Pretty much everything about Friday was as perfect as I could have hoped. I enjoyed a carb heavy day and made sure to stay well hydrated and loaded up on my electrolytes. Honestly, I was pretty lazy. Even though I knew we had visitors coming in I didn't do as much to prepare as I had planned to. I worked on my playlist (which was hugely helpful) for most of the morning and hit the expo in the afternoon. The expo took place at a convention center downtown and while I have no real complaints it also wasn't very impressive. It was set up in a large conference room but as opposed to making good use of the space the set it up almost in aisles that led to lots of congestion. They also had packet pick up sorted by bib number as opposed to last name and while I was prepared with our email confirmations a lot of people weren't so some of the lines were a bit backed up. Despite the traffic we were in and out in less than half an hour.
I took a little power nap before getting started on dinner (being lazy all morning can really tire a girl out!). We enjoyed our fettuccine w/ meatless meatballs and got ready to head to the hotel. I obsessively went over all the things I was packing and ended up with enough luggage to stay for a week! This was my first time staying in a hotel before a race and my anxiety was through the roof. Luckily I remembered all the important stuff and also brought quite the selection of breakfast options. Our hotel room was insanely nice and I surprisingly slept like a baby despite my nerves.
I woke up easily at 5:32a and got right into my pre-race routine. I made a small cup of coffee and enjoyed it with a large glass of water while trying to shake out some mystery pains. My right hip felt off (which is weird because I have never had hip troubles) so I used my heating pad while enjoying an episode of Full House. A bit after 6a I ate my standard bread + PB2 + 1/2 a banana and drank some more water. Our hotel was honestly just feet from the starting line which was amazingly convenient, it seemed a little crazy to stay in a hotel when I live about 10 minutes from the race but I would absolutely do it again. Worth every penny. We geared up and headed down around 7:30a. The weather was fantastic, "felt like 56" and there were just a few clouds in the sky. Everything about the morning went as well as could be. I got into my corral and lined up with the 2 hour pace group, I was feeling ready to own this race.
After some great starting line music we were on our way! I settled into a nice 9:00ish pace and was so thankful for the pacers. This was the first race that I didn't go out way too quickly and that definitely made all the difference for me. I had made the decision beforehand to carry water and fuel and not have to deal with the water stop madness and that was also a good choice. Miles 1 through 3 were solid, I felt good, I teared up a few times and I spotted K. for the first time (he was seriously spectator extraordinaire). My fuel plan was a shot blok every 3ish miles and to make my 20oz of water last the whole race.
(disclaimer: my RunKeeper app has this course being super long, at 13.47 miles, so my splits are probably a bit off but it's the only data I have on hand. A few friends each had their GPS watches claiming 13.36 so take that as you will)
Mile 1 8:54
Mile 2 9:02
Mile 3 9:03
4 through 6 is kind of a blur. We tackled our first uphill, which is still nothing because Columbus is pretty freaking flat, but it felt like a mountain at the time and the wind was blasting us in the face. I tried to eat a second shot blok and it was just not working. I chewed and spit it out which made me nervous. Around mile 5.5 was the first time I wanted to quit. I was still with my pace group but I felt like I was already starting to dig deep and knew it was way too soon to feel that way. The only thing that kept me running at this point was assuming I'd see K. shortly and I didn't want him to see me walk. Right as expected I saw him just past mile 6 and it was a life saver. I was right next to the pacer and I excitedly pointed that out (even though inside I wanted to die)
Mile 4 8:55
Mile 5 9:06
Mile 6 9:04
7 & 8 were the last miles that felt remotely bearable. Pretty uneventful, I let the pacers get a tad a head of me but I caught up to them quickly. I was just running at this point and didn't know how much longer I could do that for.
Mile 7 8:50
Mile 8 8:50
From 9 to the end I was dying. Due to all my set backs my longest training run this period had been a 9 miler and mentally that really messed with me. I hit the wall hard core. This is also where it finally clicked that the pacers were running a clock time of 2 hours and not a chip time, we had started in corral C so that was shaving nearly 3 minutes off my plan and I just did not have that in me. I admittedly started walking a bit here but kept the 2:00 sign in my sight. Despite the walking breaks I didn't lose much time at all but I pretty much knew sub 2 was gone. I started crying, I desperately wanted to quit and it was pretty terrible. I couldn't get any fuel down and I knew I needed it. I saw K. around mile 10 and that kept me running through a whole song. I felt like I was back on track in mile 12 but turns out that was my slowest mile of the whole race, I probably would have been better off sticking with walk/run. I saw K. again right past 12 (I don't know how he kept getting to these spots so fast!) and only kept running because I didn't want him to see me walk.
When my RunKeeper app popped in my ear to tell me I had hit 13 miles, I knew I was close to the real 13 mile point. It announced a 1:56:XX time and I did the math in my head and knew sub 2 had to be so close. I had promised myself that I would cross the finish line dying so I put everything I had into my sprint to the end. I felt terrible, everything was burning, I crossed the line and just fell onto a volunteer. My app gave me a time of 2:00:38 for 13.47 and I didn't know what that meant for my official chip time but I didn't care at that moment.
Mile 9 8:59
Mile 10 8:58
Mile 11 8:55
Mile 12 9:12
Mile 13 9:00
Mile 13-13.47 8:38 pace (yay sprinting)
I stumbled through the (very congested) finisher's chute and got all my goodies. I found my way to K. and immediately took off my shoes to reveal quite the collection of blisters, ouch. I still didn't know my time but he gave me my present anyways (a Garmin! Finally! If I had had this during the race I would have known just how close I really was...). He had to jet off to work so we said our goodbyes and I walked around finding more things to eat and drink while waiting for my sister.
An alert popped up that my results were available and I was forced to find out that I was a mere 5 seconds away from my goal. So many feelings washed over me. Of course I instantly thought of the few walking breaks I took or wondered if I could have sprinted harder at the end. I tried to do that math (5 seconds divided by 13.1 miles...) and replay every step in my mind. Disappointment started to creep in and then I thought back to an article I had read recently about reframing your thoughts and how that is the key to future success. I knew sub 2 was a lofty goal given my sporadic training, I just hadn't gotten the long runs in. This was a six and a half minute PR and that is HUGE. I couldn't downplay that victory. This is progress and that is great. I also ran PAIN FREE. My muscles were burning and my legs felt like lead but nothing hurt and that's also a pretty big deal for me. I've been fighting with my foot issues for so long and it was such a relief to not be affected by those on race day.
I'm proud of myself and more determined than ever to fight for that sub 2. I've already started looking at what halves I can add to my schedule and have been tantalizingly close to making the plunge into full marathon territory. I've got some training plans to review and some things to check on my calendar but expect some future race announcements soon. For now I'm going to switch my focus to cycling to hopefully not embarrass myself in this duathlon in 13 days (eek).
Any advice on how to become a better cyclist in less than two weeks? :-)