Made it downtown by 6:40 am, and parked within spitting distance of the American Airlines Center. After pumping myself up to Steve Ray Vaughn, I called Susan at 7:00 and she was already inside. It was really great to meet up with her finally, and she's just as nice and charming as you would imagine from her blog, despite how bad she claims to be! We took some pictures with her and my new blog pals Marathena and Massoman (Susan, send me the pics!).
At 7:30, I left to get ready for the race. I wore long running pants, short sleeved shirt, and $2 White Rock canvas gloves. When I did some warmup runs, I felt the 6 GUs in my back pocket pulling down my pants! Not a good idea. I took 2 GUs out and pinned them to the front of my pants instead.
The start wasn't crowded at all. I found the 4:00 pace team, and we introduced ourselves and chatted with the pace leader, Catherine. Catherine was absolutely terrific! She kept us on pace, she fired up the crowds, and she would talk to the group to keep us motivated. That girl's got some lungs! She guaranteed bringing us in by 3:59:40 and change, so all we had to do was hang with her.
And hang we did. The group was about 30-40 strong in the early stages. We blew through the course and before I knew it, 6 miles was in the bag and we were still on pace. Whenever we came across a crowd of spectators, Catherine would announce "4:00 pace team coming through, make some noise people!". It felt like we were in some kind of victory parade!
Past the 7 mile marker, we started descending towards White Rock Lake, getting there around mile 9. There was no sun and no rain, in the 40's probably, not too cold, but a bit windy down by the lake. Once we got there, it was the next 10 miles going around the lake. Crowd support thinned out here, and it was starting to get a bit lonely. But there was still perhaps 20-30 people in the pace group.
We passed the half way marker at 1:58:46 and were still on pace. Catherine would call out how we were doing at each mile marker, and at some points we were up to 50 seconds in the bank. I paid little attention to where we were and what pace we were going (see my splits later, which seemed all over the map), but just focused on hanging with the group.
At mile 19, we started leaving White Rock. I knew what was coming ... the Dolly Parton hills. But I had run these in my training runs and I was ready. Catherine, who had never run White Rock before, just powered on through. I put my head down and busted through too and made it fairly easily. But we started dropping a few more people along the way.
Approaching mile 21, I looked forward to seeing my cheering section. Cousin R., who was supposed to run the last 5 with me, developed "foot pain" and had to cancel. My friend L., thought the race was yesterday, and she had to cancel too! Here I am past mile 21, looking deceivingly in good spirits, charging towards my crowd and scaring the living daylights out of them!
With a quick kiss to S., I turned the corner and caught up with the pace team again. It was all downhill from here, but trouble was just waiting to happen.
After that turn, it seemed like the pace quickened a bit. Maybe because we were going slightly downhill, or maybe it was 5 miles to go and we could smell it. There were only 10-15 of us left at this point, and Catherine was pushing us to keep it strong. Man, without her, I would've started fading. I felt a few twinges in my calves, and thought "oh no, not again, not now". I remembered what Bex had suggested, and I altered my stride to keep it at bay. It seemed to work, but I could feel it simmering and it started to concern me.
When I wasn't worried about the calves, I was worrying about the pace. It seemed brutal, and I knew if I dropped off Catherine's pace, it was all over. We didn't have that much in the bank. I wasn't going to fall behind.
The next few miles were run in agony. I pulled up side by side with Catherine, and she gave me a few words of encouragement, although I bet I looked like I was going to pass out. At this point, taking in Gatorade was an exercise unto itself and more ended up in my nose and on my shirt than anywhere else. But I drank at every station to keep the cramps away.
Around this time, Catherine was encouraging those who felt good to start taking off. Not too many takers! But past mile 23, I somehow found myself ahead of her coming out of a water stop. I kept going, but I could always hear her still behind me talking to the group.
Mile 24 came and went. Still dying out there. Legs all wobbly. Breathing hard. Trying to pump my arms. Stay ahead of Catherine. No idea where I'm going. Follow the runners ahead blindly.
Mile 25 came and went. Arghhhhhh! Pushing pushing pushing but not gaining. Turned into the final stretch and I could see the American Airlines Center again but not the finish line. FINALLY, I see the balloons and I'm almost there. I kick it up one last time, and huff it to the mats. Final time: 3:59:09.Here's my splits:
Mile 1: 9:26
Mile 2: 9:32
Mile 3: 8:55
Mile 5: 17:50 (oops)
Mile 6: 9:00
Mile 7: 8:45
Mile 8: 8:47
Mile 9: 8:44
Mile 10: 9:01
Mile 12: 19:27 (oops again)
Mile 13: 8:06
Mile 14: 9:25
Mile 15: 9:24
Mile 16: 9:19
Mile 17: 9:21
Mile 18: 9:17
Mile 19: 9:13
Mile 20: 9:13
Mile 21: 9:05
Mile 22: 8:50
Mile 23: 9:01
Mile 24: 9:19
Mile 25: 7:37 (um, user error?)
Mile 26: 10:26
Mile 0.2: 1:57
At the finisher's corral, I gave Catherine a big hug and thanked her for an awesome job bringing us in. She's terrific, and I hope you all have a chance to run with her someday. Check out their schedule here. I also bumped into GandaMan at the finish, while waiting for Catherine. Check out his great result here.
Needless to say, I feel no pain (sorta) and I'm totally psyched by this result. Here's me back at mile 21 in my cousin's house, with my 3 girls and monkey in front of me, and a couple of their younger cousins down in front.
I have to thank Bex for her coaching, Catherine for her pacing, and last but not least, S. for putting up with my madness since MCM! What's next S.? ;)