The weekend started out a little crazy. That’s kind of status quo in a house with young children with sports and activities though, right? My daughter had her exercise class in the morning and she had already missed the previous one, and since she loves it so much, I didn’t want her to miss another. The hubby dropped her off so I could get stuff ready for the weekend because, for some reason, I thought it would be o.k. to save everything for the morning we were leaving! Luckily, my older son didn’t have a soccer game (well, he did, but not until the evening so he was missing it).
I had to go to Target to grab some last-minute items (something else I shouldn’t have waited on). I got my stuff at Target and then picked my daughter up from her class and then it was a mad dash getting the kids ready and finishing up with packing. The kids didn’t know where we were going so everything was also being done kind of on the down-low. We pulled out of the driveway about 45 minutes later than I had wanted to.
The drive from Jersey to Hershey, PA was torture for me. There was a bunch of traffic and we had left later than I had wanted. The Expo/packet pick-up was until 5:00 but I was just so anxious! We arrived at 3:45 so I had plenty of time to get my stuff and get the two older kids their shirts and bibs (with my wonderful hubby’s help) for the Fun Run that was taking place at 5:15.
It was starting to rain but by the time the kids were lined up for the Fun Run, the rain had stopped. The kids were excited and it was so cute! My son had sought out a boy while we were waiting under a tree in the rain before the race and talked to him the whole time and managed to line up next to him at the race :) My daughter was just glad that the distance wasn’t as long as the Daughter Dash she had run the week before!
Next up, Chocolate World for dinner and then the Chocolate Factory ride. Our park tickets, which we got two for free from the half marathon, were also good for the last 2.5 hours the park was open that night. We were undecided and my feet were already hurting from walking/standing around the Expo and Fun Run and Chocolate World. Then, it started to pour. We decided to just go to the hotel so I could get to sleep!
I slept pretty well, which I usually don’t do the night before a race, and I awoke at 5:40am. The plan was to get myself out of the room by 6:20 but that turned into more like 6:30…and I woke up the baby and my daughter. My hubby texted me later on that he had a non-sleeping girl and toddler in bed with him…oops!
I’ve never seen such a line-up of cars going into a race. I’ve done bigger races but I guess I always get there super early or I stay over and I’m walking to the start line. Again, I was anxious that I hadn’t left when I wanted and was so worried I wouldn’t get into the park before they closed the road! Of course, I made it in :) I parked right near a restroom in the parking lot and, when I was ready, I ran/walked to the start area to keep myself warm. I was very happy I had gone with the long-sleeve shirt!
I didn’t have to stand around and wait too long before it was time for the race to start, although, it seemed like a long time because I was cold. Once it was time, the sun was out and it didn’t take me too long to warm up some. The announcer for the race said there were 5,000 runners/walkers. I feared it would take a while to finally cross over the start mat but it only took a few minutes and I was off!
I had mixed feelings. As some of you may recall, I’m still recovering from a toe “injury”. It’s called turf toe and it will most likely be an ongoing issue and I’m supposed to stay away from hills. I found a video on how to tape my toe and it has helped…and I now tape both big toes because it is affecting the other foot now, too :P I was so nervous because I knew this was a hilly course and the last half I had done was Rock ‘n’ Roll Philly which hadn’t been a great run for me. On the other hand, I had just done the Perfect 10 a week before and, yes, the race had made me sore like I hadn’t been in a long time, but I really kicked butt and ran my fastest 10 miles…not really too many hills, though. I hadn’t been training on hills because I was supposed to stay away. In the back of my mind, I wanted to beat my time from my first half marathon but I didn’t know how the hills would treat me. I definitely wanted to beat my time from Philly and I figured, even if I had to walk most of the hills, that would still be possible.
A lot is a blur but I’ll try to recap some. We started out running around the parking lot of Hersheypark and the Giant Center before heading down a road and through a small opening in a back gate to Hersheypark itself. Now, for those that have been to Hersheypark, you know that even that has a lot of hills! Running in the park was fun though :) It was cool to run by all the rides thinking that I’d be going on some of them later in the afternoon and running by runners going the other way (I never quite understood how that happened because it was a part that I don’t remember running but I think maybe they were runners doing the relay). Running in the park was a bit difficult though. It was tight in areas and people couldn’t quite decide which big planter sections with big trees and plants to go between because there would be 2 or 3 in a section.
Then, there was the run through the town and Milton Hershey School area. Yup, more hills! Every time I turned a corner, I swear there was another hill. There were also spectators yelling that we were almost to the top of the hill, though, and running through the school area was fun because tons of kids were lining the streets giving high-fives!
Things started becoming kind of fuzzy from like mile 8 to mile 12.5. Around mile 9 I actually started questioning myself and why I was doing this. I was by myself, nobody I knew was running and this course was really messing with my mind! There was the section behind Chocolate World. Yup, let’s throw in another big hill! At mile 11 there was a chocolate aid station, which was a mini Hershey bar, which I took and stowed away because I knew I couldn’t get down a chocolate bar. Right after the chocolate aid station there was a really big hill and a guy behind me chanting over and over, “hills are awesome…I eat hills for breakfast” and I muttered, “hills suck!” Towards the end, I thought it might be possible to beat my time from my first half marathon in Atlantic City (a very flat course) but when I finished with this hill I was really tired. I almost walked that hill, but I’m proud to say, I didn’t walk any of the hills…no walking at all :)
We made our way back into the parking lot and it started to seem like the never-ending 13.1 miles! There was a long stretch in front of the stadium with a lot of crowd support. I had really started picking up the pace with hopes of still setting a PR but it started making me feel a bit queasy and then we just kept going! I was hoping my watch was off. It seemed like we should be finishing…but we just kept going! We went back around to the back of the stadium and then into the stadium and then the finish line still seemed so far away. After running around 1/3 or more of the track, I crossed the finish!!! No PR but much better than my last half marathon. I collected my medal, water and little cooler bag of goodies and then nothing. I was proud of myself for running the entire thing with all of those hills but my family was back at the hotel waiting on me to get back and shower so we could go to the park and ride rides (and walk more hills).
Would I run this race again? I really don’t think so. It was well-organized with very friendly volunteers and the two free tickets to the park were a nice perk (although, I was very disappointed that they didn’t have the 13.1 sticker with the Hershey kiss as the “.” in the bag this year). Maybe I’d do it again to prove something to myself but I am just now able to walk down a flight of stairs and feel normal…4 days later ;)