Last weekend- April 5th- was National Intercollegiate Running Club Associations’ half marathon nationals. I traveled with my running club from Grand Valley State University to the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana for the race. Our drive was about five hours, riding with six other people from the club. On the way we watched Anchorman 2, which honestly was the worst movie I have ever seen. No offense to you Will Ferrell fans. I tried sriracha sauce for the first time at a subway. After that, I did a fire drill at one of the red lights. (you get out of the car and run a lap around it before it turns green) This was probably the most entertaining part of the ride. We all got a laugh at it.
Our hotel was a stones’ throw from the starting line. we got to sleep in a bit (compared to other race days) until around 6:45. It was a perfect morning for the race, with no wind and about 40 degrees. The race started at the top of a hill at the IU stadium at 8am. The sun was starting to rise, and illuminated the stadium and the road with a light orange/pink tint. I did my stretching routine with my Ipod playing some August Burns Red, my favorite pump up band. It was a cool atmosphere. I went out in the front group. At mile one, we were doing 5:05 pace, and I knew I was in the wrong place. I pulled my pace back to around 5:15-20, staying in 10th place. The course took us downtown and around campus, through the Greek housing, through some neighborhoods, etc. It was constant hills, and we did about 900 feet of gain. Hills are my strong, and also where I was able to catch a few other runners, so I didn’t mind. The first three aid stations were bad news for me. I missed the water each time. Twice I grabbed for the water but missed it, and another time, the person GRIPPING the water didn’t let go. I was pretty bummed, but managed to grab three cups at station four to make sure I stayed hydrated.
The finish was on a (you guessed it) hill. I sprinted toward it, runnign through the crowds, with some people from running club cheering me on. I crossed the finish line of the hilliest half I have ever done with a near-PR time of 1:15:54 in 16th place. I got the medal and dropped it off with the people from running club, and went back out on the course to backtrack and cheer on our fellow team mates. After 4 more miles, I called it a “race” and went back to enjoy bagels and bananas at the finish with the rest of the team.
We spent the better part of the day watching and participating in track events. One of my team mates had to scratch from the open 400m, so I filled his place. I hadn’t ran the 400 in four years, my last time being in high school. Furthermore, I didn’t have on my racing clothes either. I borrowed a team mates jersey and, yes, shorts, from a female team mate. I was the coolest looking sprinter on the track for that race. Also, I didn’t get last, as I was seeded haha. It was the slowest 400 I have ever ran (this is why I am a distance runner) with a blazing fast time of 62.5 seconds. I used our team microphone to cheer on our team mates. This was a lot of fun for me and the rest of the team, as we were the loudest team in the stadium. I mean, at least WE thought it was fun. I got to see the 3000m steeplechase for the first time. We had two competitors in the race from our team on both the mens and womens side if I remember right.
We spent the night getting pizza at some hole-in-the-wall place, and it was surprisingly good. After that, we went back to the hotel and… SURPRISE! there was a birthday party for me and Crystal, another team mate. It was my 21st that day, and she was a few days away from 20. Our festivities included cards and a game of mafia. At midnight, I popped a bottle of champagne off the balcony. between the 22 of us, we finished not even a third of the bottle. We go hard. (not)
The next morning I did 7 miles with Carlee from club. (also the girl whos shorts I wore haha) We did a hill that was easily a mile and a half long, and saw the sun rise over the city reservoir with fog on the horizon. It was a beautiful morning for the run. Not too bad for my first one of being 21.
Overall, it was the best weekend I could have asked for, and probably the best on I have had so far in college. It is a great bunch of friends to be with, and it is always good to be able to race!