Here was my race plan. Phase 1 - 5k go easy. Walk breaks every 5 minutes, leisurely pace. Easy.
Mile 1: 11:15
Mile 2: 10:54
Mile 3: 11:06
Perfect. Except I did 1 minute of walking every 10 minutes. I was excited. I couldn't stop. I had the optimistic outlook that it was never going to get any harder than this. (ooooohhhhh foreshadowing!)
Phase II - 10K Race time! Game on. I wanted to run at race pace (10:45) for the next 6 miles and then see where I was. It's hard though to tell what pace you need to go when I was walking for 1 minute every 10 minutes. That means running slightly below race pace to compensate for the walking. So, 60 seconds in one minute, if I run 9 minutes at 5.8 mph, and there is a train leaving Boston at noon, and there are 17 people and only 2 lifeboats.....yeah, I had no clue.
Mile 4: 10:15 (remember the walk breaks? This was way to fast for 1 mile)
Mile 5: 10:15 (if only this type of consistency was a good thing at this point)
Mile 6: 10:41 (PERFECTION. Now just hold steady......)
Mile 7: 11:17
Mile 8: 12:47
Mile 9: 11:03 (one last futile attempt to reclaim this race)
Leading up to mile 8 was tough. I thought I was going to throw up. Did I need more water? Less food? Or was I hungry and over hydrated?? I had no idea except that I was hot and uncomfortable and nauseated. Here's me at mile 7. I think I started walking immediately after this picture was taken.
Pause in the story for some factual information. My 6.9 mile time was 1:15. That left me 1:05 to run the final 6 miles. Reasonable. My 10k split time was about a minute above my 10k race time. For those keeping track at home that adds up to way to fast. You don't run 7 more miles at a 10k clip. Normal people have slower paces on longer races. And when you go out to fast.....well, stay tuned.Phase III - 1 mile freestyle. I wanted to run what I felt. Maybe downshift and save up for Phase IV.
Mile 10: 13:12 (That is some serious downshifting. Did I drop the tranny??)Seriously, I should have been an actress because look how happy I look. Lies. All lies. See that little bit of shade I am going through. Little did I know that it would be the last bit of shade I would stand in for the next 7 hours. Hey, Duluth, have you heard of Arbor Day? Plant a tree, will ya? On a hot sunny day the last few miles of Grandma's can DESTROY those with anything less than an iron will.
Phase IV - at this point I can't believe I'm even tracking phases but this was a race plan so I am publishing what was supposed to happen. Phase IV was supposed to be the last 5k. The final kick. Walk as needed, but throw your heart on the pavement and leave on the course type finish. I did revise this phase to accommodate though. All good runners have to learn to recalculate based on the situations they are running in. I renamed Phase IV to "Screw It".
Mile 11: 11:55 (this would be known as my last 'speed' lap - hahaha)
Mile 12: 12:10
Mile 13: 13:02
There were a few positive thoughts during this last 3 miles. At one water stop this kid - maybe 10 years old, short, wearing and over sized volunteer t-shirt that hung to his knees and an adult baseball cap that was tightened in the back to the smallest notch but still didn't quit fit. You know the look. Any way, I was going in for some water and he walked out to me a little ways out of line, handed me the water, looking in my eyes and said "You can do it" in a serious tone. Not like he was saying it to everybody, but he was saying it to me. Because I needed to hear that. I turned around as I passed and he was still watching me run away. I gave a nod. Thanks kid. Yes I can. And I thought of my cousin James who told me just the other day when I said "We'll never win" he said, "If you say that then you never will win". He's 6. It all brought tears to my eyes until I realized that when I get emotional when I run I can't breathe (and I get emotional a lot running). I chose running. I'll cry later. (like now thinking of it).
I finished in 2:32:07 or something, which, now that I have a calculator I can tell you is 11:32 minute miles. Absolutely devastating. And I think it's because I really was running the best that I could. It was really really hard towards the end. I lost a little hope with this race. If I try this hard and I don't make it, what does that mean? Where does that leave me?
They still give you a medal even if you cried, even if you lost your hope, even if you felt you didn't deserve it. Just for being a finisher. It's not easy. And it's not all happy, look what I accomplished, yay me. You have to experience those losses and then go out again because that's when you really win. You think you can't go on, and you've lost all hope in your ability, but if you keep going, you look back and see that despite all that adversity, YOU KEPT GOING. I think when you go through the rough spots and don't quit it, makes the victory so much sweeter.
This race was humbling. Not because I'm such an elite athlete, but because I put a challenge out there for myself - a real challenge and I failed. I didn't accomplish it. I wanted it, and in my mind I could do it, but I couldn't. Not this time. But you know what? There are 55 days until the Badger to Gopher 1/2 Marathon. There will come a time when I can no longer run. Today is not that day.