On Friday night, I went to bed scared and nervous. Nervous that I was not going to be able to do 16, let alone do it all by myself, forget the idea of making it 13 + a 5K. Nervous, that I had, had a full week of running and was not going to have 16 in me. Nervous, that my fingers were going to freeze off.
Well, nervous or not, Saturday morning I bounded out of bet, running late because my alarm failed to go off costing me 15 precious minutes (seriously, I have my routine down to a science, I NEED those 15 minutes, but a tale for another day). Aaron dropped me off at the trail and the plan was I would run the first mile and he would wait for me for that mile and then I would decide whether I needed the gloves or not and then he would leave me and I would be on my own until Mile 13 where I would see him at the race. After the first mile, I knew I needed my massively, oversized but wonderful gloves (I promise to post on this later too). I also told him that my Garmin was insane, apparently it said I was going 9:00 min miles but it felt faster. Not good sign.
No matter, I was off. I put on my book on tape (soo amazing) and began to run. Somewhere into the second or third mile, I felt the need to calm myself down, to remember that I had SIXTEEN to go and not to get fast. So I started saying, yes aloud, to myself, 16 Steph, 16, in hopes of keeping myself going at the right pace. By the time, I hit Mile 6ish and it was time to turn around, I was feeling good. And my mantra continued, I added "Steph's Sweet Sixteen" and then "Steph's Strong Sweet Sixteen" to keep me going. I thought of all of you and how I would write about this and it kept me moving. But something magical happened, with this cold front, came a renewed hope and energy. I was smiling or rather beaming, waving to people and saying hi. I was not out of breath. I was not tired. I felt good.
Soon enough, I was at Mile 12 and headed over to Aaron and the race. As soon as I saw him I gave him a big smile telling him I felt great but still was nervous about the race. I told him even though I felt good, how was I going to speed up after EVEN splitting the past 13. I gave him my gloves and continued to trot around as we had 15 minutes to go. As the time got closer, I ran up to the race area. My cousins were there as I was
Before I knew it, I was standing at the start with about 250 other runners. This was a VERY local race. No time chips or closed roads just stop watches and police patrol. As we waited for the race to start and I did a little "running dance" - e.g., moving side to side - (as the Coach instructed me no down time), I was still unsure of what was to come but I did know I apparently was up against all of the middleschoolers and high schoolers in my town, as they all lined up next to me. C'est la vie.
Check out the woman in the wheelchair getting a good luck kiss! Wow, she is training for Boston, awesome!
Instead, for the first mile or two, I was neck and neck with um a 10 year old and his track coach. The coach was telling the boy how to run the race, how to go out slow, remain steady the next mile and speed up in the last (something my Coach would say is a no-no). He told the boy what the straightest way to go was and offered encouragement. I loved it. And took some of the advice. The worst part was just when I thought I could be entertained by this Coach, he said he would be quiet. AHHHH, seriously?!?! Luckily he was not too quiet.
Meanwhile, back to the race, we had passed Mile 1 in what seemed like no time, despite some little but what seemed like awful hills to me. I was happy to see times like 7:14, 7:05 ?!?! blinking on my Garmin! I will take it, thanks speed workouts!! By Mile 2 though, I was soo ready to be done. Can you blame me?!?! Another Mile seemed like forever. I just wanted to walk. I fantasized about walking, just giving up. Wondering if I could slow down and still do great? I kept seeing hills and was like seriously?!? When I saw a girl pass, I rationalized, she was not in MY age group (oh stay silent my competitive nature). As it is, I checked, the next woman in my age group came in around 25:30 minutes (I know I am a stalker, don't hate me), but would I have slowed, no way!! Nonetheless, I kept going, kept running my heart out. Some guy passed me and said "You can do it." I may or may not have said "I am going to die!" Ooopps?!?
Zoom in on this, can you tell I am soo ready to be done?
At last, I rounded the corner and all of a sudden I heard Go Steph. Not once, but twice. I did a double take, who were they? And then I remembered I had geared up for this race and had my "Go Steph" shirt on, oo right.... Amazing how well your brain functions after 16 miles.
And then bliss, it was over. I clicked off my Garmin at 16.10. The time clock said I finished in 22:52, could have sworn it was more like 22:30, but I will leave it. I was ready to keel over but I couldn't, I had a surprise for me. My friend and her too adorable daughter came to cheer me on and look what she made me...
She may be a little shy but she is too cute
She wanted to keep the sign, who can blame her? I told her to hold on to it for next year!
I told her I remember thinking at Mile 2, that she was not going to come and that was ok. But she told me, nope when she says she is coming, she is. I was sooo touched, no one ever comes except my wonderful husband and my father. Anyway, her daughter must have the running gene because she proceeded to say she wanted to race and said "one, two, three, on your mark get set go!!!" and began to run. I could not for the life of me catch her!!
So end results? Besides what might be one of the BEST runs of my life, I placed 3rd in my age group, 71 overall, and 11th female. Ok it was not the biggest crowd, but I am still beaming from it!! Even better, my time 2:21:51 = 16 miles and done!!! No rest for the weary, proceeded to go to a fair all day, clean the house and do paperwork for four hours, and entertain that night, still feeling good. But the bed never felt so sweet.
Now that is a Strong Sweet Sixteen!! How were your long runs this?