Tulip Festival Half 2.0

So last year I ran the Tulip Festival Half Marathon in the middle of my blogging hiatus.  I always meant to write about it, but I never did.  So here we are, a year later and I am going to tell you all about it.

So on Friday, I told you about how I registered for it through a worm hole, and that was for real because when it was time to get my packet they did not have my name on the list.  I showed them the email confirmations and purchase confirmations and they were completely baffled because they could see that I registered for it after it was closed.  But, they had my money so they printed a bib up for me and told me that I wasn't going to be guaranteed a shirt in my size; it depended on what was left when I finished.  I was fine with that, I was just excited that I was actually going to get to race.

Now, as I also mentioned before, I haven't been training whatsoever for a long race.  I've been running anywhere between 3-5 miles the last six weeks every other day.  And last year I ran the race in around 2:45 minutes, I can't remember the exact time, so I figured I would expect to run somewhere around that; maybe a little longer. Also, I have to tell you that this race is hard.  It is constant rolling hills the entire way.  Like, flat ground basically doesn't exist on that course.  The Zion Half was hard because it was all uphill, but it was a gradual climb; a lot of it felt like flat ground.  But the Tulip Festival is a roller coaster.  And then it spits you out on the golf course and the ups and downs just don't stop.  Some of the hills were so steep, I couldn't run up them because of how I was landing on my feet; it really hurt my ankles.  And then coming down on the other side isn't exactly a break because you're trying to stay in control and gravity really takes a toll on your knees.  So yeah, it's a really tough race, and I was not expecting to run it any faster than 2:45.

So Saturday morning rolls around, I was up until about midnight the night before because I was partying with my fam, celebrating Brenden's birthday, and I had to wake up at 4:50 AM.  It was great, I rolled out of bed wondering to myself, What have I done?  I pulled my hair back into many braids and went downstairs for some of my favorite wheat toast with peanut butter, sliced bananas and a can of sugar free Redbull.  That is the literal breakfast of champions, ask any champion and they'll tell you their breakfast is wheat toast with peanut butter, sliced bananas and a can of sugar free Redbull.  I waited until the last possible minute to wake Landon up to leave because he was up even later than I was doing the last of his homework.  He grabbed two pillow, two blankets, put on a hat and hoodie and asked me if I could drive us to Thanksgiving Point.  I told him I would and he was asleep the minute we started driving.

We got to the venue a little early; Landon stayed in the truck and mumbled that he would be at the finish line as I got out. I went to stretch and stand under the heaters because it was a little chilly since the sun wasn't up just yet.  But, I was extremely pleased with the lack of rain clouds and wind that had been hanging around all week.  About 20 minutes before the start, an old friend of mine picked me out of the crowd and came and said hi. We got to chat and get all caught up with each other's lives and it was such a nice little treat for me.  I've missed that beautiful human and we got a picture together and it was so nice to have someone I didn't have to crouch next to.

Then the announcers called for us to get lined up, we went and found our pacers and waited for the gun shot.  Once we were off, I turned on my music and just ran.  I have said before how it's taken a long time for me to not hate running.  I would do it and just grit my teeth and wait for 30 minutes to be up so I could stop.  Now, years later and I just love it.  I have learned to zone out, enjoy the fresh air and endorphins and "me" time.  And races are so much fun! Especially this particular race that runs you through the entire Tulip Festival.  It's breathtakingly beautiful and the aromas and fragrances of all of the fresh flowers are intoxicating.
Around mile 6, we were done going through the tulips and we were directed to the golf course; that is where it starts to get especially challenging.  Because the first half, you're pumped about the race and you've got all this adrenaline pumping through you at the start.  Then you're in the gardens surrounded by beauty and nature and honestly, I didn't even notice that I was running.  But when we got to mile 6 and the sun was up and getting warm,  and all you can see ahead of you is miles and miles of rolling hills?  It kind of gets in your head a little.  A huge part about racing is endurance; physical, but also just as much, if not more, mental.  You have to learn to be able to convince your brain that you aren't going to die from running.  Because somewhere in the middle there, little voices start telling you that you aren't going to make it.  And when the sweat is dripping down your face and into your eyes, blinding you, and each hill you come to is a little steeper and longer- those little voices can start to sound like they know what they're talking about.  And you're probably like, "Whit, if you're hearing voices, you're probably a little crazy..." To which I counter: I run 13 miles for fun. OF COURSE I'm crazy.  But being able to fight through those voices and your own self doubt?  That's a whole new level of runner's high.

At mile 11, I texted Landon my location so he would wake up and be at the finish line for me.  I was pretty worn out at that point, but when you're that close to the finish line you just keep pushing.  That's where I could see the finish line up the road and I was starting to visualize myself crossing the line, getting my medal and the chocolate milk and all bananas I could eat.  When I came around the corner and I could see the big clock above the line and it read 2:29.  I had been keeping my eye on the 2:30 pacer who had been creeping up behind me the entire race, but it was like at that moment right at the finish line I realized that I was crushing my goal I had set for myself.  I sprinted with every fiber of energy I had left in my and crossed the line in under 2 hours and 30 minutes.  And when I got my time ticket printed off, I had actually finished in 2:28.  I was ecstatic.  I realize that that is not a fast time; my friend I saw before the race finished in 1:59.  But, for me?  It was amazing. I beat my time from last year by over fifteen minutes!  I hadn't even been training for this race! I realize I ran a half 6 weeks ago, but I had made no effort to keep up the endurance I had built, so I was extremely surprised and proud of myself.

I hung my finisher's medal around my neck proudly and grabbed my bottle of chocolate milk and half of a banana and ran to find Landon.  He scooped me up in a big hug and told me how proud he was of  me.  He was clearly surprised by my time as well.  We walked over to the field where they were holding the awards ceremony and sat in some shade as I stretched and ate my goodies.  I had Landon take a picture of me with my medal and it was at that moment where I realized how messed up my make up was.  You guys, I'm not kidding about the sweat in my eyes.  It happened multiple times and it stung so badly, I couldn't even keep my eyes open and I would just run blindly until my tears flushed it out.  I was a mess!

After I had stretched some, I went to the bathroom to clean my face up a little bit so we could go shopping and get some food.  We had tickets to go back to the Tulip Festival, but we had to wait until the race was over so we drove up the road to the outlets to do some shopping.  Landon bought me a new swim suit, some shorts, a t-shirt, and some flip flop for Hawaii.  He bought me a new dress and this incredible vest from Nike that has a Jedi hood on it.  He absolutely spoiled me.  And then he bought me a pretzel because I was so hungry that I was nauseous.  And let me tell you, while that pretzel was divine, I don't think my stomach even knew it was there.  I was immediately ravenous and when we were driving back to Thanksgiving Point, I told Landon he was going to have to buy me a second lunch from the food trucks.  That's probably one of the best perks of running a race; you get/have to replenish carbs. And getting to eat delicious food after without feeling guilty is just the best.

We were sitting on the grass, eating a Korean BBQ rice bowl and listening to a couple guys covering acoustic Beatles songs.  There was a slight breeze, the sun was warm on our backs, and the hundreds of thousands of tulips surrounding us made it the perfect moment.  I looked at Landon and said, "Can I tell you how happy I am right now?  After the horrible month I had- this day- this moment right now has totally made up for it."  He smiled and put his arm around me, pulled me in close and kissed the top of my head and my heart beamed.  I swear, it's his mission in life to make me the happiest girl in the world and he does it so well.  I don't know what I did to deserve that man, but I'm so lucky he is mine.

After second lunch and singing along with "Hey Jude," we decided it was time to walk through the Tulips.  I wish so badly I could just live a in a little cottage in the Tulip Festival.  I cannot emphasize how absolutely awe-inspiring it is.  My spirit is so happy among all of those beautiful flowers, and it smells incredible.

I could have walked circles through it all day, but we had dogs waiting for us at home and my knees were starting to complain so we decided to call it.

We got home around 4 and I immediately took a hot shower, put on facial mask, and high-tailed it to the hot tub.  Landon doesn't love hot-tubbing so I told him to chillax and play some video games and I'd be back in 30 minutes.  I was so relaxed when I was done with my soak, but I was also extremely hungry again.  I got back and asked Landon if we could go get some food again.  He laughed and told me, "Of course."  We just grabbed a quick dinner to-go from Kneaders and brought it home to eat while watching Netflix.  As soon as my food was gone, so was I.  I fell asleep promptly after my last bite and I was out for a good three hours.  When I woke up it was after 8!  I was pretty out of it, but I was so content with my life.  I snuggled with Josh and Shadow and played on my favorite new app, musical.ly while Landon played more video games.  It was seriously the best day I've had in a long time.

So there you have it- the full recap of my second round through the Tulip Festival Half Marathon.  If you are one of the few who can make it through my ridiculously long race recaps, then props! :)  I know it's a lot of details, but I love them so much I don't want to forget a thing.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go see which races are coming up so I can go sign up for more.

1 comment:

  1. That sounds like a brutal half! But you did AMAZING girl! I'm also very proud of your post-race eating accomplishments - that's 85% of why I run. Great job!


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