This is the finale in a 4-part series. I’m glad you’re still with me!
I kept the title of this post simple, but considered several alternatives as I was writing it:
Welcome to My Pain Cave
When A Plan Falls Apart
Kill Me Now
After a surprisingly good swim and stellar bike, I just needed to tough it out for ~2 more hours and I’d have this race in the bag. I was easily on track to meet my stretch goal of finishing in 5:45 and I was ready to get it over with. I hoped my legs would to spring to life for the run as they had for the bike, but I had my doubts.
The run course is an out-and-back with a dirty trick thrown in. We ran out 4.35 miles and then had to run all the way back through the transition area only to turn around and go back out on the same course for 2.2 more miles. That turnaround was at the top of the first big hill, naturally. We covered the same ground four times before finally crossing the damn finish line. It seems very hilly when you’re running it, but my Garmin data says it has only 338 feet of elevation gain. By contrast, the Wildflower 10K course has 556 feet of elevation gain in half the distance.
I suppose the run setup is good from a spectator’s standpoint because they get to see us run by so many times. For the athletes, it is mentally defeating. In fact, I will never do Barb’s Race again for this very reason. I will do Vineman 70.3 instead because that run course is one big loop.
My legs were cramping from the get-go. I’ve never had my quads cramp like that and it concerned me. My stomach was also cramping and I hoped the PREV I chugged in T2 would kick in (it did). I stopped to use the bathroom at Mile 2 just to make sure my cramps weren’t going to produce anything, and to pee. It was touch and go on if my legs would work after sitting down… I lost 90 seconds there, but the peace of mind was worth it.
I walked a lot. I’m actually surprised my average pace (10:35) is not slower because I walked so much. I obviously don’t know how to pace myself. When I was running, I was running fast. Too fast. So then I’d have to walk more. There were a lot of people walking and that “everyone’s doing it” dynamic is dangerous. When you get to this part of the race, the mental game really begins. Your body will do what you need it to do, but your mind has to go there first.
Because we were going back and forth so many times, it did give me an opportunity to see Caryn a few times. I kept hoping she’d catch me on the run so we could commiserate on how horribly it was going… But she was 12 minutes behind me out of the water and 10 minutes behind me on the bike, so running/walking together was not going to happen.
The volunteers at the water stations were fantastic. Everyone was very encouraging and we were best friends by the time I passed by the fourth time… I kept my sense of humor and made jokes about walking and asking if anyone had beer instead of Gatorade. I had a couple of glasses of Coke on my last loop through and it tasted surprisingly good. Usually it’s too sweet for me, but the carbonation and sugar hit the spot.
I got to 12.1 miles and looked at my Timex. If I could run ONE WHOLE MILE in 12 minutes, I could finish the race in under 6 hours. I knew my cheering section was right around the corner. Right around the corner from them was the finish line.
I finished in 6:02:15.
WTF happened?? I mentally broke down. That’s all there is to it. My usual run pace is somewhere in the 8:30 range and I couldn’t even shuffle at 12 minute pace for one mile?! This is infuriating to me and explains the overall race disappointment that I have felt all week. My official run time was 2:22:01. *sigh*
Greg ran alongside me for the last quarter-mile or so and was with me at the finish line. What a guy! Immediately after crossing the finish line, my left foot and toes cramped up with charlie horses and I hobbled over to a shady area to sit down. I took my shoes off and have vowed to never wear them for anything longer than a 10K. In addition to the cramping, the bottoms of my feet were burning for the last half of the run and the tops felt like they were bruising.
My cheering section and coach came over to congratulate me. I shed a few tears about Argus and made for the food tent. It wasn’t long before Caryn was crossing the finish line and we could compare notes.
All in all, I raced well. There were a lot of lessons that I learned and will apply to my training for next year. In the meantime, I’m basking in the off-season and not feeling even the least bit guilty!
I’ve posted all pictures on my Flickr site. Thanks for coming along on the journey!