Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Santa Clarita RR - I found my limit

I found my limit.

I did a lot of evaluating of my last two marathons before this one.  January was a 3:28 and May was 3:28. They were very different courses at different altitudes and I ran very different races but the overall time was nearly identical. In January I was somewhat injured and ran as tough as I could.  In May I ran to negative split and enjoy the run (which I did) but the whole race was too slow.  So for this weekend my plan was to go with it in the first half and see how long I could hang on and hoped it would be enough to break 3:25. It wasn’t.
I’m not sure what to write about this race. It didn’t go by fast. It didn’t go by slow (except the last 8 miles). Nothing really monumental happened (except I went my best Half Marathon time in the first half of the race). I was happy. I felt good. Weather was perfect. Course was busy with too many turns and little foot bridges and underpasses but it kept things interesting.  I started out cruising in the 7:30s so I went with it.
The last 8 miles brought a mental struggle of fatigue combined with about 6 women all racing within a few minutes of each other.  Who had enough left? Could I tail this ponytail and then pass her with a mile left? Or will she pass me back and will the other ponytail behind me pass me also? So hard to know and there is no way to tell. I did what I could. I passed 3 ponytails and I got passed by 2 different ponytails that crept up from the back. 

Highlights from the race:
-Seeing JB at the start…a virtual friend who I met for the first time on Friday night.  It was so encouraging to have a supporter at the race.
-Seeing JB at 3ish, 6ish and just before the Half.  I was ecstatic when I saw him at the Half because I knew I was completing my best Half Marathon time (it’s been well over a 1 ½ years since I ran a Half so it’s expected to be faster but I was still really happy).  1:39. Yay!
-Seeing DH (GutterRunner) at 20ish.  There was a little out-and-back from 19.5-23.5ish and we estimated before the race that if all went as planned we would just catch a glimpse of each other here. We were right. I entered the stretch of out-and-back and hadn’t run 1/10 of a mile by the time I saw him.  We gave a low five.  I cheered him on. He said nothing. He looked like crap. Breathing hard. Sweating like a pig.  I felt as bad as he looked. But I also knew that we were both pretty close to being on target at that point.  From my estimation, he was going to BQ and that was what I wanted more than anything for this race.
-Every aid station where I took a drink, I tried to take the cup from the smallest and youngest volunteer. Their cheers and encouragement made my day.  I thanked them and always gave them my best smile.

As I closed in on the finish, it hurt. I never like to remember this part because there is nothing like it. The fight is over. The pounding subsides. I see DH and he can barely walk. He cheers me on and says the finish is just around the corner. “Go” he says. I turn the corner and finish (I think there was a Bangle Pump in there but it’s all a blur now). I congratulate the other girls that I raced with and they were all so nice.  I love this sport because of this. We are just all out there for ourselves and we are all so proud of each other for our individual accomplishments. The finish line is full of kind words and wonderful goal-oriented people.  I grabbed some chocolate milk and water.  I hobbled to the side of the recovery area to watch for DH coming back from the course where he cheered me on.  As I watched for him and looked down, the ugly sweats I wore to the start were laying in front of me. Someone had gathered up all the ditched clothing and brought them in a heap to the finish. Dang. Turquoise fleece with paint on it and ugly green sweatpants came home with me AGAIN (this is the 2nd time now that they have been returned to me without a go-bag). 
Final result was 3:26:46.  I was 32nd place overall.  I was 5th place woman. I got 2nd in my age group.
Crazy part was, DH went 3:01. He was 5th place man. He got 2nd in his age group.
We placed identically.  Couldn’t have planned that one!
I love running. At mile 13 a woman hollered to me that I was in 7th place and that I looked great. I smiled and waved and told her thank you. Then she hollered back that I was the first woman so far that was smiling. I smiled even bigger.  I had a wonderful race and I did smile most of the time. I run because I can. I run 26.2 because it’s fun for a good 20 miles and a good fight with yourself after that.

Thank you JB for the wonderful photos that captured our race: