As the crowd crossed the start line, I was confused as to where it actually was....I started my Garmin when I noticed most people starting theirs. Good enough right? The first mile or two was a slight downhill, and I remember thinking that this might turn out to be a VERY bad day. My stomach started growling during the first mile, I had to pee already, and at one point I felt really hot. It was a warm humid feeling, like there was heat rising form the street...weird. I tried to keep my breathing under control, I reminded myself that I had three gus and there would be bathrooms all along the course, and I decided to take the first five miles easy. I tried to look around and take it all in, listen to the chatting around me and just chill out.
We jumped onto a two lane road at around mile 3 that reminded me of a park service road. It had rumble strips running down the middle of it which kind of sucked. At mile 4 I took my first gu. It was a little earlier than intended, but my stomach was screaming at me, and since I didn't know exactly where the water stations would be I took it while running, without water...A FIRST. I noticed that my mile split as a little slow and decided that I couldn't let the congestion of being on this narrow road get me stuck behind people. I did a bit of dancing around and short sprints to squeeze between runners. It was a fun game I played to keep things interesting and my pace where I wanted it to be. As you can imagine the water stations were a complete cluster, but to prevent the dehydration fail after Martian I had decided to stop at every single one of them. I had a big day ahead and I couldn't risk it to save a few seconds. At this point I stalked every row of porto johns that would come into view on the off chance I could catch a break and be blessed with one without a line. The sides of the road didn't have a shoulder, and I noticed that there was thick mud to jump through to get to them so I said "forget that" and kept trucking. I did contemplate the fact that so many men were just pissing at every set of johns along the way. What's the point I thought....if you're willing to piss anywhere...why wait til you see a line, why not just go when you had the urge a half mile ago. I think I was just severely jealous. Two ladies during this time came along side of me and asked about my ribbons and what they represented. I had to keep my composure to explain that I was honoring the loved one's affected by cancer who donated to my running team through ACS. They congratulated me and we ran together for awhile. Her PR time for this race was 1:38 or something crazy. She pointed out that was more than 15 years ago, and this was one of her favorite courses and makes a point to do it every year. Bravo to that!!
Right at mile five I looked to my left and saw a little girl holding a sign that read something like "My Mom is HOT" and immediately following it a random sign propped up on a camping chair with "JEN BRANCH" on it. I pretty much thought I was hallucinating and practically bent backwards to get a second peek. I also saw the name of a friend of mine and thought, "Could it be...My beloved Red and Spike are here somewhere?" I'm not going to lie, the thought made getting to the finish line that much sweeter...even thought the chances were next to impossible.
Splits: 9:34, 9:21, 9:19, 9:28, 9:18
At Mile six I was feeling really great, settling into a comfortable pace and trying to keep the effort consistent even with the continued congestion. Coming up to the gu station, which I didn't need, I felt sad for everyone else, as I watched a volunteer hand out the very last one they had. I just can't understand how on earth they ran out with only half of the runners passing...bummer. We came up a upon a huge crowd of cheerleaders and football players and I had a blast giving "hi-fives" and "Woots" I also noticed a pair of ladies in front of me with really tight silver and black zebra print hot pants on. They ran by two little old ladies who gasped in horror at the sight...I too was a little grossed out and decided that I needed to pass them with the quickness! As we crossed the river and started heading back, I was on top of the world. The spectators were lined along the road, which was now wider and more open. I noticed a lady, a bit older than myself, come along side of me and she just looked really experienced and strong. I decided to try my best to stick with her...she became my official rabbit. It didn't take long to realize that the challenging rolling hills were upon us. The spectators thinned out and the climbs became quiet as people were concentrating and working to keep pace. Did I mention we were now running into the wind too. I was so glad that I had incorporated some hills into my last two long training runs, because I was able to shorten my stride and stick with them pretty easily. I was passing people left and right, even my rabbit on the uphills, but she would consistently catch back up with me on the downhills. I gu'dButterworth and the most challenging hill awaits. The damn thing lasted forever, but I was really excited to see a sea of spectators to fill me up with encouragements and praise. I was having a hard time NOT peeing my pants up this hill, and I contemplated just doing it since the lines to the porto johns had been ridiculous up until this point. I mean, how long can you realistically force yourself to hold urine...isn't 10 miles long enough. Well it just so happened that a random porto john on Butterworth came into view, and as I approached it a dude flew out of it...and there wasn't a line. I had to stop myself in my tracks to jump in before anyone else. I remember in my mind bidding farewell to my rabbit...and thanked her for her help pushing me up until this point. I felt like a million bucks and was determined to make up lost time. Five to go, lets do this!!
Splits: 9:09, 9:04, 9:14, 9:15, 10:02
Most of Mile 11 seemed to be a gentle downhill, which was much needed at this point. I noticed that I was coming up upon and passing people I had once passed on the way to Butterworth St. I had a little chat with myself that if I just kept a good effort on the nice downhill we were enjoying then maybe, just maybe I would catch up to my rabbit after all. Gu number three went down with ease again...three for three felt really good. Another sizable hill approached, and I remember looking up ahead and seeing that indeed she was within sight. At the very top of that hill, a wonderful man was standing on the side yelling "You're done with the hills...it's flat to the finish." I was so relieved...and it seemed so were many other runners as we ALL let out huge sighs. I again was feeling great and in what seemed like a minute or two I did indeed catch my rabbit. I checked my pace and realized we had 5k to go...it was time to push even harder. I wanted to see 8's...even if it was 8:59. I passed my rabbit and started to pay attention to tangents as were entering neighborhoods with lots of turns. I felt like I was passing a bunch of people....the crowds were getting thicker. Another lady came up next to me and asked about my ribbons and I had a hard time talking to her. She couldn't hear me very well so I turned a bit to explain. She complimented me and I was back to focusing on the last 2 miles. As I passed the 14 mile mark I was astounded at how good my body felt with entering uncharted territory. In fact...I kept thinking "I'm running the race of my life." In true fashion, it was just my luck that at exactly 14.6 miles...when we start a decent and noticeable uphill for the last mile, the ever so frightening twinge of my left ITB decided to be present. Was is all the turns...or how I adjusted my stride to chat with that lady? I don't know exactly, but all I could think was "NOT now, DON'T mess with me! It kept getting worse, Uh Oh!
Splits 9:11, 9:15, 8:58, 9:06, 9:16
The final .5
As silly as the girl thought it was that I would stop for a cup of water at the the 15 mile mark....as she yelled "You only have a half mile to go!"....I had to walk for a few seconds and assess the severity of my ITB's wonkiness. I had to keep myself from concentrating on that dreadful day that Jeff had to come get me less than a half mile from home last summer, when my ITB took me out of all of my intended fall races. It seemed to calm down with only a few steps so I picked it back up. Now anyone who has run this race knows, the finish is cruel with it's uphill climb up Ottowa St. I was working so hard to keep a steady shuffle and to tell you the truth...had the deafening cheers from the spectators on both sides of the street not been there, I'm not sure I wouldn't have finished walking. I wanted to cry my leg felt so unstable...and I literally limped across the finish.
Split: Garmin reads (.69) @ 9:25
Official Time 2:25:57 for 15.5 @ 9:24P
I can not believe how long that corral was as it seemed like another mile was added. I turned around and waited for a few minutes to catch up with my rabbit and thank her for the push, but was unsuccessful in locating her. Who knows, she could have passed me in that last bit. If so, kudos to her! Within a minute or two I heard Leah and Lainie screaming their heads off for me. They both kicked some major ass that day! I grabbed a couple rolls and some chocolate mile...the best I've ever tasted, and headed to the DetermiNation tent to regroup and head out.
|We Did It!!|
We snapped a quick pic and took off for our cars. I was already running late heading to meet my Cleveland crew so we walked/shuffled/hobbled our way as fast as we could. I was so glad that my ITB calmed down and didn't stiffen up, that walk did me wonders I think. I got on the highway pretty easily and called Red to tell her I was going to speed my way to meet her! I had a wonderful time reflecting on every inch of that course. I was so proud of myself...for ALL that race represented....What an amazing Day!
See You Next Year River Bank Run....I WILL be making this a yearly tradition!!