This is a very bittersweet moment for me. In some ways, I am SO happy that this race is done, but in other ways I am sort of mourning it. This has been one of the most difficult, exhausting, amazing, inspiring, and painful experiences of my life! And it has consumed pretty much my entire year, especially the second half of it. While I happy to say that I am officially done training, I am a little sad that all of it is over.
The past couple of weeks leading up to the race, things were going well. My leg stopped hurting and finally felt like it was "healing." It didn't hurt to the touch and I was taking very good care of it, even though I was still running on it. The week of the race, I got a lot of sleep. I was calm, I was excited, I was nervous. I had my running "outfit" washed and folded on top of my dresser all week, so I wasn't frantically washing anything the night before. I had my entire week's worth of food purchased, including the pre-race dinner (which of course I forgot to thaw, so we ate Chipotle instead). The weather was cool and beautiful, so all our weeks of training in the heat were going to be rewarded. I knew that everything I had done had led me up to this moment and there was nothing more I could do to prepare. I was ready.
A few things were bothering me, the main thing being my stomach. I don't know what I did to anger it so much, but I was starting to feel a little nervous that my body had gotten this far, my leg had gotten this far, and perhaps my vice would be my stomach. Luckily, it behaved itself during the race. :) My gastroenterologist put me back on gluten (the equivalent of 2 pieces of bread a day) for the next month, and then she wants to do an Endoscopy to test for celiac, ulcer, gastritis, and h pylori bacteria. It makes sense to test for everything at once, and the only way to truly tell if gluten is upsetting me is to have it in my system. She also said I could just have IBS that is set off my stress and some foods. So we'll see.
But, back to the race...
I decided to carb load as much as possible. As thrilling of the idea of stuffing my face for two days straight is, it is crazy hard! Especially since some of the yummy carb things I would love to go for weren't on the list of foods my body was handling well. Even nuts or nut butters. According to the carb loading articles I have read, you are supposed to consume 4g of carbs per pound of body weight for 2-3 days prior to the race, and then the morning of, consume 1g of carb per lb. To put this in perspective, my daily "recommended" amount of carbs (per MyFitnessPal anyway) on a 1200 calorie diet with no exercise that day is 165. Carb loading would mean 548g of carbs. This is seriously impossible. I tried a valiant effort and only got to about 200g of carbs each day, and 81g the morning of. I was so full from the day before, and it was 4am the morning of. I could only eat so much.
In the end, my body needed the missing fuel from the morning. I got tired during the race, and actually got hungry at about mile 10. Note to self for next time: Plan to run with a snack or force myself to eat more 3 hours prior.
Got to bed at 9pm the night before, and slept very well until 3. Napped on an off until 3:45 and then got up to make breakfast. Forced 2 eggs, 2 corn tortillas, and half of a coconut milk/protein shake down my system and taped up my leg. Christi picked me up about 6:00 and we headed over to Hohokam Stadium. It was freezing from the storm the night before, but the air was so clean and crisp and it was a gorgeous morning. We got into the herd of people at the starting line, gave each other a hug, put one of our headphones in, and started with the horn.
Our first reaction was how fast the people were in the race! They took OFF! We started quickly to keep up with them, but soon realized that if we were going to complete all 13 miles, we'd have to pull back a little bit. We kept a 10:50 pace for the first 6 miles, and then slowed down a little bit for the second half (not intentionally). The track led us down the canal, which was actually really pretty and full of ducks. The only downsides were the occasional glare from the sun, and some of the dirt parts were flooded and muddy from the storm the night before. One part was particularly rocky as well, which I wasn't a huge fan of, because you had to concentrate hard on not tripping or landing directly on one of the rocks that were loosely sitting there.
I got pretty tired at about mile 8, but got a new surge of energy at mile 11. Perhaps that was because I knew the end was near. My leg did really awesome! It started to get sore at around 8 miles, but nothing I couldn't run through. My shoulders were tight as we neared the end, so they were starting to bother me. The trickiest part of long distance is keeping your form as your body tires, and keeping your arms moving. If your moves stay in place, your pace slows, and you neck and shoulders start to hurt. My sports bra wasn't helping these muscles, either.
As we turned towards the stadium on the final mile, I got hit with a surge of emotion. I couldn't believe we had run this far. The final 1.1 miles felt like the longest miles ever (the track sort of looped into the stadium which made it impossible to see the "FINISH" banner until we were right there, but I was ecstatic when we crossed the finish line).