Last year I ran the Wilson Bridge Half Marathon and in my recap I said it was probably my favorite half marathon to date. I was so excited to run it again this year along with many of my friends and running buddies. It was going to be my “comeback” half marathon 4 1/2 months after baby #2 and I couldn’t wait to see what I could do. My goal was to run it faster than I did last year at 8 weeks pregnant (1:56:20). I was motivated and ready!
And then rumors of another government shutdown started happening, and I got nervous. When the government shutdown in 2013 due to budget issues at the end of the fiscal year (September 30th), the Wilson Bridge Half couldn’t happen because most of the course went through a national park. It was postponed to early November, and I had to defer to the following year since the make-up date conflicted with the OBX Marathon. It was disappointing, but I was thankful that I was able to defer my registration and run it in 2014.
This year the government didn’t end up shutting down since they were able to reach an agreement in time, but I couldn’t really breathe a sigh of relief yet because a bigger problem was heading our way: Hurricane Joaquin. The storm turned into a category 4 hurricane and apparently the WWBH had to make a decision whether to hold their race or not, since the expo was coming up soon. They decided to cancel on Friday due to the forecast of heavy rain and high winds on a course that’s prone to flooding. I understood their decision – even as the forecast started looking better as the hurricane went to sea. I even understood their no refund policy, since most of the funds had already been spent on the race. What upset me the most, however, was that they were not rescheduling to a new date or offering any kind of deferral. They only offered 25% off next year’s registration to people who were supposed to run this year.
My friends and I were more than a little upset and angry by this. It honestly felt like a slap in the face, especially since I loved this race so much last year. Hey – come register for this $100 race and when it’s cancelled, spend an additional $75 to run it the following year! $175 for a half marathon – no thank you. Oh, and you have to come to us (an hour away) to get your medal, bib and t-shirt. Really?! In order to channel our disappointment we decided to take action and run anyway. My local Moms Run This Town group set up our very own half marathon “race” for all of us that were supposed to run, and some others who wanted to be a part of it. It started as one person’s idea to run a shadow race on Sunday morning, and it took off in a big way! Once we starting talking and planning I got super excited. I was thankful that it gave me something to look forward to after all! On Saturday night I went to my friend Laura’s house and we made our own homemade bibs with construction paper, Sharpies and tape. We were very proud of our work 🙂
I got my racing gear all ready and laid it out. I felt like I was actually running a real race, and I loved it! I decided I was still going to go for my goal of running faster than I did at last year’s WWBH while 8 weeks pregnant – which was 1:56:20. I didn’t know if it was realistic at 4 1/2 months post-partum, but my running has been going really well so I wanted to try.
Some other people and running groups from this area also did their own replacement race, but they ran the actual course from Mount Vernon to National Harbor. My group decided to do our race on an out-and-back running path that we were familiar with so that our ladies could easily come out to participate or to support us. We had a big group- some that were running 13.1, some that were running more or less, some that just came out to cheer… it was awesome! Almost everyone also contributed a treat or a drink for our own “finish line” celebration. So exciting!
The weather was chilly and it was raining lightly with a little wind, but it was definitely not the hurricane that was originally predicted. We all started the run together a little after 7 AM, and quickly settled into our own paces and little groups. I ran with my friend Cynthia who was interested in running a similar pace. Laura went ahead to try to get herself the PR she wanted at the WWBH, and everyone else spread out. It was comforting to know we were all out on the same path running together at the same time, even if we weren’t all physically together.
The first few miles flew by as Cynthia and I chatted. She was not originally going to run the WWBH and was only scheduled to run 12 miles, but decided to run all 13.1 instead. I was very thankful for her company, especially when the rain and wind picked up a bit. We knew there would be some of our ladies around mile 5 who had set up their own water and cheering station for us. It was so nice seeing them and knowing they came out for us on this rainy day! We also started seeing some of the faster runners turning around to head back, including Laura who was killing it! I was so excited for her and ready to turn around myself.
Once we turned around at mile 6.55 I felt a lot better. The rain was no longer falling right into my eyes, the wind was at my back, and the rolling hills were more downhill than uphill. Plus, we got to see our friends again as we passed by the table on our way back!
My stomach started hurting a little bit between mile 9 and 10. I told Cynthia I may have to slow my pace a little and she didn’t mind. We started running around a 9:08 pace until about mile 12. I saw that we had about 10 minutes left to get in around 1:56, which was my goal and would also be a half marathon PR for Cynthia! I told my stomach to quiet down and we finished strong. I almost fell over when I saw that the ladies in my group had made their own finish line for us to run through. Sweetest thing ever!
After we crossed we checked in with the other runners who had finished, including Laura who had a HUGE 10 minute PR, running a 1:47! We also watched more runners come through and cheered them on. There was a whole spread set up for us that included coffee, water, bananas, pumpkin muffins (made by me!), cookies, trail mix, mimosas (!!) and more. It was so unbelievably nice!
Here are our splits:
- Mile 1 – 9:05
- Mile 2 – 8:41
- Mile 3 – 8:41
- Mile 4 – 8:37
- Mile 5 – 8:47
- Mile 6 – 8:52
- Mile 7 – 8:57
- Mile 8 -8:49
- Mile 9 – 8:55
- Mile 10 – 9:09
- Mile 11 – 9:08
- Mile 12 – 9:08
- Mile 13 – 8:40
- Last .10 – 7:45 pace
Finish Time – 1:56:13, 8:52 average pace
I feel so lucky to know and be a part of this amazing and supportive group of women. Many of us met our goals and we really made the best out of the situation. Two of my friends got new PRs, some were running 13.1 for the first time, and I met my goal of running faster than I did last year at 8 weeks pregnant (by 7 seconds, whew!). I’m so proud of all of us! Who needs the Wilson Bridge Half Marathon? Not us 🙂