Friday, May 31, 2013

Running Authentic

I know this is one long race report. But this one deserves it.

What can I say about a marathon journey except to expect the unexpected and roll with it in the most positive manner possible. That is my goal every time. I surprise yourself with my willingness to shift course, which brings an unexpected well-worth journey. There is a challenge around every corner. I think that is why I love marathons and I really love the Bayshore marathon in Traverse City. Besides being only a 35 minute drive for me, the course is fast and beautiful and the crowd is enthusiastic and kept meeting us at different points along the course by the bus load. My run buddy, Evie, and I decided to go for 4:17 PR and I was the pace master to keep us going. This would mean a 15 minute PR for me and a 21 PR for her. The McMillian calculator said we could do it faster. So I thought this was "playing it safe" as well as a challenge. We knew that things could change mid-race and were prepared to accept what ever came.

Medals are not for eating, but we had to try it one more time.
We wore matching "Sole-Sister" shirts from Another Mother Runner and Fellow Flowers for running in our hair. I wore the orange flower and I just realized that it was assigned this by the maker: The Original. Bold Honoring the journey of friendship. Fiercely United...To cherish, to protect always.

Wow. How true it was this day.

It was awesome to have the crowd yelling "Go Sole-Sisters" throughout the course. And slapping free high-fives is always a charge for me.

At the coral line-up, we ran into a friend of Evie's who was running her first marathon and she decided to join us for the race. She was extremely talkative and we enjoyed her company for the first eight miles and then we lost her at a rest stop and she rejoined us mile 15. I loved her enthusiasm and that she was  into slapping high-fives with the crowd with me. We had to space ourselves out to each get a chance to do that. Hysterical!

Pacing was going very well. Every time we sped up too fast, I pulled us back and we were well on our way until mile 18. There is where things went a little off course. My run buddy just wasn't feeling it and I totally understood that. She was having trouble breathing freely. Evie had had bronchitas 2 weeks prior and when you are feeling off your game hitting a faster speed than you are use to, as in a race, it happens. To her credit, there are many days she out-runs me, so I get it. She has run 7 Ultras and I have ran zero. She knows the mind game it is, but I had to make her dig deeper, so I did pull out thoughts that I knew would inspire her and have her pain feel not nearly as significant. I felt like I was playing dirty, but I came prepared. Digging deep can go to an emotional core to find that strength that we all have. She said it worked after the race and felt she needed to write about it.

Our newbie racer was complaining about pain and suffering more and more, and although it did not effect my mental state (because hey, try dragging your leg in pain like I did in last year's Charlevoix race, when I could hardly bend it and I finished it after 5 hours), I just kept shuttering her down. NO ONE needs any negative thoughts during a hard race. Especially when you are suffering like my run buddy was. A marathon is pain at some point, and you have to respect it and welcome some of it or you will never get beyond it or to your goal. I know she didn't mean to do this, but "no doubt" and pain talking is allowed on my race course.

My buddy let me know twice that it is was alright to move on to finish strong since I was obviously pulling us along. I told her "no way" the first time, and the second time I looked her in the eye and said, "There is only one Evie Ultra and there is always another marathon." I sincerely meant it. I am not about to write my journey any other way. It is a team event at times. And that just isn't the marathon I wanted. Running 6-8 miles alone to shave that 7+ minutes would have seemed like agony, loneliness and completely idiotic. Again, not who I am or want to be.

When she gave me the final, "This is all I got" at mile 22, I knew it was time to back off. That is our code. I looked at my watch and thought okay, we can accept this and cruise in at a 10-10:30 pace. 30 seconds here and there is just fine and still a good finish.

In the last half mile we found a familiar face. Karen: a teacher, track coach, amazing runner, friend and yeah we needed her right now. She coached us to the track and I have to say, boy is she GOOOOD
…she inspired me and got my mind in check.

I saw my family waving on that last quarter mile. There is a wonderful feeling I have every time I see my husband at a race. I look right at him and I feel like I am home, and I feel a calmness and happiness. It helps that my kids look pretty darn happy too. This man lets me train for hours on weekends and takes care or our children while I am away without any complaints. He doesn't necessarily understand it, but he supports my need to achieve and listens to my remarks on running. THAT takes a lot of patience. He has kind words for me daily and I could make a list that doesn't have must to do with this race report, so I will refrain. I am grateful to my lord for giving me this partner through life and I don't say it nearly enough to him.

We hit that last half mile in close to a 9 minute pace and sprinted (well sprinting to us at that point) down the track side by side. In the last 30 feet I looked at Evie and said, "Take my hand," and we crossed victorious arms up and holding hands. Now THAT is the marathon I wanted!

Evie was elated that she just ran a 15 minute PR and I had just ran another 9 minutes off mine. Hey man, I just beat Oprah by 6 minutes and I didn't have a pacer!

Crossing the finish line and proof that it's hard to capture the feeling of a moment, which was much better than the photo. Thanks Evie, for giving me this moment.

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