So I lied. In my last post I wrote about a PR not being attainable unless a miracle of epic proportions occurred during my 10-mile race this past weekend. I knew it was possible, but only if I didn’t stop due to some acute injury or end up in a porta-potty along the race course somewhere. Both of which did NOT happen on Saturday so….
A MIRACLE happened, people! Were you aware? No?
Let’s start from the beginning.
Friday night I headed to bed fairly early and laid awake all night with a pounding migraine in my right temple that just screamed “sinus infection.” I’d been battling an underlying sinus war all week prior to the race and not a day went by that I wasn’t doping myself up on tylenol trying to ward it off. Saturday morning, every single time I moved my head forward or back, I felt like someone was stabbing me with an ice pick behind my right eye. I sat in a warm bath at 5AM that morning willing myself not to puke. It was that moment that I became utterly terrified of the 10 miles I was slated to run along the banks of the Mississippi River just 3 hours later.
Fast forward to my garage door going up as I was getting ready to leave and there was a nice layer of fresh snow covering the road. Freak out #2.
Then as I’m getting on the freeway to go pick up my friend, Marie, I’m white-knuckling it past an SUV half over-turned in a ditch because of the ice on the road. Freak out #3.
Mkay. So the ride there was NOT pleasant. We ended up getting to the stadium at 6:30 to make sure Marie had enough time to get her stuff and for me to get my 50 pee breaks in prior to the start. It was at that point where I resolved there was nothing I could do about the freezing temps and slick roads. I couldn’t do anything about my migraine and I’d just have to give it my best shot and hope that there’s someone there along the course to take care of me should I keel over or break my leg.
At promptly 7:50, I left Marie (who was running the 5K starting 10 minutes later) and headed to the start of the 10-miler. I had heard the course was hilly. I’m running a veeeerrrry hilly half marathon in less than a month, so this was a perfect opportunity for me to try my hand at hills I hardly ever get to run. More on this in a minute.
We headed off at the start and I was feeling good until I looked at my watch at 0.65 of a mile and thought to myself “Wow. I’m tired.” That mentality had to stop right there. I had 9.35+ miles to go.
The course wound through the University of Minnesota campus before heading out along the parkway on the edge of the Mighty Mississippi river. It was very beautiful, but incredibly hilly at times. The first came after mile 2. I turned a corner and BOOM it was what appeared to be a never-ending hill. I was following the 1:45/10:30 pacer guy (who happened to be the same pacer that left me and others high and dry during the Mankato half after nature called and he did a porta-potty visit). Believe it or not, I was happy to see him. I knew his style and knew I could hang with him for quite a ways so I just focused on the back of his singlet and plowed up that hill. I passed the walkers. My goal was to stick behind him for the first 6 miles, access how I felt at that point and see what the plan should be for the remainder of the race. I did just that.
We made our way up and down the hills and over the bridge crossing to the other side around mile 4. It felt like if we weren’t going up, then we were definitely going down. There were a couple times I had to really sit down into the downhill or I felt like I was falling. The only problem I was faced with was the intense “floaty-head” feeling that was hanging around in combination of the stabbing ice pick sensation behind my right eye that just wouldn’t quit. I spent the first 6 miles of the race debating a full-on collapse as I passed all the Minneapolis cops at every intersection directing traffic away from the runners. I bet I warded off the notion of quitting and asking for medical attention at least 8 or 10 times those first 6 miles. I just kept telling myself I was on my own, I had to get through it, and just to keep going.
I got myself to mile 6 as planned behind my pacer guy (who was pulling out a pace WAY faster than the 10:30 I wanted to chill at comfy-like) and only walked through the water stops. I decided to give myself permission to walk at that point, but only if absolutely necessary and making a pact with myself that once I walked, I could only walk for 1 minute and then start again. I was holding my Garmin in my hands the whole time and was looking at my pace and time, but none of it was really registering with me. I didn’t really do the math and wasn’t really caring. This was most definitely a first for me. I was proud of how I was handling what felt like my brain trying to explode through my skull, the fact that I felt dizzy, and that the insane hills weren’t messing with my head.
At around mile 6.5 (I think?) I started to notice runners coming back AT us. The road was split into two and I was herded on the right side while runners coming the opposite direction were on the left. I noticed they were turning a hard right at the split and heading up this MASSIVE hill I couldn’t see the end of. I decided to not give that terror a “voice” and to just keep plowing through past it until the turn around when I knew that “mountain” was going to be staring me in the face.
I got to that point right after mile 7 and I started to walk up it. I walked maybe 15 seconds (still couldn’t see the end of it) and told myself it was time to put the big girl panties on and run. I didn’t care if it was at a pace of 45:00/mile, I was going to put a “hop” into my step and get up that hill looking like I was not walking. I made it…only to go over the bridge back towards the U of M and see another hill right before mile 8. I walked that sucker and checked my phone to see a pic my hubby had sent me of our 2.5 month old son that said “Good luck, Mommy!” Bam! Tears.
I remembered a convo I’d heard back around mile 1 where some runner told another runner “If we can just get to mile 8, it’s smooth sailing from there.” I’d past the hardest part. They weren’t kidding. The rest of the race was flat as a pancake. I was running high on seeing that pic of my son and I knew the last 2 miles were gonna be awesome. They were. I averaged a 9:30 pace for miles 8-10+ and cruised with what felt like fresh legs around the edge of the stadium, down the ramp, and onto the field crossing the finish at the 50 yard line of TCF stadium with a grand total time of 1:45:45 for 10.26 miles for an average pace of 10:18/mile.
I have never ever ever ended a race (not even a 5K) on legs that felt so good. My last 2 miles were definitely my fastest and I wasn’t even out of breath. I felt like a ROCKSTAR. For a girl whose typical running route only gains approximately 34 feet of elevation, I’d just tackled 450+ foot gain with ease and a migraine to boot. This race was a far cry from my total puking melt down at the Walt Disney World Half this past January.
My last 10-mile race was October of 2011 where I came in at 1:50:08 after losing my mind and walking a ton due to an acute knee injury and spending some time in a porta-potty. I had just PR’d this race. Even though a year ago I ran 10 miles on a training run in just over 1:38:00, I was ECSTATIC over this new race PR with big hills in 1:45:45.
So while my PR isn’t really my best time for 10 miles. It’s my PR for a race.
Come to mama, PR! COME TO MAMA!
Even if my half marathon hill-fest doesn’t turn out great next month, I still had this moment. It was a huge one. I haven’t had a PR in over a year and a half for any distance so I’m thrilled. Who the heck cares if I’ve run 10 miles way faster in the past? What matters is that I’m seeing progress in who I am handling obstacles that come my way. There would have been a time where I would have bailed on all hills, wouldn’t have got out of bed with that migraine, or I would have probably cried my whole way through the race.
Not on Saturday. I have come a long way, baby and I can’t wait to see what next month holds.
Here’s me and Marie (on the right) with our respective finisher medals!