But as with any race, the closer it got to race time the more excited I got.. and some nerves kicked in. I haven't been running a lot of mileage. In fact, my longest run for the last 4 weeks or more.. I'm not even sure? Was only maybe a mile and that was probably with Miles.
I was running the last leg which was 4.9 miles, but I have to say I was nervous about it. I mean my friend was running the full. It would be very bad if I had to ask her to stop and walk for me because I needed a break. Umm... hello.. she would be over 20 miles at that point, I'm there to encourage her not slow her down.
Anyway, we got to the island at 7:20 for group photos. The energy of the River Runners as always is electrified. We are one rowdy, encouraging, diverse yet unified group of runners.
As I stood at the start line cheering my friends on... I felt excitement that I would be running today... and relief that I wasn't doing the full. Yep, since my last marathon experience / training, still at this point I have zero, zilch, nada, no way in h*ll desire to run a full. I'm not even into running a Half Marathon at his point. But, I am ready to up my mileage past a mile run :)
Seeing how this was my first relay, I really didn't know what to expect. And I made some major rookie mistakes. The main one being FOOD! Yep, I had packed a little snack bag, but on my rush to get out the door I forgot it. I did manage to get in touch with a friend and she brought some granola bars. But let me tell you, after getting up before 6am, eating toast with banana and peanut butter, by the 8am start I was hungry. I hate half a granola bar. By 10am I was hungry again and ate another granola bar. By the time we actually got to start running I was a little shakey. I had assumed that there would be something at the relay point (bagel, banana or something). I should have looked into that a little more. And honestly I should have packed a sandwich or some type of substantial food.
We didn't start running until after 12:30pm. So I'd been there since 7:20.
The fun part: Cheering on the other runners. That was awesome. I saw their faces. I remember the struggle - the guy who was less than half way with visible calf cramps. He was in pain. I could see it on his face. I could also see the muscle physically cramped. (This was me in 2013 when I cramped up). I remember it, and I felt for him. And I screamed my heart out that he was doing awesome. I saw the front of the pack whiz past me with a look of determination and focus. And I saw the middle of the packers with the same look of determination and focus. And I saw and ran with the back of the packers with determination and focus. Because, as you will find out, no matter your pace or your place, we are all runners. One thing I will point out is by the time the back of the packers come through the course support is slim to none. I saw people with long stretches where they were the only ones running. That can mess with your head sometimes especially when everything hurts...
I met a lady who was running her first marathon. I don't remember her name, but I remember her face. We cheered her on. Told her to keep going as my rowdy group passed her.
I saw her after she crossed the finish line. I jumped up to run to her and congratulate her. I saw her tears of accomplishment. I felt my eyes tear up as I gave her a high five. I feel the moisture in my eyes now as I type this. I may never see her again, but I was a small part in celebrating her accomplishment.
For me personally, it was a great experience! I have to admit the waiting was hard. I mean waiting 4+ hours to run wasn't easy. We were the very last relay team to take off, but I thought we probably would be. Hello - tourist run.
And although I may have run the shorter leg of less than 5 miles, I still felt a sense of accomplishment because I knew that was actually a push for me since I haven't been running a lot of mileage. I was able to have fun with my friend as she finished a marathon. It was great to run with my friends on the relay team (some new some old) and be a part of the Harrisburg Marathon. And I would definitely do it again.
“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.” ― Kathrine Switzer, 26.2: Marathon Stories
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