Fun Fact: This website is considered "adult content" at my work. I used to post on the Loop semi-regularly but then IT blocked the site, and well excuses...and here we are.
Sunday: I sleep just ok, alarm goes off at 4:30 and I’m out the door at 4:40. It’s a 2 min walk to the buses which don’t start loading until 5am. I am near the front so get on one of the first buses, score! We don’t arrive at the Start until 6am. We can stay on the buses which is great to stay warm. It’s probably in the 30’s but I dressed appropriately. I get off the bus to find a POP around 6:10 and am thrilled at what I see: POPs as far as the eye can see! I’ve never seen so many. The first 50 have lines but you just have to go a little farther and there’s no lines. Awesome! I get back on the bus and relax for awhile. Around 6:40, I start getting ready (race starts at 7am) when I realize I should hit the POP once more time. When I hop off the bus there are lots of people everywhere and I freak out that I’ve waited too long! I head to gear check, keeping just my gloves and a throwaway long sleeve, then jog past 100 POPs with lines until I finally get to where there aren’t any. I’m in there while I can hear the national anthem and again freak out a little. I jog back to the start line (there were 2 corrals: one for sub 4 h and one for >4 h) which gives me plenty of time to work my way up to the 4:20 pacers and still have about 10 min to spare. I wore tank, shorts and arm sleeves plus gloves which is perfect. Coach gave me a rundown of the course a few days earlier but I basically forget it all and just remember: hill right after the start, rolling hills, biggest hill at Mile 11, no hills last 8 miles.
I kept waiting for the biggest hill around Mile 11 but either Coach had mis-remembered (she’s run CIM twice though) or hitting the incline at my MP vs hers makes a big difference because I never found the hill. I wasn’t doing any math about time goals, just clicking off the miles and trying not to be too fast in the first half. I hit the 13.1 mat just as my watch showed 2:06:00 and this was the only time I thought about where I might be for a finish time. “Woah, that’s better than I expected” is all I thought.
Lots of interesting sights along the course including a golden retriever rescue group with a dozen of their cutest members, lots of kids to high five, and plenty of fruit, donuts, beer and tissues (tissues! I haven’t been a cold weather runner in ages and this was a godsend!)
It was around Mile 18 that I was still feeling great except starting to notice my quads being sore. I kept thinking “tomorrow will suck but not today”. I ran through The Wall at Mile 20 feeling strong and in control, but also ready to be done soon. My nutrition was great and I really felt strong for the entire race. I was drinking some water at most of the water stops and taking a Clif Blok energy chew with caffeine at all the odd miles. My only split that didn’t start with a 9 (mile 24) was because I grabbed an orange slice and walked a few steps to eat it. Really for the final 10K, I felt good endurance-wise, but my legs were protesting, feeling pretty stiff and sore.
Right at the Mile 25 marker, my watch display showed “low battery”, OH NO! I never let my watch get that low so I had no idea if that meant it would turn off in 1 minute or 30 minutes. The warning blocked the other numbers on my watch and I was afraid that if I tried to scroll past it, that would use too much battery and it would die even quicker. I know, I’m such a dork. But I didn’t touch any buttons and actually ran a bit faster, hoping I could finish before it died! I only saw my family when I passed our hotel so about 0.3 miles before the finish which was great. I told DH it wasn’t worth the hassle to Uber to earlier spots on the course, I’m used to running alone anyways.
4:13:00 !!! A 25 minute-freaking PR! When I visualized a best case scenario in my head, it was running 4:15 so this was awesome. If I didn’t have “low battery” staring back at me from the watch and realized I needed to run one second faster, I could have but oh well. Super happy with training and execution of this race. For perspective, when I first started working with my coach, I ran a 10K where my goal pace was 9:55 pace and here I am, about 2.5 years later running 26 miles at 9:40 pace. Crazy.