The first song on my half marathon playlist is always LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out.” For the Divas Half Marathon yesterday in Galveston, the intro was quite appropriate.
First off, you’re probably wondering how a bad@$$ CrossFitter ends up running a Divas Half Marathon. Well, she succumbs to peer pressure, signs up, and finds out that her friends aren’t doing it after all. I will say that, for the longest time, I wasn’t crazy about the idea of a Divas anything. Women have been accepted in running for a long time. According to Running USA, 61 percent of half marathon finishers in 2015 were female. But I also know a lot of women, especially new runners, are intimidated by big co-ed races. The Divas series isn’t a bad thing because it gets women into running and raises money for breast cancer research. It’s just not my normal thing.
That said, the new route looked gorgeous for the Divas Half Marathon. Part of it would be along the Seawall next to the beach. I was looking forward to that (and it was a great decision on the part of the race directors). I also looked forward to cooler weather.
The temperature for race morning read 60 degrees. Unfortunately, Galveston gets some strong winds. You know the cardinal rule of races on windy days: first, the wind is in your face. Then, it blows even harder in your face. That pretty much sums up Sunday morning.
I got to Moody Gardens at 5:45 a.m. and hid in my car. The wind howled around me. I finally edged out to foam roll, then collected my earbuds and water bottle before making my way to the tent to warm up. Everyone had the same idea; the tent was clogged. I finally made my way over to the start line, only to find out that the parking situation had us all delayed for a few minutes. Fine – but I still think everyone who was late should have had to do burpees.
Gun Time: Divas Half Marathon
I had lined up at the front, so taking off was easy. The organizers had put me in Wave 1 based on my estimated finish time, so I just started running. Then I looked at my watch and realized that a 7:19/mile was not sustainable. I put on the brakes. The first few miles were windy but beautiful as we ran down to the Seawall and along the beach. I watched my start line buddy Karen surge ahead and felt a surge of pride for her. (Also, she was wearing a cool shirt and a tutu that she had made, rather than the scratchy Divas one.)
The sun had just come up, so running in Galveston was incredibly beautiful. I can’t even describe it. I grew up in a beach town, and running along the beach is now one of my favorite things to do. I could hear the waves over my music (along with the wind – I felt like stretching out my arms and pretending to fly during the rare times it pushed me forward).
As usual, the miles started to blur together. At about 6 miles in, the tongue of my shoe started rubbing my foot the wrong way, so I hastily twisted it and kept running. Around 7 miles in, we went over this little bridge in one of the subdivisions in Galveston. I remember not being able to feel my legs. Around 9 miles in, this woman in a salmon-colored tank top kept veering left and right. I had to speed around her. Annoyed is putting it mildly. I didn’t see her again. The wind also picked up, considerably slowing my pace. I had been keeping a decent 8:30-ish, but now I had to run straight into the wind. Let’s not talk about that. The last three miles were agony as I lowered my head and forced my legs to move.
But I finished with The Donnas “Fall Behind Me” pumping into my ears, and three minutes faster than the Houston Half in October. My chip time was 1:54:55, a respectable finish that has me pleased. In a way, it’s kind of a comeback after my injury. But more than that, it’s me being tenacious and giving it everything I’ve got. And getting big bling in return.
With that all said, the race directors did a great job with the course. Aid stations were located every mile and a half or so, staffed with friendly volunteers, and stocked with water and Gatorade. Extra-special thanks to the police and sheriffs that kept us safe during our run; I know it wasn’t easy, especially when some moron almost backed up into us.
However, the post-race selection was all carbs. Cookies, bananas, and crackers were everywhere. We also got “bubbly” (thank goodness, sparkling cider!) after the race. I would have loved to see some chocolate milk and breakfast tacos, but alas, there were none. Fortunately, Taco Cabana was just a few minutes away. I needed some protein desperately.
Would I do a Divas Half Marathon or Divas race again? Probably not. I’m glad I did it; it was a good experience, and I had fun.