Truth – Chuck Norris never beat the Wilson Bridge.
Race weekend began with a road trip to Southern Va to go wedding dress shopping with my best friend, for her not me. While I was fulfilling my Maid of Honor duties, mom went to pick up my race packet. Thanks mom!
It was the first time I missed a pre-race expo. I was a little bummed because expos always get me hyped for a race. But mom made sure to bring me back lots of race gear including a hoodie and three headbands. They say: “Keep Running,” “Cats Rule,” and “Marathon Girl.” Obviously, “Cats Rule” was my favorite. I’ll start wearing “Marathon Girl” after I register for my first marathon.
I was back to Northern Virginia in plenty of time to rest before race day. For some reason, I had major anxiety about over-sleeping. So I was up almost every hour checking my phone. I was up before my 5:00am alarm because I was just too amped to sleep.
I did my usual race morning routine – stretching, water, banana, sun butter and Gatorade. Then I got dressed. All week long, I was hoping the temps would rise a little. They never did, so I ended up wearing Under Armour, a tee, running vest (from the Crossroads17.75k instead of tech tees), capris, a hat and gloves.
I wore a hat and the vest in case it rained. I knew they would keep me semi dry. I also planned on taking off the gloves once I warmed up. Mom couldn’t come to this race, so Marcus was my solo cheerleader.
He dropped me off at the start at Mount Vernon. It was cold, windy and dark. I wanted to stay warm in the truck, but knew I needed to get outside and get my body used to the chilly weather.
I spent the hour before using the bathroom, chatting with another runner and jogging to warm up my legs. My muscles felt extremely tight no matter how much I stretched. The abnormally cold weather was a shock to the legs, definitely.
The time passed quickly, and before I knew it we were being called to line up. The butterflies turned to pure adrenaline and my warrior runner came out. With my music blaring, I crossed the start line with a big smile and a fist pump.
The first few miles passed pretty quickly. My legs took a really long time to get loose. The rest of my body warmed up pretty quickly and I took off my gloves and headband (which I was wearing around my ears).
The runners dispersed well and I had lots of room to run. I was able to find my stride with no problem. Some of the small hills along the way were giving me issues because my legs were just too tight. Plus the cold was affecting my knees.
Miles 5-8 were the best for me. I finally got into my zone and the miles seemed to go by quickly. Those miles are always my favorite on training runs too. I guess it’s when I finally turn my brain off and just run.
Since I ran this race last year, I knew miles 8-9 were on the bridge. I was ready for the long incline of the Wilson Bridge, but it still wasn’t easy. All around me, people were dropping down to a walk on the bridge. But I just kept yelling at myself in my head. I said, “You will not walk this bridge.” And I didn’t. Even though it wasn’t fast, I didn’t let the bridge beat me.
Also, how cool are these twins? Apparently, running is their thing and their parents sign up just to run with them. They were dressed alike and totally professional. Legit.
As we neared Maryland, the bridge turned into a welcomed downhill. We had 3 looping miles in Maryland around the National Harbour, before we made it to the home stretch.
Of course, more hills were thrown in. By this time I was just wanted the race to be over. My legs were not happy. And down by the river, the wind was vicious and cold. I knew once we got near the hotels, we were almost done. So I gave it all I had for the last bit.
I saw Marcus and gave him a huge smile and high five. He gave me the boost I needed to finish.
So I thought…they moved the finish line from last year. So I sprinted past Marcus thinking I was about to reach the finish line. Well, the course kept going and looping through the skinny sidewalks by the river. I was gasping for breath, trying to keep my sprint going.
The course kept going for another 1/4-ish of a mile and I finally saw the finish line behind the beer tent. It was in a totally random place and pretty small. Not at all like last year. So I pushed with whatever I had and crossed the finish line, totally gassed out.
I found Marcus and the first thing I said to him was, “They moved the finish line!” But I got over it quickly when I realized that my 6th half marathon was officially finished.
I was super excited about my bling. And my Mercedes…I wish!
I love the hand and bridge symbol that inspired the medal – so hard core.
The wind and cold really set in once I stopped running. But Marcus didn’t complain. He handed me my flip flops and hoodie and told me he was proud of me. 🙂
Once we got to the truck, the runner’s high set in and totally canceled out every other pain. I felt awesome. It was a tough race, especially in the unseasonably cold weather, but I did it.
The Wilson Bridge Half is still one of my favorite races. It’s well organized. The volunteers are super nice and encouraging. The medals are badass. And I love the course. I can’t wait to run it again next year!