First, I would like to give a shout out to the folks who helped make this race happen: the ever sweet Elyse who helped me out come packet pick-up pickle, and Jen, whose smiling face was just the steadying pick-me-up I needed after my rocky start.
Yes, there was a very rocky start to this race. Half marathon number five almost wasn’t!
There were a few hiccups, but in the end, thanks Maleficent did manage to run through the finish.
It started with the packet pick-up conundrum: I’ve never run an event before that did not have day-of pick-up. This usually isn’t an issue as the two types of races I seem to run are either (1) very local and thus convenient or (2) destination to the extent that travel means there’s no way I could miss packet pick-up. The 2nd Run Like a Diva Half Marathon and 5K in the Bay Area was held in Burlingame, which is semi-local in that I can drive there, but hardly convenient in that it takes a bit of a drive before I even cross the Bay Bridge. Thus, having some conflicts I could not avoid, I was almost stuck without a bib! Elyse saved me and picked it up. Meeting her before the race should have been easy enough, especially since in a crowd of neon pink, shirtless horned me was pretty easy to find.
Shut eye ended around three am to the death march song of my poor mister, dying in the other bathroom. Food poisoning. All the plans about drop offs and pick ups and the like were nixed on the spot: I’d have to drive myself. (Notably, driving is not my favorite.) Somehow I managed a bit more sleep, got mostly dressed, in the rush forgot to BodyGlide my toes, and got out the door and on the road. Parking? Check. Fifteen minute walk to the race site? (Some folks got shuttled in from parking a few miles away.) Check. Bib? Uh…
Time was ticking away and Elyse and I had missed each other. As I saw the flood of half marathoners pushing through the start line, leaving the three waves of 5k eagerly awaiting, I didn’t see a bib under the “Seeded Runners” pace sign. I began to panic. Not only I was seemingly the only shirtless person there and not only was I wearing horns, I was also now the frantic person who is asking everyone if they’ve seen a bib. Talented woman she is, Elyse texted me on the run – and I figured it out. Duh, Christina, she wouldn’t just leave a bib fluttering around. I snatched the full race bag, shirt and all, from under the sign, waved my bib at the timing woman with a frantic “Can I still go?!?” She waved me on begrudgingly but kindly enough and I was off like a jet as the first 5k wave threatened to begin.
I was running about 80%, clutching the string bag, trying to adhere my bib. A few blocks in on the unmarked course I stopped to situate myself. String bag now tied to the back of my Hydraquiver, bib attached and – aw, fuck – sag wagon in site, I was off with my old mission of setting a baseline time to beat for the month dead and gone: I was running to beat the sweep, anyone else I could pass, and make the most out of my disastrous start.
As I began to find a groove and more women, thus making me feel a bit more secure that I wasn’t just running into parts of Burlingame unknown, I spotted a group of gals in pink Sparkle Athletic skirts, whose tanks were emblazoned with “Running with the Cool Kids” on the back. Immediately it made sense: happy blonde ponytail, pink sparkle, cool kids? It had to be Jen! Not to be scolded for being shy a second time, I ran right up to her for a hello, a hug and a quick picture. That brief interaction really calmed me for some reason. Call it the magic of a familiar face, or of the Team Sparkle sisterhood, but suddenly I had found a sense of calm despite all the chaos.
It was definitely not my best half marathon performance yet – as a matter of fact my slowest road race to date – but I smiled, I took pictures with some strangers and even had a guy yell “I loved you in that movie!” as I ran past.
There were unexpected lessons here. I didn’t expect to come away with the knowledge that I can undoubtedly run a sub 2:30 half no matter what. I came away feeling like I have finally begun to figure out what sort of fueling works for me. That trusting in your training and your tried and true gear is a good thing.
Originally published on scrinina.org