I am over the moon and in a little bit of pain. The pain was totally worth it! After watching Bud have some awesome times at his swim meet, I headed to Austin yesterday to pick up my race packet and get checked in at the hotel. With that out of the way, I drove to Whole Foods to meet my Creepy Internet Friends: Coach Carrie, Shawn, Tracy from Ohio, and Greyhound. After a fun dinner on the roof top, it was time to head back to the hotel and start laying out my gear. I was tired and I wanted to get to bed.
Look at this cool messenger bag we got!
My hotel was less than awesome. I did a $33 dollar deal on Hotwire.com and when you only pay $33 bucks, you get a $33 buck hotel. The hotel was a recycled Holiday Inn posing as the North Austin Plaza Hotel and Suites. When I stopped by the first time, all I did was check in and head back into town. Now I was here to stay. I was glad that my room was on the complete other side of the complex from the loud Tejano music fueled Quincenera being held in the banquet hall. Upon entering the room, I had flashbacks of family vacations as a kid in the 70's. This hotel had not been notified that we were now living in a new millennium. The light over the sink did not work, the "Scumfortor" was a weird geometric pattern, and there were only two flat pillows on the slab of a mattress that greeted me as I entered the door. The ice maker was not working so I could put my Greek yogurt on ice to chill. Whatever! I laid out my gear and carefully slid between the sheets as not to touch the "Scumfortor" and read a few pages of my book until I realized that my eyes were closed.
I woke up at 3:30 am with a start and was slightly frantic that I missed the alarm and that I had no idea where I was. I was going to roll over for 45 minutes of sleep but somewhere in the building there was a group having what sounded like a drug-fueled alcohol binge and I could hear the hooting, hollering, and shouting through the vent system in the bathroom. UGH!!! I laid in bed quietly for a while and then gave up and got up to foam roll my legs. With breakfast down the hatch and my gear packed up, I headed out around 5:30 am and made my way into downtown to find parking. I was to meet Greyhound at 6:00 am to head over to the start area together.
The Capitol at 6:05 am.
Conditions were warm, but windy. I had a toss away velour jacket from Wal-Mart and I was sweating in it by the time we ran from our meeting spot to the Texas Capitol. Of course, I had to find the bank of port-o-cans. I had come prepared with extra toilet paper and a Germ-X antibacterial wipe. Ok, I get it. It's dark in those things and I understand you don't want to sit on the seat. BUT PLEASE DO NOT URINATE AND DEFECATE ON THE SEAT!!! And if you do, for the love of God, please clean up after yourself! After getting out of there, I wanted to wipe my whole body down with the Germ-X wipe. Blech!
The love/hate relationship with the whole port-o-can experience...
We seeded ourselves in the 3:30 corral. Again, my hope was to hit 1:55 so even though was a faster paced corral, I figured that the closer we were to the front, the less traffic from slower runners we would have to endure. I had high hopes but there were some people standing around in our corral the outweighed me 60 pounds at the same heights and were dressed in full run tights, a long sleeve shirt, and the 12 bottle hydration belt. Um, you are a 3:30 marathon runner??? I'm not trying to be snarky here but I have been to this rodeo a few times and I know what 3:30 marathon runners look like and they sure don't look like you honey and bubba.
Waiting for the race to start.
Not so much. Once the gun went off and things got underway, it took about 2 minutes to walk to the start line. After that, the sea of humanity failed to get the memo that it was time to get moving. I found myself trying not to step on people's heels, dodging in and out of groups of "friends" that were running three and four across the road, trying to slip between runners without touching them, and avoiding uneven spots and holes in the pavement. After a sweet little downhill to start the race, the course takes you around the Capitol and the hills hit hard and fast. Once on the other side of the Capitol, we ran past the finisher's chute and uphill before we could start heading south and downhill to Ladybird Lake. Running those hills made me ditch my jacket not long after we got going.
I had made a crucial decision not to run with a Fuel Belt for this race and hoped that I would not regret that decision. So as soon as the first water station appeared at mile 1.5, I grabbed two cups and got most of the water up my nose, all over my face, and down the front of my race singlet. Ahhhgh! I was regretting my decision to go sans Fuel Belt. At least I had a nice stretch of downhill to make my move and pass some people. Once over the bridge that crossed Ladybird Lake around mile 2.5, it was uphill for 3.5 miles. I just concentrated on not going red-line and keeping the pace going. Mile 3 was Clif Shot time and my second go at grabbing some water from the aid station. I walked 10 paces to get the water in me rather than on me and picked up the running again. I quickly got back to running with the people who had been around me. As we climbed I found myself passing people. Nice. I just kept my pace as Rhianna and Lady GaGa wailed at me from my iPhone. I had my iPhone set on the Nike+GPS and it was pretty damn accurate. The app gal would tell me that I had reached the next mile and I was right with the mile marker or it was within sight. One thing that struck me was that there were two kids from the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets running in my vicinity on the uphill. The kid would get ahead of me for 30 seconds, then I would pass him. He would pass me as I dodged to grab water from an aid station and then I would catch up. His buddy was ahead of us. We kept this crazy dance going for at least 2.5 miles. All I could think was, "Dude, I'm old enough to be your mother and I missed passing the exam to get into OCS by this much and got cut from acceptance to The Naval Academy in the last round of cuts because I had a history of childhood asthma. Hmph, their loss wouldn't you say if I'm keeping up with you on this nasty course?" I kept my mouth shut as not to pulverize his ego. Back to the task at hand, I saw kids running. Kids younger than my kid running! Crazy. Crazy item #2, there was a dead possum in the middle of the road at mile 5.5 and he was relatively fresh. This dead critter had the power of Moses to part the Red Sea of runners.
As mile 6 approached, it was time to take in another Clif Shot and start the long 3 miles of downhill running. I let it fly! I kept the pace controlled, but I was passing a lot of people. Oh, those cadets from my alma mater, Texas A&M? I passed them both and never saw them again. On one section, the downhill was rather steep and I knew I had to keep things from getting out of control. At mile 8, we were about the cross back over Ladybird Lake and I ran past Crazy item #3. On the side line and in the aid station, someone was dressed up in an H.R. Puffinstuffcostume with the big head. Hey, Keep Austin Weird! I was starting to notice a few people walking or running with their hands on their low back indicating that they were in pain. I just focused on zoning into my running and not paying too much attention the throngs of spectators cheering on the runners. After another steep downhill stretch, it was mile 9 and the inspirational Yellow Mile. All the LIVESTRONG banners were out and there were inspirational messages written on the pavement in yellow chalk and lots of people in yellow shirts. I saw TNT buddy Mike Thompson who is a cancer survivor and an all around nice guy. It was so great to see him. I later found out that the day before at one of the local running stores, someone stole his Felt bike off the back of his car that was parked 15 feet from the open doors of the store. BOO!!! HISS!!! Mikey needs a bike. He is training for Ironman Texas and we have less than 90 days to go before the race!
At this point, I started to feel the bottom of my left foot. At first I thought my sock was bunched up and I tried fanning my toes to stretch it out. No luck. It was definitely a hot spot but I thought that even if it turned out the be a blister, it was just a blister. It was not like a pain in the foot that could be muscular or that I had twisted my ankle and there were some ligament or tendon issues. It was just a blister. Soldier on. Things were on the move uphill again from mile 9 through 11.5. Just after passing mile 10 I began to feel the flutterings of cramps trying to take hold in one of my calf muscles. ARGH!!! I thought I had been drinking enough. I had already had 2 S-caps. Was it not enough? I made sure not to have too much ankle flexion and extension and kept it neutral while making sure that my quads and hip flexorswere doing their job and I would not shuffle my feet. First it was on the right calf. It calmed down and then it was on the left calf. Then it would calm down and then it was both legs! At mile 11 I took in 3 more S-caps and a bunch of water. Uphill again. Things seemed ok until there was a steep downhill around mile 11.5 and I thought that I was going to seize up in the legs. I focused on just moving and not stopping. at the bottom of the hill there was a nasty climb back up that many people were walking and I just plugged away with a goofy little stride run to use the uphill slant of the road to stretch out my calves. It worked a little bit.
At mile 12 I passed the last water station and I could see the Capitol that I had to get around. Now my legs were telling me that they were ready to throw in the towel. My calves were hurting worse than the blister on the bottom of my left foot by now. I knew that I could do this and I had seen at mile 12 that I was about and hour and 40 minutes into this craziness and that I had 15 minutes left for the last 1.1 mile to PR. Keep going! ARGH!!! Back uphill!!! Oh my legs. On the hill I saw the 600 meter sign. Trudge, trudge, trudge... 400 meters to go. Plod, plod, plod... Now it was down hill and around the corner in front of the Capitol to the finish line. I quickly noticed that I was the only chick running with a bunch of dudes. Nice! As I rounded the corner, I said a quick prayer that my calves would not lock up and I would do a face plant right in front of all of the spectators just before the Finish Line. I heard the announcer say, "And here comes someone in purple from Team in Training, another fantastic cancer fighting organization..."
Our cool Finisher's Medal...
...with cool colorful inserts in the body of the medal to recognize some highlights of the city of Austin, TX.
I was a hot, sweaty, salty mess crossing that finish line but I had a HUGE PR!!! I was not sure of the exact time, but I knew I took at least 7-8 minutes off. Yeah, I am not a watch button fumbler at the finish line. I paid good money for that D-tag to electronically record my time. No sooner had I gotten my Finisher's Medal and gotten my Finish Photo I looked up and saw my TNT buddy Johnathan walking towards me with his arms open and a huge smile on his face. He had finished in the same minute as I had and we marveled at the fact that we had probably been running right next to each other most of the time and not even known it. It was so good to see him since he now lives in Austin and we only have Facebook communication. I also saw a TNT friend Sandra who I had co-coached a tri season with. She was bragging on me to a friend of hers. Awe, thanks Sandra! After a few minutes of talking, Greyhound walked up after his finish. I had not seen anyone I knew during the race and now I had seen a bunch of friends all at the Finish Line. How cool is that! I found some water, a banana, and some Gatorade and we headed for our cars. We got back and realized we forgot to pick up our Finisher's Shirts. Dho'! So back we walked into the crowd to now stand in lines that were not there before to get our shirts. I was now cooling off with the brisk wind and I was ready to find a jacket and get out of my sopping wet gear and to get off of the blister on the bottom of my foot.
The red, angry bottom of my foot once I took my shoe off.
The lovely blister that I ran 4 miles on.
Official Finish Time: 1:45:47
655 out of 10,523 runners, 149 out of 6, 291 females, 17 out of 710 in the F40-44 Age Group.
So how did I do it? I don't know, I just ran. Ha, that is a cop-out answer. Here is what I think has been happening over the past year in my training:
- I have been working out on the TRX two to three times a week on an "Injury Prevention" plan set up by my coach.
- I have been foam rolling like crazy.
- I have lost nearly 10 pounds.
- I have been doing some crazy mad intervals on the treadmill.
- I have been racing 5K's.
- I had a really good play list on my iPod.
If you want more details let me know and I can go into the list of 6 with a bit more depth. Again, this is just what has been working for me and I have been working with my coach for just shy of 6 years now. I think he knows what I can handle and what I cannot.
Today I am sore in my right quad where I had no pain during the race and my blister is going to have to wait to be drained until I get to REI for some blister plaster. And I am happy!
Have a great day! I know I will be enjoying my day off.