The back story
My race reports always have a back story!
This one for the Peachtree Road Race is more of a “why am I running this”?
I wasn’t just feeling it in the days leading up to the race. I had just raced Chattanooga Olympic Triathlon last weekend in rather exhausting personal conditions and I felt like I had no breather after that. I had a terrible migraine for two days before the race. After racing last weekend, this time I just wanted to just show up, take photos and eat and drink and be merry along the course without the pressure of a Garmin stuck to me.
I was thinking that aloud when Mr. FauxTriathlete suddenly said that he’d pace me. I scrambled to find him a number (some good Karma after I hook up a lot of people with numbers) and we were set!
However, I woke up at 4am on race morning with an unbearable migraine. AGAIN. I wonder if it is something to do with the weather – I’m having too many migraines recently, and all of it when there’s a storm brewing.
I usually drive down with Barry and his family, but since we had a babysitter to pay for, we decided to go on our own so we could make a quick getaway. Parked the car at my office near the finish and took the train up to the start.
We lined up in the corrals and we’re all ready to go when we heard a bolt of thunder. Ugh. The race officials had to stop the race for 30 minutes and told everyone to move to safety. We started walking to the side when we saw some people running. I persuaded him to run too and we started. Please don’t give me flak for running inspite of being told not to … it just happened.
No sooner had we started that he had to stop for a restroom break. Are you kidding me?? Weren’t we just in line before the start? TWICE? And you can’t hold it for a 10k?? He told me to run along the side and soon caught up with me. Still surprised that he found me in the sea of people … but boo when he told me that he’d been following someone else with the same skirt for a bit. (ummm… married for 14 years this October and he can’t recognize how I look?)
The Peachtree Road Race course is downhill for the first 3-3.5 miles and I had no trouble hitting my splits. The characters, the crowd, the noise, the spectators, … I took everything in. I was going to enjoy every minute of it until the hard work started. Guru and I even talked about work and our kids, especially the 9yo who seems to be showing a sudden preference for hanging out with Daddy rather than me (seriously kiddo – you’ve already changed sides??).
Cardiac hill was easily recognizable and when a hill has a name, you know it’s bad! I know it is a nasty one, but no matter how much it hurts and how much it sucks, I can never give up or think the worst of it. The reason: it goes right past Shepard Center. I have absolutely no business whining about the hills being hard to run on when people in wheelchairs are out cheering for me. No matter how much Cardiac hills sucks, it is still a celebration of life and being healthy and being able to run free.
Now I can’t say the same about my attitude once I get past Cardiac Hill. I knew my pace had dipped just about 10 seconds, but I held on until about 4.5 miles or so. After that it was just ugh … seeing the sea of people on a hill just sank my heart every time, even if it was the slightest of inclines. And that’s when Mr. FauxTriathlete came through so awesomely. Never once did he show any reaction when I slowed down or when I stopped for water. He kept encouraging me to keep moving and offered his hand to hold on to from a couple of steps in front of me – and I’d reach out for his hand and pick back up.
And after I had my slowest mile 5 (slowest = off pace by 35 seconds), I started counting down. I could run strong for 15 more minutes!! Just 15 minutes .. just 15 … I’m strong, I’ve trained, it’s hard but I’m harder to break, I’m running easy, I’m running smooth and strong, ….
I don’t remember if I was trying to pick my legs up more, or if I was trying to turn them faster, or if I was trying to push through, … I only remember a lot of Maria Sharapova grunting!
When I finished – I could not have run any more.
That . was . it.
My time according to Garmin- 1:12:10 – a 4 min course PB and a 4 second overall 10K PR.
Quite a few people asked me how it was running such a big race for time with a hard taskmaster next to me making sure I didn’t slack off. It wasn’t any different than a smaller race that I’d “race”. The main problem was having to weave between people and trying to stay in as straight line as possible. Was it impossible to race from corral M? No, it was just a little more difficult than from corral A.
Did I have fun at the race? Yes, I did! In spite of pouring rain, delays, running rouge, running without a phone (what is happening to me!!), no stop for pictures … I ran strong with my heart, THAT brought out the most fun!
Did I be “part” of the race? Yes, I was. I waved to kids, smiled at spectators and took it all in while i was running. Until mile 4.5 that is, …
Did I miss the usual PRR shenanigans? Not really. I certainly missed stopping for photos (with the rain, there wouldn’t have been pictures anyway), but I’ve never been really “wild” in the race (drinking, eating, etc) at all. So it was just a race with a purpose.
What am I the most proud of?
Of course, I’m proud of the PR. Taking off 4 minutes from last year is a huge chunk – I was running Peachtree last year with a good Crossfit base of about 8 months. This year has been no external strength training other than hill repeats, over and over. Consistent running helps when you are running a race!
I’m also proud for hanging in there after the 4.5 miles. It was so easy to be “done” and give up. I definitely think having Mr. FauxTriathlete with me helped, just to mentally assess and say that I could reach for his hand just a few feet away. But I also had within me a “Don’t give up. Not yet.” spirit. The race wasn’t over until I crossed the finish line, or until I gave up. And I wasn’t about to let the race finish because of me. And unlike times when I have to struggle to pull that spirit up, this time it wasn’t hard to find within me. I didn’t have to dig deep to find it. It was there, armed and charged, ready to go when I called. I just had to call.
But what I’m really proud of is – I didn’t give up on racing even though I had no enthusiasm going in. I had plenty of excuses (very valid too!) lined up and I didn’t want to race. It was a no-win situation – I resented having to race, but I knew I would never forgive myself if I didn’t. I had a task to do, and I did it. I didn’t let the paces pre-race bother me, I didn’t worry about pre-race migraines, and I handled them as a matter of fact.
Now THAT is a long long way for me to have come mentally.