Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tobacco Road Marathon March 15, 2015

4:30 and the early am moon
This is the third year that I have been to the TRM.  Excellent course, great support and I love supporting a local race where so much of the money raised goes to charity!

I paced the 2:00 group several years ago.  2 years ago I ran the full and tried to BQ but it didn’t happen…. 

I signed up to be a pace team leader for the 4:30 group.  Felt completely comfortable with that pace.  Knew it would be a great time.  Dave was leading the group with me – having 2 pace leaders is a very good thing, and a lot of fun! 

I woke up way too early on a Sunday morning – isn’t that always how it goes with these events?  Drove to Net App and shuttled in on the bus.  Saw Kaz out there directing traffic – that man does sooo much at this race!!  Paula was out there directing traffic as well.  

The bus ride was good – sat next to someone who asked me about pacing as she saw my pacer shirt.  We talked all the way to the drop off point.  I wished her well and we parted ways.  

I met up with the pace team group in the tent pre-race.  We laughed and talked about the upcoming race.  It’s a great group of volunteers – many who are members of the North Carolina Roadrunners Club.  

What a good lookin group!!
We took a pace team picture, then shortly thereafter, headed to the start.  

While I was waiting at the start, holding my sign in the vast sea of runners, (think ‘here’s your sign’ – ha!) a lady came up to me and said “I don’t know how you do it, pacing, but I commend you.  It is not anything that I could ever do but I appreciate it”  I told her thank you.  She then said “I am old enough to be your mom”.  I laughed and said, “ma’am, I am 41 years old….”  She was shocked – she said “I thought you were in your 20’s!”  LOL!  It was indeed early and dark out…  apparently she could not see well ;)  Actually that made me feel really good.  I love volunteering and having fun with it!

Not long after we had the national anthem and then…… the start!  

We had a great group of folks running with us.  Started out with a couple dozen is my guess.  We kept a steady pace between 10:05 and 10:20 depending on the grade of the trail.  We laughed and talked and joked around.  We encouraged other runners as they came back from the turn around.  We were doing great – feelin strong and having fun!

At the halfway point I pulled out my phone and played “Livin on a Prayer” oh yeah, I started singing too - half way there!  lol!

Action selfie of us!  Learned this from Nathan - lol!
Saw many familiar faces along the way volunteering – Cara, Bob, Paula, Gene… I know there were many many folks out there giving their time and I appreciate it all!  I also appreciate the church group out there who had donut holes!  I even managed to pick out a jelly filled one :D *win*

As the miles went along, our numbers kept dwindling.  Still, we kept that core of peeps that kept the pace.  

As we approached mile 19 “my song” came on.  Ok, so it’s overplayed but I still love it.  “Uptown Funk”  It reminds me of the great time I had weeks ago at Myrtle Beach.  It was the boost that I needed.  I was singing and “dancing” or as much as I can dance when running.  Ha!  It was fun.  I think some people thought I lost my mind… well yeah… that happened long ago – ha!

It wasn’t long after when I started to not feel well.  It began with a mental moment, and I recovered from that, but then my legs started to really tighten up.  I stopped to stretch as Dave went on with the group.  I wasn’t that far behind but I was really having a time catching up.  I picked up the pace some to catch up with them and that is when it hit.  All that gu and Gatorade didn’t want to stay in anymore.  I looked for a tree off to the side and promptly had a reversal.  Ugh.  I knew I wouldn’t recover from this or catch up to them…  I felt horrible.  My legs were cramping intensely and I was in a lot of pain.  I have felt lousy in races but this was one of the worst….  And I was supposed to be leading runners to their 4:30 finish…  Talk about a double dose of feeling bad….  

I changed out of my pacer shirt as I was walking down the trail and into my 1Red Shoe Realty shirt.  I couldn’t wear the pacer shirt being so far off the pace…  Had several people pass me who were part of the 4:30 group at one point and they still recognized me (was it the braids and kilt?) and wondered if I was ok.  Told them that they were doing great, keep going, and I was not doing too well but was hoping to walk it in.  

I saw a guy up ahead of me who looked like he was struggling.  It was my goal to catch him and see if he was ok.  I caught up to him and indeed he was having a rough go of it.  He was having leg cramps too.  He recognized me as the pace group leader.  Told him I was having issues myself.  I told him that we would finish it together and that I would not leave him.  

We struggled together for those last 4 miles.  We tried running every so often but it hurt for both of us. I talked him through his pain, which helped me “forget” mine.  At least it changed my focus.

We talked a lot about life, running and how he would finish his first marathon.  

Any of you who follow my running know me well enough to know that whether or not I feel good or not, when that finish line is anywhere near close, I am ready to be done.  I told him when we hit that .2 that we would finish strong and run it in.  And we did.  

He finished with his friends cheering him on.  He was so happy and I was happy to have helped him.  I was walking away so he could have time with his friends and he turned and hugged me and thanked me.  He said “if it wasn’t for you, I would not have finished”.  That meant a lot.  Overwhelming even. Even though I “failed” at completing the 4:30 group, I still managed to work through it and bring in a first timer.  That is huge, not for me, but for him.  Everything happens for a reason.  

I walked away back towards the tents.  I didn’t feel like even having a post-race recovery beverage.  You know I’m not feeling well if I don’t want a hoppy beverage.  Saw Tim (the Altra shoe guy) as I was walking back.  He saw I wasn’t doing well and talked to me some.  He gave me a lot of encouragement.  He said something like every now and then you have a race that doesn’t go well.  You know what that means?  You are trying and sometimes you might fail.  He said you were out there 5 hours.  That’s a long time to be out there.  Its tough and you worked through it and you shouldn’t be disappointed.  He hugged me and I had a meltdown on his shoulder.  Um, yeah…  it happens.  I was tired, hurting, and mentally drained.  I was thankful for an encouraging friend.  

I got to the beer tent and did have a Buckshot.  Everyone was wondering how I was doing.  I think they saw how disappointed I was and told me to not worry about it and that it was all good.  Dave brought in the 4:30 group.  You know what he said?  “this pacing stuff sucks!  It is NOT easy!”  no its not but it is  very rewarding.  I love it.  I guess when he came in and said that I was still out there, peeps were worried about me…  They were not concerned that I didn’t bring the group in, they were more concerned about my wellbeing.  I heard so much about how it’s ok, that I was still able to bring someone in and that it is all good.  I needed to hear that.  A pacer always wants to succeed at their task….

I hung out for a while with everyone and enjoyed the company of friends.  After a while I did get a ride back to my car and headed home…  I needed a shower!  Talk about chafing…  ow ow ow ow.  Same spot every time along the bottom of my running bra line.  I even used glide!  I should know better by now.  I always chafe in that spot when I sweat…  :/

So what went wrong?  Who knows.  It was a warm day. I was sweating more than I had been when running on cold days.  I drank Gatorade during the race when I rarely ever drink it which probably upset my stomach. I might not have hydrated as well as I should have. I didn’t bring any s caps.  I hadn’t slept well for a couple nights.  I also have stuff going on in my life that some days I just have a tough time working through…  

Maybe nothing went wrong… maybe I was supposed to fall back and help Nick out.  Maybe, Just maybe this happened so he could finish his first full marathon.  

At the end of the day I am grateful.  Grateful for encouraging friends.  Grateful for the strength, even on an off day, to finish.  Grateful for the pain that I am feeling the next day which reminds me of the miles I ran. Grateful for my kids, my family, my running family who is like my chosen family and texted, messaged and called me to check up on me after the race.    

I can do all things through HIM who gives me strength. 

Til the next adventure *cheers*