Are you thinking what I’m thinking? “Where did that come from?!”
1 hour, 58 minutes, 17 seconds was my half marathon time from Saturday. Finally – a sub 2 hour half! Do ya’ll remember this post? I felt like I was going into this half marathon way under trained. I found out Saturday, that indeed was the case. Despite, the fact I managed to pull out a pretty good time, I hurt. I hurt real bad. It’s true this race actually had a total elevation loss – that’s right, a loss. This is VERY rare for mountain races. The course began in Ridgecrest, NC and ended in the small town of Old Fort. The elevation loss was about 1,100 feet! BUT – there were climbs and hills, and they happened to come at the most excruciating moments.
Let’s just start from the beginning, shall we?
My alarm went off awfully early at 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning. (Did I mention the race started at 6 a.m.)? I scarfed down a bagel and some coffee and started waking up my support crew. God bless my C-dub and my friend Tracy for waking up at 5 a.m. to drive me to the starting line.
When we arrived I had about 20 minutes to visit the lady’s room and get warmed up. We had a pre race prayer, then the gun went off pretty promptly at 6:01 a.m.
Here’s the mile by mile:
Mile 1 – 4ish: The first 1 1/2 miles was completely downhill. Thank goodness! I felt pretty good. Everything seemed to be working ok and I got warmed up pretty quickly. Then, right at mile 2, we started climbing. Hello – DOWNHILL, where are you? It wasn’t the hardest climb ever, but it lasted a good mile , if not more and got my blood pumping.
Mile 4 – 7: The downhill began. Wahooooo! I was flying. I didn’t really have a choice though. At this point, we were running on dirt and loose gravel and there wasn’t really any way to “control” your pace. Everything was going great for a while… then, I felt a faint pain in my left hamstring around mile 6. By mile 7, I was full on- in pain. My legs were trashed and my hamstring wasn’t letting up. At this point, I just started telling myself not to be a wuss and keep moving. So I did. I took a gel here hoping that might increase my chances of survivial, hitting my sub 2 hour goal.
Mile 8 – 10: We finally made it to the bottom of the biggest drop and came out in the town of Old Fort. We were running on a highway at this point and I could really feel the damage done to my legs. Again, I kept thinking “all forward motion counts.” We passed Andrews Geyser, and there were some really sweet people cheering us on along the way. There were a few uphill climbs that really hurt. The only walking I’d done up to now was to go through water stops. I almost stopped to walk and then I thought “what difference will it make?” Yeah, my legs hurt really bad, but stamina wise, I was still feeling pretty strong. I just slowed my pace a bit and kept trucking along.
Mile 10 – 12:I started bonking hard. My positive attitude didn’t last long. I was really struggling physically and mentally now. The course was pretty flat here and I was maintaining about an 8:50 – 9:00 min mile pace, so I was still moving along, but very painfully. Then a miracle happened. At mile 11, I hear this car slowing behind me and a familiar voice yelling, “Hey girl, you’re kicking a$#!” My husband and my friend rode alongside me for about a mile talking me through the pain and blasting Bob Marley to boost my morale. They saved me! It’s amazing what a little moral support can do. At about mile 12, I told them to go ahead and meet me at the finish.
Mile 12 – 13.1: Right at the 12th mile, I climbed one the biggest hills on the course, then there was a quick downhill that gave me a final push. I rounded a corner and two guys who had just finished yelled,”come on now, you don’t even look tired.” I kind of wanted to swerve over and smack them both. Little did they know that my left hamstring felt like it was doing to explode or snap, or something dramatic like that. Then, I heard people and knew I was almost finished. I managed to pass two people in the final kick and when I saw a “1” still on the clock, I knew I’d made it in under 2 hours. The guy announcing names as we finished totally butchered my last name, but that’s ok. It was a nice touch.
I learned with this race, that no matter how hard you’ve trained (or not trained), how well you perform in long distance races has a lot to do with your ability to “scrap.” You know, “scrappin,” or putting up a fight. This was certainly a mental game for me. I’m finding as I run more races, I’m learing to put mind over matter. I know that the pain is only temporary, it will all end soon enough and the end result will be well worth it. A bit of a metaphor for life, no?
As I sat on the ground, soaked in salty sweat, trying to massage my battered legs, feeling slightly nauseous, I realized this is exactly what I love about this sport. I get a sense of accomplishment and victory that can’t be matched. I am completely exhausted and triumphant at the same time. But most of all, I feel most like myself. It’s true – I did suffer a few injuries during this particular run, but it’s nothing a little rest won’t heal.
I should also mention, this race was very well organized. Although it was small and relatively new, it was awesome! Lots of water and even GU at mile 5. There was plenty of food at the end and lots of great support. Kudos to everyone involved!
So what’s next? I’ll be taking it easy for a while, but will still be running. It’s what I do. But I don’t have any races on tap until August 21, when I’ll trek through the toe river and climb some crazy steep mountain at the Springmaid Splash.
Oh, my friend has the race photos on her camera. I will share with you all as soon as I get them! Until I get those, here’s a picture back in February with C-dub. I was about to run the Myrtle Beach Marathon with a friend even though it was canceled for 2 inches of snow. I kid you not.
See ya on the flip side later today.