Where to start, where to start! I have so many thoughts and emotions about my race and everything involved with it, that it is kind-of daunting thinking of where to begin! But I'll start at the beginning, which is usually a good place to start ;)
I did not sleep very well at all on Friday night. I wanted to make it a good night's sleep, but I just was tossing and turning for pretty much the whole night. I did manage to get a few hours in early Saturday morning, but when I finally got out of bed I was exhausted. I was not happy about this, but went about my morning getting all packed up to leave for Sacramento.
My brother and sister-in-law live up in Sac, so we were planning on staying with them. My parents also joined us, and together we drove up with 4 peeps and 3 dogs ;) I had no appetite on Saturday - my nerves were really getting to me. But I forced down a sandwich and headed to the expo with my brother Michael and sis-in-law Suzie. Suz has been to a few expo's with me, but my brother was an expo-virgin. He couldn't believe all the crazy peeps and crazy gadgets. We had fun hanging out and sampling things and after I got my bib and stuff we headed home where I tried to relax.
My mamma made her homemade spaghetti sauce and for the first time I ate pasta the night before a race. I still had no appetite but I managed to get it down - along with a serving of Suzie's pumpkin pie desert ;) I was all nerves all day, I don't think I have been this nervous before a race before. I just couldn't get the knots out of my stomach. But I did everything else right, with hydrating, eating and resting the best I could. Finally, I hit the sack around 10 and attempted to sleep. I slept really light, waking often, which isn't unusual for me the night before a big race. But again, when my alarm went off at 4:15 in the morning I just didn't feel rested. My dad decided to drive us to the start up in Folsom while everyone else in the house slept in a bit more and got ready later.
I ate my usual pre-race breakfast in the car as we drove to the start. I saw lots of school buses driving on the road along with us. This actually calmed me a bit, finally I wasn't alone in this endeavor. Ari was planning on ridding his bike along side me during the race, so when they dropped me off at the runner's spot, he took off to the start on his own. I boarded a bus with other runners where they finally dropped us off at the start. I was worried Ari would get lost or have a hard time finding me, but I just couldn't think about it. I was so sick to my stomach. I felt like I was going to barf as I wondered around the start area. I stood in line a few times to use the bathrooms and each runner I talked to commented on how warm it was out. The weather report was calling for a 50% chance of rain and the temps in the low 50's. When I had gotten out of the car it was already 50, so I went with shorts, a short-sleeve shirt and wore a long sleeve shirt on until the start. The temps weren't too bad, you could stand around and not feel chilled to the bone. I even ditched my gloves before the start.
My plan was to stick with the 3:30 pacer. I met him at the expo and he is the head pacer. Everyone said he runs really even splits. I had a plan of going out faster in the first half, banking some time, and then using that time to help me if I struggled the later miles. I wanted to go 1:40 in the first half and 1:50 in the second half. The start wasn't too bad, and it seemed like all the runners were lined up in the right spots. This was one thing about this race I really liked: it seems this race really brings out the hard core runners. You know, not too many peeps making this challenging course their first one. I finally lined up between the 3:20 pacer and the 3:30 pacer. Figuring, I would shoot to stay between them.
As I stood waiting for the gun, I thought I was going to puke right there with my nerves. I don't know how I managed it other than I was afraid of loosing any nutrition even before the race. I even told the peeps around me to watch out, I might barf! None of them seemed to bat an eye - I'm sure I wouldn't have been the first to do that! Everyone was also shedding clothes like crazy! It was pretty warm in the start corral and I think everyone was banking on it being cold just like last year so they were all over dressed. I took off my long sleeved shirt, tied it around my waist and soon the gun went off.
The first mile is almost all down hill. I had memorized this course pretty well, and attempted to keep my strategy in the front of my mind the whole time. The 3:20 guy took off pretty fast so I let him go and just stuck to my feel good pace. I had my watch set to current lap and I was keeping at a pretty good clip the whole time. I was also on the watch for Ari here - I was still worried it was going to take him a long time to find me. Right away I also knew that this race was going to warm up fast. I was already pretty warm by the end of mile 1 and just tried to stay positive.
mile 1 - 7:50
mile 2 - 7:50
mile 3 - 7:38
Consistency was the name of the game for me. I just tried to go by feel as much as I could. Those early miles felt really good - no knee pain and my stomach had pretty much decided to play nice for the time being. Score! I kept looking for Ari and took some water at the first stop. I was getting a bit worried though by mile 3 when I didn't see him. He had my GU and I wanted one in my hand to start warming it up by my 4. I couldn't focus on that too much though, I was too overwhelmed with just keeping my legs right on task and not thinking too much about what was ahead. Finally, around mile 4 he found me and I instantly felt so much better. The miles in here are pretty up and down. Gradual up's but none the less, it is some good rolling hills. I kept my pace up through them and just went with what felt good. I used the down hills to my advantage and just kept plugging away.
mile 4 - 7:49
mile 5 - 7:53 (GU'ed at mile 5.5)
mile 6 - 7:52
Ari had done a pretty good job of memorizing the route. I had forgotten it all at this point. He warned me that there was some good climbs coming and that I should be prepared. Well, I was in for a shocker. Right before mile 7, a big hill came. I looked at my watch on the current lap setting which also showed elevation change. At the beginning of that hill it said something like 220 feet, but the time I got to the top of that first climb it said 350 something! WOW! It felt like that big of a gain! I was also getting excited to see my family who said they would be out just past mile 10. I couldn't wait to see them, and that was fueling my legs, too.
mile 7 - 7:54 (big first climb!)
mile 8 - 7:56
mile 9 - 7:56 (Gu'ed)
mile 10 - 7:42 (nice downhill)
Around mile 10 you enter into the cute downtown area of Fair Oaks. It's super cute and a big spectator spot. I kept looking and looking for my family. I couldn't see them, and when we got through all the spectators I was afraid I missed them. I turned to Ari and asked them if I had missed them. He told me the bad news - they couldn't get there due to the traffic closures and would be at mile 19. I.was.so.bummed. And angry for a moment. I really wanted to see them. I needed to see them. But I had to put it behind me and keep moving forward. The hills just never stoped in here. They just kept coming. I wasn't getting tired just yet but kept drinking water from the aid stations and Ari constantly. Sometimes because I was thirsty or needed to wash down a GU but also because I wanted to just stay on top of my hydration. I was also getting really warm in here, and by mile 13 or so, I took off my shirt and went with my signature sport's bra look ;)
mile 11 - 7:47 (BIG climb in here)
mile 12 - 7:55
mile 13 - 7:50
mile 14 - 7:45
At the relay exchange at mile 13 I got to see Tara and Kristin! I soooooo needed this! They spotted me first and it felt sooooo good to see a familiar face. I needed that boost. I was starting to get down on myself. I had hit the half in 1:42:xx, a bit off from where I wanted to be and this really bummed me out. But seeing them reassured me I was right on track - my legs were feeling really good in here and I was holding them back just a bit. To say that I had another 13 miles to go made me worried and I promised myself I could pull back a bit around 16 and gather myself and my plans. It seemed my legs were fresh, but my head was another story.
mile 15 - 7:56
mile 16 - 8:04
mile 17 - 7:56
mile 18 - 8:00
I had told myself I could back off a bit at mile 16, but seeing that 8:04 on my watch had gotten me worried. I didn't like it one bit and knew I was being easy on myself. So, at 17 I picked it up a bit and at mile 18 I just tried to cruise. With single digits left I tried to stay positive, but I was a sweaty mess and just kind-of done running. I had some really low moments here, but then I remembered my family would be at 19, so I grabbed a GU somewhere between 18 and 19 and that helped a bit. Not much, but it did help to think about that instead of running! Finally, at mile 19 I got to see my family - my dad, my mom, my sis Suz and my nephew William. They were cheering so loud I could hear them before I saw them. It felt so good to run by them, and I tried to be strong. For some reason though, I just wanted to cry. I was starting to hurt really bad and all the thoughts of loosing my goal started to enter my head. Ari also noticed around this point my posture was starting to slouch. He coached me a bit to stay more upright and to focus on my kick, but I may or may not have yelled at him to shut the heck up! I knew he was right, but I just didn't want to hear him. My legs started to get really, really heavy - mainly my quads. The whole course is rollers - some up's are really long and steep, while others are just a pain in the butt. They had taken a toll on me at this point and my quads were just not happy.
By mile 20, my quads had pretty much seized up. They hurt to step up at all and I had no kick what so ever. I couldn't understand what went wrong. Really, physically up to this point I felt great. I wasn't tired, my legs felt pretty fresh, and I was running almost by feel. Yes, my head had been an emotional wreck, but physically I was moving just fine until here. They just had no strength left by mile 20.
mile 19 - 8:12 (saw the fam)
mile 20 - 8:26 (the beginning of the end)
mile 21 - 8:34 (WTH??)
mile 22 - 8:48 (GU'ed)
I was in full on survival mode. I couldn't believe I had nothing left in me. Ari also managed to get a FLAT in here! Argh! NOT AGAIN! But I had to keep moving. At mile 22, the 3:30 pacer passed me and I died a little inside. I couldn't believe it. All my hard work was crashing down. My legs were DEAD. I felt like I had energy, but my legs had pretty much seized up in my quads. I couldn't get them to move any faster. I took one more GU at 22 right before Ari got the flat but that didn't seem to help too much. I wanted to cry again. I was on track for so long. I tried to stay with the 3:30 group (it was big!) and even though it was pretty flat these remaining miles, I just couldn't catch up. This was so disappointing to me. There were tons of spectators now that were back in down town again. It was nice to have the cheers, but they weren't making my legs carry me any faster.
I started doing the math in my head, even if I ran 9 minute miles for the next four miles, I would still hit my B goal of 3:35 so I just tried to stay positive. This was the lowest point for me during the race. Ari was gone, I just lost my great pace, and I felt really alone. I wanted to be done. I had gone from being on an 3:26- 3:28 pace down to settling for a 3:35. I was crushed. I had to stay with it though, I still had 4 miles left and decided to get my head away from the pitty party and just enjoy the fact that I was running the race of my life.
mile 23 - 9:05
mile 24 - 9:11 (it was getting ugly in here!)
mile 25 - 8:57
With just over a mile left, I knew if I picked it up I could break 3:35! I was running as fast as I could - I had looked over my shoulder at one point and saw the 3:35 guy coming and there was NO WAY I would let him come close to me! So I just started kicking as best as I could and before I knew it I was passing mile 26 and looking down just the last .2 with a few turns.
mile 26 - 8:19 (where was this 3 miles ago!)
last .2 - 2:16 (7:25/mi pace)
I crossed the finish line in 3:34:16 - an over 4 minute PR! I had done it! I was so emotional right away. I had worked so hard out there, fought so hard those last 6.2 miles that I was very overwhelmed when I crossed. I started balling right away. Thankfully, Layla was there to catch me and wrap a blanket around me. It was sooooooo good to see here. I was a sweaty, sticky, crying mess, but my friend gave me a big hug and carried me to my family. Thanks Layla - that meant a lot to me. When I finally saw my mom and everyone, they were also crying. I was so spent, but so happy. I'm proud of my time, proud of my accomplishment and so glad I had my family there. As soon as I crossed, after I saw my fam, my sis Suzie got in the car to go and pick up stranded Ari. He had missed me crossing the finish line - and I was so sad about this - he had worked hard to keep me going out there, too.
26.2 - 3:34:16 - 8:10/mi pace
AG - 62/437
245/2549 - woman
26.31 - 3:34:16 - 8:08/mi pace
After I got a bit collected, I put on some dry clothes and went to see where Aron and everyone was. I met up with them inside the finish shoot and it was nice to see how every one's day went. This is a tough course - don't be fooled by the negative downhill they play up so well. Yes, it is a net downhill, but it is rolling hills for the majority of the race. It can chew you up and spit you out quick. The race itself, it just awesome. VERY well organized, great course management of the route and aid stations and I will definetly be back next year. I would recommend this race to anyone - it may be difficult, but it is so worth it ;)
I have some thoughts on why my quads seized up. I'm not 100% convinced though of what exactly went wrong. I know that I was running very well the first 20. Like I said, my legs never felt really tired, and my energy was always spot on until the end. I think it had to do with my salt intake and how warm it was out. I didn't bring any salt tabs on me, and since I just was not hungry the days before, I probably didn't eat enough of my usually salty diet before hand. I GU'ed and drank at all the right spots, but in the end I think it came down to the lack of salt and all the sweating I did. My shorts and sports bra were so wet I probably could have wrong them out and got a good puddle. I'm not sure what I could have done with that info during the race - I was probably already in a deficit. But I'm glad my knee behaved, my tummy behaved and my energy was great. I also know I ran pretty smart through 16. I could have gone faster, I could have tore that course up more - but I ran by feel and effort and the whole time (until 20) I had the right energy and legs.
I'm hungry for another. I wanted my sub 3:30 that I just know is waiting in me to be unlocked. Although, today I'm a wreck. Standing, sitting, walking, going to the bathroom are all still very, very painful. I know I left it all out on the course. I'm not sure what is next now - I had planned on this being my last full for a very long time, but I want more - I want my sub 3:30 - I need to step back and see what my options are and what my ultimate goals really are.
Thank you to all of you for your support during my crazy training cycle. You all always made me feel so special and so strong - and I thought about allll of you while I was out there. I kept you all in the front of my mind when it got tough or hard, and reminded myself that you would all be proud no matter what. So, thank you to each and every one of you - I couldn't have done it with out you.
Congrats to all my fellow CIM'ers out there and to all of you that tackled Vegas this weekend - you are all rockstars in my book ;)
I know this has been long, but I'll have pics up in the next couple of days - so thanks for sticking with me!
Have a great Tuesday!
Happy Running peeps!