Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Plan B

Things have been a little rough around here with my CIM training.  Not physically – the runs have been going great and I’ve been hitting terrific speeds.  But the mental side of training has been harder than I was prepared for.  I was super excited to get started on all of that speedworky goodness, but now?  It’s starting to make me feel like I’m losing my mind a little anxious.  Pressured.  Lacking.  Doubtful.  Exhausted. Other negative emotions that shouldn’t be associated with running.  I hit the breaking point last week when, a mere mile into what was supposed to be a 16-mile trail run with UltraIronHubs, I launched into 4 minutes of nearly-hysterical sobbing for no good reason (well, there were a few reasons, but none of them should have stopped me in my tracks like that).  We cut the run down to six miles and I pretended like it was a recovery week and tried to figure out what was up with my nuttiness.

Oh, and funny story about my mental breakdown:  I was running in front of UIH on the trail and was trying to tell him something when I started to cry.  I came to a complete stop and just let loose with the tears, but before he put his arms around me, UIH paused my Garmin.  That??  Is true love.

speedwork meme

The thing is, I’ve got a lot of other “stuff” going on (work, family, kids going back to school, etc.) that’s sort of crowding my brain lately.  It’s not anything overly stressful, but it’s there and I think trying to focus on hitting a certain speed was like one thought too many.  Brain overload.  And which of these things can I actually control?  Running.

So.  Plan B:

I’m still training for the CIM, of course.  Duh.  I freakin’ LOVE the CIM, even when I’m slow, even when it’s monsooning, even when I haven’t trained for it.  But I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps my PR-ing days are behind me.  Not because I’m old or whatever, but honestly, because I just don’t have the brainpower to care as much as I used to.

I had a lovely revelation while cruising through 16 slow miles this past weekend: I value running happy more than running fast.  When it comes right down to it, I would rather run slowly with a smile on my face than live with the weird internal pressure that I was apparently putting on myself to chase after a PR.

Once my head was on straight, I had the leisure to truly enjoy my long run on the American River Bike Trail:

001Sadly, there are wildfires in the nearby hills that created this gorgeous sunrise.

002This tree totally reminded me of the Sesame Street Martians.  Pretty sure the other runners on the trail thought I was nuts for stopping to take a pic, but oh well!

003So!  Many!  Animals! on the trail Sunday.  This guy was part of a huge flock/herd/family/coven of turkeys.  I also saw a coyote and tried desperately to take his picture, but he was having none of it.  The bunnies I saw were similarly disinclined to have me steal their souls with my magic box, so the photo of this slow-moving turkey will have to suffice.

005One of the many, many things I love about the bike trail is that it’s marked every half-mile, so even when your Garmin craps out, you can tell how far you’ve gone.

001When I got home, I plunked my butt down at the computer and hammered out this guy.

In alignment with my new “Run Slow, Run Happy” program is my plan to run a whole lotta ultras next year.  I think I’m done – for the time being, anyway – with distances shorter than a marathon.  So far??  I am totally loving Plan B!

 

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Also – pretty much entirely unrelated to the rest of this post, but I thought I’d share for those of you who are interested – I’ve put up a few new Follow Along Workouts on my YouTube channel:

I totally appreciated your feedback about my last videos – feel free to share your thoughts!!!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Cool Moon 14-Mile Half Marathon Race Report!

Well, let me just get this straight from the get-go:  this was the hardest half marathon I’ve ever run, and that’s including the one where I sprained my ankle at Mile 4.  Oh.  My.  What a challenge this race was!  Remember how I was just saying that they changed the course “a little” this year to make it 14 miles, rather than last year’s 10?  And remember how I thought it might have “ a little” more climbing?  Yes.

Let’s get a little background on the day, first, which includes three nights in a row of waaaaaay too little sleep and not enough water.  Pretty much par for the course and really nothing that concerned me, because this was not my “A” race for the year.  I was just gonna run and have fun and enjoy the day and not suck (all of which I totally accomplished). 

Well, race day dawned at 3 AM and I felt pretty good about everything, other than, you know, the tiredness and dehydration.  I was really looking forward to this race because I enjoyed it so much last year, and this year would be even better because UIH got to run it, too.  We arrived at the venue in plenty of time to check in, use the port-o-potties a few times and take a coupla selfies in the car and at the starting line.

Cool Moon Half Marathon! 001

Cool Moon Half Marathon! 006

Cool Moon Half Marathon! 003Cool Moon

I had noticed that the RD was a little vague about the changes to the course – there was a course map and a mention of the course elevation, but no turn-by-turn description like there generally is for a trail race.  Our half marathon is just one part of a 100-mile course.  In years past, the course was a 10-mile loop that the 100-milers repeated ten times.  One of the course changes was the addition of a second loop, which made sort of a figure-8 between the 14-mile and the new 11-mile, meaning that 100-milers would complete the entire 25-mile course just four times.  UIH and I had talked about where we would pick up an extra four miles, and we had agreed that there was “no way” they would make us run up the K2, because that would be so cruel to make the 100-milers do that four times.  (The K2 climb is this ridiculously steep hill that is very similar to Cardiac Trail, the hill that nearly flummoxed me in the She Rocks and the Rock’n River 50.  UIH and I climbed the K2 recently at the Twilight Trail Adventure, which was a 10K I never blogged.  Here’s the long and the short of it:  it’s S T E E P).

Was that enough foreshadowing for you??

So there we are, standing at the starting line, listening to the RD’s directions, when he casually mentions that we’ll go out on Western States…up the K2…Pig Farm…Salt Creek… back to the fire station.  My hands went clammy.  “Oh, shit,” I thought.  And probably said out loud.  But it wasn’t like I could quit now, so we counted down from ten and off we went – hooray!

UltraIronHubs took off like a bright yellow rocket but I took a little more time with it.  The trail is wide enough on the first half mile for people to find their pace and get where they want to be in the pack.  I wanted to be near the middle or the back, so I hustled but I certainly didn’t bust a move.  It wasn’t long before we started in on the breakneck descent that caused me to step aside and let several people pass.  The trail is loose dirt, loose rocks and lots of roots, and I was making my way down quite gingerly so as not to fall and break my neck.  I was walking and mincing when my Garmin chirped that I had completed Mile 1.  “Oh, shit,” I thought, “I’m not even going to survive the first two miles, let alone all fourteen!”

Cool Moon Half Marathon! 007The downhill was so treacherous that I really couldn’t slow down, but I wanted a photo of all these gorgeous manzanita trees.  Blurry will have to do.

There was a woman behind me taking the hill as carefully as I was, so we started chatting a little.  Her name was Shelly and her husband was doing the whole 100 miles, so she had signed up for the half marathon, thinking it would be a fun way to pass the first few hours of spectating.  She didn’t expect a half marathon like this!  We joked and talked our way down the hill and I was telling her a little of what she could expect about climbing K2 when – bam! – we turned a sharp corner and there it was.

Cool Moon Half Marathon! 008It’s just a sad, sad fact of life that photos NEVER do a hill justice.

So there was walking for awhile, but I still actually felt pretty good.  This is where I was super happy that UIH and I had run the Twilight Trail Adventure back in June – I knew this hill.  I couldn’t run it, of course, but I knew it.  I knew I could get to the top, I just had to keep moving forward, so that’s what I did.  Once I got to the top, though, my legs were jelly!  I wasn’t really sure how I was going to make it through another ten miles.

Cool Moon Half Marathon! 009Ahhhhhh, (mostly) flat ground!

There was the shortest reprieve from all that climbing while we ran through a meadow, which you would totally think would be a cake walk.  Nope.  The footing here was just as dangerously uneven and sort of slippery with all the dry grass.  I spent a lot of the race thinking about what it would be like to run this course at night, like the 100-milers were going to do.  Honestly, I don’t think there was a single stretch of “easy” running.

I made it to the first aid station still intact and with plenty of Gatorade left in my handheld.  The day was warming up, but the course was very, very shady so it was still quite comfortable temperature-wise.  Right around Mile 5, I thought to myself, “Oh, shit,” but this time I meant it literally.  My guts were starting to do a little Gatorade cha-cha.  My legs, on the other hand, still needed to run another nine miles.  I started eying the bushes and considering whether they offered me any privacy.  Nope.  Nothing but scrub on one side and a very steep drop-off on the other, so I kept a clamp on the back door and hoped the feeling would pass.

I ran on, wondering how UIH’s day was going.  I felt pretty good, all things considered, and seemed to be running well.  Even though I didn’t have a serious time goal, I felt – before I knew much about the course – that I could probably finish between two and a half to three hours.  I was on pace for that and running strong and…  Gosh, does anybody else notice that we’ve been running downhill for a really, really long time now?  Like, really downhill for a really long time?  I’m pretty sure the finish line isn’t down here at the river, which means…do the math… oh, shit, we’re gonna climb this hill again!

I think, in the grand scheme of things, it was just as well that I didn’t fully understand the course map before I ran the race.

I was pounding down the hill, nearabouts Mile 7 when I had a moment of sudden clarity:  the total elevation change for the She Rocks is 2500’ over 16 miles and the Cool Moon Half has 2800’ of change over just 14 miles.  The Cool Moon is a harder race.  AHA!  That’s why this hurts so much!

There was no flat ground to be had at the bottom of the hill, sadly, but I did my best to keep a good walking pace as I climbed my way back out of the canyon.  I was starting to feel tired and maybe a little low on calories.  I kept drinking, but there was no running to be done, even as we made our way onto a paved road for a short stretch.  I started to feel a little light-headed, but I really wanted to keep my wits about me and salvage a good day out of this tough course.

I was walking along the street thinking these thoughts when it occurred to me that I didn’t think the course included this long of a paved stretch.  I stopped, looked around me and saw that there was a trail running parallel to the street I was on, but it was up a steep incline.  I had seen ribbon markers on the street when I first started out, so I knew I wasn’t exactly LOST, but I strongly suspected there had been a return to the trail that I had missed.  I started walking back the way I came, looking for ribbons or ground markers, when I spotted Shelly and two other runners walking toward me on the road.  I hollered at them, asking if they had seen any markers that took us back to the trail, and a runner up on the trail shouted back that, yes, we were supposed to be up there.  Not on the street.  So up we clambered through the scrub to the main trail, where we immediately spotted ribbon markers.  Okay, back on track with only a little extra mileage!

Cool Moon Half Marathon! 011This guy was seriously awesome!  He had tiny bells sewed on to the bottom of his skirt and on his hat that probably would have annoyed the ever-lovin’ shit out of me, but he was rocking it.  He was running the whole 100 miles.  As a jester!  I will never be this cool.

By the time I made it back up the hill and onto the relative “flat,” I was feeling better.  I was at double digit mileage and I can gut out four miles, even on a bad day.  And this really wasn’t a bad day at all, just a tough one.  So on I ran.

At the second aid station, I filled my handheld about halfway with water, though looking back I don’t remember why I didn’t fill the whole thing.  Stupidity, I suppose.  This aid station was at a junction where the 11-mile loop meets the 14-mile loop and it took me several long moments to make sure I was heading in the correct direction when I left.  I really didn’t need another mapping snafu with only a few miles left to go!

Somewhere around here, I looked at my Garmin and realized that UIH was probably done with his race, so I pulled out my phone and texted him.

Text

Okay, I knew UIH was going to do well, but HE WON THE RACE!!!  I was super excited for him and only a little tiny bit jealous.

The going was getting a little tougher, but I knew I just needed to hold it together for a few more miles.  I checked my Garmin time and felt that if there was no more surprise climbing, I could probably still beat three hours.  I wasn’t sure how much mileage I had added to my day by getting lost, so I felt like I really needed to press on, just in case.

As I headed in to aid station #3, I saw the guy who had been on the trail while I was lost on the street.  I opened my mouth to say thank you, when he looked at me and said, “Oh, you’re paying attention to where you’re going now, are you?”  Maybe he meant it as a joke, but to me he just sort of sounded like an asshole, so I made some sort of non-committal sound and ran on.  Whatever.

At the aid station, my Garmin said I was well over 12 miles into the day, but as I was leaving, I heard the volunteer tell the guy behind me that we were at Mile 11.5.  Ugh!  Here I’d been telling myself I only had a little over a mile to go, but maybe it was more like two miles.  I tried not to feel defeated, I tried not to worry about it.  I ran on.

Maybe my favorite thing about the day was that everywhere I ran, I could spot UIH’s distinctive Newton footprint in the dirt.  What a boost!  It made me so happy to know that he had been there on the course, running (and winning!) a great race.

Cool Moon Half Marathon! 014Yes, there was the possibility that somebody else on course was wearing Newtons, but in my mind it was only UIH.

Finally, in the distance, I spotted the finish line!  It was here!  I was almost done!!  There really wasn’t any sprinting to be done, but I tried to pick it up a little, smiling the whole way in.

P finishI did it!

Cool Moon Half Marathon! 017Happy finishers!

Cool Moon Half Marathon! 015Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Elevation Chart

001Really awesome schwag – that’s an insulated cooler bag!!!

Official results won’t be posted until tomorrow because, you know, the real deal is the 100-mile race, but according to my Garmin I finished in 2:51:29.  And I’m 99% certain that I did not come in last place, although that would be sort of funny to have the winner and the loser of the race be husband and wife!

So, the big question right now is this:  will UIH be doing the Cool Moon as his first 100-mile race, maybe as soon as next year??  Hard to say.  Today my legs feel a little bit like somebody bludgeoned them.  But!  With the right training, and knowing what the course is like, I think he’s still considering it.  We’re a certain brand of crazy around here!!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Update: My YouTube Channel and a 14-Mile Half Marathon!

In my real life – you know, those silly hours I spend doing something other than training.  Whatever. – I work in my own business as a personal trainer.  It’s pretty much the most awesome job in the world.  Mostly I go to people’s houses and kick their asses for an hour.  Seriously, can you imagine anything better?!?

Fran and Mary Workout 003One of my mother-daughter pairs.  These girls rock!

Off and on for the past year that I’ve been training, I’ve posted some how-to type videos on my YouTube channel.  Like, for example, this one:

Working out in your living room with Pahla B

I’m certainly not a professional videographer, but the videos are something I enjoy doing, so I’m working on posting more consistently and I’d love some feedback from you guys: 

Do you ever search for workout-at-home videos on YouTube, or do you mostly like videos of cats?

If you do watch workout at home videos, do you want to watch and follow along to a full-length workout, or do you want to watch short videos for ideas?  Or do you just like to laugh at the silly antics of cats?

Speaking of cats, I’m running a half marathon this weekend!

It’s the Cool Moon 10-mile race that I looooooooooooooved last year, only they’ve changed the course “a little” and made it 14 miles instead of ten.  Pretty sure they’ve added more climbing, but I’ve done a little more training this year, so I’m hoping it’s an even match!

UltraIronHubs gets to run it “with me” this year and I’m super excited about that.  I put the with me in quotes because of course he’s going to run his own pace and be done like an hour before me…but we’re going to be at the same race on the same day and that’s awesome.  His plantar fasciitis is all better, thanks for asking.  He’s running really well and getting back to his normal ridiculous speed and training for a 50-miler at the end of this year.  All good stuff, I tell ya.

I don’t have any specific time goals for the race, more of a loose idea that I’d like to not suck.  Not falling would also be good.  I feel pretty confident that these goals are achievable, but you never know.  I’ll be back in a few days to tell you all about it!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Return of the Mack…er, Speedwork

Well, it’s been almost two years of running slower and slower, so it had to be done:  I’ve brought a little speedwork back into my training plan.  It’s been a really lovely two years, don’t get me wrong.  I actually really like running slower, since I don’t race short distances anymore.  I mean, who cares if I can’t hit my 5K times if I’m not running any 5Ks, right?  I’ve been more or less injury-free for over a year now (hello jinx!), and I’ve increased my base weekly mileage to the point of what used to be peak marathon training.  Things are going well, aren’t they?

Yes.  Actually, things are going really well, but silly me, I still want more.  Specifically, I want a sub-four hour marathon, and that’s not gonna happen at my 50-miler pace.  Or my 50K pace.  Or, sadly, even my marathon pace.  So for this year’s CIM, UltraP’s gotta step it up!

CIM Training Plan 002How freakin’ cute is this?  UltraIronHubs chicken-scratched this training plan on a piece of binder paper and I refused to transfer it into Excel because I love that he does this for me!

I am a mere two tempo runs and one Yasso 800 session into this plan, so I don’t really have a lot to go on, but here’s what’s happening so far:

  • I am having a really hard time hitting the right paces!  As in, I’m running waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too fast.  I know, boo hoo.  But I suspect that it’s probably going to bite me in the butt sooner or later.  Sooner in the form of hurting myself or later with a big ol’ bonk at Mile 18 on race day when I can’t sustain it.
  • I had forgotten how much I love speedwork.  I am a goal-oriented girl and nothing makes me happier than setting out to do something very specific and then kicking its very specific ass.  Boo-ya!
  • If I have to choose more miles or more speed…it’s a toss-up.  On the one hand, it’s “easier” to run more miles at a slower pace, but it sure does take up a lot of time in my day.  For over a year now, I’ve been sitting comfortably in the 30 – 45 miles per week range (I run four days a week, btw), so it feels really crazy to be back down in the 20s but just as tired!  We’ll just have to see how this pans out with regard to eating all the time but still maintaining my weight, which was absolutely, hands-down, no questions asked my favorite part of ultramarathon training.
  • And, because I’m me, I’m a nervous wreck about the whole thing.  Speedwork is probably not the reason I spent so many years going from injury to injury, but what if it was?  I’m doing my best to be super careful and stack the odds in my favor – lots of cross-training, strength training, rest and foam rollering.  But I’m a worrier, that’s just how I do things.

How do you feel about speedwork – love it, hate it, or never tried it??

Sunday, June 16, 2013

She Rocks the Trails 25K - Race Report!

If 2013 had gone according to plan, I would not have even run the She Rocks this year, after the terrible, awful, no good race I had last year.  But, as it turned out, I’m super happy that I came back for the second annual, because it was probably my best and most favorite race ever!

Let’s catch up on some stuff that’s happened in the six months since my last blog post, shall we?  I ended last year with a fabulous 50-miler and a soggy marathon, then started this year with a really lovely 50K that I somehow never blogged about.  It was awesome, though a lot tougher than I thought it would be.  Story of my life right there.  All of these races were ramping up for what was supposed to be my crowning glory, a 100K on May 11th.  Aaaaaaaand, then I DNF’d the 100K.  There could and should be a whole post about that race, but let me summarize it for you thus:  it was brutally hot and brutally difficult and I didn’t make the time cutoff at Mile 43.  Bummer.

So just like that - *snap* – the She Rocks appeared back on my mental radar.  At a quarter the distance of my BFF (big fat failure), it hardly qualified as a redemption race, but I really needed to get back on the horse and ride.  Errrrr, “trail” and “run.”  Whatever.

This morning, when I went back and read last year’s race report, I actually laughed out loud at how very, very different this year’s race went.  Like 180 degrees different.  You know how the first time you do something, it just seems so difficult, so challenging, so much like you’ll never, ever be good at it, ever?  And then you keep doing it anyway and you get so much better that you almost forget how hard it was at first?  That’s pretty much me and trail running.  Last year at this time, I was such a newbie that even a little bit of dirt and hills seemed overwhelming, but after a year of pretty consistent training, I feel like a reasonably accomplished trail runner.

Getting ready for this year’s race, I actually trained on trails!  Go figure.  In fact, I ran nearly the whole course about two weeks ago with UltraIronHubs, which went a long way in the confidence-building department.  And just last week, we ran a nighttime 10K on a trail even more technical and steeper than the She Rocks, which made me feel like I could pretty much tackle anything.

So, I woke up at the crack of night on race day feeling rather confident and excited.  Maybe a little nervous, but mostly ready to rock and determined to make the best of the day.  I had trained well, I fueled well, I pre-hydrated, I had cleared my colon, and I had a lucky bib number.  The stars were aligning very nicely, thank you!  My goals – in order - were:

  1. Finish with a smile on my face
  2. Beat last year’s time (4:15), even if it’s only by a minute
  3. Break 4 hours
  4. Maybe, if I’m having a really, really great day, see a finish time in the 3:30 range

I showed up at the starting line delighted at the chill in the air.  Probably the nicest difference from last year’s race was the gorgeous weather we had yesterday.  Starting temps in the low 60s and finishing temps in the low 80s were completely manageable, even for a girl who hates running in the heat.  (Me.  In case you didn’t get that.)  I took a selfie with the frog, hit the bathrooms a record three times, and sat in my warm car until about ten minutes to the start.  On my way to the bathroom the first time, a girl came up behind me and said, “I saw you at the Twilight Trail Adventure last week!”  I sort of chuckled and said I was easy to spot because I was wearing the exact same outfit, huh?  It’s always nice to start the day with a friendly face.  She commented to another girl we met in the bathroom that she liked her shoes – they were wearing the exact same shoes – and the other girl replied that she had just come back from Hawaii and they were all dirty.  It was sort of a non-sequitur answer, but again, such a nice vibe to the day, being surrounded by friendly people.

001Not really a great picture of either one of us, but there was an actual LINE to take photos with the frog, so I rushed the shot.

There was a lovely air of excitement at the starting line.  The announcer made a few jokes and the race director wished us all a good day.  Everybody moved up to the starting line and I was unintentionally closer to the front of the pack than I meant to be, but there was no time to fret about that.  We were off!

Having just run most of the course two weeks ago, I felt relaxed.  I knew what was coming.  I told myself to enjoy the downhills and don’t worry about the ups.  I got passed by a few girls and I passed a few girls.  I really wasn’t worried about my placement in the pack, I just wanted to feel good and run strong.

So I did.

We got to the bottom of the hill (about 800 feet of descent in three-ish miles), then turned a sharp corner to go right back up to the top in just a mile and a half.  This is definitely the hardest part of the course, but it felt okay.  I mean, I didn’t run any of it or anything; it’s barely walkable at an average of something like 18% grade, but I never felt like, “Oh, crap, I can’t do this!” like I felt last year.  I knew I could do it, I just had to keep moving forward and not worry about it.

I chatted – and I use that word loosely, since we were only capable of short bursts of a few words at a time – with a trio of girls who who were very nice and obviously hadn’t run Cardiac Trail before.  I gave them a little heads up about the rest of the course and we joked about how much this part sucked.  I made it to the top of the hill and onto the canal feeling great.  This would be the flattest part of the whole day and my grammatically incorrect motto is “Run good when you feel good.”  So I ran good!  I passed several people and only got passed by one young girl.

The course is a figure-8, with a pass through the finishing arch on your way to the second half, which is actually much longer than the first part, so not really “half” at all.  Anyway, I made it to the 10K finish at 1:10.  I have no idea how long that part took me last year, but I do know that I felt a thousand times better this year.  I was smiling and feeling wonderful and raised my hands in the air when the announcer called my name and said he’d see me in a little while.  I grabbed a cup of water at the aid station and skedaddled on my way down the hill for the second time.

The strangest thing happened after the 10K mark:  the field had spread out so far that I was almost completely alone on the course.  It was crazy.  It was exactly like being on a training run, though, so I just relaxed into it and let the trail take me up and down and around.  I felt like I was probably in last place, but then I heard footsteps behind me.  I checked to see how close the other runner was, in case I needed to offer to let her pass, and it was Hawaii Shoes girl.  She was close but didn’t seem to want by me, so I ran on.  We didn’t talk, but to me it was a companionable silence.  A mile or so down the way, I was walking up a hill and she ran past me, so I followed her shoes for awhile, still silently.  Then later I passed her again.

There’s a little dogleg section of the course that leads out to the most enthusiastic aid station you’ll ever see – big, good-looking men dressed in grass skirts and coconut bras, hooting and hollering so loud you can hear it for at least a mile down the trail.  It was freaking awesome!  I remember them from last year because I was so happy for the ice that I put in my hat and shirt.  This year, though, I was just plain happy.  I felt great!  I watered down the Gatorade in my handheld just enough to make it to the next aid station, smiled and laughed a little with Hawaii Shoes and then set out back down the trail.

The dogleg and the rest of the second “half” are both out and back, so I started seeing other runners and exchanging smiles and “good jobs” with them.  Everybody was so friendly!  I saw my trio of Cardiac Hill friends and told them they looked great.  I ran on toward the turnaround at No Hands Bridge and Hawaii Shoes stuck to my back pocket.  There were quite a few photographers on course and I smiled brightly for them all.  I felt fantastic!

I enjoy out and back courses because you see the same people and you can sort of judge where you are in the field.  With two out and backs, though, I couldn’t really tell.  It was nice to see the same people again, though.

At No Hands Bridge, the incredibly friendly volunteers filled my water bottle with delicious ice cold water and offered me food I didn’t want or need.  They were wonderful and I would have loved to stay, but I only had five miles left to run and I wanted to get to it!  I knew this was going to be difficult, climbing back up that hill for the rest of the race, but I felt ready for it.  There seemed to be a lot more shade this year and the hills weren’t as unbearable as I remembered.  The weather being about 10–15 degrees cooler than last year apparently changed my whole perception of this race course!

I ran on.  I walked up a lot of the hills, but ran the rest of the time.  My legs felt great.  My feet felt great.  My heart felt light and happy.  This was going to be my day.  I passed a girl I had been chasing for miles and she commented, “Wow, you’re fast!”  I laughed and said, “No.  I’m really not, but I am having a really good day!”  She told me great job and I kept on running.  Hawaii Shoes was still with me, but she was drifting back a little.  A friendly girl still on her way out told me, “I read your blog!!  I recognize you from the picture!”  I squealed and said, “What?!?  Wow!!  Thank you!!”  I felt like a freaking rock star.

I made it the photographer at Mile 14 and gave him a big smile.  I was thrilled that I still felt like smiling at Mile 14!  I was really going to conquer this thing today!  I couldn’t help but compare the day to last year, when I was completely fried by this point.  I had been mentally preparing for these last few miles all day.  I remembered how awful it was to think I was almost done when I still had so much farther to go, so I had been telling myself that today was a 17 mile run and anything less than that was gravy.  25K should be 15.5 miles, but last year the course was way over 16 miles, so I didn’t even let myself think the words “almost done” until I was running up the very last hill to the finishing chute!

I caught up to two very nice ladies in that final mile and we chatted a bit about the course and the skirt one of them was wearing.  I passed one of them, even though I didn’t really need to and the lead woman asked me more than once if I wanted to pass her.  I didn’t.  She was running a great pace and I was enjoying just letting her lead me in.  She was so funny, though.  When she asked if I wanted to pass, she asked me how old I was!  Like maybe she wouldn’t let me pass if I was in her AG!!  As it turned out, I was in a younger AG and she beat me anyway.  I love it!

Somewhere around this last mile or so, I let myself look at my Garmin and do a little running math.  I was having a really, really, really good day.  Better than good.  I was kicking ass and taking names over last year’s time and all I had to do was keep moving forward.  I could CRAWL it in and beat even my most pie-in-the-sky time goal.  I sort of ran, sort of power-walked up that last grassy hill and got so choked up when I checked my time that I almost couldn’t run at all. 

003I beat last year’s time by OVER AN HOUR!!  I took the demon of that terrible race and turned it into one of the best days I’ve ever had!  Sweet redemption, indeed!!

Last year I ran a 4:15:34 and came in 104th place overall, 31st in my age group.  This year I ran a 3:11:22 and placed 31st overall, 7th in my AG.

BAM!

Seriously, is there anything better in the world than a redemption race?  I think not.