Something weird happened around 5pm Friday. It was as if someone removed the butterflies prematurely – all the nerves and ramblings that I blogged about that morning pretty much left in the car on the way to San Antonio. Usually the night before a race I’m jumpy and excitable and can barely get myself to calm down. That day, once we were in the car and finally through South Austin traffic, I got so relaxed and tired that I wasn’t even thinking about the race. I’m sure it helped that I only managed 5 hours of sleep Thursday night, but finally being on the way and the road vibrations were just lulling me to sleep. I resisted a nap, but I kept that serene calmness through the rest of the evening.
We got to the hotel, relaxed a little bit, and then headed out for dinner. I wanted something I’d had before, and something not spicy (which eliminates most of the food I like), but also something sizable (I wanted to wake up not feeling hungry), so we settled on Saltgrass. I had half a loaf of bread, a salad with full fat ranch, a 7 ounce filet mignon, 5 fried shrimp, and mashed potatoes. I ate every bite except a few bites of leftover taters, and it was WONDERFUL. In retrospect, I don’t think I could have picked anything more satisfying to eat.
We were going to make use of the hotel pool, but there was a huge family there, so we decided to wait until a little later and see if they had left. At 9pm, I was so wonderfully sunk into bed dorking on the laptop watching Sci-Fi, I didn’t even want to get up and take a shower like I had planned, so I just relaxed and drifted off to bed around 10:30. I found myself getting a *little* antsy when I started to try and close my eyes, but I just went ahead and went over my morning routine a few times and it was tedious enough to get me to dreamyland.
The alarm blaring at 6am made me want to throw things, and immediately upon waking, my tummy was a bit upset (my 50 bazillion calorie meal and then sleep right after – it made sense), but after a nice long shower I felt good to go. My good shoes FINALLY didn’t make my hurty toe hurt, so I said a quick “thank you” to the running gods. TMI incoming – so I had not…shall we say…taken the kids to the pool in a while. I had been not quite so regular lately, but it seemed like it was more a situation of my body was using everything it was being given to power the flaming furnace which was the Quix-running-machine that I have been. This week, being a light workout week, I hadn’t quite had that problem. Until now. It had been at least 24 hours since my last “moving” moment. I had ingested a seriously large quantity of food the night before. And nothing. Even after chowing down on a whole Zone bar.
We had to go even though I couldn’t…go (ok, poop puns stop here), so we got into the car, got slightly lost, and then around 7:10 found the place to catch the shuttle. No problem, right? So, so wrong. We were in line until 7 freaking 45 (yes, 15 minutes to gun time). The shuttle dropped us off at around 7:50-something, and then we found out it was about a half mile walk to the actual race. I started hearing “last call to get your numbers” so I left Zliten with the stuff and sprinted my ass off across the field and got my number and my chip, and was applying it while the first wave of relay racers crossed the starting line. Since the start was staggered, I went ahead and got rid of some excess water in toilets that didn’t have doors (eww) and when I got out, I saw the second wave go. I got up to the starting line as they were taking everything down and I frantically waved and pointed at my tag and they sorta rolled their eyes and said, go ahead. I was the last person across the line. The chip time probably included about 30 seconds to 2 minutes of standing on the mat haggling with the officials. Worst race start ever.
I got out a little fast because I wanted to catch up with someone…anyone… I kept getting these pity cheers, like I was the slow kid, so I was very happy once we turned into the woods and I passed the second slowest person. After settling down from that, I started feeling really good. It was a beautiful morning, it was breezy, pretty temperate around 80 (not prime running weather for someone that hadn’t been training for it, but I didn’t feel like I was wading through a sauna), and the course was through a beautiful park. The first 3 miles were pretty awesome. When we rounded the final corner of the first lap, I got some encouragement from a relay runner after I asked an official how far we had left to go (no mile markers sucked!). She cheered for me every time she saw me. That was pretty awesome!
About halfway into the second lap (50 minutes in), I ate my caffeine beans, which I had binder clipped to the inside of my running skirt (most genius idea ever – it held up so well and wasn’t uncomfortable at all) and then got a nice little boost. At the end of the second lap, I realized something was a little off – my feet were hurting. Not my toe, but my feet. I realized then how uneven the pavement was on some parts of the trail, and my tootsies were more used to sidewalk or level streets. After a while it just started to become a constant ache which I was able to get used to, so it wasn’t too horrible.
Sometime on the third lap, I had convinced myself I was further along than I thought I was. I thought I had to finish that lap and then go to the finish. I ate my second beans close to the end of the lap and then when I approached the turn, I asked the offical and she said we had to complete FOUR full laps and THEN head to the end. Zliten was right there and said “One more lap, keep going”. I was totally flabbergasted. I slowed down a little because the ache had come back. I moped a bit. Then I realized, I had one more lap to do and I was done and I could stop running, hell, I could stop standing for an entire week if I wanted. So on I trudged.
I swear they added at least 2 extra miles to that last lap. I kept thinking I was turning the last corner and nope, there was just more fucking forest. I even got aide instead of water at one of the last stops hoping the sugar would help. I must have looked so out of it, one of the officials cheered me on, telling me I had about one mile to go. That was the longest fucking mile ever. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, I rounded the last corner and got a little pep back from a cheer from the relay runner, and headed for the finish. I didn’t feel like I had anything left to give but when I saw the finish line, I started sprinting anyway. In my head, instead of “dig, dig, dig, dig” which I’ve chanted to get me to the end of long runs, I was chanting something like “sit, sit, sit, sit”.
I crossed the finish looking pretty strong (according to Zliten), and managed to hold it together for them to clip off the chip. I walked around a little bit, got about 6 cups of water, and then needed a sit. Badly. We found a bench and I just kinda recovered and stretched. After I had use of my legs back (slightly), we walked back up to the race. The post-race food didn’t look that great, so I tried a beer and some cheese. After a bite and a few sips and another sit, those weren’t settling well at all, so we just decided to head out. That half mile back to the shuttles was FUCKING painful. I know you’re supposed to cool down and stay mobile for maximum recovery, but I just couldn’t. I was hobbling. Once we got on the shuttle, I exclaimed that sitting was the best thing ever. I didn’t even notice the AC until Zliten told me that was the best thing ever for him.
We got back to the hotel, I stripped off my soggy clothes (a mix of sweat and dumping at least half a water on myself each mile – but I think either would have thoroughly soaked me through and through without the other) and took about a 20 minute bath, then a 20 minute shower. I died on the bed for a bit and then we headed home, with a stop at the italian buffet first. By that time I had the ability to maneuver my legs without worrying about failure, but there was definitely a dull, aching throb. I was pretty much braindead the rest of the day and didn’t get up off the couch. Sunday was a little better, but my hamstrings were still super sore. Yesterday, however, I was a new person. I got up, did a DDR and yoga session before work, and my legs feel, for all intents and purposes, back to normal.
What’s next for me? Stay tuned and I”ll yak about that tomorrow!