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A lesson in humility... Part 2 (the race)

Monday, September 03, 2012

...One of the precautions they were taking as they explained, was to remove all the clocks so there’d be less to clear from the field in case of evacuation and I don’t start my Garmin till I cross the start line so I didn’t know how long it took me to get to start but based on times they were calling out along the course, I suspected between 1 min 30 and 1 min 45 secs. I felt pretty good, all things considered, the first 4 miles of the race, even though I was wiping sweat drops from my eyes at the first 3/4 mile. As with most runs, if you’re not up front, you’ll have some weaving to do to begin with. Especially (I learned LOL) in an all women’s race because there’s more of the LINE of girlfriends, some in pink tu tus (HA! thought of our Bobby D:) and some in fairy wings, just having fun together which I thought frankly was awesome :) when running becomes more about competition than it is about JOY... hang up my tennies!! I didn’t feel this cost me much if anything and being in my usual “zone”, at one point I offered my “excuse me” as I politely made my way through one of those lines of friends and heard one of them behind me say, “there was room to the side of us”... oops, sorry :( I didn’t mean to be rude, honestly, I’m just a “zoned” runner lol.. all I could see was my path ahead...

Miles 1 through 4 had me at 9:09 -- 8:38 -- 8:51 and 8:53. They felt good... I finally stopped even looking at my Garmin, I was racing & I was running by feel. I asked myself if it was the “going out too fast” thing but frankly, I was breathing as deeply as possible in the humidity & it didn’t feel super fast as the numbers revealed so I just quit looking & kept running. Miles 5 & 6 at 9:02 and 9:03 were also by feel and they felt very good. As I neared mile 7 I recall thinking, “oh man, am I only just now getting past half way... I slowed a bit because I knew it was going to begin getting harder & I know when I back off for a brief time, I always pick up pace a little later. Miles 7 & 8 were both at 9:19. I walked every water stop (something new for me) and when others did not & went on ahead, it was no time till my gradual pace had me even with them once again, no regrets... I had packed one pkg of blocks, even though I despise those things and gels, I wanted to be prepared in case there wasn’t enough Gatorade available; outside of that type drink, I haven’t found anything I like... Gatorade stations were few & far between & at 9 I decided to break open the blocks but oops... should have pre-opened as I had the darndest time getting into that pkg & had to come to a walk to get it open. 2 bites & I recalled why I despise these things!! Water to dilute these soon after didn’t help a lot & I began to get sick to my stomach. I don’t train as a run/walk runner & picking up my run at this point was tough... I was sore!! But I picked it up & ran on... mile 9 had me at 9:42. This race was getting hard and I fought mentally at this point.. not since my very 1st half-marathon when I experienced symptoms of heat exhaustion, has a half-marathon been this hard... I’ve experienced the typical soreness that comes about mile 10 and the tiredness that routinely hits about mile 11, but I always felt I could endure and a slight slowing of pace always did the trick. Even when I ran the half-marathon on a broken ankle (another blog, a “do not try this at home” stupid move), I still had stamina even at the end. This time was different, it was a true battle of the mind and a negative mindset was rearing it’s ugly head :( for the first time ever, I had doubts. Suddenly the sub 2 no longer mattered as much, it was still in my realm of possibility, but I was no longer positive I was going to make it without walking & if I walked, I feared my body would lock up. My mantras were, “you are a strong runner, you can do this”; “your Spark friends believe in you... they’ve done this so can you”, “think of the kids, they believe in you”... “think of the half you ran when your Grandsons were at the finish line, see them there right now...”, “think of what you’re showing them is possible...” I could see them... (tears)... I ran!!! Miles 10 and 11, 9:33 and 9:11.

I’m approaching mile 12... I recall how good that felt in previous races... why can’t it feel good this time. This time it feels like, “oh no, 1 MORE!!!!!” lol.. it’s easy to laugh at that thought now, it wasn’t so funny Saturday. Time to focus on breathing... 3 secs or so in and even longer out if possible. When my husband told me later he had trouble breathing just standing outside, it hit me that while I knew the humidity would be a factor, no wonder I struggled with this tool I pulled from my kit of race survival LOL. As I glanced at my Garmin & saw I was at about 12.53, my mind ruled again & I let it... I surmised that if I walked just briefly, I’d have steam in the end but friends cheering in my ear virtually, and the finish line crowd screaming in real time only allowed about 10 secs of that (plus, I knew that if I didn’t keep running, I wasn’t gonna be able to pick up again).. this was my BONK... it took everything I could muster, all the inner strength I could find to reach as deeply within myself as possible... all the years of training, all of the skill and gift and abilities God gave me I had to reach & stretch for in these few seconds... I stretched, I reached & I GRIPPED and I ran for all I was worth (with a very special Angel on my shoulder) i ran... mile 12 was 9:25 and 13 a 9:06 as I rounded the corner and the crowds promised me the end was near. I’ll never forget the guy sitting on the side of the concrete wall at 13.0 which rounded the uphill concrete entry to the last few yards to finish, “POWER UP THAT HILL, YOU’RE LOOKING STRONG & YOU’RE AT FINISH”... HA! He was right, it was right there ahead and my final “mental” boost came at this moment, you can “just finish” or you can do what you know how to do... you can do anything for a few seconds, give all the gusto you have and take it home, there’s GLORY on the other side of that line :) I kicked it into high gear & gave it all the fuel I had remaining which wasn’t much (I think it was fumes!!) .13 (9:02)...
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • CMERUN29
    The "when running becomes more about competition than it is about JOY... hang up my tennies" comment was priceless! Love the story so far!
    1990 days ago
    You are very generous about the walkers - walkers should be at the sides, and not 4-abreast!!!

    Great job conquering the wall when you hit it.
    1993 days ago
    Wow, GF what an amazing race!!!
    1993 days ago
    Incredible pacing; especially in that heat!
    1993 days ago
    I still think you're awesome :)
    1993 days ago
  • BOBBYD31
    forgot to tell ya i may do my portion of the PIG in a pink tutu..... emoticon
    1993 days ago
    Tears are runnin' now! You are my hero!! I will always remember this when I race. To dig deeper and I think the same thing,"You can do anything for a few seconds!" HAHAHA!! That's what I shout to Lauryn when she's racing XC,"Dig! Dig!Dig!!! You can get sick after the finish!!".
    Anyway, I'm super proud of you and cannot wait to run with you again someday.
    1993 days ago
  • BOBBYD31
    you made me feel your pain, i remember runs like that, i am always so impressed with your will and determination.
    1993 days ago
    Funny you mention the line of girls. When we did the color run event, there were about 4 of us across walking mostly, (we wanted to visit and talk more than run). So when one runner pushed right through the middle of us saying "excuse me" I thought rude! But then I realized that I was on the other side of this. When I am running a race and have to go way out around people lined up walking I get frustrated at them. So I wish I would have been more aware of how we were doing the same darn thing. After that I made sure we didn't . Sometimes I need a kick in the pants I guess! :)
    You rock by the way. You had a rough time yet you still rocked it. Amazing my friend..amazing!
    1994 days ago
    Girl friends together is such a great way to race, but couldn't a line of them start farther back - when they know they are going to be in a line? Geesh!

    Anyways, I'm glad your virtual friends were cheering you on, cause we were for real in the real worl!
    1994 days ago
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