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One of the best things about fall races is the fact that they start later in the morning.  The Monster Dash didn’t start until 8:30! Holla for sleeping in on race day!!

My Lifetime Fitness Run Club decided that we should all meet on the Cathedral steps at about 8am for a quick pic before we start.  I also told Jen, Jen, and Kat that we should meet at the same place.  (I’m such a good planner like that!)  So we snapped a few pictures and headed to the start line.My Lifetime Run Club buddies! We even have Superman in our club!

Kat and I trying to stay warm until the start!

 Linda, Jamie (Linda’s friend) and I headed to find the 2:30 pace group (my PR is 2:31), I figured that I could hang out with them for a long as I could and then see what happens.  The gun went off and about 8 minutes later we finally crossed the start line.  It’s weird to think that some people were coming up on mile 2 just shortly after I crossed the start line! Oh well, thank goodness for chip timing!!

Jamie’s first attempt at a picture of Linda and I.

A stranger’s better attempt at a shot of Linda and I.

Linda took off ahead of us at about a 10m/m pace and Jamie and I bonded for the first 4 or so miles. She and I both pulled away from the pace group and then she kept pulling away and I never saw her again.  I think she chose the right costume for the day (road runner)!  I plugged in my head phones and turned on some tunes and I was fine to be “alone” since I have ran 90% of my races alone.

See the start line Banner? WAAAY up there?  There’s only about 10k people standing in my way!

I was surprised how my body handled the first 5-6 miles.  My legs felt good and strong, my breathing was under control, but mentally, I struggled.  I wanted to be done.  I didn’t want to run that day.  I didn’t feel prepared.  But I kept saying, trust your training, you can do this, you’ve done this 6 times in worse conditions, with worse training.  I kept thinking of what was written on my t-shirt: “If you ran with out sacrifice, congratulations, you just jogged”.  I could do a little sacrifice for 2.5 hours of my life!

I think I hit the water stop at about 5 or so I decided to take a water/gel walk to get some energy back.  So I’m walking along and all of a sudden I heard “hey Shaner!”.  Granted I was wearing a shirt that Heidi made me for my marathon that said my last name on the back, but I never expected someone to know me on the course.  It was a high school friend Jes and her friend who decided on a walk break as well.  We chatted a bit and saw each other here and there in the next few miles.  I wanted to pass her every time I saw her get ahead of me!  That’s good motivation right!?

At some point the 2:30 pace group passed me along with Kat and her two sorority sisters.  But I was ok with it, sort of.  I had gotten tired.  I made it half way before I walked to much which was my goal as of race morning.  The miles ticked by, some faster than others.  Then we finally turned onto the last stretch of road, which made up the last oh say, 5 miles of the course.  It was a course I’ve ran plenty of times now.  The last time I ran it, I felt great and I PR’d.  This time was harder.  At about mile 8 I saw Ann and Jay, sadly no costumes this times, perhaps I have to run a full for them to bust out costumes again! J  We crossed mile 10 and this was a challenge.  This event had a 10-mile and a ½ on the same course.  So the half-ers had to run by the 10-mile finish line…torture for a tired old half marathoner!  But I did not quit; I didn’t stop.  I knew I couldn’t throw in the towel.  I had people waiting for me at the finish.  I wanted to finish a half marathon, not a 10 miler!

I got just past the 10 mile finish and I saw Tanya who I have played volleyball with for the last 3-4 years.  She encouraged me (knowing my sick/lack of training story) and kept me going for a while longer.

The last 3 miles this time were tougher and a lot more hilly than I remember from the Women Rock on Labor Day.  Somewhere in there saw Kat at a port-a-potty and she said go on, I’ll catch up with you, so I did.  I was crossing over the river bridge just before 11 and I spotted Kat a little ways behind me and eventually she and Liz caught up with me and we ran the last 1.5 or so together.  Kat and I decided that since we’ve only ever connected via twitter/blog/ichat and twice in real life that we should bond a little!  I was really nice to have someone to keep me going.  In reality if I were along I probably would have starting walking half way through mile 12.  But she was keeping me going, we went at my slow pace, but she stayed with me and Liz went off a few yards ahead of us.

We talked about work and life and whatnot for the last 15 minutes of the race and we crossed the finish line together, with what felt like a nice strong kick in the last 100 yards or so, in about 2:43.  Only 12 minutes off my PR time, which for me was a success.  It was not my worse time, and my knee and hip were feeling fine at the finish.  So a win all around!

Finish line shot with Kat and her gals! (photo complements of Kat)

To Kat – Thanks for the pep talk in the beginning miles, for being strong for me and caring about me.  I’m glad that I had written about being scared about this race.  You knew the best things to say.  Thank you for being a great friend and running buddy! Let’s lunch soon!

After I got my bag and put on warm clothes, I met up with Linda her family and Brittany and we made our way out to Buffalo Wild Wings where had wings and fries and about a gallon of water!  of course, we had to have dessert.  The beer menu was just funny too…and I may have been delirious too.

Hard earned dessert, and yes, I shared!

Also, I TOTALLY spaced on my traditional excited finish line picture a la Heidi so I did it in the b-dubs parking lot.  I’m a classy gal, I tell ya!

And with that, 1/2 marathon #7 is in the books!