The race, fun day, etc.

Saturday was the half-marathon I've been training for since I got here.  Every Saturday Wendy and I have run around 10 miles since January.    This was keeping up with my tradition of long runs every Saturday in Atlanta.  In Atlanta, there are MANY more opportunities to run half-marathons, so for the past four years or so, I've run at least three half-marathons a year.  In Fiji, there is a marathon, half-marathon, and 10k all on the same day, once a year.   (Actually this year there was also a 5k fun run/walk put on by another organization on the same day as the marathon because the other group wanted to take advantage of the road closure.  Makes me laugh).   Prior to half-marathons, I ran marathons (before kids) and had a steady year or more with triathlons of varying distances (one half-ironman!)   I started running in college when I took a jogging class, but more seriously post college when I decided to try for my first marathon.  I was inspired by friends doing the same thing and was bit lonely at the time...  running became a passion.   

So, now for the past 15 years, running has been my thing.   BUT.... I don't really feel like a runner.  Sometimes I hate to run.  Sometimes it takes ALL of my motivation not to stop and walk.   I am always sore after running.  I've never felt like a natural runner.  On the other hand, there are days I love it.  I love that for a really good work out all I need is my running shoes and clothes and I can run anywhere.  I love exploring places via running.  I really love all of the friendships I've made and deepened as a result of running.  I love the power that running has.   

Even when I love it, I still don't feel like a natural.  I feel slow.   I've gone through periods where I've felt fast, but overall in the past 15 years I've plodded along.    Shouldn't I be getting better by now? Shouldn't I improve with time and practice?  I guess I've got an ageing body to work against.  

Can you tell I'm frustrated by my latest half-marathon?  I felt like I did everything right.  I hydrated well.  I rested my body prior to the run.  I did the distance in training.   I still didn't perform well. Since I've moved here, I've slowed down dramatically.  I don't know if it's the climate or if I am just getting older....or if I am just not a natural runner....but I've slowed way down.  Regarding the race, everyone says, "But you did it!"  That's true.  I am so thankful I did it....  I just wish I did it better.   Or maybe I don't.  Maybe I should just accept my current pace and appreciate that I can still even run.  Do I push myself harder to make a time goal or do I just relax a bit and feel grateful I have healthy legs and lungs to do the distance?  Somewhere in between?  

I digress....or did I ever even really start on topic?  The race was last Saturday.    I was super excited and happy that Wendy would be doing her first half-marathon!  I met her at her house at 5:45 am and we headed down to the race together.   This may be the smallest race I've ever done...but it was big for Fiji.  There were about 30 half-marathon participants.  The marathon participants started before we did.  When I saw them running my only thoughts were, "Thank goodness I'm not doing that distance!"   At the start line, someone official yelled, "Go!" and we were off to race in the pouring down rain.   We started strong and at about 1-2 kilometers in, Wendy took off ahead of me.  We discussed this ahead of time and I was super happy for her that she was feeling strong, but also knew I couldn't keep that pace for 13.1 miles.   I resorted to my ipod for company.   Unfortunately, I grabbed the wrong ipod that morning, so my music was very slow for what I would choose to run a race.  Paul Simon and Vampire Weekend are great...but not necessarily my running choices.   We did four loops along the sea wall.  I am so glad it was flat, but it was rainy and there were crazy gusty wind pockets along the way.   There were not fans like so many races in the states.    However, my family did show up to cheer me along in the last mile.  Seeing them almost made me cry!  Andie ran along beside me for as long as she could and they jumped up and down for me at the finish line.  Again...those connections in running make everything worth it! I love the girls getting to see their mama as a strong(ish) runner!   

In the end, I finished the race 18 minutes slower than my last half-marathon.  Frustrating, but, "Hey, I did it, right?"   Maybe I'll try to race it again next month just to challenge myself.  Maybe not.  Wendy ROCKED it!!!!  She came in first place on her first half-marathon!!!!   So AWESOME!  She is thinking of doing the full next year.  I am thinking of running half the distance of her training runs with her to help her prepare.   Maybe I'll get faster in Fiji.  Maybe I will just learn to accept my natural plodding pace.  Only time will tell.  

Tired, sweaty selves and our awesome fan club!

After the race, we went to Fun Day at ISS, the girls' school.  Fun Day is the one day that the PTFA puts together to raise all of its funds. It's a huge day and a lot of effort, but it's also actually fun!   There are international food stalls, cake stalls, kids' games, kids' crafts, beer gardens, haunted houses, disco rooms, and everything else you can imagine.  Despite the incessant rain, the day was a huge success.  Warren and I worked at the USA stall serving up Texas brisket, corn bread and potato salad...topped off with a home brewed micro-beer.  YUM!    Our stall sold out of food early on because honestly....our food was good!  It was so fun to be patriotic and jump up and down about the good ol' USA.   The kids had a blast!   By the end of the 5 hours at fun day, we were all exhausted.  My legs were SO tired.   

Like the knee socks?

workers in action!

The kids both got invited to spend the night out so Warren and I were solo for a whole Saturday night and Sunday morning!   We went to an awesome dinner, caught up with friends and wine, and went to brunch by ourselves in the morning.  It was so weird and completely delightful!   

Now...the biggest news of all is that the SUN has been out for 2.5 days!!!!    WooHoo!