Based on all of our research, the girls and I were under the impression that this was an easy, mostly flat course with only one big hill to worry about. LIES!! ALL LIES! :)The course wasn't horrible but I was not expecting the rolling hills.
Based on what we thought we knew, my strategy was to start slightly slower than my goal pace so I didn't wear myself out before the big hill. We were under the impression that it was all or mostly downhill after that point. So my plan was to pick it up for the rest of the race. Sounds smart, right?!
Miles 1-5 went as planned. My pace ranged between 7:49 and 8:02. That part of the course was fine. I don't remember any significant inclines. The worst part was that it took me 4 or 5 miles to get out of the crowd (which is probably why my Garmin had me going 13.28 miles). A lot of weaving in and out of people! I would think that people in the front corrals would know proper race etiquette but there were two or three people that made a dead stop in the middle of the road to adjust things, tie shoes, etc. In the words of Ludacris, "Move *****, get out the way!"
Next was the fun part. Just before the course hit 6 miles, I started up a steady incline. I knew I was approaching "the hill" but wasn't aware of how close it really was. I was distracted by pictures which I found out later were fallen soldiers. Just after the pictures, I looked up and noticed a bunch of people lined up on the side of the road. Each one was carrying an American flag. It was, at that point, that I connected the dots in my head...THIS IS THE HILL!!! I have no idea how to describe this thing. No words. My breathing was so heavy and I felt like I was walking as I approached the top. I just remember, before the hill started, someone say "Don't worry, there's a water station at the top of the hill." MORE LIES! One of the things that helped me survive that hill was knowing I would get water at the top. I'm pretty sure words flew out of my mouth when I reached the top and saw no water. I wanted to throat punch the lady that lied to me! LOL. Despite this crappy hill, I loved the people with the flags cheering us on and I loved the sweet relief I felt at the top of the hill. The disappointing part? When I reached the top of the big hill, I looked ahead and noticed what seemed to be a long, steady incline.
Post race pic with Jackie. Amanda wasn't there because her kiddos needed to get out of the rain and cold.
I assumed this would be the last challenge before the downhill section of the course. Sometime in the midst of this part of the race, my Garmin beeped to give me my mile split...9:07!!! What?! I flipped out. How did I go from 8 and sub 8s to 9:07?! This totally psyched me out, at first. I guess it just speaks to the intensity of that hill at mile six. It was at that point that I remembered something my friend, Kimberly, told me the week of the race. She told me not to look at my watch so much and just run with my heart. So I did. I didn't look at my watch for the rest of the race and finished better than I had expected.
After the first half of the race, it started raining harder. It wasn't too horrible leading up to that point. I was soaked and my feet started feeling heavy but at least the rain was light at the beginning of the race. Not only was it raining hard, at this point, but the wind decided to get a little crazy. I tried to embrace the elements but, damn, can't a girl catch a break on her last attempt at 1:40 (side note: planning to get pregnant this year so I'm under the assumption that it will now be a couple of years before I can attempt 1:40 again!)?!
The second half of the course was all rolling hills, some worse than others. So, technically, there were downhill sections but the second half of the course was NOT DOWNHILL. Now that I was running with my heart and not my watch, I decided I would use my fellow runners to help me up. Whoever was beside me at the time, I would say "O.k., we can do this. Let's get up this hill!" And we would, together...pushing each other to the top. Then I would run as fast and controlled as I felt I could down the wet hills. This was me for the rest of the race. It was the only thing that could get me through the course and elements (pace ranging 7:54 to 8:04 for miles 8-11).
Outside of the hill, mile 12 was the worst for me. I almost wanted to give up. I knew I was SO CLOSE but my brain started telling me to slow down because I wasn't going to meet Goal A. It wasn't until I evaluated my paces afterwards that I realized I ran 8:24 that mile. Very fitting for my attitude! Once that mile was complete, something came over me. I knew I had friends and family waiting on me to finish. People I wanted to make proud. People and family not present that I did not want to disappoint. Mile 13 was my fastest mile of the entire race...7:45. I'm most proud of that mile because I let it all go. I ran for the joy of running. I ran for those supporting me. I ran with my heart.
There's not much to say about the post race. It was raining, I was freezing, soaking wet...everything I've complained about already!
I just want to thank everyone from family to friends and my hubby for supporting and encouraging me through this process. I wanted a 1:40 and didn't get it...and that's ok. I came to terms with that knowing the situation wasn't the best. I can honestly say that I was never disappointed with the result. I was OVERJOYED that I beat my personal record by over three minutes! I still have a smile on my face thinking about it! I'm just so thankful to run. It felt so awesome to get back out there today and feel good after such a tough race. Next up, a FULL MARATHON. Holy crap. Flying Pig, here Lisa comes...