My alarm was set to go off at 7:00 am and 7:05 am. I was lying awake at 5:56 am. After lying there for a half hour, I got up, ate a granola bar, went to the bathroom (not to be TMI but it was the kind of bathroom trip you dream of the morning of a race…let’s just say the pipes were no longer blocked), and took a shower.
Then I ate my race day breakfast: plain oatmeal and cut up banana with cold soymilk. Before consuming this I drank my daily dose of warm lemon water. It’s better to be precautious when it comes to bowel related routines. Even though I had already cleared my pipes, you never knew what else might be lurking.
As I sat there staring at my cold oatmeal, I realized I hadn’t put any cinnamon on top. Do I eat cinnamon on my oatmeal on race day? It’s supposedly supposed to get your metabolism going but is that what I wanted?
I decided a little bit wouldn’t hurt (plus it would add some flavor to the cold, soggy mess that was supposed to be my breakfast).
After I ate my breakfast and started to get ready, I could feel my nerves mounting. All week I hadn’t been nervous. I was too busy and there were too many other work stresses to worry about.
But this morning? I made no less then 8 trips to the bathroom at home and actually WENT to the bathroom every time. No small feat.
I was dressed. I had my fuel packed in a ziplock bag. I had back up headphone wires. I had done a temperature outfit check. I had body glided my butt.
And I was turning small circles in my kitchen instead of putting on my sneakers, paralyzed with fear.
I knocked myself out of it by focusing on concrete things: going to the bathroom one last time before leaving the house.
My sister and I ran up the street beginning our 2.3 mile warm up to the race start.
My nerves were peaking. I was freaking. I could not form a coherent sentence. I replied to Meaghan’s commentary with “Yes” and “Mm Hmm”.
But the more we ran, the nerves started to dissipate. I reminded myself that this was really just a speed workout in the middle of a 19 mile long run. That this was just one run, one race out of many I will run this year and my life. I knew I needed to race smart. I knew I wanted to race with Meaghan because I know when we help pace each other I run smarter races.
Before the race I went to the bathroom no less then 7 more times. The main area before the race the race was crowded and it was driving me nuts. It was not helping with my anxiety.
Thankfully there was a little room where they were setting up time tracking and we hid out there, venturing out for bathroom breaks.
Seven minutes before the race Meaghan laid down the law: we had to go outside to the 30ish degree weather or else our bodies wouldn’t be acclimated at race start.
Standing at the start bouncing from one foot to the other to keep warm the nerves were gone. Vanished. This was it. The race was beginning. Honestly I was less nervous about hitting my time goals or the race itself then having to go the bathroom during it. Kinda weird what we get freaked out about, right?
The race started and the first mile you really don’t have control over your pace because of the crowd. We ended up having around an 8:45 split for mile 1 which was right on target.
And after that? It was great. Honestly. Just amazing. We ran largely by feel checking in on our times but not freaking out about them. We went slow on the uphills (and oh were there uphills!) using Meaghan’s trick of low arms, my trick of small steps and reminding ourselves to run our own race. Don’t worry that someone is passing you on the uphill. Just make sure your not burning up too much energy because you still have the race ahead of you!
We had a piece of Run Gum at mile 2ish then I started to eat my clif bar around mile 7-8.
When we got to 9, my mind was blown. How were we ALREADY at 9?? That meant there were only 4 miles left!! It was actually kind of sad … Like I wasn’t appreciating it enough? I know, wacky.
At the three water and Gatorade stations we did full stops, drank our Gatorade then kept running. This way we consumed more fluid, we weren’t spilling it ourselves (okay well I’m a klutz so I spilled a little bit) and we really didn’t lose any time. The people who flew by us at the water stops? We caught up with AND ended up passing them by the end. Thanks Meagh for the awesome race strategy.
At the last water stop, it hit me. We were at around 11.5 and THIS WAS IT! This was the race. Less than 2 miles, probably just 15 minutes. And I thought to myself: I can do anything for 15 minutes.
And I did. I pushed the pace and when I was passing people ON AN UPHILL? AT THE END OF THE RACE? Nothing feels quite so awesome as that.
I was worried at mile 10 about hitting the pain place but it wasn’t until mile 12.9ish when I could see the finish line ahead and I knew it was all or nothing, that the pain hit.
As I ran toward the finish, I tried to keep my posture straight (having a flashback to last years photo where I more or less looked liked I was collapsing as I crossed the finish line) and the pain washed over me, my muscles clenched.
Then I crossed the finish line.
1 hour 52 minutes and 52 seconds later, I did it.
I didn’t have to go to the bathroom. I ran 11.5 miles with Meaghan. I broke my PR (okay, smashed it). I met my C and B goals. And my A goal was crazy impossible and I wouldn’t have been able to walk or race a marathon in 6 weeks if I had hit it. I actually ate some of the vegan pasta at the awesome post race lunch. I did not get a massage though.
Huge thank you to Oiselle because my long sleeved single helped me fly and kept me the PERFECT temperature. Love you OISELLE!! (Plus you added more items to the Factory Sale!!).
And HUGE thanks to Rick, the race director. Your enthusiasm, your race organization, your just pure AWESOME-ness made me feel like an Olympian as I crossed the finish line. Thank you.
And the biggest thank you goes to my sister.
Meaghan, you are the Shalane to my Kara (circa 2012) and the Shalane to my Amy (circa 2016). You push me, you hold me accountable, you made me run a smart race, you let me draft off your paces and don’t tell me “It’s a road!” (Okay maybe sometimes you do. But you’re joking. I think.)
Without you, I wouldn’t run like I do. I wouldn’t race like I do. And without you I certainly wouldn’t have anyone to hug with pure excitement when we both crush our PRs (well I could hug some strangers but that would be weird).