I ain’t even mad, bro.😀. Actually my new motto might be “just hang on”. But before we get into that, let’s talk about the expo real quick.
Saturday dawned rainy and windy. Those running the 5k ran in the rain. The rain had cleared by the time I arrived to pick up my packet and attend the ambassador meet and greet. Picking up my packet was super easy and I wandered around the expo before heading out to the meet. I was there less than 10 minutes before I spent money at the Lorna Jane booth. Oops, but since that was the only thing I bought, I think I showed restraint!
The meet up was outside and it was so damn windy, I thought we were going to blow away. It was nice catching up with the repeat ambassadors from last year and meeting the new ones. A few of them I had been trying to meet since the Ventura half. It was so windy and cold that after chatting, getting our shirts and taking some pics, we all scattered to do our own thing. I headed home to rest a bit and figure out food. I had been having a mental struggle all week, going back and forth between following my new diet rules or following conventional running wisdom. Spoiler- I chose wrong.
Sunday was supposed to dawn cold and windy, so I tried to prepare for that. I didn’t feel like I got enough sleep and my stomach was cranky but neither of those are new things on race morning so I didn’t pay too much attention. My mom was dropping me off so I didn’t have to catch the 4am bus to the start. I got to the start with 15 minutes to spare so I figured I would hit the port-a-potty line just to be sure. The lines were huge. By the time I got out of there, they had moved the corrals up to the start line, oops.
Miles 1-5- 9:25, 9:14, 9:20, 9:36, 8:31
The whistle blew and we were off- sort of. I ended up starting behind the 2:45 pacer. Rutro. My fault but the first mile and a half were spent bobbing and weaving. I dropped the 2:45, 2:30, and 2:15 pace groups when I decided I just needed to run my own race and not worry about catching the 2:00 pace group. In one way it was freeing not having to worry about keeping them in sight. It meant I had to pace myself and while I knew breaking 2:00 was unlikely, I was feeling strong and thought I could PR- sub 2:05.
We hit the first of the long hills and I still felt good going up. Last year at this time I was already sucking air and tiring out. Thanks to all the weaving I did at the start, my Garmin and the mile markers didn’t match so I just checked my total time at each of the course markers. I was feeling pretty good as we the flat section before turning up another long climb.
Miles 6-8- 9:36, 11:25, 9:29
About a 1/4 mile into 6, my stomach started to make itself known. I began to wonder if I was going to have an issue. But wasn’t even the biggest thing to happen that mile. Maybe it’s because I was focused intently on telling myself I was fine and not paying attention to much else, but the next thing I knew, I was airborne.
It’s still kind of blur but I remember hitting the ground and rolling. My water bottle ended up about 10 feet down the course. WTF?! About 5 different runners stopped their race to come help me. Some helped me up while one chased down my bottle. A bike medic was there in seconds. I was kind of in shock/ denial, so I honestly don’t remember if I thanked all of them. I posted a big shout out to them on my Facebook page but I feel bad if I didn’t say it right then. 😔 I assured the medic I was ok and kept running. It was few yards later that it all set in and then I was trying to talk myself out of hyperventilating myself into an asthma attack.
Eventually I calmed down and I was still on track to PR. Halfway through mile 6, my stomach let me know that I needed a bathroom and I needed it now. There were no bathrooms at that point. I had to start walking because it was either walk or embarrass myself. I walked the rest of 7 just taking deep breaths. I felt a little better by the turn around so I picked up the pace. I said goodbye to the PR hope but knew I could still beat last years course time even with the fall and the walking. At mile 8, I was 4 minutes ahead of a last year.
Miles 9-11- 13:01, 9:48, 9:54
Around 8.5, my stomach reared again. I was near an aid station so I looked for bathrooms. I finally found them off to side and back away and bolted for them. Not sure if I looked urgent or if he did this the whole race but there was a volunteer who directed me to which port-a-potty was open. Thank you!
After that snafu, I was back running but had slowed a bit. Shockingly enough I was still on track to beat last year’s time. I just had to stay under a 10:00 pace the last few miles. My legs felt strong; bruised and bleeding but strong. My mental game still felt on point as well. Despite the morning so far, I wasn’t defeated and I wasn’t giving up. We had a nice decline portion before we went from the roads to the railroad trail. I knew there was the suspension bridge and a few streets left before the finish line and I was still hopeful.
Miles 12-13.1- 10:37, 12:49, 2:17
Mile 12 slowed some towards the end thanks to my stomach again but I thought if I could a 9:00 for the last mile and sprint the .1, I could still pull this off. I shouldn’t have gotten cocky. My stomach threw a fit in the last mile. Why are there no bathrooms at mile 12.5?! Ha! There were 2 times I had to get myself completely off the road, out of the way and just stand still, focusing on deep breathing and calming my stomach. My fastest pace was now a jog but I was mostly walking.
It felt like more than 100 people passed me in that last mile. Including the 2:15 pace group. The last .25 mile is a paved path that goes around the pavilion at the Madonna Inn and I had been looking forward to sprinting it. I walked 90% of it before jogging across the finish line. Half marathon#12 done.
Once I crossed the finish line and got my medal- which I feel like I fought for!- I was looking for a bathroom. I had wanted a finishers picture but the line had about 50 people in it and that was just not going to happen. I also should have stopped at the medical tent but I had other priorities. Plus, my arm warmers had done a pretty good job of drying the blood.
My mother found me fairly quickly and we headed for the back of the pavilion where the port-a-potties and UPS trucks (bag check) were. After that, I made it as far as the grass by the trucks and just tried to calm my rolling stomach. I wanted to try to find some of the ambassadors and see how they did but was just not up to moving. I had eaten nothing and had drank very little throughout the race as I knew my stomach was just not up to it. I let myself have a bit of the chocolate strawberry protein smoothie that Jamba Juice made for the finishers. It tasted like a Frosty. 🙂 We ended up leaving not long after that, I was feeling rough again and couldn’t handle another port-a-potty, so we headed to the McDonald’s down the street. Real bathrooms and I got an ice-cold Diet Coke. Oh the magical healing properties. 🙂
Like I said at the beginning, I am not mad or even sad. There were quite a few times throughout the race where I could have said screw it and bailed or phoned it in (see Ventura) but I knew I was stronger than that. My legs were feeling fresh, tumble not withstanding, my head was in the game and I was determined. I think that’s one thing that came out of my McMillan training plan that I wasn’t anticipating- the confidence. I knew I could I do it, and I still honestly believe that if it hadn’t been for my stupid stomach, I would have PR’d, hills, fall, headwind and all. Yes, the wind had picked up and was pretty bad but by that point it was the least of my concerns. 🙂 So with everything that race morning threw at me, I am damn proud of that 2:15.I love this race. I love the course and the crowds. The expo is still my favorite and the volunteers and staff are amazing. Seriously, I think the bike medic was there before I stopped rolling. I am already looking forward to next year.
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