This post is dedicated in memoriam to my white Oiselle Flyer Jacket, who was sacrificed during this race. She has been dyed forever green, and while I will do my best to revive her, I will note she has served me oh so well over this year plus, and I hope she went out doing what she loved best: keeping me warm and dry(er) on the run.
The first half marathon I ever ran was a runDisney event, inspired in part by an ad I saw in Runner’s World magazine. Since that fateful Tinker Bell Half Marathon in 2013, I have now participated in four runDisney half marathons and two runDisney 10Ks – but all of those events were here on my beloved West Coast.
My dear friend and former college roommate Kari (in the Flash tee) and I said years and years ago, likely over baskets of buffalo clucks and fries with chocolate milkshakes at Red Robin — which tells you how long ago this was — that when we turned 30, we would take a trip to Walt Disney World. For whatever reason, this became our mission. We were a little behind on our deadline, but with a bit of luck on our side, we finally made it this year. This was to be her third half marathon, all runDisney, and my eighth half marathon (ninth counting the virtual half I doubled up on a non-virtual half.)
However, this race was unlike any of the other half marathons either of us had run before: the Wine and Dine Half Marathon was not only out of state, but at night.
Oh, and then something happened that was not part of anyone’s plans…
It rained, pretty much the entire time we were corralled – a full ninety minutes or so – and on the course. After the race I dubbed it the #WineDineSplashHalf on social media.
For the record, I do not recommend sewing el wire onto your wings on the shuttle bus that will take you to the corral. (Yes, that’s me frantically sewing the rest of the el wire onto my wings under the light of Kari’s phone while Anna sewed her el wire directly to her shirt. However, I DID hold up in the rain! No one was shocked, literally.) Do all that crafty shit much further in advance, yo – but do use el wire. Everyone will notice you and your ego will be rubbed with compliments!
It was a rough thirteen point one for Flora (Anna, in pink,) Fauna (not Tinkerbell, as so many folks yelled at me on the course,) and Merryweather (my friend Kari, in blue.) My original game plan was to be their mobile aid station: I filled my bottle with pineapple Skratch, loaded up the my Hydraquiver pockets with more Skratch and EnergyBits for all, my GoPro, a battery charger (not my idea, but I carried that huge thing!) and began to mentally prepare myself for my first ever ‘job’ pacing.
When we started out, adrenaline carried the gals through any doubts they may have had, or at the very least, they did a damn good job of not letting me see how nervous they were. More than anything I wanted them to do what was familiar and what felt comfortable. We settled into Anna’s corral, the furthest back of the three. (I was supposed to be in D, not I. Oh well.) We let Kari pick the running pace while Anna called out the five minutes of running, one minute of walking we had decided to start with. As the rain continued to come down, and occasionally from the side, and as puddles were stepped in, as runners in ponchos began to pass us and the cool wind picked up around corners, I could feel the shift in attitude: we as a team were heading into ‘this sucks and I give up’ territory, and I wasn’t having any of it.
I cheerlead. I literally danced around them. I sang a little bit here and there (sorry, folks within earshot.) Yes, I AM that lady who still manages to get this race photo despite the conditions. It’s an acquired skill.
I took it in stride as nerves began to show, as Kari began to half shout “Just give me the three and the one!” at Anna, who had brought down the Galloway-method timer from 5:1 to 3:1 on request. I knew if by mile eight at my experienced-in-the-rain-and-at-night “shaky Chihuahua” self, as the gals had dubbed me, was feeling cold and rough, Anna and Kari must have been in a world of hurt. As we pushed through the miles and tromped through puddles, I kept urging them in front of me, saying “I’m the caboose,” running close enough for them to hear my steps, close enough to use my breathing as a reminder to take a breath of their own. Soaked through and not moving enough to actually keep myself warm, I started worrying more and more about the gals as they could no longer hide their pained expressions, gastro complaints and the like.
Our original mission was to finish together, get our Coast to Coast medals and have a great night. I now had a new mission: get these gals out of territory where they might be swept and keep them away from their first-ever DNFs. If I could eek a smile out of them crossing the finish line, that would be a huge bonus.
And wouldn’t you know it? Anna and Kari BEASTED it out: every time Anna said, “Okay, we can run if you want,” Kari would pick it up and start chugging along. Every time I asked, “C’mon, where’s her one minute?” and Anna told me it was coming, I knew it was really a silent push to keep everyone running. (Or rather, I rationalized how long time felt that way.) Besides, it wasn’t ALL terrible. (Part 2 has the happiness in it, I promise.)
As we rounded the corner of the last .1 mile, the rallying cry was “Together! Together!” We had made it this far, every half mile past where they could have been swept at mile 9 a huge victory. The finish line was calling our names and all the troubles of the last 13 miles, of us chanting “Cake! Cake! Cake” and “Coast to Coast, Coast to Coast” over and over began to fade. We all began to speed up. Pain waned. Flora, Fauna and Merryweather were in the home stretch: there was NO way we weren’t going to get a great finish together! Or so we thought…
It’s okay, Miss Magic Milers. Even if we didn’t intend for you to be part of our finish, you brought another punch of Sparkle Athletic and a nice color splash balance to the watery scene. (Edit: And thanks MarathonFoto for capturing something close to our moment.)
Did you participate in this year’s Wine Dine Splash Half Marathon? Anyone else earn a Coast to Coast medal? Did you see us out on the course? Tell me all about it (and what you ate/drank after)!