Friday, November 29, 2013

Race Report: Beach2Battleship - Part 4

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you spent it eating too much food with people you love. Second, I really need to get better at doing these in a timely fashion. The details fade so quickly. I guess at least I remember the important parts.

I grabbed my T2 bag and ran over to the second changing tent. Again, not really necessary in my case, but I still had minor changing to do. I pulled my bike shorts and tights off, switched my bike shoes with my running shoes, and put on my hat and sunglasses. I remember someone offering some sort of painkiller. I think I had a small headache developing, so I took it. Then, I exited the tent and handed off my T2 bag to a volunteer. Finally, I was off on the run.

They had us do a strange little out and back in the first loop, which I can only assume was the .2 of the marathon. It then came back past the finish line and through a pretty little downtown area that was full of spectators. By the time I was coming through, there was still a fair number of half iron athletes out on the course and I appreciated their enthusiasm, even if it wasn't specifically for me.

Guys, I was totally into this marathon. Normally, this would embarrass me, but I am totally comfortable saying that I crushed it. I can't claim all the credit, though, because the course was highly conducive to being crushed. With very few exceptions, it was flat. Plus, the temperature was nice (mostly, though I did find that it got cold later at night). Mentally, I was able to get in fast and deep. From almost the first mile, I took it step by step and resolved that I would not walk outside of aid stations. I'm proud to say that I didn't.

I had it in my head that I wasn't well-trained for this race. I think this still might be true, but in the sense that I didn't train to my full potential. That, however, is a discussion for a different day. Since I thought I was ill-prepared, my goal was to finish. Once I got to North Carolina and realized I might be better off than I thought, my new goal was to finish the marathon in 5 hours.

So heading out on the run, that was my goal. I was determined not to walk beyond the aid stations because walking breaks are such a slippery slope. I was probably 10 miles in when I realized I could not only break 5 hours on the marathon, but I had a really decent chance of breaking 14 hours for the whole thing. And that was my goal going into this year! There was a chance I'd accomplish one of my goals for the year! Game on.

The race course consisted of two 13 mile loops. I ran the whole thing strong because I felt good for approximately 25.2 of the miles. I was passed by very few people, particularly later in the race simply because I refused to walk. I took things one mile at a time and just ran from aid station to aid station (there was one at each mile). I started out the run wearing my bike jacket, but quickly found it to be too hot, so left it with one of the volunteers at the Mile 3 aid station, intending to return for it on the way back.

The volunteers were amazing, as were the rest of the athletes running. I saw an Everyday Triathlete on the course, which was awesome. Also, I saw my mom halfway through the run which was a big boost. I also made a couple of race friends. Sometime between the beginning of the race and halfway through, I realized there was one guy in particular that I'd keep passing and falling behind. While he was running, he'd pass me. When he'd start walking, I'd pass him. And so it went, for many miles. Sometime around the halfway point, we started talking and introduced ourselves. His name was Todd and we commiserated over both still being on the first lap. Todd stopped to get his special needs bag and I continued on, figuring I'd see him again and we would continue as we had for the first half of the race.

I really enjoyed my second trip past the finish line and the bulk of the spectators. My determination must have been showing through, because almost everyone said "hey, good pace!" as I ran by. That's what I like to think, though in all honesty it was probably just something they were saying to everyone. Still, though, it was hard not to feel happy and strong with all that encouragement. I was a little frustrated by the fact that I saw no mile markers between miles 12 and 15. Obviously, I knew approximately how far I'd gone because the finish line was basically the halfway point, but still.

Things got a little tougher around this point. It was pretty much dark and significantly colder. Adding to the darkness of night was the fact a couple of the street lamps went out, and I could see literally nothing in those short stretches.

Around mile 20, I met a man and we started running together and chatting. His name was Andy, and as luck would have it, he was trying to break 14 hours as well! I was happy to have a companion in my quest. After awhile, we even passed by Todd and invited him to come break 14 hours with us. He started running with us and we ran as a trio for a bit.

At about mile 23, though, Todd had fallen back a bit and Andy started cramping. He told me to go on ahead. I was conflicted, because I was hesitant to leave. I asked if he was sure and told him to catch up when he could, but did continue on. Maybe a mile later, though, I did a quick hip stretch and heard him call out behind me not to stop! Andy was back! Right around the 24 mile mark, we passed a bar and a bunch of drunk people who were very good at cheering. Once I got to the aid station, I grabbed my jacket and ran back to catch up with Andy for the home stretch.

After half a mile to a mile, though, I started hurting. It was some sort of abdominal cramp? I couldn't even really tell where it was, but it came quickly and hit me hard. At first, I was able to ignore it. Soon enough, though, it hurt too much to speak. I let Andy know what was happening with all the words I could manage (not many) but by this point, we were absolutely both dead set on breaking 14 hours. Even better, Todd found us once more. He ran up behind us and said something like "so, we breaking 14 hours, or what?" which I loved, even though I couldn't express it and could barely even acknowledge that he'd made it back.

We approached the finish line and Andy found his daughters, who ran into the finish chute to cross the finish line with him. And I saw my mom! Andy and his daughters crossed the line just a second or two before Todd and I did, but we all finished a solid couple minutes under 14 ours. I accomplished one more 2013 goal before the year was up! We gave hugs all around, and introductions were made. Andy thanked me for helping him break 14, but we helped each other. I don't remember if I did, but I hope I thanked him back.

Todd walked away before I really got a chance for thanks and congratulations, but we hugged before that. Afterward, I grabbed grub and a beer and cheersed Andy before heading back to the hotel.

This post has already run really long, but I want to hammer home the point that I had a really good race,  in spite of myself and all my worrying and anxiety. I didn't just race a good race, I also just enjoyed it. Beforehand, I worried that I'd forgotten how to triathlon since it was my first and only race of the year, but it was not true! I remembered how to do everything and was very comfortable. It was amazing and I was very glad to have shared the whole experience with my mom, and the crucial part of the marathon with Todd and Andy.

I didn't edit this, so I apologize for the length and mistakes.

A picture my mom took

No comments:

Post a Comment