When last we left the story, I was very, very, happy to be done with the bike and have Death Star in one piece… but I honestly had no idea how I was going to run a half marathon. It was really hot – time was closing in on 1:45pm and that meant the entirety of the run was going to be at the max temps (88, feels like 94 according to the weather). I was kind of traumatized from all the energy spent on not-biking-stuff during the bike. I was pretty happy I was able to hit my 17 mph goal but it took a lot out of me. Physically I felt good, mentally, I felt a bit shell shocked.
Also, as I dismounted, I heard “holy crap, are you kidding” and saw THIS guy right next to me. Dislocated rib, plan for riding 15 mph, whatever. He had biked 3 hours flat to a HUGE PR.
That made me happy and a little demoralized and also a little motivated at the same time. I thought I was finally going to win one race this year, and now I was going to have to really work for it, and I was pretty cooked just from the heat. However, this is what we do. Transition gravity got me a bit in T2. I walked my bike in instead of running. I sat on the ground to deal with my shoes and crap. However, that extra few minutes helped center me, and I took off out of T2 running at a decent clip.
Mile 1 ticked by at 10-something, according to plan, but then we hit this really daunting hill (the elevation chart I studied lied… 100 feet of ascent total my ass) and it hit me that we had to do that 6 times (3 out and backs). I got through #1, but after the aid station around mile 1.5, I had to stop to fill my bottle and I just started walking. Great.
Then, my husband comes back from behind again and says “we’re running for another tenth of a mile and then walking”. Ok, I think, I can do that. So we did, and chatted about the race so far and his run plan and stuff and things. With the crazy heat and lateness of the day and the hills I did not expect, there was not enough middle fingers to adhere to my own race plan. Instead, I decided to adopt a run buddy for the first part of the race.
He was really happy that I was around to stick with him and I was happy to have some motivation through the first loop or two. I told him that if I felt better on loop 2 or 3 I was going to take off, but for now, I was in. It was really cute how a lot of people commented on us running together. Awww, how sweet, they said. Honestly, while it was REALLY nice to stick together, it was because we just at that same level of cooked but still moving forward point. 🙂
The aid stations were my lifeline. My garmin shows SIX MINUTES of aid station stops, not because I was fucking around, but because it was necessary. Find the ice table and 2 cups in bottle, 1 down the shirt, and every other station, one in the hat. Find the gatorade and fill the rest of the bottle if there was room. Find the water and dump over my body. Then go. Somewhere in the first loop, I got offered coca cola and tried some… and I was fully on the brown pony train from then on. It was magical. Every aid station I could get to it (some were swarmed with bees), I had a cup. For the rest of the day, I was hearing colors and seeing sounds but it was worth it.
Starting on the second lap, I was trying to lengthen our run intervals between walks because I was feeling a little better. At first Zliten was in, but then around mile 7, he told me my running segments were too fast and he needed more breaks, so we hugged and I kept trotting ahead as he took a break. I was ready to start digging into the lead I needed to accumulate over the last half to beat him.
I had no illusions that I was going to be able to run the rest of the way, but my walk pace was pretty quick and I tried to keep my running pace a quick clip. I attempted to only walk aid stations and the second halfs of uphills. While a 12-something pace for most of the miles is not terribly impressive in and of itself, it’s not shabby considering how much of that was walking and stopping to take care of myself at aid stations. If I could ever get a temperate day for one of these… watch out world!
I spent the last lap chanting stuff to myself, various mantras like “this pace is not giving up” and focusing on the fact that I was on track to beat 2:40 if I stayed with it and that seemed like something I could be proud of that day. I also listened to Katy Perry’s Rise like, 6 times on repeat Friday evening, so that went through my head. I followed some dude that had his coach on the course pacing him for a while (annoying) and then ran in the middle of some other tri team, both simply because they were going my pace.
I walked the last aid station and dumped ONE more load of ice down my top and said, “ok, this is it… finish strong”. 13 was my fastest mile at 10:25 and I was just so excited and pumped to make my way down the stretch of spectators one last time, and take the turn towards the finish. I figured somehow they would lead us up one more hill for an extra quarter mile, but thankfully they didn’t. The transition from outside to inside was very abrupt, but I was just so excited I pumped my arms in the air down the chute like I was winning this thing and crossed the line super happy!
Run Time: 2:40:06 51/93 AG <- holy crap, finished higher in my AG on the run… that is a testament to my fight. I always fall off at the end.
Official Time: 6:04:51 51/93 AG
I finished hopped up on caffeine, shit eating grin, feeling like a fucking superhero. My husband rolls in almost exactly 15 minutes later looking like THIS.
Best race finish picture ever.
We did the normal things, which typically involve taking Zliten to medical but not actually needing medical (that face usually gets him sent there but he recovers quickly). The inside finish helped us cool down quickly. We took a post race photo. We got food (some chicken baked ziti thing) and liquid. We began the long process of getting all the race bags and bike all the way from T1 to the other side of the universe where we parked and watched people still streaming in. It was a far cry from the last IM branded race we did, where we were almost the last two finishers and everything had already been taken down (no food, liquid, store, nothing).
The more time I’ve had to reflect on this, the more excited I’ve gotten about this run. Of course there’s room for improvement, but I stuck with it mentally, and I didn’t give up. I walked/stopped at aid stations, and a few hills as metered breaks, but that was it. Zliten and I really helped each other out on the first half, and we parted ways when it didn’t make sense to stick together. Sadly (for me), with the stops on the bike, I actually needed about 18 minutes on him, so he won this one by kicking some major ass on the bike.
I know I can run a 2:15 at one of the races someday, but not at this weight at that temperature on that course. My second best time with all those challenges thrown my way is a perfectly good cause for celebration.
I’m not sure at what point my mind changed from “I’m never doing this course again” to “when I do this course again”, but I keep thinking about how to better train to conquer it. The weather COULD POSSIBLY not suck. The bike was wayyyy less annoying than expected. Knowing the run course, I can actually train for the hills. It does put a damper on celebrating one of my favorite holidays because of the weekend it falls on, but I’d consider doing this one again in the future.