Me 1: "How are you feeling?"
Me 2: "Ok, I am fine."
Me 1: "Do you think you should slow down? You don't want to blow yourself up."
Me 2: "Yea, but I am having a hard time, what else can I focus on?"
Me 1: "Well, have you checked your breathing? Are your arms relaxed? Hey, there is a an unused tampon on the road!!"
Me 2: "Really?!? Weird Dude."
Me 1: "So, how are you feeling?"
Me 2: "Fine, shut the hell up and let me focus on running!!!"
Me 1: "Hey look there are some rolling hills ahead!"
Me 2: "Great, here we go, now shut up I have to foucs."
And that was the first 4 miles of the first loop for me. I couldn't help but smile at the insanity of the "self-talk" and wondered if other runners do the same. The 5th mile was flat and fast. I came through the first loop in 42:43. I was happy with that time, but I was definately wondering if negative splits were in my future as I was running faster than planned.
I started the 2nd loop feeling a little more confident. I was warmed up and knowing the course that lay ahead added to my ease. It was in this loop that I met my nemesis. There was a lady that passed me on the backside and immediately began pulling away. I let her go, but did overhear her say hi to someone and tell them she was getting ready for Boston. That clinched it for me. I was not going to be able to beat her, so I resorted to my own thoughts again. As I came around to the end of my 2nd loop I heard people shouting "Go Achilles!" and "888 is Great!" I was psyched. I wanted to break 2:40:00 today so I knew I had to come through sub-2:00:00. My second 5-mile split was 42:06. I was in the negative. I came through at 1:56:12 and my garmin said 14 miles! The course was long, but I was still on pace to break 2:40:00 and as an added bonus I saw that woman was right in front of me.
I had planned on running the last 4.6 miles with everything I had left in the tank. I changed my mind and decided it was now or never. I used the energy from the crowd to push me forward. I passed the woman easily and pushed myself up the hill. I was feeling great. I knew I could blow up and lose it at any second, but I was not the same hesitant, too tired and can barely make it to the finish runner that I had been last year. I was strong and kept telling myself "I was a machine, I would feel NO pain. I would not stop. I would not give up!!!" I surged forward and continued to put as much space as possible between me and that girl in hopes of breaking her from thinking she could run me down and beat me.
I made it to the back side with about 2.5-3.0 miles to go when it happened. My pace had been 8:00-8:10 for the last loop and my quad had known that. It seized up suddenly and I felt a sharp pain!! OUCH and F*CK!!! No, no, no, not again. I had seized up at Akron too a few years ago because I had not taken enough aid and was exhausted. I immediately grabbed a PowerGel and sucked it down. I cut my stride to short choppy steps and could feel my pace slow. There was a moment during that time when I could feel a sort of desperate need for the finish to be around the corner, or a second wind anything, hell even a tailwind, but at 3 miles from the finish there was no help. I slowed a little more. I was calm but angry. I was trying to talk myself back up into relaxing and giving the gel a minute to work. I would be okay and I would finsih this race. But I was mad and that anger was growing. I had trained for this. I wasn't going to let a cramp take me down...not on this day. I could hear that ladies footsteps coming from behind me to my dismay. She was going to catch me after all. I tried to tell myself this is a "B" race and it's okay, but in my heart every race I do is an "A" race and I always want to do my best. The next 2 miles were 8:36 & 8:28. I had slowed, but not as much as I had thought. Renewed with hope I pushed onward. I made the turn for the last straight-a-way. I picked up my pace and opened my stride as best I could. Every step was uncomfortable and the fluidity in my stride was gone. My breathing was ragged and my airway was closing as my asthma and reverse airway issue was acting up. I could see the finish banner and I hammered it home hoping to hold off the woman I could hear oh, so close coming up on me like a bat out of hell. I would have let her beat me if it had been over a mile out, but no one is gonna run me down at the finish without killing themselves! I hit the finsih in 2:38:15. Final split was 42:03, I had negative split every frickin' 5-mile loop just as planned. I was exhausted, but I refused to portray it. I smiled threw my head back and laughed while pumping my fist in victory.
I grabbed some food and water along with my finisher's medal before heading to the car to drop off my stuff and head back out for a "walking/slow jog" cool down and to cheer MN into the finish. I was elated to see she looked strong coming into the finish and was easily going to break her goal time. YAY, for her!! Way to GO!!!
I know we as runners get so caught up in comparing ourselves to others and the time on the clock, but in my heart of hearts I know that's not what counts and I believe Churchill sums up my true reason for running with this quote....
"Succes is not Final, Failure is not Fatal: It is the Courage to Continue that Counts"
And to all my running buddies: Don't be afraid you have that courage, as I have learned it from so many of you :)
I had broken my goal time for the year by 35 seconds, won my age group and as a bonus I held off that girl, who finished just 3 seconds behind me. Hell yeah!! Just like I said in the beginning..."it's on like Donkey Kong!!"