Today was a MAJOR learning experience - AGAIN! I am thinking that this is how it will be for me always. I don't think I will ever really know it all, and each race brings different trials. Today was a real test for me for many reasons - but let me start at the beginning.
I really had high hopes when I woke up this morning since I had such a good race last week with my 10K. We were up at 4:45 to get ready. We decided to use the DART train this year because of the parking situation at the race. Cotton came over and we rode together. We got to the race in plenty of time, but I needed to find the "break" area quickly. This is my normal habit - the problem this time was that we walked through a lot of grass on our way, and our feet got SOAKED! OK....lesson #1...pack dry socks! We took our break and then headed to the bag tent to store our bags with our warm-ups and after race "stuff". Once again this year we saw our dear friend Mary...she was Cotton's first grade teacher and she was so excited that he was with us this year. She couldn't believe how much he had changed - of course she hadn't seen him since he was in about the 3rd grade or so...she was really surprised at how tall he had gotten!
We went on over to the start line and Cotton went on up much closer to the front - we headed toward the middle. We warmed up and I re-did my shoes because my socks were slipping down and bunching up under my arches. I tightened the laces much more than I usually do - Lesson #2....the race is NOT the time to make changes in how you fix your shoes! The start was only slightly delayed due to some kind of technical problem with the timing mat, but only by a couple of minutes. The horn sounded and we were off......deep breath - and go!
The first 3 miles were really good. Felt good - had to keep slowing Rick down! We ran the splits in 9:54, 9:42, and 9:40. This gave us a time of 29:17 at the 3 mile mark. I was quite happy with that. The next 3 miles were almost as good - but part of this part of the race is run through a few of the neighborhoods around the lake and it feels like all of a sudden out of nowhere come these NEVER ENDING HILLS! Our splits here started to show how much of a toll these hills were taking.... 10:35, 10:54, and 10:47. I struggled more through here than I thought I would too, but still posted a 6 mile time of 1:01:34 - so right on pace for what we ran the week before in our 10K. This was actually about 4 minutes faster than last year and I was feeling better by then so I was quite pleased with the race up to this point.
We were still in the hills and mile 7 was run at an 11:04 pace. More than the hill though I was beginning to have some stomach problems. It actually started somewhere around mile 6, but it was really getting bad now. This has not ever happened to me before. I get up and run with very few problems, so this was quite the surprise. At 7.5 miles I finally knew I HAD to stop. We passed the water table and one of the gentlemen was kindly pointing out that there was a porta-potty just around the corner for the "inopportune" stops that some runners need. I rushed through the water stop and ran to the the other stop. This stop actually cost us close to 3 minutes....I was sooooo bummed! We did figure out that we had eaten dinner much later - AND it was a much heavier dinner than normal - I'm pretty sure that is what caused the problems I had, and we have determined that if we go out for dinner the night before a race from now on it will the the traditional spaghetti only! Lesson # 3.
After the stop I felt a little better and we were off again. During mile 8 I paid the price for the change in the way I tied my shoes. I started feeling hot spots on my arches at about 8.5 miles. Not painful, but not comfortable either. Incredibly, even with the stop we ran mile 8 in 10:38...(thank heavens for a few downhills here :) ). Mile 9 was where I was worried, this is where I pretty much hit the wall last year - this year I was feeling good other than the hot spots on my feet. Mile 9 split - 11:19 - and NO walking! We completed the 9 miles in 1:34:37. Our normal time around the lake (9.1 miles) is 1:37, so when you add in the "missing" minutes from the stop earlier we were still right on schedule.
The last 4 miles were not at all what I had anticipated. My feet were really starting to hurt but I was determined I wasn't going to let Rick know, I was going to just push through the pain and go. I did pretty good until mile 11 or so. We went through a water stop where, as planned, I slowed to a walk, but when I tried to run again it was so painful I couldn't. I told Rick about the blisters that had formed on my arches and he said it was OK to walk. We did for just a little bit and then I knew I would just be so angry at myself if I gave up at this point so I just kicked it back and ran again. Our splits here were: Mile 10 - 11:28, Mile 11 - 12:02, Mile 12 - 11:54. Somewhere in the last mile - I'm not sure of the exact distance we had left - slightly over .5 miles, Cotton found us and cheered us in. He was AWESOME. He had already completed the race and came back to help us during that last part. It was just what we needed! Mile 13 was completed in 11:56. Now at this point we should have only had .1 miles to go - but for some reason it always seems that at every race we run the finish is a little farther than the distance it is supposed to be. This one had .36 left. We ran that in 3.58...This gave us a Garmin time of 2:25:57 - that would have been a major PR for me....I do have to mention here that Rick stayed with me for the entire race this year - so even if I had kept the 2:25 it would not have been a PR for him...but it was GREAT having him right there with me every step of the way this year - even more so since I was feeling so bad through the entire last half of the race.
The "ugly" part of the race came after the finish. We went to pick up our bag at the tent, stopping for water along the way. I had nearly finished my water and tipped my head back to get the last little bit. When I finished the drink I felt a bit woozy, grabbed Rick's arm, and down I went! Passed right out! THIS has never happened to me before either! There was a Dr. standing right there and he stayed right with me until I was able to stand up and walk over to the tent where they got me a chair to sit down on. We waited for Cotton and by the time he found us I was feeling a little better. Rick and Cotton decided to go ahead and walk me to the medical tent and they found me a cot to sit down on and got me some more water. It was determined that because of the problems I had during the race I had lost more fluids than I normally would, and hadn't taken in enough to replace what I lost...between that and burning a lot of calories and not taking in enough of those either I just got a little light headed. I drank some more water and then we headed over the the food tent to get some much needed nourishment. After getting a little food in my tummy I felt MUCH better. Lesson #4...there is a reason that marathoners and 1/2 marathoners carry more than just GU with them during a race - next time I'll have some "real" food with me too!
Now for the official results. The clock time was 2:29:37. The official time this year was 2:28:08 where last year was 2:26:21, so I did not beat that time this year....ah, well....many lessons learned and there is always NEXT year!