Run for the Whales Half Marathon Race Recap

My race goal was to break 2 hours. My race concerns were Mother Nature and running through the lava fields.

Thursday I started to begin to think about my run. I usually start this earlier but had been wrapped up with work. That night darling daughter decorated a Mommy Go Go sign. I "decorated" my bib with who I was running in memory of - Sherry Arnold and my Dad.

On Friday after work I started getting all my stuff together. Two sprint bottles of Ultima, one larger bottle of nuun, and two packs of GU gel to have just in case.

I woke up at 4:00 am on Saturday morning and I thought luck was on my side. It looked like Mother Nature was going to give me a break. For breakfast I had a banana pancake and a small cup of coffee. I then started to get ready. As I was about to head out the door with the family Mother Nature said hello...but I already came to terms with the fact that I just needed to keep the faith and prayed any cramping would be minimal.

On our drive down I realized I forgot to grab my mix1. That unexpected pit stop through me of course. I contemplated going without the extra calories but opted to do something else. I grabbed a pack of my darling daughter's fruit chews and rinsed them down with a sprint bottle of Ultima. We got to the start with little time to spare. I got my timing chip in place, took a few bathroom breaks, and headed to the start with the family. I felt bad but as it approached 10 minutes until the start I had to leave my family and told them, "I need to go start wrapping my mind around this run." Dear hubby understood.

I moved into the pack of runners and focused on my goal, put my faith in God, and started listening to the man in charge...of starting the race that is. We moved as a group to the start and I let others know that yes, indeed, this race is gun time, not chip time. There is always confusion over that point.

After a one minute delay due to a car on the road, we were off. And I went out strong. I may have started fast but felt I was doing okay overall. I maintained my pace, which was faster than what I needed to achieve my goal. But I told myself to listen to my body, slow if needed, and knew I may need to once I hit the lava fields. That region still had me nervous.

Less than five miles into the race we hit the tricky area. I knew it was tricky and I knew the course map, but I still got confused when I did the second hairpin turn and ended up facing a wall of runners. I still really don't know where they came from but I felt I had to make my way through them and turn left. I did so but was called back. A second course marshal concurred that I went the wrong way and directed us along another pace. Thing is, I was right. They redirected us wrong. At the end of the run, I probably ended up losing 4 minutes and we made a loop before going back to where we were originally misdirected. Now I was frustrated and I wasn't the only runner in the detour pack that was convinced I just lost my PR and goal.

Shortly after getting back on course I saw my family on the roadside at our meeting point for the water bottle switch. Dear hubby told me later that I threw the bottle at him. I guess I could have. I was pissed and told him at that time we were an unhappy group of runners. A runner behind me verbally agreed. And I was annoyed. So annoyed my headphones and music was bugging me but I was having a hard time turning down the volume. I started to walk to take care of that and then fidgeted to get my ear plugs in place and started running again. But it wasn't the same.
Me --- so mad!

My inner drive to race was gone. I even contemplated calling dear hubby to get his car and come get me. Yes, I was determined to give up, go home, and never run again. Then I was annoyed that I was letting this setback impact me. I was mad that I was frustrated. I worked through this mental dilemma for a couple of miles and then hit the part of the course I was concerned about. The lava fields were approaching me. I knew my pace had slowed. I overheard a runner say she got detoured and was just running now. I told her I knew what she meant and that I was happy I wasn't alone in that thought process.

I was now physically hurting as I realized I wasn't drinking like I should have been. I tried. It made me sick. I kept trying. My stomach wasn't happy. Was it Mother Nature? Was it my annoyance? Was it something else? It really didn't matter because all that did matter was that I needed to find a way to keep putting one foot in front of the other and to stop thinking about giving up. Then I remembered why I was running….beyond my own personal goals.

I started repeating the mantra, God, Sherry, Dad, God, Sherry, Dad with each foot stroke. I returned to this on and off throughout the rest of the run whenever I was hurting.

One thing I didn't account for in the lava fields was the sun. It was hot. It was hilly. I couldn't see. And I forged ahead. God, Sherry, Dad.

I hit the turnaround before I realized it and many were literally stopping to drink. I didn't. I couldn't. I turned and started running back. God, Sherry, Dad.

After awhile my head was hurting, my back was aching, and I tried to sip water. I tried to trick myself by taking a little GU gel because I tend to drink better after that. Big fail. I forced myself to drink some because you need to with gel and dealt with the painful stomach. At some point the course director cruised by and cheered me on. I know she was feeling bad about the detour and wondered what she would think about me being one of the "lost runners".

Mommy, I'm hungry!!!
I tried to keep picking up the pace and had to ease up to only try again. When I knew I just had two miles to go I still tried to pick up the pace. I didn't know how close I was to two hours. My Nike+ system was kinda talking to me but I wasn't listening to much besides knowing my average pace was getting slower and slower throughout the run. With just over a mile to go a friend cruised by and cheered me on by name. That helped. I kept trying to increase my pace and don't know if I was successful. I haven't dared to analyze my splits yet. I turned the corner and soon the clock was in sight. It hasn't been two hours yet! I could do this! And amazingly enough I found a burst of energy and sprinted to the finish, passed my family, passed a co-worker, and collapsed on the rock wall happier than anything that I achieved my goal. I broke a 2-hour half marathon and I did it with Mother Nature, a detour, and my mind all working against me. I will never forget this race.

As the timing crew came by to retrieve their timing chip from me, a co-worker working the run started quizzing me about the detour. I answered all the questions and was happy they were indeed on top of things. The course director was even offering refunds to those who were misdirected but all the runners I talked to didn't care to have a refund. That wasn't what today was about. It was a great run for a good cause and hey, we all have a good story to tell now!

My official gun time was 1:57:53 with an average pace of 8'59". I placed 7 out of 27 in my division. 72 out of 195 runners overall. Who knows....maybe next year they will just need to call me up on stage....but next year, I enter a new division.

P.S. The race director made a bee-line to my office today as soon as she got in to personally apologize for the detour and it impacting my run. She also asked for my feedback on it and was glad I informed her how far off course some of the runners did venture. Ironically, it made me feel better.


  1. WOWOWOWOW! You should be so incredibly proud of yourself!!!!! Thanks for this wonderful (and partly heartbreaking at first) recall of your race. xoxoxoxo!

  2. That's awesome, congratulations on making your goal despite all of that! Gives me hope that despite bumps (and detours!) along the way, we can all get there!

  3. You are amazing my friend! You were so strong through this race. Congrats on the PR. Sending you hugs and high fives :)

    1. Thanks and OpHardcoreFit came into mind a couple of times too. :)

  4. Congratulations on breaking your goal, ESPECIALLY with that silly, silly detour. I can't believe they sent you the wrong way. Coincidentally, my 13.1 PR happened during a race where they put the turn-around in the wrong place, extending the course by about 0.3 miles. I was determined to break 2 hours, so I ran my heart out and was then thrilled to see my adjusted time was even faster than I was aiming for. Sometimes the screw-up makes it even sweeter!

  5. Congratulations for sticking it out through all the setbacks and mental stress... and getting in under 2 hours. So happy for you!

  6. That's the way to do it! Congratulations on a fantastic PR - with all the obstacles you endured, that is fantastic!!!

  7. Congratulations! Had it not been for that detour, you would have BLOWN AWAY your 2hr goal!

  8. Congrats on The PR and sticking it out when it got tough! Sherry would've been so proud!

  9. Way to go. Even with all the obstacles and those little concerns you had being rightly concerned about I find a huge smile on my face knowing that you accomplished the PR you were looking for. Namaste my friend.

  10. Hey, I'm a new follower and a newbie blogger! i loved this post...and loved who you were running in memory of!!!

    Will you be doing the virtual run this Sat? Looking forward to reading more about you:)


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