Let's start from Saturday morning (the morning before the race). I woke up at 7 hoping that an early-ish wake up would help me fall asleep on Saturday night. I finished packing and anxiously awaited Mom and Vic's arrival to the Lehigh Valley. We went out to a nice lunch on the North Side and got all caught up with one another. Then we headed to Allentown for packet pick-up for the race and to check in to the hotel.
Vic and Me at the race expo
We walked around the race expo, and got our bibs and shoe tags. Then we got fleece vests that said St. Luke's Lehigh Valley Half Marathon on them. They were really poor quality (like felt), so Vic and I decided to use them as our throw away clothes instead of something that we sort of liked. FYI throw away clothes are clothes that you wear at the beginning of the race and then toss them once you start running. Usually races will donate the discarded clothing. I had looked earlier in the week at Target for a hoodie or something, but they mostly only had summer clothes or they cost more money that I wanted to spend for something I was just going to throw away. So the crappy fleece vest was the perfect choice.
Next, we spotted Christopher McDougall, the author of Born to Run. I went over and said hi and told him that I was a fan of the book. I was going to run back to the car to get my book but he said he had to leave soon to go over to the kid's race that was going on across the street so I didn't bother. But it was still cool to meet him! Then mom bought me a fuel belt because we didn't think Vic's would be big enough for all of our stuff for race day. We ended up not using it for the race because you aren't supposed to do anything new on race day, but I'm excited to use it later! Mom also got us 13.1 stickers and magnets that we made her hold hostage until after the race...when we really deserved them haha!
After, we checked into the hotel and we went on the hunt for a grocery store to buy some instant oatmeal to make for breakfast in the hotel room pre-race. Then Mom left us and Vic and I chilled in the hotel room until our Team in Training dinner. While we were in the room I remembered that I had a little something for Vic and I asked her if she wanted her present before or after the race. She said before so I decided to give it to her then. I bought us each a bracelet with a charm on it that has 13.1 on one side and Courage Strength Resolve on the other side. I think she really liked it!
Blurry shot of the charm
Around 6:00 we headed down the street to Allentown Brewworks. When we got there we headed up to the second floor (which is where Vic had her senior formal for Lehigh a couple years ago!). On our way up the stairs the coaches and mentors were cheering and using noise makers, etc. It really pumped us up! Then we got dinner (crappy pasta and chicken..I would have rather cooked myself...oh well) and watched a slide show of pictures of the people that everyone was running in honor/memory of. Then, we listened to some speakers. To be totally honest, a lot of times when there are speakers at TNT events I zone out. Listening to people tell survivor stories just makes me think...well that's not fair. Don't get me wrong, survivor stories are awesome and great for the survivor (duh), but it can be kind of hard to listen to such "happy" stories.
<3 Dad's birthday party April, 2009
Then they announced the top 3 fundraisers from both Philly and Lehigh Valley (there were about 50 runners from these regions). Vic and I were the top 2 from Philly (and overall) woo! So again thanks for all of your support!! Anyone who raised more than $1,000 above the fundraising minimum (which we shattered) is considered a "rockstar" and we got lots of cool rockstar stuff! We go PA Rock Star stickers to put on our race singlets, Rock Star hats, Rock Star energy drinks (ew), and Rock Star certificates. It was fun and I Vic and I referred to ourselves as rock stars for the whole weekend!
Vic with her sticker
Some of our TNT teammates and us
After the dinner we had a team meeting where the coaches gave tips for the race in the morning. They told us to enjoy the moment, they told us when to fuel, and what to wear, etc, etc, etc. Then we got to decorate our race singlets! They suggested that we write our names on them so that coaches and spectators could yell out our names when cheering us on during the race. Even though our bib's had our names on them already it was still fun to make our singlets our own. We wrote our names on tape across the tops of our shirts and then put our rock star stickers at the end of our names. On the back we pinned a picture of Daddy and wrote <3 Running for Daddy <3
The front of my singlet
The front of Vic's singlet
and our sign on the back
After decorating, we went back to the hotel and got in bed. It was ridiculously early but we wanted to get a good night's sleep. We watched part of a movie and chatted for a while. Then we truned the TV off and were just falling asleep when it sounded like someone was trying to come into our room! We kind of freaked out and that didn't help with falling asleep, so we watched some more of our movie and eventually fell asleep. I woke up a few times during the night, but slept much better than I thought I would. My alarm was set for 5:30 am (aka insanely early) but I woke up at 5 and never ended up falling asleep again.
At 5:30 we got up and got dressed. We made our coffee pot oatmeal and snapped a few pre-race pictures.
Blurry mirror picture
Waiting in the lobby
It looked like it was pretty rainy out but luckily Vic had picked up 2 ponchos from Target for us to wear. After waiting around in the lobby, we headed out to the shuttle bus which would bring us to William Allen High School, which was right near the race start. We went in the high school gym, found the bathroom, and hung around for a while before heading out into the rain to the starting line.
While we were waiting we saw one of Vic's friends from college who was also running the race! It was fun to see a familiar face. Once again, time flew and it was time to head out to the starting line. Vic and I had our ponchos and fleece vests over our race singlets, but I really wanted to show off my singlet and ditched my fleece before the race even started.Someone sang the national anthem and we were off!!! It was a little bit slow getting to the start line, but once we crossed it we were moving! After about a tenth of a mile we decided to toss our ponchos because it wasn't raining very hard at all. I had my iPod on really, really loud, I had mentioned not using my iPod for the race so I could take everything in, but I think the music helped to keep me motivated throughout the race and get in my zone...even if it did mean hearing damage :-/
At first the miles flew by, we were definitely moving slower than my usual pace, but I was sticking with Vic no matter what! There were about 5 or 6 water stations on the course and at each one I grabbed a cup of water. I would pinch the top to help sip it and not spill it all over myself while still running. But, somehow, at each stop I still ended up covered in water! Whoops! We saw 2 of the coaches, Aram and Brooke, at one point but we were feeling good and not that chatty, so they left us to go see if any other TNT runners needed help. The next picture I stole from the website...I know it's copyright infringement, but I wasn't paying 50 bucks for 3 mediocre pictures...so sorry to any super law abiding readers, and sorry for the poor quality.
Around mile 5, Vic says she started to fade, and I did everything I could to keep her pumped up. Just after that we saw Mom and Aunt Nancy!!! I was so happy to see them!
Hard to see, but we are in the middle of the picture waving!
Around mile 6, they had Gu (icky fuel for runners that skeeves me out) but I thought it was a little too early in the race (which others probably strongly disagree with but I didn't want to upset my tummy) so I didn't even think to mention to Vic that we should take our home-packed fuel out of her Spi Belt. I brought grapes and Vic brought pretzels. Soon after, we hit the half way point! We were on a trail for a bit here, and it was a nice change from the pavement, especially since I was so used to training on the trail around here. Vic was struggling and I kept trying to keep her spirits up. I even tried singing to her (Hey, Soul Sister by Train) but I'm not sure the other runners liked that too much even though I have such a lovely voice. Then, we ran into one of the TNT coaches, Linda, and she ran with us for a little bit before stopping to wait for other runners.
As we continued on, I was trying to help Vic but I was also beginning to get frustrated about the slower than usual (for me) pace. We ended up bickering a little bit and I would run ahead a little and then wait for Vic. We ran through a covered bridge around mile 8, which I had noted on the map as being late-ish in the race, so that was exciting to have hit that point. We ran into Linda again and Vic mentioned that we hadn't fueled at all (other than water). I had completely forgotten about it!! Oops! Linda told us to eat now so it would hit us by mile 10. Usually I would stop to eat a little something, but I wanted to keep moving, so I ate my grapes while running. Vic felt like she was going to choke on her pretzels, so we slowed to a walk for about a minute.
Throughout the race there were rolling hills, but it was around this point that we hit some SUPER steep hills. I'm talking...vertical inclines. Surprisingly I felt amazing going up them. I didn't train much on hills (aside from some hills on my shorter runs, or if I ever ran back from the trail on long runs), so it was cool that I could tackle the hills without much effort. On one of the hills, just after Vic and I had been arguing about pace, a woman passed us. She had read the signs on our backs and said, "You're making Daddy proud". It was so amazing to hear that, and may or may not have made me tear up a bit. Then we crossed the same point where we had seen Mom and Nancy before and they were still there cheering for us. While Mom took pictures I ran up and gave Nancy a high five while cheering my head off!
Soon we hit mile 10! Only 3 more miles! These were harder miles because you could see the stadium (where the race ended), but we knew we still had to go out and back for a stretch before we would do our last turn around and be on the home stretch. And it was kind of windy, so every time you thought you were at the end, the course would curve and you would see that you actually had a ways more to go.
After that point though, we saw Aram again, and he helped Vic power through. Aram left us for a little bit to go help some other runners, but then he found us again around mile 12 and he ran with Vic for almost the rest of the way. Then Brooke found me and she ran with me even though I was feeling amazing. She even said to me she had never seen anyone with such a big smile on their face at mile 12! I told her I was ready for a full marathon! It might have been all of the endorphins talking...but we'll see!
Just before the stadium there was a huge incline, which we had been warned about, and even though I was feeling great, how evil is it to put a huge hill at mile 13?!?! As we were powering up that hill Vic saw 2 of her co-workers and I saw my best friend Danielle and her boyfriend Bob holding up an "I <3 Team Berenholz" sign. I jumped up and down and cheered when I saw them! Then we were in the stadium and I grabbed Vic's hand. We had less than a lap around the track to go and we picked up our pace slightly. We saw our family cheering us on which was just the motivation we needed to finish that last little stretch.
Here we come!!
Then we crossed the finish line hand-in-hand. We had finished!!!! Our chip time was 2:22:20. My Garmin was messed up the whole race so I don't know our splits, but our average pace was 11:06. While that is slower than I trained I am so proud that Vic and I did this together!!
Another stolen picture. Us crossing the finish line!!!!!
They wrapped us in the space blanket thingys (I don't know the real term) to lock the heat in and then we got our finisher's medals! I was so excited!
Then I found Danielle and Bob and as we were looking for our family we saw one of the the old instructors from my gym and he told us he thought our hand holding finish was awesome. We took some more pictures and drank a little water.
Holding our sign
We did it!!
Since I had such an incredible time at the race, it gave me a clearer answer to the "what's next?" question. I will definitely be doing distance runs again in the future. For the days following the race (this past week), I took it easy and made sure my legs fully recovered from the race. I ended up taking 2 days off from working out and then did some easy stuff the rest of the week. I haven't done any real running since the race and I don't want to lose any of my endurance so I plan to get back to it this week. As fun as I think it would be to do a triathlon, I think for now I'll be sticking to just running. I want to do a half marathon for time, and I'd like to try doing some training runs longer than 13 miles to see if a full is in the cards. It might not be, and I'm okay with that, but if there was a ever a time to find out/do a full marathon, I think now is it! As long as I'm still having fun training and if I like doing even longer long runs, then I think I'll go for it.
I have also gotten a ton of requests to keep blogging. There is definitely a negative connotation associated with blogging.
But, I have really enjoyed keeping track of my training and telling Daddy stories, and why not do what you enjoy?! So, for those of you who have liked reading this blog...you're in luck! Check out my new blog http://runningintherealworld.wordpress.com/ I will be writing about training for my next race (whenever and whatever that is) and about moving into Philly post-graduation (hopefully sometime soon). Of course my posts will still have Dad-isms in them because he is always with me. Whatever comes next, Dad is in my heart <3
Thanks for reading thanks for donating, and thanks for your support.