Monday, November 18, 2013

Finding the Power of ME!

"Off season" started for me the day after Longhorn 70.3.  I knew I had Rock n' Roll 26.2 on the calendar, but also knew I could step down to 13.1 either at the expo or even on race day by taking a left hand turn at mile 11.  I was confronted many times with the big question, 'Are you running SARnR? ' With a big sigh and a less than enthused face I would answer, 'Yes, the full!'  I tried to stay as positive as I could, but I couldn't find a single thing to be positive about.  Why did I sign up for it then? ... A coupon code 11 months ago!  Save $20... run 26.2 miles... WOW, what a brilliant idea!!!

The night before the big race I see Coachie's name come up on my phone.  YAY, she is calling to tell me she has the pink Smash long sleeve shirt I had texted her about!  Nope, race plan!  Ugghhh!  'How are you feeling?'  I'm a terrible liar & blurted out, 'Less than enthused'!  NEVER tell your Coach this the day before a race!  She shook me out of my funk & laid down the law!  I was to break the race down into chunks; 5mile warm up, 10mile steady, 5mile faster, 10K at current pace or faster!  Ta Da, 26.2 in the bag!  Easier said than done ;-)  Let me also add that I had only done one marathon prior to this, excluding Ironman.  NYC 2010, it was suppose to be my one and done race.  I felt like I had done one of the best marathons, no need for more.

Race morning came, it was already hot & humid.  I picked up Kris and headed down to the park & ride.  We tried our best to stay sarcastically positive.  On the bus a gentleman asked us about our matching visors.  Yes, we are Ironmen.  Then he asked the dreaded question, 'What did you do to prepare for this race?'  We looked at each other and laughed!  It had been a running joke between us all that although we were in tip top shape, we hadn't done any "marathon training", ie. no 20 mile runs, etc.  We also didn't want to come off as pompous asses either.  We have a strict rule of respecting the distance, respecting the race, respecting whatever is put in front of you as a challenge!  So we explained that we are in "triathlon shape" and are hoping to finish this Fun Run, no pressure!  And that as crazy as it sounds, we would MUCH rather have a swim & a bike to precede this event about to happen!

With ~26,000 people starting this race between the full, the half, the relay, & the 5K it took us almost 30min to cross the starting line.  Race start time, 8:00am, and it was already hot & humid!  Orissa & I ran together for the first 7 miles at a slow, yet steady pace.  It was pretty much all we could manage anyway due to the crowds.  By mile 2 I already had to pee, but was not willing to stop if it required waiting in line.  3 miles later Orissa pointed out a set of port-a-potties with no line.  I ran over quickly & jumped in.  I was in such a rush that I forgot to lock the door and sure enough... 'Oops, I'm so sorry!'  No worries, my fault.  I jumped out as fast as I jumped in and took off running again.  Brian had caught up to us by this point and ran us up and down the lovely hills around Trinity.  People were moaning & groaning about the "hills", but they really weren't that bad & honestly it felt good to use some different muscles.

By mile 11 it was just Brian and I,  Orissa had trailed back slightly.  He let me know that he had to use the restroom & to go on.  I was terrified to run the next 15 miles... alone!  I promised him to slow down if he promised to catch up to me.  He didn't pinky swear, so I knew I was on my own.  I was doing well keeping my steady pace, staying positive in my head, eating all of my nutrition and taking my salt tablets on schedule because Brian & Orissa had been there with me.  What was I going to do now?!  ...Keep running!

I was still feeling good at this point and was sticking to Coachie's plan.  I had my iPhone on me and headphones to listen to music, just in case things went south.  I wasn't ready for that yet, just like I wasn't ready for the emergency use only snickers stashed in my fuel belt.  I decided at that point that this race was going to be me, myself, & I.  I was going to find the power of ME!  My feet, my legs, my mind were going to get me through this.  My mental game had stepped up tremendously since Longhorn, my head was in it to win it!  I pushed on feeling a sense of accomplishment with every mile split.  Coachie was right, I CAN do this!

Mile 17 was the start of something special, and not in a good way!  It was a pleasant 2 mile out and back consisting of little rolling hills, concrete pavement, and NO shade.  The cloud coverage was sparse at this point and the sun was staring to rear its ugly head.  'Keep moving!  You feel strong!  Your race is just beginning!  You just got off your bike, time to RUN!'  About 1/2 mile after the turn around at mile 18, I saw Brian!  He was only slightly behind me and I willed him to catch up to me.  Then I saw Kris & Linda looking strong & fabulous in their Smash tri tops & Lulu skirts!  I completed the out & back feeling like I was fading, or rather melting, but I was still surprisingly keeping on pace.

At mile 20 I was still keeping with the plan, but it was time to throw down!  I knew a "faster" 10K was NOT going to happen at this point, so I went with plan B, hold my pace.  This lasted for ~1.5 miles.  'You feel great! Time to make it hurt! This feels JUST like Longhorn!'... that's when the tears almost started!  'No it doesn't... it feels JUST like IMTX!'  I had stopped sweating, I was getting goosebumps, I had been down this road before... and it was NOT pretty!  I wanted my bike Zion sooo badly at this point!  I had 5 miles to go, roughly an hour more, HOW was I going to get through this?!  By RUNNING!!!  I walked when I had to, but not more than I need, and I kept pushing a decent pace while I was running.  I also started pouring water over my head and arms to bring down my body temp.

Then finally, like a ray of light from the heavens... Loftin!  Brian had finally caught up to me around mile 23.5, just when I needed it... the power of WE!!! Together I knew I/ we could get through this!  We walked through one last water station at mile 24, fist pumped, and said let's do this!  The next 2.2 miles were run in silence, but no words were necessary to convey what we both knew we were going through!   The last home stretch lasted for- ever!  Finally, we crossed the finish line... D.O.N.E!  Amen!

We found a spot in the shade and waited for the rest of the crew to roll in.  Robert found us first & let us know that the race had been cut short due to record breaking heat.  Why didn't that surprise me?  I was right!  Flashbacks to IMTX!  We met up with Kris, then Orissa, and finally Linda who unfortunately ended up in medical tent, another flashback to IMTX!  We all hobbled to the buses to bring us back to the park & ride & all swore that we would NEVER do another stand alone 26.2... EVER!  Until the next coupon code... ;-)

p.s. NYC marathon 2010- 4:27:17... SARnR 2013- 4:25:16... 2 min PR!  I'll take it :-)