Short story: I did it!
Long story: I got in bed at 9:30 hoping to get a good amount of sleep. Due to various reasons (mind was racing, neighbors were arguing, kept getting up to pee), I didn't fal asleep till about 11:30. I had set my alarm for 3:25 but woke up at 3:20 when I heard hubby in the bathroom. Got up, ate a cup of multigrain cheerios, got dressed. Our friend Melanie came over at 4 since she was riding with us. Got everything ready, went through one last mental checklist, and we were out the door around 4:15.
We got to the parking location about 5 and loaded the shuttle to the race start. It was pretty dark out and I was still waking up. The shuttle took about 20 minutes and then we were there! I ate another cup of cheerios and we all used the porta-potties since there wasn't a line yet. The race didn't start till 7 so we waited around, talking and stretching. They had water and bananas available but I was afraid of having cramps or having to make a bathroom stop during the race so I didn't have anything (mistake #1).
Around 6:30 we walked over to our corral, it was pretty far back (we were 20 out of about 27). The sun was starting to rise and it was right in our eyes. At 7 the race started, and we slowly moved toward the front. The crowd was pretty energized and excited. The horn finally blew for our corral around 7:30 and we were off! We started off great. Everyone was excited, there was crowd support right away, and the weather was cool and breezy. The first 3 miles flew by. We stopped at the first station at about 3.5 miles, it was our first planned stop. And the first time I drank some water (mistake #2). I kind of had to go to the bathroom but didn't want to hold Chris and Mel up so we walked for a bit for my water and GU to settle, then started running again. Around mile 5 we all stopped to use the porta-potties. The line took several minutes and it was hard to get started again. Still doing ok though.
We stopped at another station at around 7 miles, our second planned stop. I could feel I was quickly losing steam. I had 1/2 a Hammer Gel and some more water, but I only made it about a mile before I had to stop again. I was completely out of energy with 5 miles to go. I felt so bad making Chris and Mel stop to walk with me, I kept telling them to go ahead but they wouldn't. I just took it 1 mile at a time, walking every so often. Around 10 miles I could tell I was pretty dehydated, my skin was covered in salt from sweating and my fingers were pretty swollen. I started stopping at every station to drink water. Then all the water made me feel sick when we ran. Then I would feel bad for walking. It was a bad cycle.
Finally we turned the corner onto the boardwalk, the final stretch. We could see the finish line but it seemed so far away. I was expecting to feel some huge catharsis or revelation when we crossed the finish line. I didn't. I was excited we had finished the race, but other than that I didn't feel a whole lot. We got our water bottles, snack bags, and medals. I could see potential vomit situations around us so I tried to get out of the "secure area" as fast as we could. We met up with Mel's husband and his parents, and she left with them. We walked around for a bit and the soreness started to set in. I immediately had a newfound respect for runners. All I wanted to do was sit down, but they had instructed us to walk around for at least 20 minutes. I got another water bottle and Chris got our checked bags back. We walked down to where the shuttles were and luckily got on a bus that had room for us to sit. There was no way I could stand and brace myself for the 20 minute ride.
Back at the parking location we took a few pictures with our medals. I tried to upload some but the computer is not cooperating. We drove back home and hubby picked up pizza for me while I was in the shower. I felt pretty good by then, the only soreness I had yesterday was in my achilles. Today I had some soreness in my quads and lower back. I'm surprised I'm not more sore actually.
I'm frustrated and disappointed at how the race turned out. I put in all the training, read all the books, and thought I was very prepared. But looking back I made 2 crucial mistakes; I didn't eat enough before the race (2 cups of cheerios doesn't get you very far), and I didn't hydrate enough before and during the race. My long runs are usually done by 7:30 and I don't have to deal with the effects of the sun; we didn't even start till 7:30. Mainly I am sorry that I held Mel and Chris back, because I know they could have gone a lot faster if I hadn't kept stopping.
Moving on, Philly is in two weeks and I am looking forward to taking what I learned from this race and applying it. I just wish I had had a better experience for my first half, and for Mel and Chris' first too.