"You don't get better at running hills by walking them."
I saw this on Facebook a few weeks ago and used the line often. My running has not felt great since HM #4 7 weeks ago. I won't bore you with excuses. I've struggled through a fair amount of runs and have taken far more walk breaks than normal. But not on the hills. One day I even said it aloud as a trugged up that hill. whatever it takes.
I was getting very nervous about this race. Maybe DH is right and I do this to myself. I woke up Saturday morning and felt crappy. Cold, runny nose, yuck. I decided to skip an easy swim for the day and rest. Well, cold meds kicked in and I started to feel better, got some energy from packet pick-up and next thing I know I'm painting the living room. Seriously. I don't know what's wrong with me!
Felt better, but not perfect, when I woke up Sunday: race day. Took some cold medicine and started to get pumped for the race. I love racing! Immediately I went into a good mental space telling myself of what a great race it was going to be. I went back and read last year's Spark blog about this same race. It gave me another boost. Last year's time was 1:54 so the obvious plan was to beat that. Last month was 1:51:28. Of course I wanted to beat that too, but I knew it would be tough because of how hilly this course was.
I lined up right in front of the 2:00 pacer. I started slow. The first hill hits you before you're even at mile 1! youch!!! Lean in to it. use your arms. drive knees up. maintain pace. work it! And that's basically what I did for the next 13 miles.
I don't think I've ever been so focused in a race. I pushed myself. And then I pushed myself some more. And when I wanted to slow down, I kept pushing. This was mental. An intense mental battle. And Spark, you help at moments like this. I wonder, what do you want to write in a blog? Thank you for keeping me positive and inspired.
I wasn't so in the zone that I missed the fun. I high fived as many kids as I could. I gave my prayer of thanks for health at every bridge. This course is stunningly beautiful and I soaked it in. Even on a cold, windy, gray morning where the green bursts of Spring have not yet made their appearance.
The hills kept coming. And I kept attacking.
I saw the 1:55 pacer around mile 3, but didn't rush myself. Reminded to run my own race, which is a sign I'm growing as a runner. I know I would've immediately sped up to pass them a year ago.
I finally did pass them between 5 and 6. I felt really good until this point. Took a GU and actually felt more energy. Took a second GU at 9.5 which is more than I usually do but i wanted to experiment. I think it was a good choice.
Like the last HM, my legs were done at mile 10. But this time, I told my legs, "too bad. Pick up the pace." Mind over matter.
There were 2 guys, both in gold shirts, that kept trading places with me and I just wanted to lose them. I pushed and then we turned onto a trail at mile 11. 1.5 miles on gravel road. Not that big of a deal, but kinda a deal. My pace slowed. The golden boys passed. They even ran on either side of me and then came back together, essentially cutting me off. Oh, no, you didn't!!! Now I'm pissed. I waited a few seconds and blew past them.
At mile 12.5 we turn back onto the road and I feel like I'm flying. And who comes right up beside me??! I look at them and say, "Ok, we've been trading places for miles. Let's go!" They both smiled and we all picked up the pace. They faded for a teeny bit, let me think that I lost them, and then as I'm running into the finisher's chute, one of them tries to pass me. Again! oh h$llllll no! I have never sprinted like that in my life. Beat him by a second and we high fived at the finish. After getting my pretty medal I walked over and thanked them for pushing me. What a fun race. They laughed and said ditto.
Clock said 1:54 at finish so I was thrilled. Knew I beat last year's time, but didn't know by how much. Chip time is 1:51:06. yes! yes! yes! It's not the 1:49 that was my original goal. but! It's 22 seconds faster than the last one. On a much, much more difficult course.
I proved a lot to myself on the course. I have more mental strength and tenacity than I thought. Man, I love racing.
We were all spent and it was not easy to climb those suckers for a podium shot. (I'm on the right) And I am so very sore today and know it'll be worse tomorrow. I chafed fairly badly for the first time. holy pain! all worth it.
When I got home my daughter said, "Mama, you were fast and strong?"
"Yep. And I had a blast."
"That's most important, right?"