|A picture mom took of me and Thomas before the race.|
|Balloon release before the start to honor those who lost their lives in the tornado.|
|Race start picture, Thomas is in navy blue to the left of the picture.|
|Thomas at mile 2.|
|Thomas at mile 6.|
|Mom heading toward me for the hand off.|
I got so excited when I saw mom turn the corner. She was easy to find not just because I can recognize her form, but also because she was wearing all green. She yelled something to me and I was so excited I took off when she handed the timing band off to me. I wrapped it around my arm and velcroed it as I ran. I hadn't put much thought into our relay order, I just knew mom didn't want to run the last leg so I randomly put people in at the distances they requested. It worked out really well for me because I had lots of people to run with since we were further back in the pack and I was passing people during the entire nearly 8 miles. I went through the first mile in 7:39 and was a pretty surprised I had been so much under the 8:30 I was supposed to have run. I just got so excited and felt good. I slowed down the 2nd mile and figured if I was at 8:00 instead of 8:15 that would be okay since my first mile had been fast. Well, I went through mile 2 in 7:49. At that point I decided since I was feeling so strong and this pace was feeling comfortable there was no sense in slowling drastically, especially since I had heard from people who had run the preview course that my leg would be the hilliest. I didn't want to slow down and then not hit pace my last few miles due to hills so I just kept plugging along.
|Carter waiting at the exchange zone to see me hand off to Uncie J.|
I counted the relays I passed when I could get a glimpse of their armbands but it was impossible to know whether they were in our co-ed division or not. Miles 3-7 were 7:40, 7:38, 7:33, 7:49, and 7:32. You can tell where the biggest hill during the race was, it was in mile 6 of my leg which was mile 15 of the marathon. I had done the math wrong in my head and was thinking I would hand-off to Jeremy around mile 15. It wasn't until I passed the mile 15 mark and was confused how that could be when I was only at 5 miles into my leg when I realized I would pass off around mile 17. I ran through the leg 5 exchange and dad wasn't there yet so I was hoping that meant he was with Jeremy at his exchange. I was a little worried they wouldn't make it in time and I wouldn't have anyone to hand off to. I was feeling strong and was really enjoying myself. The weather was perfect, overcast with a slight drizzle off and on. That huge hill at mile 6 got me and I started to feel a bit tired. I started thinking things over and remembered Thomas said his leg was short and started to wonder if that meant mine would be a little bit long (it was). I kept telling myself to pass as many relays as I could and then I'd pass off to a strong anchor. I knew Jeremy would run an awesome 10k and dad is probably the most consistent 5k runner I know always running around 24 minutes. When I hit mile 7 I told myself less than a mile to go and I got really excited. Somewhere in the last miles of my run I saw Kevin go by going in the opposite direction and cheered for him. I also saw the dad of a friend of mine who was running his first marathon and cheered for him as well. I also passed the female winning the marathon.
When I caught site of the relay exchange balloon arch ahead I could see that I got to run downhill to the finish and I was so excited. It was such an awesome downhill finish and I just let loose, although I did check my watch to make sure I didn't dip under 6:30 pace. I figured since I had totally not followed coach's plan for the race that was the least I could do. I heard mom cheering for me and I just couldn't stop smiling. Then I saw Jeremy step down by the timing mat to prepare for the hand off and I was flooded with a rush of emotions. I started thinking about how freaking lucky I was to be here running this race with my family and handing off to my brother who shouldn't even be alive and was not only alive, but anchoring our relay with the fastest leg! I'm not sure how I kept from crying. I think I channeled all that energy into smiling because I have a giant smile in all the hand-off pictures. I'm a bit of a tank when I get going and struggle to stop so I nearly ran Jeremy over and the look on his face in some of the pictures is hilarious! I saw Ty holding Elise so I ran over to him and then everyone else came over. Thomas and I were talking about how much fun the race was and Thomas was pretty pumped that I had passed 5 relays and we looked to be in 4th place. I found out that Thomas had run his leg in 48:02 and mom had run hers in 35:05. Those times were both on the lower end of the times I had guesstimated and I had run well under my projected time which I had come up with based on the splits coach gave me. My leg ended up being a bit long at 7.74 rather than 7.6. I ran the last 0.74 in 6:52 pace. My average for my leg of the race was 7:36 pace.
|I loved that my mom got a picture of Ty taking a picture of me!|
|Jeremy's face here cracks me up. I think he expected me to slow down a little for the hand off.|
Thomas and I jogged a cool down over to the 4th relay exchange where Jeremy would pass off to dad and everyone else drove over. It ended up being a little over a mile away so it worked perfectly. We saw Kevin go by again during our cool down. Jeremy ran his leg in 46:50 on quite the hilly portion of the course. We saw the relay in front of us exchange from a man to a woman so we knew they were co-ed. The girl took off pretty slow and I told Thomas it was too bad she had such a big lead on dad otherwise he'd be able to catch her. Once Jeremy came into view we all started cheering wildly and I noticed his form was looking more back to normal and less the jerky movement it has been since his accident. He handed off to dad and dad shot off for his leg. We all piled into the van and headed to the finish line. We were standing close to the finish and mom decided to head farther out. Both the kids decided they wanted to go with her so we followed them. In the race information it said the relay members could join with their finisher and all cross the finish line together. We decided not to because we were worried we'd get in the way of marathon finishers but as dad neared there was no one around him and I was still super excited so I took off running with him and yelled for Jeremy who joined in with us. The announcer said we were a 3-person relay which we thought was funny. We picked up the extra medals for mom and Thomas and then met them outside the finishing area.
|Jeremy handing off to dad.|
|Dad finishing out the last 5k of the relay.|
|Me and Jeremy running to the finish with dad.|
|Me, dad, and Jeremy crossing the finish line.|
|All of us in our race shirts.|
|The mixed up results. I had to take a screen shot to save!|
|This picture shows how much fun we had!|