What an interesting turn of events this race proved to be! I was kicking myself for registering for a repeat race and had no motivation to go up and run. Something seems to have changed - and I credit that to my visit to Pre's Rock the day before. As morbid as it might be, I visit Pre's Rock quite frequently, mostly before important races. It just gives me a quiet place to talk to him and find my focus. That visit, plus trying to put myself to bed while watching Without Limits, really helped me remember why I registered. To push myself to do my very best ... and to run with Pre! I should point out my race attire - Pre went to Marshfield High School and was #13... this was my 13th half marathon. I couldn't think of any better way to feel motivated and honor my idol at the same time than wearing his singlet when I finish on his track!
The Coach knows me well, and therefore knew to give me a pre-race call. One of the things he told me was that he KNEW I was going to get my sub 2:30 (which has kind of been my only time goal for a half marathon). He said because I wasn't stressing the race and have been improving so much lately, he saw me getting that time without much effort. I kept thinking that to myself the entire drive up to Eugene. At 5:45am I snagged my staked out parking spot and managed to not have to really parallel park. Phew! After applying some sunscreen and getting everything in order I was on my way to Hayward Field. The potty lines - non-existent - walked right in! Then I was off to meet up with the infamous Boring Runner (I quickly deemed him NOT boring at all)! He was just so nice and enthusiastic that I immediately felt calm and ready. (Thanks, Adam!) Then it was off to get my photo with my boyfriend -- you know, Pre. In no time at all I found a couple of co-workers (the Coach being one) for a quick group photo before we got into our corrals. *I won't point out that the girl that sang the National Anthem messed up multiple times. Nerves, I'm sure!* Guess who started the race for us! MEB! He and I have been at the same race two times in a row! We are almost BFFs. Okay, let's run!
I had on a pace band to get me to 2:30. My plan wasn't even to necessarily hit that - I just kind of wanted a gauge overall of how I was doing compared to last year. To get to the finish I was going to run until I couldn't and keep walk breaks to a minimum. When I did walk I wanted it to be short. For the first 4 miles I only walked through the water stops. Oh yes, another plan - don't get sick all over the track from drinking too much and eating the on course bananas! I hit 5K pretty darn fast. In those first 3.1 miles I remember thinking "Wow, I'm not even telling my body to do anything. I'm just sort of going with zero effort! This is cool, but freaking me out a bit!" Then came the hill. I did power walk up not even half of it so I'd have energy left to run strong after. I'm happy with that choice. I couldn't believe it when I hit the 10K mark and completely smashed my 10K PR. There was a moment of celebration from me at that point!
Another thing going through my head were the words of Bill Bowerman (courtesy of Donald Sutherland in Without Limits):
Citius. Altius. Fortius. It means Faster. Higher. Stronger. It’s been the motto for the Olympics for the last 2500 years. But it doesn’t mean faster, higher and stronger than who you are competing against. Just Faster. Higher. Stronger.
So for this race I alternated between "Easy. Light. Smooth." (Born to Run) and "Faster. Higher. Stronger." Not faster or stronger than other people, just faster and stronger than myself! I ignored everybody else and didn't feel a tinge of competition with them. This was all about myself staying consistent, seeing what my body was capable of today, and doing my best to make Pre proud. Could I be any cornier? Yes!
I was steadily ahead of pace. At one point I had over an 8 minute lead on getting the 2:30! I tried not to let that distract me. I didn't want to get excited and then mess it up. Steady as she goes, I just kept focusing on my breathing and finding the flattest parts to run on since I could already tell my IT Band was hurting after the long stretch on the banked road of Amazon Parkway. I was in disbelief as I passed Hayward Field and saw how ahead of schedule I was - but fortunately I didn't get cocky. As tradition has it, my body revolted. My stomach wasn't happy. The last 5K was hard. I was alternating between walking and running too frequently. I debated getting sick and then continuing strong, but it just never happened (deja vous from last year)! I saw my lead slipping away from myself, but still felt confident. When I was running I was still "fast" (heh) and I'd push it until my stomach said NO.
And soon enough there I was. I could see the entrance to Hayward Field, but I couldn't get myself to run. Did I mention by this point I was almost shivering and had stopped sweating a couple miles ago and was just hoping to get through the finish before the collapse? A spectator seemed to take notice and yelled my name. He got me to start running and kept yelling for me until I was out of hearing distance. THANK YOU!!! I was overwhelmed with joy as I dropped down onto the track for my last tenth of a mile. I couldn't do a finishing kick, but I didn't care. I had my PR and was going to enjoy every step. Then I heard my name again!! The Coach! He came down to the track just in time to cheer me on. That made me so incredibly happy that I did find a small kick and got myself through the finish line in 2:25 with a 6+ minute PR! (And, incidentally, this makes FIVE PR races in a row for me!)
|I shouldn't have sat down. Getting up was not exactly easy!|
I never did throw up, hallelujah - and Giraffy got photographic proof of it (see above photo)! I did, however, nearly fall over and had many volunteers holding me up and steady as I walked through, declining medical aid. And thanks to all of them for that! After making out with a wall for a while I got some water, cookies and a banana. I wandered around aimlessly not really all there. Frankly, I'm still in a daze - this is going to be a slower recovery process for me! As I was heading toward my car I stopped to watch people as they ran up to the gates with one tenth of a mile to go. It was there that Amanda and Julie found me! I talked with Julie for a while as we waited to see Small Town Runner. Overall, what a day! PRs all around - and Boring Runner got his BQ!! So I went into this race not caring and left feeling on top of the world and so excited for everyone else that also found success in Track Town USA!