Being injured really sucks....
|Starting line crowd from above|
Especially when I'd won a free entry into the Hippie Chick Half Marathon. This race has always been special to me. Back in 2009, it was my very first half marathon. When I ran it again the following year, it was my first sub 2-hour half. (Recaps of these races can be found by clicking Hippie Chick 2009 and Hippie Chick 2010.)
|At the back of the pack....|
But I broke my rib in a skiing accident two weeks before this year's Hippie Chick. With race day approaching, I knew there was no way I'd be able to run 13.1 miles. And even though I could probably walk the entire distance, it wouldn't be pretty. Luckily, this event offers a quarter marathon option (which, if you're wondering, is a grand total of 6.55 miles). I was fairly sure I could get through walking six and half miles with a busted rib.
|Almost to the starting line|
My neighbor and morning running partner Penny was also signed up for the quarter marathon. Although Penny is usually the injured party of our duo, in today's race our roles were reversed. Penny planned to run the quarter distance, while I'd be the walker.
|This group had cute matching skirts|
Saturday, May 10th dawned with typical spring weather - cloudy and cool. Dark skies threatened rain. But Penny and I donned our jackets - we're PNW runners after all. We weren't gonna let a little rain stop us!
|Loved these tie-dye shirts|
Before the race, my friend and I lost each other, when Penny went to check her gear, and I made one last potty stop. So I ended up at the starting line by myself. Sadly, I shuffled towards the back of the pack to join the walkers.
|Only mile one?|
Walking instead of running a race was a first for me. I really thought I'd be okay with it, but when the gun sounded and the crowd started out, I was immediately passed by tons of people. Ladies much older than me trekked by like I was standing still. Oh did the ego take a beating!
|Beautiful tree lined street|
But I had camera in hand, and moving at this slow pace, I could fully partake of the photo ops. The Hippie Chick is an all-woman's race, and a very popular one. Many ladies dress up in brightly colored gear for the occasion. Tu-tus and tie-dye shirts were a common sight. I spotted a few groups of walkers all decked out in matching t-shirts. One group even sported cute matching skirts.
|Struttin' through the countryside|
It took an eternity before reaching mile one. Used to being closer to the front of the pack, I was still trying to make the mental adjustment. I snapped a photo of the mile marker sign, and decided I might as well capture each of the six signs along the way. Why not? I had time.
The course started in a local football/baseball stadium. After winding through a bunch of business parks, mile two found race participants cutting through an agricultural area. It was a this point, the clouds began to lighten. Maybe we'd luck out and miss the precip.
|Penny looking strong|
Not long after the mile two marker, I started seeing quarter marathon runners making their return trip. Since this course was an out-and-back, I'd be able to see most of the participants. I began to cheer the runners passing by. Spotting Penny approaching, I gave her an especially loud woo-hoo (and took her picture!) Although battling a sore knee, she was looking strong.
The long line of runners and walkers wound through beautiful rural countryside. The fields were all decked out in their best spring greenery. And then - lo and behold - the sun actually peeked out of the clouds for a short spell!
I spied a couple of ladies posing for photos at the mile three marker. I offered to take their picture, and they in turn took one of me. Yahoo - almost halfway!
|Loved these huge trees|
Although it turned out to be a nice day for a walk in the country, I was used to moving much faster. This way taking way too long.....I yearned to run, even for a short distance. But my injured rib kept reminding me this was not an option.
|The sun came out for a bit|
Just after the course turnaround point, I caught up and began to follow another lady. She and I struck up a conversation and found we had some things in common. We were both in our early 50s, both fighting injuries, and both had grown children.
|Mile four - still goin' strong|
Having a companion to chat with really helped the final miles speed along. The lady offered to take my photo at the mile 4 marker. Although I did capture a shot of the mile 5 sign (which sadly was too poor quality to include here) we were so deep in conversation, I totally missed mile 6.
|A sweet little girl was handing out licorice|
Back to the industrial area, I knew the finish was getting close. Spectators began to line the course, most cheering, some holding signs. And there was one very sweet girl handing out licorice to participants.
|This little guy made a drawing for his mom|
There was also a cute little boy holding up a sign he'd made himself (I think it's supposed to be his mom running).
|The finish line in sight|
By now many of the half marathon racers began to pass us walkers. These were the front of the pack runners, and boy, were they hauling!
|My debut on the jumbo-tron|
But my companion and I continued on our swift walking. Approaching the stadium entrance, volunteers cheered and directed us to the baseball field. Just before the finish line, I looked up and saw myself on the stadium jumbo-tron. Yes, I'm the one in blue holding up a camera!
|There was chocolate!|
After crossing the finish line, I realized Penny and I hadn't made any plans for meeting up after the race. (And Penny had my car keys!) There was already quite a large crowd gathered. How would I find her? It was dumb luck, that five minutes later, we practically ran into each other near the massage table. Penny said she'd run strong until about mile 5, when her knee began to give her trouble. She ended up walking most of the final mile.
We partook of the pancake breakfast, and Penny got a massage. But best of all - we discovered one booth handing out full-size Ghirardelli chocolate bars. Oh yeah! Now that's what I call perfect race swag.
I survived walking my first (and hopefully only) running race. Although a humbling experience, I ended up enjoying my time at the back of the pack. And I've got a whole new appreciation for all you race walkers.
But...darn it rib, hurry up and heal! I've got a fall marathon to start training for.
Sharing with: Our World Tuesday.