*Charlotte and I getting ready to cross the mat.*
Because of how much everyone emphasizes the beauty of this race I really wanted to take a ton of pictures of the course. However, due to how badly I undertrained and how frequently I thought about giving up and turning back, I figured stopping at all would be detrimental to my progress. As in I wouldn’t be able to keep going. This is a badass course, don’t let anyone tell you differently. But it was insanely beautiful. Like horses trotting up to you while you run by beautiful. Rolling country hillside beautiful, emphasis on the hills.
I don’t think the hills were as much my downfall as the distance. I knew it would be mental, and I knew it would be difficult, but I didn’t know how much so. Plus where I was running alone it really started to get at me once I hit those super lonely last few miles. But let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
As a rookie will do, I started out way too fast. I started slowing down and slowing down and pretty soon I was only surrounded by a few people, most of them walkers. Which was discouraging because I can’t walk that fast, and I thought surely there would be people slower than me. And while there were, it was pretty much all old people, which was pretty discouraging too. I know I’m being too hard on myself and the point is that I finished, but when this sport is at least 50% mental, that shit starts to weigh on you.
About mile 2.5 was when people started to pass me in the other direction. The course is two out and backs, so I knew I would see the front runners, I just didn’t think I would see them that soon. (The winner finished in 1:16 by the way.) So we get out to the first turn around and it was already way further than I thought it would feel. But the volunteers were so friendly and encouraging I didn’t feel like much of a slow poke as I was.
It wasn’t until mile 6 or 7 that I had to start walking. At that point my notifications on my app had stopped, well, notifying so I was running blind at that point which was infuriating. But I was ahead of the cut off pacer so I guess that’s all that mattered. Anyway, so I started walking and it was really hard to start running again. It was like my body forgot how to work. My legs and knees felt weird and off kilter. I felt like I was lopsided and was going to fall over. I didn’t, but still.
It wasn’t until about mile 8 or 9 that I started walking more consistently and prolonged. But I just wanted be finished so badly. I started jogging again at the second turn around and kept saying, “I can’t be last, I can’t be last.” About mile 12 my calf seized up and I almost started crying. I was just so tired and beat that I wanted to sit down, call Joel and tell him to pick me up on the way home. I told myself I couldn’t cry because I had to conserve what little hydration I had left, and I knew that I had just done 11 miles and could do a couple more.
*Sierra and Ellery coming down the pike with me. If I ever questioned whether or not I was a heel striker, I’m pretty sure this answers the question. *
Once I turned the final curve and saw the finish line it was like a dream come true. All the self doubt and worry were gone as I saw my family waiting to run in with me. I was so relieved that I didn’t have to be alone anymore! Which I had been for three hours, other than the middle stretch where Joel hung out with me for a few yards, which was also fantastic. I don’t want to do these things alone anymore. It is so mentally challenging on its own, let alone if you have to fight those thoughts by yourself.
My final, and I think official time was 3:11:18. No where to go but down right?