Race morning started at 4:45am, and Laura and I were up and at em. Nerves were in full force, so I was glad that everything was set to go for the morning, and I all I had to concentrate on was forcing food down my throat. Before too long, the gents, Dan, Ryan, and Luke were at our door ready to head to the start. My stomach was maaaaaaaad as normal. We left our hotel and I was perfectly content in my shirt and shorts. I laughed on the inside at all the wussies out there in pants, jackets, headbands/hats, gloves, etc. Seriously, it was like 40 degrees out there!
We stayed at the Excalibur so we were right around 1 mile from the race start. It was pretty crazy/awesome to see all the throngs of runners migrating to Mandalay Bay. We saw some totally douchy guy strutting around smoking a cigarette thinking he was the coolest thing EVER. We were all pretty annoyed, so we couldn't help but laugh that he tripped trying to climb over a fence. Karma is a B. Some people just look really good bright and early before races, no? :)
I ditched the boys early on since they were heading for corral 1, and apparently I'm not quite that speedy. I found the bag drop and met up with Slomohusky! It was great to finally put a face to his writing and comments. Unfortunately my stomach was still in freak out mode so our convo was cut short to accommodate yet another port a potty wait for me (I think this puts me at 5 for the morning :/). And to make matters worse, not only was I in line for the bathroom as the star spangled banner was being played, I was also waiting while the first 2 corrals were released. Stress meter: max.
I decided from the race start to run ~9:20 for the first half of the race and then either maintain the pace the second half for a PR or drop the pace for a sub-4 if my legs felt good. Based on how fatigued my legs felt just 5-6 miles in, I decided to shoot for a PR party!
I had my music off for the first 9-10 miles just to really take in the experience. There were a ton of bands along the course, lots of spectators, and plenty of scenery to take in. Around mile 6-7 my left hip started to throb. Uh oh. I've had issues with this hip when doing some aggressive speedwork this summer, and again during my 20 mile long run while training for Vegassssssssss. Sadly, once this hip pain presents, itself, it doesn't disappear. At this point I still thought a PR was possible, but the hip pain was also around a 2-3. Within a couple of miles of the hip pain in the left leg, I had a ton of pain start up in my right knee. Oy. Clearly I was compensating my form to try to ease the pain and aggravated something else. I decided right around the halfway point that a PR was just out of the question for the day, and I was just going to enjoy the race as much as I possibly could!
At the point that the half and full split, I was a little jealous of everyone who was just about done. I was starting to make my trek out in to no man's land when I heard, "yeahhhhh TEAM GREEN!!!!" Uh wha???? Laura! No idea how she saw me, but she had already finished with her crazy fast half and was heading back to our hotel room. We had discussed her possibly pacing me the last couple of miles if I needed it. I yelled out to her that I WOULD need her and to try to find me at all possible. :) I started counting down to mile 24 from that point on for my company. :p
Once we split off from the half we got to the sucky part of the course. There were some crazy hills and not much for shade. Swell. I just kept running and trying to give myself pep talks along the course. I was bummed that I felt soooooooo terrible for this race that I had trained hard for, but kept reminding myself how lucky I am that I can run! I just kept taking in all of my surroundings and kept a smile on my face. At one point I thought I saw Luke off in the distance (if you saw his race outfit, you'll be able to see why I could pick him out from a mile away). And he was walking. Uh..... I yelled out to ask him what the heck he was doing, and realized that he had gotten hurt along the course. 0/2 for us for the day I guess. I told him I was enjoying a total suckfest as well. Hey-o!
As much as the course sucked, the out and back areas were actually pretty cool for seeing other runners out on the course. I saw Sam and yelled out to him. Later I saw Emil as well. Both of them weren't able to see me waving frantically and screaming their names....not sure how this is possible given my highlighter yellow shirt, but whatevs. :p Eventually I caught up to Emil and we ran together for awhile. Nice to meet you Emil! You know you're a runner/blogger when: you "meet" someone during a marathon. :)
At one point, Natasha Beddingfield's Strip Me came on my iPod and I desperately wished that Jenn was out there working on that $hit $how with me. I had to listen to it on repeat for a couple of miles, and it helped to pass the time.
I was letting myself walk through water stations to give my hips/knees some reprieve, and because I was running ~10 minute pace otherwise, my legs weren't too fatigued to get going again, which was good. I was also struggling with my GUs (I know, I need to try something new, because I always have problems, I'll learn eventually). I kept burping/puking up GU flavored bile. Sexay, I know. Ickkkkk.
It was entertaining assessing how my pain would rotate every half to one mile:
"Oooh left hip hurts the most..... oh wait... congrats left knee.... you're now in the lead.... but look out..... right knee is coming on strong in the back stretch!"
I had to stop a couple of times during the final 10k to try to stretch my hips out. Not sure how I went from B.A. sub-4 finish to being ok with walkbreaks and all out STOPPING in a race, but whatever. :) During a water station, a guy stopped to walk with me and asked how I was doing. Apparently he had been pacing off of me for much of the race and was finally catching up. We talked running/racing/life for a bit and it was so nice to not be alone in my misery (he was shooting for a 3:45 finish). He finally had to take another walk break, and my legs had gone slightly numb so I figured I needed to go with it!
The last 4-5 miles were HORRIFIC. They were just the worst out and back/curvy/unscenic route ever. Being able to see the Mile 25 sign when you're at Mile 22 should not happen. Seeing so many people just struggling to put one foot in front of the other really messes with your brain a bit at this point.
With about 2 miles to go my savior, Laura, came to join me. She was exactly what I needed. She told me how her race went, and how the boys' races seemed to be going. With about a mile to go, I realized that there was a bitch of a hill standing between me and the end of my race.
Me: Uh.... does the course go up that?
Laura: Uh..yeah. I was hoping you wouldn't notice that.
We made our way there, and I resolved to run up it until my hips felt like they were going to fall off (oh wait, that was mile 7). She just kept babbling at me to not stop, so we just kept plugging away. Hill win o' the day. :) Just shy of 26 miles I realized that I could come in under 4:30 if I hauled some booty (I had stopped looking at my watch around mile 14 for sanity sake so had no idea what my estimated finish would be). I picked up the pace and just tried to pick off people.
I saw the finish line and ran as hard as I could counting all the dudes I was chicking in my head in the process. ;)
It wasn't pretty, but it was done. Marathon #2. :)
Sadly, because I suck at math while running, I ran fast enough (under 2 minutes) for the final .2 to put me under 4:30, but failed to remember that I had ran almost .2 extra. Haha fail. :)
I finished 26.38 miles in 4:31:53 for a pace of 10:18.
I was really bummed early on to realize that it was simply not.my.day. from the get go: stomach issues, tired legs, intense pain in my hips and knees, puking up GU, but I was beyond proud of myself for sucking it up and gutting it out. I have never felt that bad for a race right out of the gate, and many times I thought about quitting because I was afraid I was going to hurt myself by continuing with a different running form. While a 4:31 is pretty far off from what I wanted to run, it's a damn good time all factors considered, and I really did enjoy about 95% of the race, which is what it's all about. :)
There will be others, and redemption will taste oh so sweet.
Of course I had to take my finisher photo with the green showgirl. She said she liked that we matched. WIN!
Apparently I'm so excited that I'm rocking the Harrison squinty eyed smile. Oh well. :)
**Oh and all is not lost. At least I got some great race photos, which is really what running/racing is all about. :p