I was up early and ready to go. Uber-excited about the day. Adam had set me out a rather ambitious plan to run 9:20s all the way through. I knew it would be tough, I knew the day would be hard. But I knew ultimately, I was capable of it if everything went right. Ah, the inevitable "if".
I loaded into the car with friends Elaine, Robin D, Monica, and Stephanie to head over to the race. As soon as we got there, we headed over for a group photo with some of the most inspiring runners...
Elaine (Paced the 3:00 group), Monica (3rd Half), Denya (4th Half), Me, Deanna (1st 10k!), Christina (1st 10k!), Holly F (1st Half!), Holly C (1st Half!), Helen (1st Half!)
You might notice a slew of matching Racing It Off Shirts (by Family Fan Club)... I'll talk more about those soon, but I was seriously honored that my friends and the girls I coach wanted to wear these shirts. It was really awesome seeing RIO shirts on the course.
Racing It Off Girls - It has been such an honor to coach these ladies. *They* inspire me... not the other way around. Each and every one of them, amazing.
And I had to get a photo with sweet Sherry, my long lost race buddy. Come on out Aubrey, so I can run with your mommy again...
(Here is where I admit that I got dealt a lovely ego blow in that Sherry borrowed my clothes... she's 7 months pregnant, and fit into my clothes perfectly. Hmmmmm. Yes, I do realize we have a slight height and bone structure variation, but still!!!)
What does all this photo-taking mean? It means I didn't make it to the potty line in time to get to go before the race started. Not always a big deal but when the plan is to smoke it at 9:20s, not really wise. Plus, I should mention that my stomach was talking to me. It wasn't nice talk either. The start of the race was supposed to be upper 60s, but we were surprised that it was over 80 at the start. Really?
How not to tank a race - Lesson 1 - ALWAYS leave time for the bathroom. ALWAYS. Even if you don't think you need to go.
How not to tank a race - Lesson 2 - If conditions aren't right, it might be smart to adjust your plan appropriately. I know this, I say it over and over. But I didn't do it. I went forward with the same plan knowing that between the heat and the messed up stomach, I should probably be more conservative.
Robin W and Angela (why did I *not* get a picture with them?) started with me, and we were going to try to stay together.
Mile 1 - 9:15
Mile 2 - 9:16
Mile 3 - 9:26
First 3 miles were on target, but I immediately noticed something drastic. I wasn't talking... at all. Anyone who has ever run with me knows that I talk the entire time. Probably too much. Probably to the extent that it's annoying. Running with me is an acquired taste. And here I was, only at mile 3, and I was silent. Even Robin W had noticed... there was no jabber distracting from the painful pace.
How not to tank a race lesson 3 - If it's a long race, and you can't talk in the early miles, you should probably back off and even it out.
Mile 4 - 9:41
Mile 5 - 10:00
Mile 6 - 9:34
I know what you're thinking... ok, she backed off... but I didn't. I felt like I was running the same pace, but it was getting hotter and I was at full effort, and that's all my body was giving me. And I kept saying... that's ok, I'm still at PR pace... not the desired 9:20 pace, but still PR. BUT, at this point, my stomach was a disaster. I was really hurting. The pace was downright exhausting me. I wasn't drinking enough water because I was spending so much time focused on the stomach knots. Angela and Robin started to pull away ahead of me... 7 miles left and I felt like utter crap. If I had felt like this at mile 11, I think I could've gutted it out, but I knew I couldn't gut it out for 7 miles, but I continued to push hoping it would pass. I had caught back up to Robin, and we gutted through a couple more miles...
Mile 7 - 10:13
Mile 8 - 10:04
After that mile clicked, I told her to go on. I had to walk. I was dizzy, I wanted to puke. I was seeing friends coming the other direction on the course, and I waved and said hi but can't recall much of it. There are people I literally don't even remember passing on my way back in that I apparently spoke to. I was completely out of it. I was not running straight. I was actually hoping I would puke and get it over with, but it didn't happen... instead, I got dealt a lovely calf cramp. Stellar! Please... give me another obstacle.
Mile 9 - 12:04
Mile 10 - 12:16
Mile 11 - 11:55
Those 3 miles were the absolute worst. I went back and forth between running and walking. I pulled my phone out to call Tricia, but then decided not to, that it would take too much energy, and I'd probably break down. I considered stopping and just sitting and waiting for Holly F or Holly C and then just running in with them. I was literally looking at every patch of grass deciding if it would be shaded enough to sit and wait. For the record, I have never ever even contemplating sitting down during a race. This was not me, so I knew I was in bad shape. But for some reason when I hit that mile 11 marker, all I could think was that everything hurt so bad (particularly my calf and my stomach) that I just had to get this over with. Being out there another 30+ minutes was not an option. I was limping by this point, but didn't care... time to soldier on...
Mile 12 - 11:07
Mile 13 - 10:24
Yes, I picked up the pace, but I was still defeated and really hurting... bad... I tried to pick up the pace for a strong finish, but had zero left, until I heard Jason screaming at me from the side something about speedwork. And I found it in me...
Last 0.1 - 6:48 pace
Finish time 2:15.
Now, please note... I said over and over that I tanked this race, and I know that there are some that will look at my time and say "huh?" And yes, less than a year ago, 2:15 was my PR. Do not get me wrong, I don't think there is anything wrong with my time. I actually think a 2:15 is a great time. And had I paced a nice even 10:20 min/mile the entire race (which is still a good pace for me), I would've been quite content with that time. The reason I consider this a tank is because my pace literally varied by 3:01 min/mile between my first mile 9:15 and my worst mile 12:16. I could list the reasons... the heat was ridiculous... very little shade, lots of bright sun, and temps soaring up to 90. A stomach that was in knots and a potty break that I should've taken BEFORE I started. Starting out too fast. I should've started slower and then eased into the 9:20s if my body felt good... if not, I should've held back and paced a little more conservatively... had I done that, I could've PR'd... I wouldn't have hit the 2:03 I wanted, but I certainly could've come in below my current 2:09.
I plopped immediately into the grass in utter exhaustion and was greated by Christina (who had kicked her 10k in the rear) and the amazing Robin D (who grabbed second in her age group with her 1:50 PR). I was a mess. I was hurting, I was limping, my stomach was a disaster, it wasn't pretty. But, I also wasn't beating myself up, it wasn't my day... it happens. I had a huge influx of amazing e-mails and texts of support, and I am still overwhelmed by how amazing the running community is... but in all seriousness, I'm ok with it. Racing is half science and half art because you never know the factors that will be thrown into the mix.
So there I was lying in the grass, until... to be continued...