Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Akron Mary Part II: 10.7 to the Finish

My leg began when I heard Solar Squirrel yelling for me as I started out, but I couldn't see her so I threw my right arm up and waved in acknowledgement. I was furiously focused on the 3:20:00 pacer up ahead.

I had split my watch when Twizzlemiester gave me the bracelet and I came through the first .5 in 3:29 and I knew that was way too fast for me. So I split my watch and tapped the running brakes. I tried to tell myself to run easy and if need be admire the scenery a little as I ran through Sand Run. As I looked around, I did not recognize anything, even though I had run the full marathon only 2 years ago. Mile 17 went by at 7:32. It hadn't felt that fast, but I had been in the shade and it was still early. I hoped I wouldn't pay for this. I decided to tap my running brakes a little more for the next mile.

I could see the 3:20:00 pacer had managed to put some distance between us and I knew I had slowed. Mile 18 7:58. Ohhh!!! I hadn't wanted to slow THAT much. I had 8.2 miles to go and I needed to get it together, not just for me, but for my teammate. Mile 19 7:46. I could tell I was starting to settle in and my hamstring was at bay. The twinge I had felt earlier was non-existent. Somewhere around this time I had crossed the final relay point for the 5-person and left the park. I like nature, but in a race it does me no-good. I like crowds, noise and especially hype. As I have said before, I am an emotional runner and coming into the neighborhoods with the crowds of people cheering and screaming gave me a push to stay on target. I saw salty hanging out at the last relay point waiting for the 4th Speed Bump to arrive and heard her cheer for me as I ran by (thank you). I had my sunglasses on, but was scanning the crowds of people, feeding off their energy and pushing forward. I popped a gel and a little after that, I hit Mile 20 7:43

Now, this is where I faltered, became distracted and lost a little focus. I had just come through an aid station when a cyclist rode up next to me. I thought he would continue on by, but that wasn't the case. I knew he was part of the race because he was wearing an official's vest, but I didn't know why he was with me. He then began talking to me, literally in the middle of my race!!!

Cyclist: "Are you in the women's 2-person relay?"

Me: "Yes" (Why was he bothering me? I had a race to run.)

Cyclist: "I am going to ride next to you, tell you when a turn is coming up and give you the inside line."

Me: "Okay....Why?"

Cyclist: "Because you are the 2-person women's leader."

Me: "Really? I AM!!"

Cyclist: "Well, right now. We can talk or move in silence, whatever you like. I am just here to monitor you."

And that was the last of the conversation. I was dumbfounded. Twizzlemeister had really set me up to look pretty. I was shocked and nervous. I did not want to blow this for us. Mile 21 7:43.

As I ran on I noticed how distracting this guy was to me. Riding next to me, I could see him change gears, or change his cadence which indicated a speed change or lack there of on my part. It was unnerving. I was letting it get to me. On top of everything else, my stomach had started acting up. I wanted to hurl, uugghh!! I hit "Heartrate Hill" and went up it easy trying to keep my stomach from getting any worse. I knew an increase in my heartrate would make the nausea worse. My time for mile 22 reflected the ease 8:04. Sh#t! I was going to have to run harder and take the chance of puking on myself like it or not.

We entered Stan Hywett and looped aroud. I saw JC, running just ahead. She was in the full so I yelled some words of encouragement to her. She waved and smiled, but her form had definitely faltered from when I had seen here in the earlier miles.

As we left Stan Hywett, a woman wearing 2-person relay bibs passed me and without out even a nod or a good-bye so did my cyclist. He began riding by her and all I could think of was..."you had the lead handed to you and now you blew it! Idiot!!" I was not going to give it up without a fight. She wasn't running that much faster than me and I was going to do my damndest to stay with her. Maybe, she was running too hard and would falter at the end and I too would be hurting, but just maybe I could get her. I picked up my speed and went after her. Today was not going to be easy, but I wasn't going to hand over the lead. Mile 23 7:38.

That had hurt. My stomach had gotten 10 times worse at that point. I had resorted to taking in only water at that point, no more gels or sport drink. I had also grabbed an extra cup at each aid station to pour on my head. The humidity was taking its toll on my body. I had to stay cool.

But then, the cyclist dropped back!! What!?!?! He explained she was in the mixed relay. Oh God! I had hurt myself for nothing. Well, not nothing, but I took that as a warning that there were other women behind me and if I slowed they would get me. I caught JC at this point and as I ran by told her to keep going and hold on. Mile 24 was 7:57.

I made the turn onto market street and new I was in the home stretch. People were screaming and cheering yelling "go girl" and "get 'em girl" and "you look great." I was 2.2 from the finish. I was overdue. It was time to go. I picked it up. I began thinking about how this marathon had hurt me 2 years ago and I picked it up even more. I was not to be stopped this time. Mile 25 7:12.

I was excited. The anticipation that the finish was less than 10 minutes away was all I could think about now. I made the turn down Main Street and remembered someone saying how you don't realize how far down you have to run to get to the stadium. I didn't care. We had done it. I knew no one would out run me to the finsih from here on in. I could see the crowd ahead blocking main street. My cyclist turned to say it was a pleasure running with me this was where he got off as they would not allow him to ride into the stadium with me. He asked for my name and our team name. I smiled and said, "it's Elizabeth" and our team name is "We Got the Runs!!" He said he would look for us in the paper tomorrow. I thanked him and with that I ran the last block alone. I was looking for Twizzlemeister so we could finish together at this point and then I saw her. She was walking with my other roommate and she was in a sweatshirt and pants!! I slowed and yelled at her "let's go!!" She brushed me off and said "nah" and to keep running and finish it. I must admit I was a tad disappointed. I picked it back up and ran down the little hill before turning into the stadium.

It was different than 2 years ago. Back then we had run down the side by right field, but as I entered the stadium this time there was the FINISH banner straight ahead down center field (this was way cooler). I ran in and immediately heard party boy yell "Yeah, Beth!!!" over the thousands of other cheering spectators. I smiled and saw the clock was at 3:21:xx. We had done it! We had won!! I started screaming "YAY!!!" and pumping my arm in the air all the way down. I even slowed a bit to take in the moment of what a great experience it had been to do this with my roommate. It was an amazing day. We had came, saw and conquered in 3:21:02 and I couldn't have done it without the Twizzlemeister :)

1 comment:

solarsquirrel said...

I LOVE that finish photo! I'm so impressed with you guys!!! HARD CORE!! You have really gotten fast - keep it up.