After Nov., I "bargained" with Coachie to let me take a break from training for Dec. & Jan. I wanted to continue running and do a half in Jan (3M) & then Austin Marathon in Feb., then pick back up with triathlon training afterwards for New Orleans 70.3 in April. I have to be honest, I can really "feel" the difference in not having biked in a long time. My biking muscles feel weak when I run.
I felt pretty strong going into the race overall. I was actually excited this time, as opposed to SARnR, at which my mood was less than enthused. I had my pre-race chat with Coachie and set up our race plan. The plan was to negative split 4 10Ks + some change. I'm not gonna lie, that 3rd 10K scared me most because I had studied the course map elevation & that was all up hill. Let's go for it!
Race morning came early. I picked up Kris at 4:30am & drove up to Austin. We met Orissa, Brian, & Herb there and headed to the start. We were all very happy & joyful & ready to take on this beast of a challenge. Brian & I made our way to the front for the start in order to avoid slow crowds, a mistake we learned from in SARnR.
I kept running, just going with how I felt. I tried not to look at my Garmin for any feedback. I was just giving whatever my body allowed in each moment. Mile 9 marked the start of a 10mile steady climb. I was mentally prepared for it & knew that my efforts would be rewarded with a 6 miles downhill home. By mile 11, where the marathon and half marathon split, I hear Brian yelling at me from behind, "Aixa, don't you dare go right!" Sweet, High Five! Let's do this! We kept a steady pace, definitely faster than SARnR, but it felt great!
At mile 16, I did NOT feel great! I got a painful stitch in my right ribs that almost made me cry, ok... I did cry! I did not help any, and I couldn't breathe, and Brian had this look of panic like, 'What do I do?' I walked it off, took a deep breath and started running again. All I could think was, 'Get a grip, Brian didn't sign up for this, and you have 10miles still to go!' The next 10miles were some of the most painful ever, the stitch seemed to move in all four quadrants. Each time all I could do was walk it off and make dying animal noises. I tried to send Brian off several times, in order to "save his race", but I think he felt responsible for my well-being at this point & was determined to get me to the finish line. He offered tremendous encouragement & I tried my hardest not to let him, or myself down. Around mile 18/ 19 we saw the 4:10 pace group pass us. Brian tried to get me to jump on the train, but I just face planted and watched them fade off in the distance. Ok, we are still having an amazing race, though! Let's just get to the finish!
The last 10K, as always, was extremely painful, but not as much as the 10K before... so I'm good now! Finally, we had gotten over the hump at mile 19 & would "cruise" it home! Not quite! Although it was downhill, it still didn't make it any easier. I pushed as hard as I could, and at this point, it wasn't all that fast! We got up one last cruel hill at the end and let the legs loose! We sprinted it in & I can literally say that I left it ALL out there. I tied my PR from SARnR, 4:25. I'll take that as a WIN because SA, although the weather was horrendously hot, the course was flat.
I'm starting to understand 26.2 a little more each time I run. That's why this time I didn't kid myself and say, never again. We are already signed up for SARnR 2014, this time in Dec. & praying for cooler temps. I love the lessons that I learn & the array of emotions that I go through to get to the proverbial finish line.
My friend Janet always says, "Finish Pretty", well that took on new meaning this weekend. I realized that when I crossed the finish line, my hands were thrown up in the air with a huge smile on my face! I guess it's easy to "finish pretty", when you love what you are doing! Although, sometimes the road to get there... AIN'T So Pretty!