The L.A. Marathon: Race Report

Short version: I ran myself into the med tent with mild heatstroke just after mile 16. All the non-sports people I know are like, ‘Oh my god! Heatstroke! You almost died!!’ And, all the sports people are all, ‘It was only mild heatstroke. You could have kept going.’ I’m falling somewhere in between those two right now, and very much never want to try running a marathon again. For at least a few years.

Long version: It was warm. Arguably, it never got as hot as some people were predicting it might, but at 5:45 a.m. at Dodger Stadium it was concerningly warm. All last week I’d been preparing myself for ‘this is going to suck, but you can tough it out.’ My tentative race plan was: 1. You will probably not run your pie-in-the-sky, ‘A goal’ of 3:06. 2. You could still run a PR around 3:10, sub-3:15. 3. Only if you aren’t stupid; don’t be stupid. 4. Go for it, but in a conservative way and 5. When it starts to suck early, because it will, hang tough and know it sucks for everybody.

So, that’s what I tried to do. I ran some 7:05s for the first few miles, but they were all downhill (more or less) and it felt easy slow. I did not let myself get ahead of the 3:05 pace group, because “don’t be stupid.” By mile 2 I was dripping sweat and thought ‘well, this is going to get hot.’ Around mile 4, we went up a steep hill and I let the 3:05 pace group slip away, because “don’t be stupid.” After that, I was sort of just running, some by myself, some through people who were already looking hot and tired.

By 7 or 8, it was feeling really hard and I was getting the chills a bit. But I, literally, thought to myself: It’s not possible to be having heat issues this early; I haven’t even been running long enough, so these chills must be because of the breeze or something (?). And, anyway, I was still running 7:10s or so, so it’s fine. It’s fiiiiiiiine. I was taking water and Gatorade at every aid station, but I wasn’t making it to the next one before I was dying of thirst again. (And, for the record, I had oatmeal, a Gatorade and some water, and a gel before the start, and one more gel around mile 7. After that I was having a hard time imagining swallowing anything else.)

By mile 10, I was struggling. Somewhere around 9, two guys next to me were talking to each other and one said, “It’s not good if it feels this hard this early” and I went, ‘heh.’ I remember hitting the 10 marker and just thinking, ‘Fuck.’ I was still running in the 7:15s-ish, though, and it was hard to tell if we were going uphill, so it’s fine, I thought. It’s fiiiiine. I had promised myself I was going to be mentally tough for this race. I wasn’t going to drop out or check out. I was going to fight for it. So I did. My thing I had planned on telling myself was: ‘You’re tougher than you think you are. You can do more than you think you can.’ I had planned on telling myself that in the second half of the race, because I didn’t expect it to be nasty hard too much before then, but oh well.

By 11 or 12, I was in bad shape. I was getting the chills and things were a little light-headed and dizzy. I was fighting for every mile and keeping them somewhere in the 7:20s, but I knew that it was not fine. At this point, it became one of those battles: If you know you’re in bad shape and it’s only getting worse and you don’t think you can finish, but you promised yourself you wouldn’t voluntarily quit, then what do you do? You make it so you’ll be involuntarily done, whether that’s because you get to the finish or crash out sooner. At least that’s the option I took. I have this tendency to wallow and, like, hope that someone will just spontaneously pull me from the course and tell me I should sit down in the shade and have some nice ice water. But, I wanted to be mentally tough. Instead of wallowing, I tried to smile. Studies show that you can affect your mental state by smiling in races. So. I tried to do all the things that keep you mentally positive. I tried to hang on to people next to me and get whatever boost there was from the atmosphere. I repeated ‘you’re tougher than you think you are’ in my head until it became gibberish. Mostly, I thought, if I’m going to end up running myself into the med tent (which it was starting to seem that I was), then I’m going to run as hard as I can until that happens.

I don’t remember much from 12 to whenever I stopped just after mile 16. I have no idea how I made it that far either. I was almost totally cognizant at the time. I knew where I was and I knew I saw Steve at one point (and tried to tell him with my eyes that I was in a bad place), but it all got a bit blurry, in that way things get in races when it’s like you’re watching from far away on the other side of a bright light. I kept trying to be tough and I would have sworn to you I was hanging on to 7:30 pace, but my Garmin suggests that I actually dropped pretty sharply to 7:50s.

Look, I expected it to get that bad. I did. I’d been preparing myself all week for it to get that bad, for me to have to tough it out for 8-10 miles. I’ve had bad heatstroke before, and I knew there was a chance I’d end up lying down in a med tent with an IV. I just expected that 8-10 miles to be the last 8-10 miles.

By around 16, I was getting the chills regularly. I was cold and hot, and I was dizzy, and things were getting light and dark, and then my chest started to hurt, and my heart felt like something tight was around it (which is new, by the way, that’s never happened before). And somewhere in my head I thought, ‘oh good, a med tent’ and I stepped out of the race and did that crumpling/collapsing thing and laid down on the side of the road. Of course, it turned out it wasn’t a med tent, it was actually just a random tiny tent of people cheering their friends on. So I freaked those people out.

For a few minutes, I just laid there with my eyes closed and rolled onto my side and tried to sit up and tried to get my eyes to focus and the lights to go back to how they’re supposed to be and then that was a lot of effort, so I laid back down. I don’t think I had the capacity to say anything for a couple minutes. And that freaked out the random people I had decided to lay down in front of even more than they were already freaked out. Then the cops and paramedics on bikes got there and also freaked out, and called an ambulance and a fire truck. And, I think my head was sort of lolling to one side and when I did start talking it was all slurred and along of the lines of: ‘It’s fine, ‘tsfiiiiine, my chest just hurts, *wave hands, close eyes*,  whatevvvver, *lay back down*”

Somewhere in my head I knew I was fine, actually. Or, I would be fine relatively soon. This was not a permanent state. I also knew that I always look really bad, even when I’m killing it. And I just didn’t have the wherewithal to explain to a bunch of people the degree to which I was messed up. They wanted to send me to the hospital and I kept saying, “No, no.” Finally, it was decided the ambulance would take me 200 meters down the road to the actual med tent. Then, those doctors kept trying to send me to the hospital and I kept saying, “No, no.” I think I even said, “I don’t go to hospitals,” which is absurd. Of course I go to hospitals. I’ve been to lots of hospitals. That’s how I know they won’t be able to do much for mild heatstroke.

Eventually, Steve found me and Natalie drove over to pick me up and, by then, almost an hour later, I was fine. Not great, not really even ok, but fine.

So, could I have toughed it out for longer? Yeah, maybe. Would it have been worth it? Probably not. Part of the mental calculus that my brain does when it can’t even see straight was that it decided there was no reason to land myself in the hospital. I didn’t care much about just finishing. It wasn’t going to be a good time. And I wasn’t competing for a place. If I really screwed myself up for good, what would be the point? After lying in the med tent for 20 or 30 minutes, I actually thought I should get back up and start running again. Steve said that was dumb.

It always seems to me that how soon after a race you start planning the next one, how much you want a do-over, is often dependent on how much, subconsciously, you felt like you had left to give. The day after my Ironman I basically was Googling to find another one later that month. This time, there is almost no part of me that wants to think about another marathon. People keep suggesting them and I keep cringing. No, no, that sounds terrible. I even paused on an email from the Chicago Marathon and thought about it in passing for a second. I like the course and it’s fast and late this year, but then it made me want to gag. I can, actually, barely think about any races at all right now. They all sound awful. (Which is unfortunate, because I am definitely doing some triathlons that I was excited about.) The amount I am still emotionally and mentally and, to a degree, physically messed up makes me think I didn’t have much more to give on Sunday. For whatever reason. That was all there was.

Race Report: UCLA Aquath(al)on?

The quick version before I go back to bed:

Today was the first race of the official collegiate season. Evidently, that one in the fall was a fake-out, or a warm-up, whatever. Today’s was an aquathon (or aquathalon—disputing opinions) at UCLA.

I was kidding around with one of The Kids afterwards that if you could invent a race that I was going to hate it would have been this one. But, actually, I might not have been kidding. It was a 500m swim, mass start, around buoys in an Olympic-sized pool. This is basically my nightmare swimming scenario. It’s too many people and not enough space. Then, it was a very hilly 5K run, with everyone super close together and sprinting for the finish. Oh, right, and I still have a cold and couldn’t breathe good. Yay.

The swim was fine, though far from my best ever. (Notably, not my worst ever either.) I couldn’t breathe well, which was partially because I can’t breathe good right now and partially because people kept hitting me in the face. I swam on one of my teammate’s feet for a little while and then I decided that was probably annoying the shit out of her, so I tried to go around, but succeeded only in running into her.

I almost fell over pulling myself out of the pool and then I was sprinting onto the run, because THERE ARE PEOPLE TO RUN DOWN!

The run was painful and wheezy from the start, which was uphill. By the top of the hill, though, I could see the girls who had probably come out of the water first. They only had about 30 seconds on me and there was maybe a half-dozen of them spread out at varying speeds. There was a long downhill and I run downhills fast (generally), so I decided I was just going to have to go for it and hope that I could hold on. I caught some of them, but I could not close on the last UCLA girl in front of me. We made the loop at the turnaround and I felt like I was still running hard, but the gap was staying at about 30 feet or something.

Side note, here: I can never close the last little gap on people. There’s something about them being in front of me that screws with my head and makes me assume they must be faster than me, even if I’ve closed minutes on them. That last 5-10 seconds is impossible.

I started to think I just didn’t have it today. This was too short for me to really be good; it wasn’t enough things. I’ve been too sick lately. Perhaps, it is no surprise that, even though I was still running hard, this is when people I had passed started to catch back up to me.

I could hear one girl right on my shoulder as we started back uphill to the finish, and I was pretty sure there was another one right behind her. I definitely didn’t want a sprint finish today. (While I usually feel confident in my sprinting abilities against adults and the general triathlete population, against college kids today I did not feel confident.) So, instead, I tried to break her. Except, I did a really shitty job of it. I ran the long uphill hard, but I never made any decisive move; I just let her stay right on my shoulder. The effort was killing me too, which showed. You don’t really want it to show, if you’re trying to convince someone they can’t beat you.

We crested the hill and there was a short little downhill to the finish and I thought I had it. I started kicking hard. I came around the corner, but then, oh no, there’s another corner to go around! It’s another 150m! And, I just couldn’t hold it. She kicked past me. In the end, the UCLA girl was just steps ahead, and all four of us finished within maybe 15-20 seconds. But, this isn’t horseshoes or hand grenades, right? Close doesn’t count.

This is where I THOUGHT the finish line was. But, it wasn't and that little girl passed me like five seconds later.
This is where I THOUGHT the finish line was. But, it wasn’t and that girl passed me like five seconds later.

Basically, that is everything about how not to beat someone.

And, then, anyway, it turned out there was last year’s national champion like a minute ahead of us, so oh well, anyway.

Obviously, I was all worried that I got in my head, that I could have found 10 seconds somewhere, that I need to toughen up. Could I have gone harder?? But, then I thought about right after the finish, when I was seeing stars and wobbling and coughing things up and snot was everywhere and I decided: No, I was pretty messed up at the end, that was probably as hard as I had today.

Race Report: Surf City Half-Marathon

Short version: Really, this is a race report of the weekend. Summary: it sucked. And that suckiness culminated in throwing up all along the Pacific Coast Highway as I eventually finished the second slowest 13 miles I have ever completed, ever, in my life.

Long version: I’m tired. Sometimes, it seems like I say this a lot. I am often tired. There is often a lot going on. But, I’ve been worn out lately from life and school and things happening. And, I haven’t felt well. I got really sick about a month ago and again about a week ago. And, since then, I just haven’t felt good with any real consistency. (This is foreshadowing, fyi.)

Mostly, though, I felt fine this weekend. I got up at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday to ride with The Kids. The two-hour ride took almost three, which is fine, but I had promised Steve and Justin I’d meet them so Steve could use my bike for a ride. That meant that I sort of had to rush because I was already late, and my ride was sort of harder and longer than I wanted for racing a half-marathon the next day. By the time I got back, I was sort of tired and hungry. But, it was fine.

Then, I hung out while they rode, which is when I had a nasty run-in with two middle-aged white guys in Malibu. You can read the whole string of the interaction on my twitters, because I had nowhere else to put it and nothing else to do about it. In summary, though, I just wanted to get some work done in Starbucks and then I was going to chill out, read a book. But, these two guys next to me were espousing on the Middle East, women, religion, Ireland, their own brilliance. For a long, long time. And, it was gross stuff. Eventually, it got really gross. There was some stuff about women dressing the way they do because they want the attention, and Bill Cosby just using a little pill to have sex with women because he was just insecure (it’s not his fault), and women want to be sexualized. It pretty much can be summed up with this quote:

Yes, typos. Sorry.
Yes, typos. Sorry.

And, they started blatantly looking the women in line up and down. And, there I was sitting in tights and a t-shirt, about which they clearly had opinions, and I felt gross. I felt like I was being made to feel gross and like I didn’t belong and like the public space wasn’t mine too. And, I didn’t intend to say anything to them. I sat there for an hour without saying anything, but it ebbed and flowed and it was harder and harder to do work. So, all of a sudden I was telling them to take their bullshit opinions outside, because they were making it impossible for other people, who also had a right to the space, to sit in peace.

Shockingly, that didn’t go well.

The older man started yelling at me about why did I think Viagra sales were so high. And, when I said, “Oh my god, can you just not inflict this on people here,” he got really hung up on what God was I referring to. He was pretty proud of this, because I didn’t really know how to respond to that crazy, so he was pretty sure this meant he was brilliant and right about everything. The slightly-younger man just kept yelling (yes, actually yelling), “FREE SPEECH! FREE SPEECH!” over and over, as if his actual rights were in actual danger of ever being infringed upon.

And, it was all so white rich male privilege, so convinced that they had the right to do whatever they wanted, so sure that they were speaking truth to power, when, from there on out, they were mostly just harassing me—and I, clearly, had so much power in this situation.

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It was what it was. There’s a reason I, generally, don’t fight with stupid people, don’t pick arguments online, etc. You can’t win and even winning is losing. And, I don’t care that much about idiots. But, I just wanted them to feel as gross and bad as I felt, even for just a second. I wanted them to know they were assholes.

It didn’t work. They didn’t know anything at the end that they weren’t sure of at the start. I never got to say any of the things I wanted to say, to explain why they were wrong. They just felt vindicated and I still felt awful, worn out, and vaguely angry.

So, naturally, then, I had to drive two hours down to pick up my race packet for the half-marathon on Sunday. It was supposed to take an hour, but (#LA) it took two. That meant we got there 15 minutes after packet pick-up ended. This is not usually a big problem at races; the bibs were still sitting on the table and volunteers were starting to pack up. But, they just kept insisting I was too late. I got directed to an official, and then another official, and another tent. They said I’d just have to pick up my stuff in the morning, before the race.

“Wait, that was an option?? If that was an option, I wouldn’t have driven two hours down here today.”

“Well, it’s usually just for VIPs, or you have to pay $25.”

“I’d have paid $25 to not drive down here.”

“Sorry,” sad-face-not-sorry. “You’ll just have to do it tomorrow.”

And, I lost it. I mean that genuinely. I lost my damn mind. I flipped out. I think I started slamming my head against the table.

The only good thing about this was when you completely lose it, things get taken care of. The race director came running from across the expo tent—she did not want people to see a crazy girl going crazy at her race—and found my bib, which was just sitting on a table 10 feet away. And, everything was fine.

Everything was fine Sunday morning. I barely kept down my oatmeal and was swallowing back throwing up in the car, but that happens sometimes before races. I was weirdly stressed about how this was going to go, but that’s ok too. I had some Gatorade, warmed up, found a spot in the corral (even if it was pretty far back from the start), and everything was going to be fine.

And, it was for a little while.

I ran a 6:20 and some 6:30s. I dropped to a 6:50 going up a small hill, but pushed it to get back down to 6:40s. It was ok, but it was never good. By the time Steve joined me right before the 6-mile mark, I was fighting to hold on to the pace. Shortly after that, I ran another couple 6:50s, a 7:00. I don’t know why.

Here are some observations in retrospect:

– I was thirsty from the beginning, sucking down water at the first aid station.
– I forgot to stick a gel in my pocket. Somehow, I forgot this. And, with not managing to keep much down before the race, I was sort of hungry, but it’s only 1 and 1/2 hours. I wasn’t too worried. I’d improvise at the aid stations.
– With that, I was also getting slightly light-headed.
– Running up into the back of the marathoners is awful. It was all weaving and running into people, and it messes with your head.
– My hamstrings were not happy.

To me, in the race though, not in retrospect, it felt like I just couldn’t hold the pace. I was trying to. I was trying to go with people and I just couldn’t. What the hell is wrong with me? I’ve been feeling pretty fit lately, nailing workouts, and I had been so sure I was going to PR. I even thought I might be able to run a 1:26. I thought, for sure, I’d run sub-1:30. No problem. Maybe I forgot that running the fastest you’ve ever run isn’t a guarantee, no matter what. But, I was sure I’d dig deep and find something. And, then, here I was fighting to even hold on to sub-1:30 effort. And, I knew it. I knew it wasn’t there.

Then, around mile 9, I veered to the side of the road and threw up. I didn’t feel nauseous before that. I just felt like my body was rejecting the whole experience. I pretty much only threw up the water and sports drink I’d just swallowed at the previous aid station. It wasn’t anything crazy and Steve was with me, so we started running again after I swore a little bit. Obviously, I wasn’t excited about running again. But, sometimes, there’s value in still finishing and maybe I’d rally. We ran another mile about 7:30 pace and then I threw up again. So, then, we started walking.

Do I look like I'm about to throw up? Because this is pretty much right before that fun started.
Do I look like I’m about to throw up? Because this is pretty much right before that fun started.

I threw up once more during the walking, but there really wasn’t much to throw up. Eventually, Steve went to get the car and I decided to finish only because my stuff was at gear check at the finish line. I jogged/shuffled the last two miles, with a nasty high heart rate for 9:50 pace. And, I eventually finished the 13.1 miles in 1 hour and 58 minutes, I believe.

I was trying to think if I’d ever even run 13 miles that slowly, even in training or long runs or in a marathon. I think the second half of my Ironman marathon was slower. But that’s it. Even when I’ve blown up before and sucked, it was like a 1:30-something sucked.

And, no, I don’t know exactly what was wrong. I have some ideas, but I don’t know. Mostly, though, I just haven’t felt good. (I still don’t feel great.) I’m hoping that goes away before the marathon and that I don’t get in my head about having a really bad race. I’m hoping I’m not just a mental mess and that everything gets better. Because, man, it wears on you, everything.

It Only Means What It Means to You: On the Question of Staying for Awards

Steve and I are right about in the middle of the screen.
Steve and I are right about in the middle of the screen.

Saturday, I ran a local 10K race with some USC kids — though I don’t think they like it when I call them “kids” — and my roommate, Natalie. I won (out of the women, duh), which isn’t really a normal occurrence for me at 10Ks. And, that’s great. It is. I fought for it when the girl in second passed me at halfway and I had to come back on her. Coming back on someone is never easy. Dropping everything I had the last two miles, especially on such a massively hilly course, wasn’t easy either.

But, it was just a race I ran to see where I was at. Arguably, if Steve hadn’t run it with me, I would have bailed out mentally. Arguably, I did bail out somewhat mentally. I don’t know that I ran the absolute hardest I could the whole time. So, it’s not as if I was incredibly impressed with or proud of my effort or of the work that went into it. I was happy with how I did, given everything lately, and that was that.

The question, then, once you’re done cooling down and changing into dry clothes and getting a post-race massage and hanging out, is: Should you stay for awards?

I don’t want to be a dick — in fact, that’s been a November resolution of mine — and I, certainly, don’t want to disrespect anyone’s effort who was behind me. If they ran their hardest and they’re happy with their work, then they should be proud of that, regardless of any other runner out there. But, after over an hour of hanging out, I also just wanted to go home. I had slept four hours the night before and was so tired. And, I had driven down with Natalie and didn’t want to waste her time. I don’t need a plaque. I don’t care about getting a plaque. It wouldn’t mean anything to me, because it wouldn’t be reflective of anything I had put in to get there. How I ran is how I ran, regardless of a medal or a trophy. And, the rewards are only as valuable as they are to you personally.

Eventually, I designated a USC kid to pretend to be me and we went home. But, I kept thinking about that.

Steve told me once that I should always stay for awards because soon I won’t win anything anymore. That’s probably true. But, whether it’s true or not, that can’t make winning mean something to me. The only thing that can make something matter is if it matters to you.

I’m sure there were some people out there running that 10K (or the half-marathon or the 5K) who had trained hard for it and put everything out there to do the best they could. If they ran slower than I did that doesn’t change the fact that they should be more excited about their race than I was about mine. I’ve also done races where I’ve lost to friends who were, at the same time, upset about how slow they went — minutes and minutes faster than me.

One of the trickiest things about races is that, even though you race to race and you want to beat the other people out there, you can only really compare yourself within the spectrum of yourself. And, there’s nothing wrong with that. Me not staying for awards shouldn’t change the fact that someone else loves their award. And, if I work insanely hard and manage to podium in my age group at the L.A. Marathon, my pride shouldn’t change just because I know people who will run 20 minutes faster and be bummed. It only means what it means to you.

Collegiate Triathlon: A Race Report

The kids (and me) getting ready to go.
The kids (and me) getting ready to go.

I am officially a collegiate racer again. And a collegiate race winner! (Oops, should have buried the lead more.) Oh, how the times have changed — except not really.

Yesterday was the UCLA IronBruin Triathlon. I raced it with the USC team for fun, because collegiate triathlon is fun; it’s supposed to be fun. But, I wasn’t particularly excited about it. I’ve been a scared bike handler since smashing my teeth out back in April. Usually that kind of fear passes, but it hasn’t yet. So, the last thing that sounded appealing was a four-loop bike course with a ton of downhill turns, filled with a lot of people who are just learning to ride their bikes. There’s nothing wrong with just learning to ride a bike. I fell a lot when I was learning to ride my bike on the Cal triathlon team. I was also terrified, then, of crashing or of crashing someone else out.

But, no one crashed (badly) yesterday. And, I did not fall off my bike while trying to dismount this time. The race wasn’t terrible, though it hurt terribly.

For all that collegiate triathlon is growing, it’s still pretty grassroots-y. We swam eight laps up and down a pool, ducking under the lane lines at each end, with five seconds between people starting. I passed one guy who started ahead of me and was passed by two girls behind me, though I just jumped on the feet of the second girl as she went by and that worked pretty well.

The bike hurt, but it’s supposed to hurt. And, anyway, I’m pretty sure my limiter was technical, not aerobic. There were so many sharp turns that I braked so poorly and swore a lot going into. The only thing that kept me pushing it at the end — instead of getting distracted thinking about how to dismount on a downhill — was one girl I had caught coming back on me.

She hit the start of the run right ahead of me too. Apparently, my super fast transition and speed skills are super fast compared to adult Ironman athletes, but not so much compared to 19-year-olds. It was just as well, though. We were both pushing each other to run really hard at the start. Even though, with the five second gaps between start times, I was technically already about a minute ahead of her, I was so worried she would make it up. So, I just hung right next to her. And it hurt. I thought I couldn’t hold it and worried that, with my lack of fitness, I should have started more conservatively. Then, slowly, I started to pull away from her and go with one of the guys on our team, who was right ahead of me. But, I was scared. I was scared she would catch me and I’d blow up. When I caught another girl, who was actually beating me by 10 seconds (with the weird start times), I was scared I wouldn’t be able to gap her enough to make up the time difference. I was scared someone else out there, who I couldn’t see, was probably beating me. I just kept trying to run as fast as I could. I race well when I race scared.

And I would have sworn to you I was running crazy fast, especially as it started downhill in the last mile. But I wasn’t. I was running a 20:15 5K. I definitely benefited during the race from not having a watch going and from not knowing how exactly I was stacking up. These are some high-level mental tricks at their finest.

In the end I won by 35 seconds over some high school girl I never saw, who will probably be much, much faster than me soon.

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Getting fancy for the relay

Then I took the aerobars off my bike, re-set my transition, and ran with my bike back up the hill to get to the start of the draft-legal mixed team relay on time. (Fortunately, it did not start on time. Unfortunately, no one told me that was going to be the case before I ran my bike up the hill with just seconds to spare.) It was insanely rough. I swam the hardest 200m of my life and I came out of the water last, which meant I was on my bike last, which meant I was sprinting to make up time over the entire 17 minute race, which meant I really did want to throw up when I finally finished.

Collegiate triathlon has changed some since I last did it in 2007. It’s attracted more money and people. The top racers were always good, but there’s more of them now and, on the aggregate, they’re faster. Some of those fast people are now doing the draft-legal stuff that’s been added, which I think meant that many of them did not do the regular collegiate race I did. And, there’s more racers across-the-board, at every level, which changes the nature of the small homegrown triathlon.

It’s changed, but I’ve changed more. Sure, I’ve gotten better and I know a stupid amount about triathlon and training now, but I’d like to think what I’ve also learned is when to get serious and when not to. Oh, and one last thing has changed. I raced in a really short pair of spandex shorts, which I’ve done before but not in a few years, since I usually have uniform shorts for races. It’s uncomfortable — because they’re short and the seam rubs on the bike seat and the inside of your thighs — but it wasn’t a problem the last time I raced in them. This time, however, I finished with four inches of chafing down the inside of each thigh, so bad it’s oozy and slightly bleeding and hurts to wear pants (and also shorts and dresses). Apparently, my thighs have gotten larger since I last raced in these shorts. So, that’s new too.

The Race That Wasn’t

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This is a picture of my car.

If it is true that you ‘get back what you put out there’ and the power of positive thinking can bring us Oprah-esque levels of success if we just try really hard to think Secret-style happy thoughts, if all that is true, then it is also true that Sunday morning I broke the car with my mind.

Once in high school on the way to a weekend speech tournament (for which you had to get up ungodly early and do your make-up and hair and put on a power suit — probably explaining my predilection now for sweats and forgetting to shower), I was laying half-asleep in the bus seat thinking about how I really didn’t want to do this and if only something would happen so we didn’t have to go to another high school cafeteria and make passionate speeches about recent world news. And, then, the bus broke down. After 15 minutes on the side of a freeway somewhere in Illinois, I decided actually I’d like to compete afterall and we should get a move on it, and magically — upon that thought — the bus started working again. I point to this and that one time I swear I locked the door by thinking hard at it as proof of my Jedi-like abilities.

I did not want to race Tri for Real on Sunday. I’d been going back and forth all week, until Saturday I signed up because I needed to snap out of this shit. Of course, then, Saturday night I was awake all night freaking out some more. When my alarm went off after 2 hours of sleep, I did not want to drive 100 miles to race. I dragged myself around the house. I took my temperature, hoping maybe I had a fever and shouldn’t race. I stood in the hallway and worried about going all the way there just to have a repeat of that episode in San Jose when I laid down on the side of the road in the middle of a race and started to cry. (In retrospect, that actually happened at two separate races in San Jose. The city, itself, may prompt spontaneous crying.) Finally, 20 minutes late, I snapped out of it and got ready to go. Because you can’t fall into the trap of not racing just because you don’t feel super excited at 4:45 a.m. on race morning; otherwise, you’d talk yourself out of 90% of races.

I made it an hour, with another 50 minutes to drive, when the red car battery light came on. I’m pretty sure that’s one of those serious lights you need to pull over for, so I got off the highway and found the car booklet thing. Apparently, a red battery light means ‘Proceed immediately to the nearest Volkswagen dealership.’ Of course, it was 6:45 a.m. on a Sunday, so even if I could make it to a dealership, it’d really just be a place to sleep in my car until Monday morning when it opened. I did some phone Googling and trying to look under the hood and calling the Volkswagen hotline just to find out what I should do and getting disconnected and calling back and having some guy tell me that ‘Oh yes, Darren is going to call you right back after he finishes putting in your order.’ YOU ARE LYING, I didn’t say. THERE IS NO ORDER. YOU ARE LYING TO ME. Of course, he never called back. Eventually, it was decided I would drive to Autozone 25 minutes away, or longer when you’re going 40 mph in the far right lane of the freeway in case the car battery suddenly dies.

In case you can’t tell from the photo above, the hood of our car is sort of smashed a bit. It’s all just (incredibly expensive) bodywork, not anything seriously wrong. But, we hadn’t been able to get the hood open recently. The guys at our car shop said you just have to “pull really hard.” It turns out that means REALLY hard. Like stupid hard. So, when I got to Autozone just after it opened, I was trying to pull the hood up, standing on the bumper and yanking, the whole car moving up and down. And, the guy came out to ask if I need help. Actually, yes, but not with this; this actually how you do this.

I am now a fan of Autozone, fyi. They spent over an hour helping me figure out what was wrong, charging my battery, testing it, pulling it out and putting it on the super charging machine, testing the alternator — all for free. It was determined the alternator needed to be replaced and the battery was rapidly losing power (information I had to then pay another $100 to the auto shop for Monday morning). With the battery charged 100%, though, I could make it home. Carefully.

It turns out that at least 67% of the tired shittiness you feel after a race is simply from getting up at 4:45 a.m., getting ready and pumping yourself up, driving far, and dealing with things. I felt at least almost as messed up as I would have if I had actually raced and I only eventually made it home about 45 minutes earlier than if I’d gotten all the way there and done the race. I had to take a nap.

But, I’m half-convinced the world was saving me from myself by not letting me race. The power of negative thinking.

 

Escape from Alcatraz: Race Report

Short version: It wasn’t the fastest I’ve ever gone on this course (though it was almost the fastest I’ve gone), but with swim conditions varying so much it’s sort of hard to compare times year-to-year. It was the best I’ve ever raced here, like actually raced against the people around me all the way through the finish line. Unfortunately, or fortunately for the sport I suppose, it was 100% definitely way super more competitive this year in the women’s age group ranks than the last few years. Maybe everyone got faster while I was taking my two-year hiatus? Ah well. I was aiming for top 5 amateur. I ended up 7th — but I was close! And, close totally sorta kinda counts.

Long version: Sitting on the boat waiting for the start is weird. Someone once told me they have to replace the carpet after the race because so many people pee in their wetsuits. I’d believe it. Everyone stands up and starts getting ready to go way way before it’s actually time to go, so I was sort of not paying attention as it got closer to start time. I was talking and looking around and jumping up and down and oh shit, was that the start gun. Your timing chip doesn’t start until you walk over the mat through one of the doors onto the deck, but how long it takes you to get in the water after you cross the mat depends on the bottleneck at the door, how many people are dicking around on the deck, how long before you can jump, etc — which I only realized as I was crossing the mat. Ahh, go, go, go, my time has started! I’m totally just going to blame the 18″ I lost my age group by on that. Definitely.

The boat used for proms and triathlons.
The boat used for proms and triathlons.

 

I wish I could tell you what I did during the swim, but I don’t really know. I was pretty nervous since I haven’t swum in the Bay more than three times in the last two years and I haven’t been really out in the Bay — like out of Aquatic Park or past the beach — since the last time I did this race in 2011. So, I wasn’t sure what would happen. I just sort of swam hard and through people for awhile. Then, I looked up and all the people were to my right and I was taking too conservative a line in the current, so I swam back through them sort  ofto the other side. Except there aren’t really sides or buoys obviously or any real sense of if you’re doing this right or not, so mostly I just kept swimming and figured it’d get me there eventually. It got choppy in the middle, so I’m not even sure what I was doing then. I just kept throwing my arms up and over and sometimes I’d hit water and sometimes I’d just hit air. I did some breaststroke and dry-heaved quite a bit and hyperventilated when I couldn’t catch my breath because of the waves. (And this was the water “calm” because the fog was keeping the wind down.) For awhile I couldn’t see anyone ahead of me or around me and I could see the yacht club that’s the finish and I absolutely convinced myself that the reason there wasn’t anyone ahead of me was because I was totally in the front of all the swimmers. I was genuinely shocked when I was slightly too far to the right and turned to come into the beach and there were hundreds of people to my left ahead of and next to me. A little healthy delusion can be helpful in triathlon.

36′ for the swim was fine, if possibly a couple minutes slow. I wasn’t thrilled and I wasn’t upset about it. It seemed like a totally solid ok swim that I came out of not too fucked up and probably the best I could hope for. And, then, I ran the half-mile to T1 as hard as I could, passing a few girls — who I was still shocked were ahead of me, because I was so convinced I had swum the very fastest.

I rode my road bike yesterday for a number of reasons, but the added benefit was that I had power again for a race. That meant I could just focus on keeping the numbers up on flat sections, pushing hard on hills, and staying as aero (and not being stupid) as possible on descents. It mostly worked. I passed some girls. One passed me. I kept going back and forth with groups of guys because they’d hammer every hill and then sit up on every flat and descent, which caused a lot of me running into the back of them. I was slightly terrified and braking stupidly on some of the downhill turns, but better than I’ve been lately and I didn’t let it get in my head too (too) much. I got momentarily discouraged at the halfway because it took me a long time to get to halfway. So, I just tried to go harder on the way back and it sort of worked. 59′ is actually right in the range of what I’ve biked in the past here, so I was thrilled. THRILLED. Maybe my biking is coming back a little bit? Still slower than the fastest splits, but closer.

From Tahra.
From Tahra.

 

It’s hard to say which part of the race I was most nervous about. I was pretty sure the swim could go horribly, horribly wrong. I was crazy stressed about either crashing on the bike or sucking. But, the run is actually where I’ve usually had the most trouble in this race. Because it’s just so goddamn hard and if you want to be competitive you have to keep it together and run fast through the sand and up the stairs and down the hills. It’s not easy.

When I started the run I thought I was in 5th(ish) and I couldn’t see any girls in front of me. So, I just focused on high turnover for the first two flat miles and waving at friends out on the course. I was hauling, but I wasn’t stressed. Then, as we got to the stairs up to the bridge, there were two girls right ahead of me. And, halfway up the stairs, the girl who would go on to take second in the amateur race passed me. I went with her a little bit and all of a sudden there were four or five women within a minute or two of each other and it was a race. And, I needed to race. I needed to go hard before we got down to the beach and I would suck running in the sand. So, I went hard, like really really hard down the hill. I passed two women and was closing on the third. We got to the sand ladder and one of them passed me back. (I’m really bad at running in sand, ok.) And, I knew that other girl was still right ahead of me. So, at the top of the ladder, I started to run as hard as I could, the kind of hard where you’re not sure you’ll make it to the finish and you can’t quite navigate the singletrack because shit is blurry. The girl in front of me had somehow gapped me and I couldn’t see her anymore, but because your time starts when you cross the mat I didn’t know if the girls in front of me were really behind me or if a girl behind me was really ahead of me. I was running scared and I run fast when I’m scared.

This was the real difference in this race for me. Any of the previous times I’ve done this race or its sister race I fall apart that last two miles flat back to the finish. Even the times I kept it together and ran hard it was a tempo hard, a 7:15 pace. Your legs are shot from all the uphill and downhill and I usually stop caring about whether or not someone passes me. It becomes hard to keep caring that last two miles. Not this time. I just kept imagining someone right behind me, someone who I couldn’t see because maybe they started after me, and I just kept thinking you have to run as fast as you can. I think I was doing 6:30s or just under. I wasn’t looking at my watch much though. I ran 57′ flat — four minutes faster than I’ve ever run here — and I threw up a little bit. And, I ended up beating one of the girls ahead of me by about 40″ because she had started before me and I ended up losing to someone behind me by 18″. So. Race hard. All the way through the finish line.

(Also, it’d be nice if like all the people racing against each other for the age group spots could actually, you know, race head-to-head against each other. And, it wouldn’t be that hard to do, since there are supposed to be corrals on the boat. Because, yeah, I was sort of bummed to be a few minutes out of the win and not really have any idea what was happening on course. BUT, I’d have been really annoyed if I was the girl who was second overall amateur. Supposedly she lost by one second. Only, you know, who really knows when there’s lots of little things that add up along the way and when people jump off at different times and their chips get read electronically slightly differently as they cross the mats. One time, when I raced this as an elite, I outsprinted a girl at the finish. I was a step ahead of her and we all knew I had won because we started at the same time since all the elites start at the same time. But, the electronic chip said she won. And, we had to correct it. So, yeah, if I was the girl who came in second yesterday by one second and there was no way to really know if that was true or not, I’d be sort of pissed.)

Auburn World’s Toughest Half: Race Report

I’m kind of pissed off right now and writing this pretty in the immediate, so it is what it is — ie. not super peppy triathlon.

Short summary: I biked like I’ve forgotten how. I’m worried I might have forgotten how. It was so bad that I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to finish the bike when I was only 1/3 of the way through it. Then, as I was coasting into T2 angry and miserable and wanting to throw up/piss myself, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t finish the run and would pass out somewhere and be eaten by rattlesnakes. But, I did finish. Right afterward, I was happy about this. ‘Go me. I kept it together enough, even after everything sucked so hard, that I still passed some people on the run. Yay. This has to be good for Ironman practice.’ However, the results say that I REALLY sucked on the bike and the only reason I passed anyone on the run was because I was so far back. Ugh. Ugh.

Long version: At least I swam good.

I swam a 30:50 (which included running forever through shin-deep muck at the end; stupid drought), which is not really a very impressive time, but I came out of the water so close behind the front two women — one of whom I know is a very fast swimmer — that I actually passed them in T1. So: win.

The thing about World’s Toughest Half is that it’s really tough and hilly. That’s fine. I was (sorta) prepared for this. I mean I didn’t actually look at a course map, but in theory I understood the concept. For the first 40′ or so I felt pretty good. I was racing off heartrate for the second race ever — Wildflower being the first — and I don’t think I understand it. I don’t know. My plan was to keep my HR in the low-mid-150s. That seems about right for what would usually be my half pace (170 watts). I don’t know. For the first 40′ my HR was right in the 150s and I was eating and drinking and powering up the hills and I felt good/ok. Two girls passed me early, but I did a mental check: ‘Should I go with them? No, not this early.’ And, then on one of the downhills my HR went down and it didn’t come back up as much. And, then, more and more. I simply couldn’t keep my HR up and it kept dropping further. I could barely keep it in the 140s at times. And I felt awful. By an hour in, I felt really awful. Was my HR down because I was going easier? I couldn’t tell. Sometimes, yes, I was definitely going easier. Sometimes, I’d stand and go as hard as I could and my HR’d go up to a whopping 148. Sometimes, I’d go harder and it’d go down. I tried to remember how halves are supposed to feel, but I couldn’t remember. It seemed like I was going as hard as I could (for this distance), but my legs simply had no power. But, maybe I don’t know what hard is anymore? The course is constantly up or down and on the ups I was almost going backward. On the downs, I was terrified of crashing.

Besides the fact that my legs were dead and my heart was sluggish and I felt awful, the other major problem was that there were lots of steep descents that went into sharp sketchy turns or long curvy descents that seemed gradual but suddenly would turn inward — and there was no warning when these were coming. There weren’t signs leading up to the sharp turns; there were volunteers at some of them but they were often stationed too late to know in advance or were preoccupied with manning traffic, etc. The roads were also open and full of cars. Some of the roads were incredibly busy actually. And, after a number of close calls and seeing someone almost get hit by a car, I got really nervous. REALLY nervous. I can not crash again right now. You know what happens when you get really nervous in a race that has lots and lots of long steep descents? You lose a lot of time. I was basically sitting up and braking constantly.

For about two or two-and-a-half hours, I was pretty sure I wasn’t doing as awful as I felt. And, I felt awful. I hate races where you’re basically by yourself and miserable. It’s hard to bring the race game face — whatever race game face I had today, which wasn’t much. Then, the last hour, I was actually definitely doing as awful as I felt. I just stopped even caring. I felt terrible. I’m not going to crash myself out in this stupid race. This race is stupid. All these people are stupid. Biking is stupid. I lost my race number stickers. I lost a water bottle of the back of the bike. I went straight through an intersection I should have turned at and had to flip around. I spilled so much gel that it congealed all my other gels packets together. My left knee and my right hip hurt on my bike. My whole bike started rattling on a downhill and I coasted trying to figure it out for a few miles — worried about crashing. I lost all motivation. One women, who only rode about 6′ faster than me, made up 2′ and put another 3′ on me in about the last 7 miles. I was over it. I was done. And, I really really really had to pee for the last hour. I was actually mildly pleasantly surprised that I finished the ride in 3:34, since I thought I had bombed out so hard that it might have been four hours before I could get off my stupid bike.

For a decent amount of time while biking I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to finish the bike. I knew I had to run when I got there — that was the whole point of doing such a long hard race: to practice finishing strong when things suck and are long and shitty — but, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to finish running. So, I told myself: ‘You’re just going out for a run, a nice long trail run. You go for runs all the time.’ And, that’s what I did. I wasn’t racing. I didn’t care. I was just out for a run on the hilly, rocky trails. A girl passed me in about the first mile and said if I needed to get by to pass her back just to let her know, and I said, ‘Yeah, no, that’s not going to be a problem. Definitely not going to happen.’ Sounds like the right attitude.

After walking alone up a long steep road in the sun, I suddenly was on an out-and-back section and it turned out there were people somewhat right ahead of me. And, I wasn’t sucking (too much in comparison). And, also, I was probably going to finish. So, then, I tried to start trying. I passed one girl. I gained on another. I told myself that was good enough, you got close to her, way to go Kelly, you’re not actually going to catch her. But, with less than a half-mile to go, she was right ahead of me. I decided I had to go for it and kicked hard (while trying not to throw up). I went from running like 8:45s to 6:00 pace and freaked everyone out. Perhaps I should have done that the whole time.

The results suggest I biked really really shitty, like 28′ slower than the fastest girls, and then ran pretty slowly too. That was definitely a shitty race.

Obviously, I don’t know why I’ve been biking well in training and not in races. I suspect I’m struggling to remember what race hard is. I also think I haven’t been able to find that race game face, the extra difference between caring when someone passes you and not caring. And, I’ve been having a hard time with heart rate and recovery. There’s been some workouts lately where I’ve headed out and simply couldn’t get my heartrate above 125. It may just be that my heart is crazy, which is true. But, I also definitely didn’t give myself enough time to do nothing after smashing my face in. The accident really fucked me up and my body’s been struggling to recover. It’s been an up and down battle. More down. But, I got through today and that’s something at least.

Race Report: Wildflower Olympic Triathlon

Short version: Everything about the race was ok, decent, solid. Nothing was great, but nothing was bad. (OK, my bike was a little bad.) It was hot and it was rough, but I hung in there and finished 5th or so overall in 2:41 — just 3′ out of 2nd and right in the mix. Considering how really shit the last month has been, ok/decent probably is pretty much the same as super awesome. I know some odds were 2:1 on me not finishing.

Long version: Most people know that I tore a muscle in my foot last month and then shattered my front teeth about four weeks ago. Some people know that I also got sick while in Chicago and then heatstroked the fuck out of myself last week and got food poisoning (or, just couldn’t eat with being so messed up; it’s unclear). Not everyone knows the other little things that keep seemingly going wrong and how stressed I’ve been about paying the government $10,000 — stupid TurboTax — and trying to figure out how I’m going to move to LA two days after IM Canada to start a ten-month fellowship. Basically, I lost 5-7 lbs. in about a week-and-a-half simply because I couldn’t really eat anyway with my teeth or stomach or cold and anyway eating is a lot of work.

You can see how expectations might not have been totally high going into this race. Except, even though I kept saying that, I still totally expected a lot from myself. I still wanted to kill it.

Running through the "lake."
Running through the “lake.”

 

There was almost no chance I was going to camp at the race site — even though that’s the big thing with Wildflower — because the odds of me coming down with giardia and/or being arrested for murdering a fellow triathlete were fairly high and either would have ruined my race. Instead — after hacking up everything and blowing my nose a billion times at the motel — I showed up at 7:30 a.m. race morning, set up, caught the shuttle to the swim start. and then sat around for almost two hours waiting.

Despite that, I almost missed my start. Oops. It was just as well because the water in the new swim location was Gross. So thick with nastiness you couldn’t see your own hand. Who would have wanted to warm-up more than 1′ anyway.

I got dropped really quickly at the swim start. It was weird. I don’t think I’ve been farther back than 3rd out of the water in an age group race since, I dunno, my first race? Usually, I’m a back-of-the-first-pack swimmer. But, when I looked up after swimming hard out of the start, I expected to see a couple other people around me as we separated ourselves from the rest, and instead I saw myself separating from them. Then, I got dropped by the second pack of swimmers. I started to have an attack of confidence. And we were only 5′ into the race. Was I swimming as fast as I could? Did I get slow? Did my arms hurt so much because I was going to fall apart and not being able to finish? Ahhhhhh.

The swim went on, besides one girl grabbing me and closing her hand around my shoulder and trying to pull me under when we were totally by ourselves, and I only mildly struggled to keep my motivation up. My watch said I swam a 22:45, but the results say 22:15, so that’s actually not terrible (even if I was 10th-12th out of the water for some reason), but it’s not great. And, then, I realized: Now, I have to run!! Ugh.

Because of the drought, we had to run about 2.5 miles from the swim to our bikes, across what should be a lake but is currently a desert. This was my favorite part of the day. 1. I like running rolling trails and 2. as I explained to Steve, I’m comparatively better at running out of the swim because I’m used to being disoriented. I don’t know if I actually was running fast or if I just felt like I was because I passed some women from my wave, some women from waves before me, lots of men. And, then, just as I was wondering if I had tried to run too fast, there were our bikes. Oh wait, that means now I have to ride my bike. Ah.

The desert lake run.
The desert lake run.

I really thought I was killing it on the bike for about 20′. I didn’t have power, because my new bike set-up doesn’t have power with my race wheels, but I was doing all the things I usually do: singing Taylor Swift, checking that I was on the verge of throwing up, etc. I haven’t raced my new bike yet and I’ve been really struggling to get it to fit right and be comfortable, but I was positive it was fast. I was sure the bike was going to whisk me to a fast split. I just forgot that I had to go hard too.

About 8 miles in a girl passed me and I realized I should probably go harder. I tried to keep her in sight then and succeeded for awhile. But, it turns out: I’ve been training a lot for halves and Ironman; I have not been training for Olympic distance. And, I’m not going to be one of those douches who says Olympic is “short” and “just go hard,” because for real it’s closer to a marathon in time than a 5K. But, I kept falling into more of a tempo pace and struggling to constantly be going as hard as I could. Also Rihanna failed me as a sing-along song. With maybe a quarter left, I lost the girl. I tried to find a rhythm. I just wanted off my bike, but then I’d have to run. No winning. I genuinely thought I was going to bike a 1:19/1:20 until about the last mile of the bike. It turns out I biked a 1:23. Ew. Oh well.

The run is the most brutal part at Wildflower. It is hot and hilly. And, this year, with the amended run they added a super long steep hill. I mean crazy. It was like a death march, through which I was trying to run. I got those chills that happen when you’re so hot you get cold. At first, I tried to keep up my cadence and I passed some women. But, then some of them were actually from other waves and some of them were from mine. Both were discouraging — How are there still so many people ahead of me from my wave? Why did I just fight so hard to pass someone who started 10′ before me? I started to not care about passing people anymore. What’s the point. That’s the difference between the fire and the complacency. I went back and forth between the two. At the top of the long death hill, I told myself: It’s halfway, it’s downhill(ish), push hard all the way. And, I did. Or, I tried. It seemed like I was flying, but it gets really hard to tell if you’re going fast or not when you’re passing so many people who started so much before you. Maybe you’re just going fast in comparison?

Then, I could see the campground, which meant we were almost done and the last mile was downhill. I pushed, pushed. Passed some more women. God, how many people were ahead of me?? And, then, we hit the flat stretch to the end and you know, you know that you’ll finish then. And, I thought: Why do you know you’ll finish at this point? Just because you can see it up there? How is it everyone finds a last bit to push at the end? It’s all in your head. I didn’t think I really had a bit left to push. What if I don’t finish from here. I thought it was a real possibility.

But, I did. And, then, after I finally got moving again, I started shoving ice down my shirt and sucking down dozens of cups of ice water all at once. It turns out I might have been a little more messed up than I realized.

Also: stronger than I realized. I made it despite not being able to eat Thursday, despite Wildflower being my least favorite race ever, despite everything. First race out of the way. Keep moving forward.

Race Report: Couples Relay

The Couples Relay is a fun, small relay (duh) where one woman runs two miles and then hands off to her male partner, who runs two miles. I’ve been in charge of it for the last three years and this year Steve and I finally actually ran it. I’m pretty sure he was only convinced to run it after talking shit about trying to beat Pete and Ilyce, but then Ilyce got the flu and we still ended up running it.

It rained a lot this weekend and, since we’re in the middle of a drought, no one was totally prepared for it. If you don’t live in Northern California, then let me give you an idea of what it was like from Thursday to yesterday night. It was like this:

You’re going to get soaking wet. Why not run a race?

I was really stressed about this for some reason. Even though the race is about 100-150 people usually and was even fewer this year because of the rain, I was still totally anxious. Two miles just sounded infinitely worse than both one mile (which would be done by the time it started to hurt) and a 5K (which would be slower and not as painful). The women went first, so I started with a few high school girls and a bunch of fast women.

For a mile, it was no problem. I tucked in right behind the four high school kids and it didn’t feel easy but it didn’t feel hard either. Every time I started to fall back or it started to suck they’d slow down or I’d bridge back up or it’d pass. We ran straight through puddles and my Garmin said we hit the first mile in 5:58, so I was pretty much ready to call it then. There was no way I was going to do better than that.

Then, on the second lap — each lap was one mile-ish, another woman caught up to me and passed me and I all of a sudden remembered there were other people in the race behind me too. She went by me and passed a couple of the high school girls, who were slowing down. I followed, but slipped farther behind her. And, then, for two or three minutes, it sucked. A lot. The woman who went by me and the front high school girl were battling it out and pulling away. I was dying. It hurt so bad. Actually, I have no recollection of the pain; it’s interesting how those things are wiped from our memory. I remember that it did hurt, but not the hurt itself. I was in the middle of the longest two mile in history. And, then a (fast) 50-year-old woman caught me.

I told myself Steve was going to give me hella shit if I got beat by this many people before I handed off to him, so I forced myself to go with her. We were almost done by then, trying to pump my arms and plow through the increasingly heavier rain. The GPS said we hit the second mile in 6:07. And, then there were still seven more seconds before I reached the hand-off. WTF, race director, get it together.

Steve held our position and we finished in fourth, behind two high school teams and one adult team. And, then, everyone got awards, because we always have awesome prizes for the Couples Relay and then we spent another two hours picking everything up after the race. And, this is what our house looks like because all the wet clothes and shoes are drying everywhere and the rains have taken over:

IMG_20140209_205614_074

But, still, totally worth it to run two almost six minute miles. I wasn’t even sure I was going to be able to do that. And, since I am the race director for the Couples Relay, I give the entire race an A+ for effort.