Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It wasn't really about me, maybe a little

Sunday was the day.

Today was the half marathon that I was running with a first timer.

It was one of those races that far exceeded anything I have ever done on my own.

The craziness leading up to the race was just crazy.

The woman that I was pacing has been through more in a few months than I couldn't even imagine running a half marathon. Without giving up her confidence, imagine signing up for a race. Then, having everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. Health issues, personal issues, family issues.

She had been through everything. It even came down to the point that her longest run had been 8.5 miles several weeks ago.Immediately before the race, she got sick. I mean really sick. 

We had a plan on how to run the race. With everything going on, I thought I'd ask the MAN.

He came up with a brilliant idea. We were going to run a half mile, walk a half a mile.

Normally, I don't go through the day before the race. In this situation, I have to. The race was in Florida. I live in CO. The day before the race, CO gets hit with a snowstorm. The flight to Florida is not exactly short.  To make it worse, we got stuck on the runway. 

Stuck isn't exactly the right word. We pulled onto the de-icing staging area. We go through the process when the pilot comes on and says, "Air traffic control will not let us take off due to the snow, but once this band of snow passes, we can take off before the next band comes in."

Yea. Ok. I don't sit well for long periods of time. And there's this problem of "hydration". 

To make a long story short, by the time we landed, I was beyond thirsty and hungry and tired and really just wanted to get to the hotel.

When I get to the hotel, I just can't sleep. The room is right off the road in downtown Orlando. It's noisy. So noisy.  I kept staring at the clock, thinking I have to get up at 3am. (Granted, 5am ET but for me it was 3am).

It was just a rough night. I was never so happy when 5am rolled around, and I thought "Ok, let's just do this thing". I ran to 7-11. 

1.) I needed COFFEE BADLY.
2.) I can't tell you how thirsty I was.

Of course, it was only appropriate that I bought my coffee and completely forgot to get some water. I have one of those little complimentary bottles from the hotel, and that was it.

I think, "Ok, no problem. We're running a half a mile, walking a half a mile. I will just drink a lot on the course."

When I get to the race, I realize just how small of a race this is. I mean, literally, some guy yells "on your mark, get set, go" type of thing, which is totally cool with me.

I spot Heather in her "Release the Kracken" shirt. I can tell she is really nervous. For weeks, I'd been telling her that she will surprise herself.  I hadn't been so tired and so dehydrated, I probably would have been a better support system. As it was, I was worn out.

We talk about our strategy. She's all for it.

On your mark, get set, go!

We start running.

The plan is working wonderfully. Then, around the 2nd mile, Heather turns around and sees the motorcycle cop behind us.

We are dead last.

Which causes a MAJOR freak out.

So much for the "just finishing goal".

I go into my "HeatherHeatherHeather" bitchslap mode. 

"It's going to be ok. Do you see all those people in front of us? We are going to pass them ALL. Every single one of them."

My infinite wisdom is not helping the situation.

"The OLD guy WALKING passed us" She yells.

"And the lady in the RED Shirt".

Nor is my incredible sense of humor helping much.

So, I say "Ok. Change of plans. Let's run to the aid station and walk .25 miles."

As we begin passing people, Heather calms down. At least we are not last.

One thing, you should know. We aren't going slow, even with the walking. The first 5 miles, we averaged an 11:44 pace. Last or not, that's not a joke with all the walking.

At the end of the first 5 miles, we decide to up the ante again.

This time, we are running to each aid station (about 1.5-2 miles), getting a drink and keep going. Minimal stopping.

From miles 5-10, we are picking up the pace quite significantly. Our average pace starts dropping 11:44, 11:30, 11:25, 11:15.

Heather is jazzed. She is so happy now. We are passing walkers (people who went out too fast). We are passing runners. Every time, I look at my watch, we are running at a 10:30 or faster pace. 

She starts yelling, "I feel so great! I feel amazing! I can't believe it"

Then, we cross mile 8.5. I turn to her and I say, "Every step from here on out is a PR. Every step is the furthest you have ever run."

She literally jumps into the air. Like a freaking basketball player. Where'd she get those hops from? Literally, jumping from excitement I assume.

Then she yells out, Did you see that bug? That gigantic creepy bug? 

So much for excitement about running a half marathon.

That's when the adrenaline hits. Heather is a non-stop talking machine: "OMG, my butt hurts. Does it hurt because I'm running further than ever. That'sprobablyit. I'm sure regular runner's butts aren't hurting right now. But I feel amazing. I can live with a sore butt. Really. That's the only thing hurting right now. I feel like amazing! just amazing! This is incredible. Oh sorry, I just burped. Sorry. At least I didn't toot. I didn't know that was coming. My butt hurts though. Does your butt hurt?"

I can't stop laughing. I say, "Actually my butt feel like this" and I suck in my cheeks. 

"Oh that's good. It's not just me then. I thought well I don't know. I just know that I feel amazing!"

"Perfect! Then when we get to 10 miles, let's go faster!"

At this point, I'm really feeling the dehydration. I can not focus on anything except getting a drink of water. 

As we are approaching the last aid station around 11.5. I need to stop for awhile. I can tell Heather is biting at the bit to run.

I say, "GO HEATHER. RUN. Don't wait for me! YOU are not just going to finish. You are not going to finish in 3:30. You are going to finish in under 2:30."

She says, "But, I need to wait for you. You said I'd surprise myself. And I did. And I wouldn't have done it without you. I'm not going to leave you."

"No. Go! Run! this is your day. If I can catch up to you, I will. If not, I will be right behind you. But run hard. Really hard. Run with whatever you have left."


I watched her take off. So happy. It was like she was floating and not running.

I ain't gonna lie. That last mile and a half was really hard on me, but I went hard, as hard as I could. The last 5k, put our average pace at around 11:08. 

Heather finish about 2 minutes before me. I don't think I've ever seen someone glowing as much as she was. She was still going on about "feeling amazing". And she should have. She talked about it all day for the rest of the day.

At lunch, we talked about her next half. She wants to do one so bad, one where maybe she can actually train for it and not deal with the stuff she had to deal with. 

As for me, it was a great race. I had a fantastic time running with Heather. The miles went by so quickly.

Ricci is always telling me to start slow, and I've never really understood how to run slow. It goes against conventional wisdom....or my own lack of conventional wisdom. If I'm having a really hard time at the end, how can I possibly run faster at the end? If I don't run fast at the beginning, how am I going to reach my goals? Doesn't he understand? I really am slow. Those rules don't apply to me. They apply to fast people. People who can run like the wind. It didn't make sense to me. But, I wasn't reaching my goals the way I was doing it. My strategy for running a half marathon: Sufferfest. Most of my half marathons, ended the same way....with me walking the last 5k. 

Not this time.

This time was totally different. It was my first half marathon using his plan. No matter what our pace was, he had me ready for it. I even said to him, "I don't have to run mile repeats that fast. In fact, I shouldn't even be running mile repeats. I will be running the race much slower." I could feel the raised eyebrow and he said, "Yes. You do. You need to train at YOUR paces." 

Um. ok. SOMEONE didn't take their HAPPY PILLS today.

I hated some of the training. I hated the two a days. But, I will always take the challenge of a 2 a day for the strength I felt on Sunday. I have never felt so strong. Stronger than I have in a long time. For the first time ever, it never occurred to me that I wasn't hurting. I wasn't going to quit running. I just kept going.  There were no voices in my head telling me to stop or slow down or that I couldn't do it. For once, they were quiet.

So That's what preparation feels like.

The race wasn't about me or about my time. Still, I don't think you can run a half marathon without learning something, either about yourself or about your training or about anything. It's too much distance. 

Even though we ran quite a bit faster than I thought we would, I feel really good. 

Next week, I'm tackling the Turkey Trot again. It's a 4 mile race. 

Then, I turn around and run another half marathon. 

I have a feeling I'm going to surprise myself.






4 comments:

Carolina John said...

That's pretty cool Tea. Encouraging a friend is usually a good choice, and I'm excited that heather got so worked up about her performance. That's all great!

Good job with your preparations too.

LBTEPA said...

ROCK. ON.

Christi said...

That is a great post race summary! Congratulations to you both!

Molly said...

Great job out there, and awesome that you were able to carry a friend through for such a big day!