Life as an expatriot living and running in the beautiful town of Zwolle, the Netherlands.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

1. Andre, Debbie, and Jurrie

2. Cheering on Coach Jan as he finishes the full Marathon

3. Overview of the island

4. Click on the blue field to see us at the train station... don't know why it doesn't show on this page

5. Railrunner Terschelling group shot

Read the following 2 entries for the full Terschelling rundown...

The Race

Sorry for taking so long to post this. Anyway, the half marathon was pretty awesome. I woke up that morning feeling about 90% healthy and the excitement of running a race put me over the top. I tend to get pretty giddy once I safety pin my number to my chest. I just love that feeling.

The nice thing about the start of the day was realizing that the race did not begin until 1 pm. We had a leisurely breakfast and rode out bikes the 40 minutes from our Slaap Boederij (our dorm) to the race start. We sat down in an indoor staging area, double checking our stuff and eating last minute calories.

I ran with two of my Railrunners, Andre and Jurrie. And let me tell you, I just love those guys. They are fun to be with and really good runners. They just keep a nice steady pace. We decided with one of our coaches, Nico, that we'd shoot for 1 hour 50 minutes. My best before then was just under 2 hours.

The race felt good. We started off easy and then spent the rest of the time passing others. That's fun. I love running with pacers. I didn't have to think. Didn't have to look at my watch. Didn't have to pysche myself out. Just had to run in line with my buddies.

Everything was going great until we hit the sand. About 3/4's the way throught the race, the route went 2 kilometers through the beach. Half of that is on loose-ish sand. And it's hard to stay at an even pace, because the folks in front of us would go fast and slow through the changing terrain. It was hard and I spent those 2 kilometers running on my toes instead of landing with my whole foot. Plus, it was cold... with a massive head wind. On the hill coming out of the sand and back onto the road, both calves started to cramp.

I had never really experienced that kind of cramping in a race. At one point it literally stopped me in my tracks... to the dismay of the runners behind me. When that happened, Andre helped me to stretch. And we ran slow for the next kilometer. We had 5 kilometers to go and I felt bad for slowing down my teammates. I also felt bad because all the rest of me felt so good... I had energy, my spirits were up... just that my calves were like stone blocks. I told Andre and Jurrie to go ahead. But they did not abandon me, even though that would have been totally fine. We stayed together. And we finished together. And this is so silly, but it just touched my heart.

One time, when I was running the San Francisco Marathon, I left a teammate. We were on the last 3 miles and she just could not run. She, in fact, could barely walk. I, on the otherhand, was wanting to finish strong. I tried to stay with her a little ways, but it actually sorta hurt me to go that slow. So after 23 miles together, I left her to finish alone. Even though I was totally justified and she was happy with her experience, I just felt like a creep. And have a little guilt for that to this day.

Andre and Jurrie could have left me behind to finish their race on time. It would have been no problem and it wouldn't have hurt me... just like my friend wasn't hurt by my actions. But you know what... the fact that they wanted to finish with me and helped me gain my pace again... that was a gift. I used to always run for myself and now I'm learning how to be part of a team.

So we finished with a time of 1 hour 54 minutes... a personal best for me. More than 5 minutes off my last best time. That evening I stayed up drinking, playing cards, talking, and eating until 5 am. And spent the entire following week sick with the flu! Totally worth it!