All week long I was nervous about this race. I have only ran once (maybe twice) since RAGNAR two weeks ago. I had a charlie horse during that race and couldn’t finish my last leg. I’m recovering from a quad strain. I moved last weekend. Blah Blah Blah.
I knew I wasn’t going to skip this race, I just had to decide if I was going to run the race I registered for (half marathon) or drop back to the quarter marathon at the split. As the week progressed, I started leaning more and more towards the quarter. I need to be smart. Marathon training only calls for 6 miles this weekend, so a quarter marathon is RIGHT ON TARGET. But most of my friends doing the race were running (or pacing) the half. I realized that I had to focus on me and what was right for me at this point of my training.
As I lined up in the middle of Corral K (we were not corralled by last name, as I originally thought)… the LAST corral… I was still pretty sure I would be running the quarter marathon… but there was a little part of me that thought if I felt AWESOME at the split (around mile 5) I would think about keeping on in the half. I talked with Michelle for awhile (who was also unprepared for the half, but who kicked some ass anyways)… and my sis-daughter (college sorority) Bethany, along with her in-laws. I wasn’t nervous, despite the daunting task of running over the HOAN BRIDGE… TWICE… in my immediate future. I am not one for training on hills. EVER. So, running up a bridge in the first quarter mile of a race? Not something I would prefer to do. But I did.
The race started (I can only assume, as we couldn’t hear the gun or see the front of the race in the last corral), and I began running. I told myself to stay smart. Don’t push the pace, especially UP the bridge. I ran the first half mile or so and had to take a walking break, which I fully expected. I have asthma and elevation changes (along with running, duh), affect my lungs pretty severely. The foggy mist didn’t help. I walked for a minute and kept going. The fog began to dissipate as I reached the apex of the bridge, under the big yellow arches. I felt good. My hamstrings and glutes were not very happy, but I kept on keeping on.
I walked through the first water stop, felt great. Had a little gatorade and a cup of water. And took off running again. We began to see the front of the pack approaching in the southbound lanes (headed north). I saw many friends and waved. I felt surprisingly good. My quad didn’t hurt at all. I began to get in a groove. I was ACTUALLY PASSING PEOPLE. You faster people might not understand what a BIG FUCKING DEAL THAT IS FOR A SLOW RUNNER. I smiled with glee. I couldn’t believe it.
As I neared the top of the exit ramp, I was in awe by what I saw. There was MY city. Laid out so pretty. The fog/mist was nearly gone. The sun was shining. The city never looked so damn beautiful. AND I WAS ABOUT TO RUN TOWARDS IT! I was seriously in awe of the view at this point of the race. Normally, when you take 794 to downtown, you’re in a car, driving 50+ mph. I got to run (4-5mph) and really soak it in. I fricking love Milwaukee. I really do. I could have HUGGED it. I love it so.
I approached the yellow arches of the Hoan Bridge with determination. I felt REALLY great. I knew I was going to rock the rest of the race. As I headed down to Lincoln Memorial Drive, I couldn’t help but smile and be proud of what I had just done. I RAN OVER THE HOAN. TWICE. EEEK.
I saw the half/quarter split point, and as much as I was tempted, I knew I needed to be smart and follow the quarter course. BUT OH WAS I TEMPTED.
At this point, I started to pick up speed. I saw paces in the 12s and 13s on my garmin. DURING THE LAST 2 MILES OF THE RACE.
YES SHOUTY CAPS.
I turned up Michigan and ran past Discovery World into Lakeshore State Park (one of my FAVORITEST places to run). As I ran past the lagoon, I could feel how close I was to the finish. I still had strength, so I willed myself to pick up the pace. I kept hearing Marty‘s voice saying “LAST MILE FASTEST.”
I began to run faster. I passed nearly 10 people during the last mile of the race. AGAIN THIS NEVER HAPPENS. I GET PASSED. I DONT PASS PEOPLE. I had a BIG OL’ STUPID SMILE on my face as I entered the finish chute.
I got my medal and water and started walking to the bananas. (My nemesis, but required post-run food). I looked at my medal and saw that it said HALF marathon on it. I realized that the volunteers probably saw my half marathon bib and figured I did that race. Let me tell you, there is no way I will every finish a half marathon in the time it took me to finish the quarter marathon today. I went back to the medals area and told the volunteer I couldn’t accept a half marathon medal for running the quarter distance. It just wouldn’t have been right. I was able to switch medals and continued through the finish line area. As I grabbed some chocolate milk, I had two separate women approach me and tell me that they used me as their pacer for the last few miles of the race. They each told me that they saw me looking so strong and willed themselves to keep up with me to the finish. They said in the last mile, it just got too hard to keep up with me when I took off.
I can honestly tell you guys that I was *this close* to collapsing in tears. These women I don’t know told me that I was their inspiration to keep going in the race. They saw me not giving up and they knew they couldn’t either. Even recalling our conversations now, I am tearing up. Ladies, I don’t know who you are, but if you happen to see this, please know that you made my day. You can’t know just how much those kind words meant to me. I could have hugged you both but I thought it might be weird of me to do that.
I finished my first quarter marathon with a time of 1:38:24, a 14:50 pace for 6.63 miles. I have NEVER EVER seen an overall pace in the 14s for any distance more than 4 miles.
I WON YESTERDAY. I WON.
It was so great to see Krista, Rochelle, & Matt J. (2:10 half pacers), Tracey G. (who kicked ass and had her 2nd fastest half marathon time!), Renee H., Sara K., Aaron K., Karla With A K., Mo, Katie B., Paal, Michelle, Bethany, Jennifer, Brianne, Alicia H., Tony V., Jeff M., Eric, Jessica G., Annie and Marty at some point before, during or after the race!