a few minutes. She said she'd seen Shawn, and he was doing really well. Then she moved on, and said she'd run with us for a little bit at mile 10. Jeanie started getting faster, and she was feeling good. I knew in my head that she was very capable of reaching her "A" goal of sub-2:30, but I didn't want to push it, so I just let her set the pace.
I was expecting the race to feel like a walk in the park, because it was a much slower pace than I'm used to, but I was surprised that my legs were actually taking a beating. I was really enjoying the course, though, and even though it was hot outside, it wasn't that bad. Jen popped in with us again a little before mile 10.
When we reached mile 10, I was delighted to see something I'd never seen in a race before--ice cold sponges! They were provided by a heating and cooling company called Gough (I want to give them a shout out, because I was SO excited about the sponges!). I grabbed one and wiped my face, neck, and arms, then squeezed it over my head. It was heavenly, and very much needed at mile 10.
Jeanie was starting to feel a little tired at that point, but she was still going strong, and was even running some sub-11:00 miles. I knew we were on pace for a sub-2:30 time, so I was hoping she'd keep at it, because I knew she'd be thrilled with that time.
Jen left around mile 11, and then just after mile 12, we saw Shawn! He'd finished and come back to run with Jeanie as well. I shouldn't just say "finished"--he CRUSHED his sub-2:00 goal with a 1:48:07 finish, as I knew he would ;) Jeanie was really starting to hurt around mile 12.5, but we were in the home stretch, and I knew she could get her sub-2:30 goal.
With about a quarter mile to go, Shawn left us to finish on our own. We could see the finish line from there, and as soon as I saw it, I got really choked up. I was afraid to say anything, because I would cry. It's funny, I didn't feel that emotional when I finished my own first half, but doing this with Jeanie made me feel SO proud of her.
We sprinted the last stretch down the finisher's chute, and crossed the finish line in 2:28:13--she'd killed her "A" goal! We found Jen and Shawn, and hung out at the finish line for a little while.
Then we went to the only place we could find that served beer at 10:00 in the morning ;) A cold beer sounded SO good after that race! Then we went back to Jeanie's showered, and headed out to lunch at this AMAZING Mexican restaurant in Rockford. It was honestly the best Mexican food I've ever tasted. I ate about a billion and a half PointsPlus there, and I don't regret any of it. I'm sure I'll complain about it on Wednesday, when I weigh-in, but right now, it was totally worth the PP!
After lunch, Shawn went home to sleep, and Jeanie, Jen, and I went to play slot machines at a bar. I never do slots! I just always assume that I'll lose all my money, and I really can't afford that. My sister really wanted me to play, so she insisted that she give me $100 to play with. Well, it's a good thing I took her up on it, because I won--a LOT!
I insisted on cashing out after that, and then I gave Jeanie $200 of it (the money I played with, plus the $100 she played with and lost). It was so fun to win that much money!
We planned to skip dinner after our huge lunch, and just get dessert later. After playing the slots, I still wasn't even close to hungry, so we went back to her house and figured we'd just go get a late dessert. Jeanie loves sweets as much as I do, and she adores the maple blondies at Applebee's, so we're going there. I've never tried them, but they sound like the perfect end to a perfect day :)