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Posts tagged ‘pacing’

S-M-R-T Ass! Race Report

The morning was cool and beautiful at 6:45 as Adonis and I left the house for the race. It was a nice change from the week, which had been rainy and/or cold. We found parking close by the race site and strolled through adorable Safety Harbor as we looked for packet pickup. It was nice being there early enough before the race not to have to rush and to have time to explore, with much love to my perpetually late parents. 🙂

3M was running the 10K, so we went to the finish line to cheer her on. She reported it being hot and I hoped foolishly that I wouldn’t feel the same way, although my race didn’t start for another 40 minutes.

i-am-so-7gtovh

I went to the bathroom for a 2nd time since arriving – I’m terribly paranoid about needing to go during a race, especially a shorter distance one. I even have a policy to stop drinking about 30 minutes prior. Since the race was in a public park, we had the option of *gasp* indoor plumbing! Amazing! That 15 minute wait in line was totally worth it. I took the time in line to finalize my race playlist. 33 minutes and change.

Adonis and 3M walked with me to the start line. As I found an appropriate place to corral myself, it dawned on me that I had neglected to warm up. I groaned to myself and hoped I would still have a good race. As the horn sounded, I wrapped up my obligatory tears and sniffles at the start of races and started toward the timing mat. I started my Garmin and my music and off I went.

I felt incredibly determined and focused with my first steps. I was well-rested and feeling confident. Quite frankly, I felt like a badass. Then I felt silly for feeling like a badass with my moderate to slow ass pace. “Who am I to feel like a bad ass in the dead ass center of the pack?” Sigh. I laughed inwardly at my ridiculous self-talk – I was already breathing too heavily to do anything but smile outwardly. How else am I supposed to feel as I am running? There’s no pace threshold at which I should be allowed to feel confident – I have been training regularly and I deserve to feel good RIGHT. NOW, just before making my first turn.

The first mile went by more quickly than I expected. As I passed the mile marker and my watch went off, fewer than 11 minutes had gone by. I pumped my fist and pointed one finger up, my way of thanking God for each mile and asking humbly to carry my legs through the remainder. I saw a sign that read “You are NOT almost there.” I was feeling good enough to laugh until I saw that there was a looooong incline ahead. Not cool – and I don’t just mean how 3M told me it was not cool (she was right, by the way). I grimaced and just pushed forward. I regretted not stopping at the first water stop and hoped there would be one at the top, but alas, it did not come until much later. The incline marked the turn around and I tried to motivate myself by reminding myself I would have a sweet downhill in a little while.

Meanwhile, in my pocket, my amazing playlist was thrown off by the fact that I had forgotten to lock the screen on my phone, so I was now hearing my songs go back and forth and finally one just stuck on repeat. I had planned it so meticulously and it was failing, but I thought to myself, “at least it’s a long one. I hear this about 2 and a half more times and then I’m done.” My 2nd mile took me more than 11 minutes, but I was still on track for my 33 and change despite my having lost my playlist to help me track. I felt slow and tired and I was now at the point I reach every race – why am I doing this, again? I got a reprieve at a water stop and walked for a brief moment. I took the time to reorient my thinking into something positive and told myself I would start running again on the one – it’s totally normal to plan intervals based on downbeats, amirite – and did it.

I dug for a final gear that I could not seem to find. That incline and the weather had pushed me and I realized I was doing my best. Nothing left to do but just go to the finish, and thankfully, it was near. I glanced at the timing clock and I knew I couldn’t slow down if I wanted 33 and change not to become 34 and change. I saw 3M at the chute but I couldn’t shout out because I was damn near out of gas. Adonis saw me and reached out his hand and I managed to high five him. I high fived another stranger as I gave my last effort to the finish.

Boom. 33:43. Down from 35:27 four weeks ago. Goal met. I am S-M-R-T. ❤

 

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God, Garmin, and Good Judgment. Race Report

Perfume. 

Lipstick. 

Earrings. 

Go to the bathroom as much as possible. 

Thank God for all He has provided me, also think of sins for which I need forgiveness so earthly payment doesn’t come due during the race. 

The last one in that checklist (perhaps the last two, tee hee) especially should indicate my level of anxiety. I try, imperfectly of course, to be thankful regularly, and I don’t think of God as my “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” kind of partner, but if there’s any day that I need a solid from the Lord, it’s today. The fabulous 3M had just texted me an excerpt from Hebrews 12, something I had reminded myself before my 70.3 and was trying to keep in mind –

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)

Yes, Joan. While there is joy at the finish line set before me, the marathon is not the cross. Remember this today. Any pain I experience, while important to God, likely won’t approach crucifixion levels. 

I found the 5:45 pacer and asked him what his plan was. Murray said he was going to run for 2 minutes at about 12 min mile pace and do a brisk walk for 1 minute. He said that while he’s not an official Galloway pacer, running steadily at a 13:10 pace seemed too slow. Fair enough! I figured I wouldn’t get in trouble and go out too fast if I chilled with Murray, so I lined up with him in the corral after hugging my amazing family and saying a prayer with them. 


The horn for which I’ve trained for months finally sounded. I wiped away tears of excitement and awe that this day is really here and walked toward the timing mat. The French horn opening of the first movement of Brahms 1st piano concerto set the mood in my ears for this part of my journey – grand, expansive, RUBATO! Not. Too. Fast. I stayed close to Murray* at the very beginning, but something didn’t feel right about it. I let him go and just paid attention to my Garmin. Mile 1 passes and I look down at my watch. 12:43. And Mr. 5:45 is AHEAD of me. Nope. 

A lady sidled up to me and asked what my plan was. “2/1, stay alive, finish under 6!” I replied. “Me too!” she answered. 

I need you to understand this. I had imagined that I might make a friend or two on the way to the finish line. It had been immensely helpful to me during my 70.3 to do the run with someone, and I will never forget her. So when I say that I was open to running the race with someone else despite preferring to train alone, you must know that I really meant it. 

This was not that someone. 

Roz* from New Jersey was running this marathon on her journey to join the 50 states marathon club. This marked marathon number 15 for this running coach who would NOT. STOP. TALKING. She asked me about my training, and I judged her as I answered her stupid questions politely. I say her questions were stupid because they were questions for which I could presumably have wrong answers. If I did something wrong in my training, what the hell am I supposed to do about it now in mile 2 of the marathon? Turn around? Heffa, please. Performance day is just that. Make it work now, ask questions later. 

Still, I thought the Christian thing to do was to deal with her neediness. Some people need people to boss around to feel useful. I turned up my music and nodded and smiled as she went on about herself. I asked cogent questions. Everyone runs differently and if I can help someone run the best race she can, I can handle a bit of annoyance. 

Jim* rolled up on us around the 5k point. He was talking with Roz and it turned out he was already in the 50 states club. I was thankful for Jim because he took some of the pressure off of me. He wasn’t with us for very long, to which Roz said, “some people just need to show off and talk about themselves to new people!” I burst out laughing at the irony of her observation. “Don’t laugh too hard, Joan. 23.1 to go – save your breath!” I thought. 

At mile 5, I decided to use the toilet. JUST in case. I wasn’t feeling a pressing need to go, but my colleague at work who just completed her first marathon said that it’s better to go in the beginning rather than later. What could it hurt? Plus, I was hoping Roz would go ahead of me. Well, she did, but not for long. A mile or so later, she stopped to refill her water and said she would be behind me. “Okay!” It took a LOT of willpower to stay at my current pace and not purposely speed up to put distance between us. I suppose I have more faith in my patience than I do my legs. 

The marathon and half-marathon courses were concurrent for about the first 7 miles. Then it got REAL lonely out there, man. It looked like I was going into the wilderness. I was actually thankful for Roz’s yelling behind me because I didn’t see a single soul ahead of me. Disconcerting, y’all. It wasn’t too long before I saw some more cones, cops, and the winner headed in the opposite direction toward the finish line. Confirmation of the correct path was comforting, indeed. 

As the race continued, I felt pains that worried me. My left hamstring in mile 8. My right calf in mile 13. I prayed for them and pressed forward. I stayed focused on my 2/1 intervals and the miles just came to me, one by one. I smiled as I enjoyed the music of the clearly brilliant person who created this playlist. I shrugged and sighed as I caught up to and passed Murray, who told me he didn’t think he was going to make it in 5:45. 

Speaking of the aforementioned brilliance, I had tried to time the gospel music around mile 19 – when I projected I might be questioning my life choices most. “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” “My Tribute.” “How Great Thou Art.” Naturally, I chose really powerful arrangements that evoked great emotion. Too much emotion. I started to think about how amazing God is and tears came to my eyes. I felt tingles all over. I glanced down to look at my heart rate. 

TWO.

O.

BLOODY.

FIVE. 

OKAY GOD PLEASE HELP MY HEART RATE COME DOWN BECAUSE I HAVE NEARLY TWO HOURS OF RACE LEFT IN JESUS’ NAME AMEN

Not the most artful prayer, admittedly. I slowed my walking and that helped. I drank more water from my trusty CamelBak. Every sip tasted heavenly, so I can assume by this point I was likely dehydrated. I didn’t want to have my stomach sloshing around with water and honey stingers, but I suppose my trying not to drink too much didn’t help my tingly euphoria. 

By mile 22, my heart rate was still sky high on my run intervals. I didn’t like it. I am confident God brought me Roz for this one piece of advice – “if you get tired, switch your run time to your walk time. That way you don’t lose hope or momentum.” I went from 2/1 to 1:30/1:30. I checked the clock. I had an hour to meet my time goal. I could do that with a speedy walk if I needed to. I stayed in the shade as much as possible. 

I saw some volunteers by the stadium where the race had begun. “This way to glory?” I asked. “Yes ma’am!” 

Then the most beautiful thing happened. 

As I caught sight of the finish line, the recap of the Brahms concerto with which I had begun the race was starting. I don’t know that I can properly describe how fitting this was – to hear that moment in the music at just that time, but it brought the biggest smile to my face. To be back where I started but in a completely different way – just like the music! was nothing short of perfection. I turned on to the track and saw my awesome Mommy. “Hi Mom!” “Hey Jo!” as she whipped out her camera. “You’re almost there!” The clock read 5:55:26 as I crossed the timing mat. I. Win. 

I serve a God that allows for so much more than finishing the race. I finished the marathon with BOTH arms in the air, a bright smile, and Brahms in my ears. He is a cherry on top kind of God. My prayer is that I can keep this moment close to me forever as I continue running with Him and toward Him. 


*- I don’t change names to protect anyone who annoys me. 

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