Location: Buttfuck nowhere, Pennsylvania… no but seriously, the middle of absolutely no where.
Half: Ghost Town Half Marathon (fitting, I know)
Date: April 30th, 2016
Who’d I travel with? Mom
Pre-run meal? I don’t even know where to begin… Italian, I think?
FIRST FEMALE FINISHER! (Spoiler, sorry)
So, state #5… a very interesting adventure. I signed up for this race because it was convenient. It was a quick, easy, trip and one more state to knock off the list. I had no idea where this place was, and I knew this couldn’t be a “big” race based on the previous year’s results, but I was still excited to go somewhere new, race somewhere new.
My mom and I took to the road and began our trip to Pennsylvania. When we arrived we decided to stop in at the packet pick-up to eliminate the need to wake up 30 minutes earlier the next day. As we drove around in circles searching for the park where we were supposed to pick up my packet, we realized that we were truly in the middle of absolutely nowhere. There were no major streets, a few houses here and there, no promising places to eat for dinner later, and to top it all off: there was no sign of life at this park where we were supposed to be receiving my packet. So, we decided that maybe we missed the pick-up, and drove to our hotel.
Our hotel was shockingly beautiful. It was right on a scenic golf course, had a hot tub (YES!), and turned out to be a great spot to stay for the night. However, as I mentioned, there were absolutely no restaurants to be seen yet. We drove around forever looking for somewhere to eat and we finally stumbled upon an “Italian diner.” As the waitress brought us our meals, my mom prepared her fork to dig in. After she took her first bite the waitress returned. She said, “Oh I’m sorry I brought you guys the wrong food” and took my mom’s plate right from the table (remember, she had already taken a bite). She then hand-delivered this plate to a gentleman sitting across the restaurant. Obviously he hadn’t seen my mom dig in, because he took a big bite and continued eating his (or my mom’s?) meal. It was unbelievable, a memory I will remember forever.
So, the race. That morning we arrived at the park, picked up our packet finally, and then I was told to get on the bus. Evidently this was not a down and back or a 13-mile loop, this was a straight 13.1 miles. We piled onto the bus, drove 13.1 miles away, and got off. We lined up on the paved path which led into the woods, found our spot in the 50-100-person group, and took off.
As I started to run, I realized that I was quickly passing most of the people around me. I was now very close to the front, just a few males in front of me. The group started to thin out as some sped up and some slowed down. I had been running for a few miles, and I could see just one other person now, a guy about 300 feet in front of me. At mile 6 I saw my mom standing on the side of the street, shouting. I took out a head phone and heard, “YOU’RE THE FIRST GIRL KEEP GOING!” Easy for her to say, when she doesn’t have 7 more miles to uphold the position. But I was so excited and motivated from hearing that, my legs pumped harder, my heart sped up, my hands tingled. I COULD FINALLY WIN FIRST FEMALE.
I did it!! I won first female. My reward? A growler, a beach towel, a beer from a random man I didn’t know, a tank top, and a beer glass. Yes, you heard that right. I received a shit-ton of random gifts, but no medal. I am a medal snob. I get so excited to finish and receive that medal, hang it with the others, and add to my collection. I was crushed. However, I didn’t let that stop me from getting what I earned. I took the red, white, and blue ribbon that I had tied around my shirt during the race and untied it. Then I bought a penguin’s bottle opener at Walmart (classy, I know, but it was the only thing with a Pennsylvania symbol). I put the ribbon through the keychain on the bottle opener and there it was: my medal. FIRST FEMALE.