Good morning and happy Monday! This race report is being brought to you from Cloud Nine, where I expect to reside for at least a couple more days. You! Guys! This was one of the best races I’ve ever run and I just can’t stop being happy about it!
As you well know, I went into this race with very low expectations. My training had been fine, but definitely nothing spectacular. The weather was looking gloomy at best, and the course is not exactly a favorite. There was nothing about this day that indicated I was going to have a good race, but there it was anyway!
|Pre-race selfie. My client who is a doctor asked me to send her a pic, and I wanted to show her that I was being a good girl and taking my Albuterol. Asthma can kiss my ass.|
So what was the secret sauce that made everything in this race go so well? Honestly, if I knew, I would rein it in, bottle it up, mass produce it, share it with you and still keep a huge stockpile for myself. But I don’t have a clue. I stood at the starting line feeling exactly like I always do: nervous, excited, worried, vaguely confident, cold, irritated at that one girl who I swear is at every starting line laughing a little too shrilly, and a teeny tiny bit like I’m about to poop my pants. (Side note, the race director still didn’t have enough port-o-potties. I stood in line for 12 minutes and finally decided that if I had to choose between emptying my bladder or warming up, that I should do my dynamic stretching. Thankfully, that was the right choice. It really could have gone either way.)
And yet, the minute I started running, I knew that I was going to have a great day.
I had accidentally lined up way, way, waaaaaaaaaaay too far back and spent the first “slow” mile (9:21 pace – pretty much the fastest mile I’ve run recently, and yet it was the slowest of the day!), weaving my way through the crowd. My legs felt fantastic and I could tell that my breathing wasn’t going to be an issue. I felt good. I felt strong.
The first few miles passed quickly. I made my way through the 2:30 pace group (yes, I was that far off the starting line) and on up the line until I found myself behind the 2:05 group about three miles into the day. I had a moment of hesitation. 2:05 was way faster than my realistic time goal for this race, but I was definitely moving faster than them. In fact, if it hadn’t been a narrow stretch of sidewalk, I would have blown past them at my current pace, but instead had to squeeze through them one by one. I was half-debating if I should just tuck in when I heard my sons’ cross country/track coach hollering at me in my head, “Just because the person in front of you is running that pace doesn’t mean you want to run that pace.” I don’t know if she’s ever actually said that to anybody, but I took heed and ran my own pace. Faster.
About four miles in, I suspected that I had gone out too hard, but no sooner did that thought cross my mind then that famous quote from Steve Prefontaine popped into my head: “The only good pace is a suicide pace and today is a good day to die.” I found quite a few of those little gems rattling around in there over the course of the race, actually. I didn’t know I had been paying that much attention to the Positive Moti-Quote accounts I follow on Instagram and Twitter, but at various times while I was running I found myself thinking things like, “FOCUS: Follow One Course Until Successful,” and “I don’t stop when I’m tired, I stop when I’m done.”
I heard my kids’ coach a lot, too. She kept telling me to “Move up! Move up!” That one was particularly helpful. I spent the entire race passing people. I mean, yeah, I started off way in the back, but at some point I really expected to settle into a pace and not pass anybody else. Nope. I reeled in two more bibs after passing the 13-Mile marker. Move up!
Don’t get me wrong, there were doubtful thoughts thrown in there, too. It’s me. But my Inner Badass was having none of it. During one very long stretch of gravel roadway where the puddles were everywhere and ankle deep, the rain was super heavy and we turned into the wind, I wanted to slow down. I wanted to hide behind the big guy running in front of me, but IB was there, shouting in my ear, “Don’t be such a fucking baby! Splash through! You’re already wet and if you slow down now I will kick! your! ass!” (My Inner Badass swears a lot.)
By Mile 8, I had to start playing mind games with myself. Actually, they were sort of drinking games. I was getting tired, so I knew that staying fueled was going to make the difference between finishing strong and fizzling out. So every time I saw somebody else walking, I took a drink of my Gatorade. Every time I was on an incline (I can’t even call them hills, this is a very friendly course with just one tall overcrossing, but lots and lots of gentle undulations) – drink! Pass somebody wearing tights – DRINK! (So many people were so overdressed for the weather – ha! That’s a mistake I won’t make at this race ever again, thank you very much.)
Every time I came to a mile marker, I immediately started thinking about the next mile marker, reminding myself, like I did at the Davis MOO-nlight, that “Any fool can run four miles!” I thought a lot about the two other times I have run this course. I remembered feeling awful the whole time the first year, so I didn’t linger on that. I had no use for bad memories. But I also thought about the year I ran my PR. I went out so hard and very nearly fell apart at the end. I walked through all the water stations after the halfway point and mentally struggled after ten miles. It was a nice comparison to how I felt yesterday. Even though I knew I was running slower than a PR time, I felt so very, very strong mentally.
Until Mile 11.5, when I hit the wall. Hard. It was unexpected and honestly, it pissed me off. I had been running so strong and feeling so positive, but all of a sudden, the voice in my head started saying, “I can’t do this anymore.” But you know what was super cool? Inner Badass fought back, and if you thought she had a potty mouth before, then you will want to skip the next paragraph.
I wanted to walk through the water stations, I did. But Inner Badass was all, “You’re not walking now, bitch!” I wanted to slow down, but she told me to get my ass in gear. I didn’t think I could hold my pace, I didn’t think I could reach the new-and-improved time goal I had set for myself when I passed the 2:05 pace group, but she kept chanting, “Sub-two! Sub-two! Mother fucking sub-two!”
I could see the 2-hour pace group. I was whittling down their lead an inch at a time. I suspected I wasn’t ever going to catch up, let alone pass them. But I wanted it sooooo bad. I also had the tiny thought in my head that maybe I didn’t even need to catch them, because I had started so far back.
Finally, at Mile 12.5, I let myself look at my Garmin for the very first time all day and I had to choke back happy tears at what I saw. I only had six more minutes to suffer this pain, and I was going to come in at a time that started with a 1. I had hit the tangents so poorly and done so much weaving through the other runners that my distance was more than a tenth of a mile off, but I was still going to make it in time. I just had to push a little harder.
|The clock says 2, but my watch (and the official results) said 1!|
|Looking a little bit dazed and a lot like a drowned rat at the finish line. Also? Say hello to Yellow Shirt #3, you’re going to be seeing a lot of this guy in the future.|
Official Finish Time – 1:59:02
I am SO, SO, SO happy with this race! I can’t think of another race where I have run this well. Yes, obviously I have run faster, but this was different. My head was in the game the whole race. I stayed strong and I pushed myself harder than I think I have ever pushed before. Even though it wasn’t a PR, I almost feel like I can cross off my resolution, because this race was that good!
Some things that totally could have screwed up my day, but ended up not being a factor at all:
- The weather. Holy crap, it was raining hard. And the winds were somewhere in the 15-20 mph range. But other than that one time where I swear to god the rain actually went UP my nose, I didn’t even really notice it. Sort of related, and the thing that I did notice, was that my glasses were foggy almost the whole time I was running. That was unfortunate, since they were also very wet from the rain, so I was sort of running blind. The only time it really made a difference was when I was running in the tunnels, which were thankfully very short, because in the darkness, I really couldn’t see anything at all.
- My clothing choice. When I left the house, I was wearing a lot more, but I thought long and hard about how this race is always warmer than I think it’s going to be. I took off everything but my tank top, my skirt and my super lightweight gloves before I started the race. And the gloves came off by Mile 5. I was never cold, and I was gloriously never hot either. Hashtag winning.
- My stupid headphones. UltraIronHubs gave me the, “You’re going to wear your iPod in the rain?” face when I was packing up my gear to leave. I have sent so many iPods to electronics heaven that he has told me I don’t get to buy any more, but I knew I wanted music to get me through the day. I tucked my iPod under my shirt and into my bra, so I felt good about it staying dry-ish and it didn’t die, so yay! But the headphones. Ugh! They would not stay in my ears at all. I fiddled with them the entire 13 miles, and then, at the very end when I yanked them out so I could hear my name at the finish line, I watched one of the ear pods go flinging across the street and into the gutter towards the storm drain. Nooooooooooooooooo! But there was no way in hell I was stopping at that point.
And, finally, the burning question I know you’re asking: Am I going to do this race again next year??? Well, there’s a darn good chance. I think even after the glow wears off, I’m going to have a nice soft place for this race in my heart. Plus? Check out the honkin’ medals they gave out this year! Pretty sure it’s worth it just for the bling!
|2015 on the left, 2010 on the right. Dang!|