It is finally over. I dragged 13.1 miles out of myself and somehow got a medal for it. They say that the pain doesn't matter when you cross the finish line because you're so overwhelmed by the feeling of accomplishment, but I beg to differ. That was a whole lot of pain to be able to say "I did it."
Pain excluded, the half-marathon was definitely enjoyable and the scenery was beautiful. We even caught a glimpse of a bald eagle sitting in a tree right next to the trail, and only 8-10 feet from the ground. Our course took us directly along Lake Washington and then through the I-90 express lanes toward downtown. I've never been so excited to see the finish line at Qwest Field, and those last two miles were the longest miles I've ever run. Part of that was psychological, I think: the 10th mile marker was in the I-90 tunnel, and I hadn't been paying attention when I suddenly saw the 13th mile marker. I was momentarily elated, thinking that I was almost done and I didn't even hurt too badly! Then the 13.1 mile marker came and went. We were still on I-90 heading toward the stadiums. The runners around me started expressing dismay too and we wondered if we had missed something. Turns out the 13th mile marker was for the FULL marathon runners, who had joined up with us somewhere on I-90. We figured this out as we saw the 11th mile marker, marked in yellow for the half-marathoners. The realization that I had not yet finished but was in fact still two miles away was sort of a blow. You may think two miles isn't much but when you add it on top of 11 miles... you have to dig for some reserve energy.
I had the privilege of running my first half-marathon with my brother, Richard, who flew over for the weekend from Denver. We ran the first five miles together, but my pace is slower than his and he arrived at the finish line a solid 20 minutes before I did. Richard's a born athlete but had only completed a 6-mile run before the half-marathon. Training in Denver has its merits though, and I think he found the Seattle air to be quite more oxygenated than Denver's! He did great and I'm glad I got to share the experience with him!