Twelve weeks of training, 400 plus miles, average of 5 run's a week, plus five classes a week and a full time job, it all came to an end Sunday. This was the race that Cervical Cancer stole from me one year ago...would I, could I, take it back?
The adventures to the Lincoln (Nebraska) National Guard Half Marathon began Friday afternoon with a my running BFF Jess and the mind numbing drive across Iowa into Nebraska. With a late arrival on Friday night, Saturday morning was the perfect pre-race day, with no rushing, carb loading and relaxing. The expo wasn't too shabby, plenty of booths but really all I care about is getting my bib, shirt and an expo photo, done, done, done.
|With Bry (our hostess with the most-est) and Jess at the expo.|
From there the afternoon continued to be relaxing with some reading and a nice little afternoon nap, ahhhh. I have to admit I tried to stay awake, for fear it would keep me from an early bedtime, but it couldn't be helped the eye lids were just to heavy to fight. After waking up I felt refreshed and energized so Jess and I took just a quick 20 minute walk around Bry's 'hood to losen up the legs before we were off to the Project Purple banquet. Bry, is PP runner and was kind enough to get us invites to the dinner.
At first I was a bit worried about the dinner because normally my pre-race meal is pizza but as we got there the wonderful aroma of pasta just called my name. Turns out it was FANTASTIC the lasgna was amazing and they had CUPCAKES. In fact the moment we walked into the door I saw those wonderful frosted treats and my eyes began making love to them.
|Yes, I took too, and Project Purple sent me home with two more!|
Once we got back to Bry's house it was late and time for B-E-D!I had a very specific race plan for the day, I was to wake up grab my Manderin Spark (Advocare) like always, chill and wait for my body to do it's thang (you should know what I'm getting at) and then it was prep time. During training I must have my electrolytes but I'm not a fan of the Gatorade used on the course so I always train with 3Plenish (Complete Nutrition) and since I can't carry it with me I decided that I was going to sip on that in the morning and have only a little bit of water. I didn't want to over due it and have to pee during the race but I also wanted to ensure my hydration/electrolytes.
Once we arrived at the start of the race we had time for one quick pic with the three of us, a not so quick bathroom stop (why can there never be enough bathrooms?) and then it was a jumble to try and get to the start. So many people trying to get to the same place with not so much maneuvering space. Luckily the race started in waves, I planned to jump in just ahead of the 1:55 pace group which turned out to be a GREAT decision. I wanted to finish between 1:50-1:55. The start at this race does well trying to accommodate the amount of runners (13,000) but takes way too long, took like 17 minutes for me to start. That's why it was a good thing I jumped in front of the 1:55er's or I would have to had wait longer.
|Jess suggested that we wear purple to support Bry and PP, so naturally I had t pair it with gold!|
As soon as the race started it was smooth sailing, my plan was to keep miles one and two at a 9 minute pace, which I did nearly exact, then after I'd pick it up and aim for negative splits. However, as soon as I picked it up my pace jumped to an 8:40 and I then decided if I could hold it stead anywhere between 8:30-45, I'd be golden. A few miles in I changed the plan again because I kept wanting to go faster, it just felt right, so I adjusted it to 8:25-40. Nearly every time I looked at my wrist I was somewhere in that range. I actually felt like I was constatnly telling myself to slow down. I probably could have ran faster but there was still some lingering doubt, could I keep it up the whole run? Will I tank at the end? I couldn't answer those questions so I just kept telling myself to dial it down some and finish strong.
Honestly, I could tell you absolutely nothing about the course or the miles. I didn't notice any of it, I was so focused and dialed in, I saw nothing. I wanted this race, I worked for it and dammit I needed it. There was a portion of the race where we do run on a trail, it was a bit small for this race and Bry warned us about it so I was prepared, luckily I had no problems. Only twice did I have to step to the side to pass someone. Only a few times during the entire race I felt like I was dodging someone, each pass came easily and effortlessly. One major thing that helped me in this race is I didn't have to walk trhough the water stations, which is normal for me. I just cannot master the pinch the cup, run, drink, I always wear the water, but this race...had lids and straws on their water cups! Yes, lids and straws...man it was heaven in a cup and through a straw for me!
This race went so fast, before I knew it there was just 3 miles to go, then all of a sudden two, I think my last mile was the hardest mile for me. Although I felt strong; my legs weren't hurting, my breath wasn't labored, I kept thinking how I was finally running the race I was denied a year ago. That thought was on repeat in my head, with 1200 meters to go, 800 meters. I couldn't stop thinking; this was the race that cancer stole from, this is the race that I was meant to have. I felt the lump in my throat begin to rise and the urge to let the tears come to my eyes for that last mile, but first, I had to finish.
|Recovering in my hospital bed one year ago.|
As I made my way inside the stadium and to the finish line, I saw the clock (which of course was gun time) and by the looks of it I thought I was finishing very near my last PR of 1:55:40 something. When I crossed the finish and saw my time of 1:51:34, I was elated, I couldn't believe it! A PR of 4+ minutes!
I didn't just PR I rocked that bitch! A volunteer with medals must have seen something in my eyes because we made eye contact and her face light up so brightly and she said "Come here, you earned this" and put the medal around me neck.
You're dam right I earned that!
Finish PR 1:51:34
Avg Pace: 8:30
Overall: 1334 out of 7175
Gender: 478 out of 4347
AG Place: 89 out of 817