I know the real question burning in your mind isn't how my day went, but whether or not UltraIronHubs managed to lap me, so I am pleased to report that he did NOT. Of course he caught up with me and passed me. I strongly suspected that he would, but couldn't noodle out where I would see him. It was Mile 13, at a water station. I had just grabbed a cup and was walking away drinking when I heard the volunteer ask the person behind me if he wanted water. As he replied, "No thanks," I thought, "Hey! I know that voice!" UIH slowed down long enough to kiss me, then hustled away to a phenomenal finish (more about that in a minute)!
So. My race. It was freakin' awesome in every single way, from start to finish. I went into it feeling cautious, trying not to let December's DNF at the CIM mess with my head. I told myself to focus on running easy and fueling well for a long day.
I slept surprising well the night before, maybe because I actually got to sleep in a little. I get up around 3 am typically, so setting my alarm for 4 am felt like a huge luxury! I went about my usual routine with coffee and oatmeal, got the kids up, prepped my hydration pack and food, made the kids a million sandwiches and snacks for their long day of spectating, got dressed and was out the door by 6:15. We got to the race venue really, really early for an 8:30 start time, but the parking for this race is very limited and we wanted to make sure we got a good spot where the boys could hang out in the car and see us as we ran. The Jed Smith is a spectators dream: You can park right at the Start/Finish line, and the course runs around a 4.86-mile loop six times, plus a short out and back at the beginning. All told, I got to see my cheering fans seven times!
Packet pick-up took less than two minutes, so most of the early part of the day was spent using the bathrooms and huddling in the car, trying to stay warm. ("Warm" is relative, of course. It was about 38 degrees at the start, which probably sounds downright balmy to anybody outside of Cali!)
|Lucky bib number! I have a weird thing about double numbers and this one didn't disappoint.|
|Heading to the start, trying to keep the nerves at bay.|
Having run this race before, I kinda sorta knew what to expect terrain-wise and landmark-wise, but the first loop seemed to go really fast! The far end of the course ("far" being about 2.5 miles from the start - lol!) crosses the American River on the Guy West Bridge and my sister had told me that she was going to cheer for me there. As I approached, I didn't see her, but figured she would be there later, no problem. Then I heard her shouting my name and hustling up the ramp to the bridge. Hooray! A cheering fan!! She gave me a hug and a high five and sent me smiling on my way.
|Coming in from Loop #1 with a big ol' smile!|
|Done with Loop #2!|
On Loop #3, I saw UIH and used one of the bathrooms. Yay for hydration! My belly was cooperating quite nicely and my legs and lungs seemed to be holding up just fine. I finally looked at my Garmin and was really happy with my average pace. I was halfway done! And I felt good! It was too early to be giddy, but I could feel it coming on. Things were really coming along nicely. As I cruised through the long loop/finish area, I didn't see my kids, so I stopped at the car and banged on the window. "Hello!" Big Boy was reading his book and Little Boy was using the bathroom. Ooops, guess they should have been paying attention to the time. It wasn't a problem for me, with so much of the race left to go, but I knew UIH would be finishing up soon and didn't want them to miss it.
Heading into Loop #4, I definitely started to feel giddy. Things were going really well. I was drinking and eating on schedule, I was stopping for water at every station, and other than having to pee that one time, my gut was behaving in a most cooperative manner. I started calculating how many miles I had left and it really didn't seem like that many. I saw my sister's new friend at the bridge and he cheered for me, just like she had promised.
|Finished with Loop #4.|
|Age group prize is this sweet hat. It says, "I ran far. I ran fast." Love it!!|
I lingered at the car for a few minutes to take off my shirt (it's okay, I had a tank top on underneath) because I was getting pretty hot. UIH topped off my hydration pack with some of his leftover Gatorade and I was off again. I saw some friends of ours near the finish line, cheering, and that was a huge boost. Two loops left!! I am totally going to do this!
|Yes! Done with 5 loops and still smiling!!|
I remember very clearly how awful that final loop was last year. I was in tears, barely trudging along, feeling completely overwhelmed by the task of running five more miles. I was disappointed in my time (as if!) and had nothing left in the tank.
This year, I spent Loop #6 passing people right and left who looked an awful lot like I did last year. I probably should have felt bad for them, but I just felt so darn good for myself! I sent out my line and reeled them in one after another. People who had been ahead of me the whole race were suddenly in my rearview mirror. Honestly, it wasn't about beating other people, though that was a nice little side benefit. It was about beating the girl I felt like last year. Time-wise, I knew I wasn't going to PR, but feeling good on that last loop was all the victory I needed!
|So, so, SO happy at the finish line!! The clock is set for the 50-milers, so I got to subtract an hour.|
|Lap #1 is the out-and-back portion of the race. I love the comparison to last year's lap times, particularly lap 7!!|
- Don't drown. BAM! I beat this one like a boss!
- Fuel and hydrate properly. I think this is the one I'm happiest with, to be honest. I stuck to my schedule and ate and drank like it was my job, which is definitely why I was able to meet my next goal...
- Finish strong. Absolutely the strongest finish I have ever had. Ever.
- Finish under 6 hours, or - if I'm having an amazing day - under 5:30. Yep, it was an AMAZING day! By 21 seconds! :)