|The start line..|
Chris was grumpy about waking up so early - but he was glad its only one time a year he has to chase me around Houston (last year he chased me for the 13.1)! He laughed when we walked outside.. He said "You are going to have a blast in this".. (Thanks for the sarcasm jerk!) He drove me to the Hilton which is right next to the convention center, where the race starts. I figured I would try to use a nice bathroom versus a stinky port-o-potty pre race. Nothing was happening, my stomach was still asleep. I didn't want a repeat of Chicago where I would have to run off course to find a toilet ASAP... So I took the advice of a fellow runner and popped a little Imodium. (Worked like a charm!)
I stood around the Hilton for a few minutes to keep warm - but I knew I needed to walk over and go to the gear check, etc.. So I braved the elements. As soon as I walked outside a huge gust of wind spit in my face. Misery. The rain was coming into downtown sideways - directly in my face. I was glad I was wearing a trash bag to keep me somewhat warm.
|Ready to leave!! Oiselle Running Apparel|
I finally checked my bag and walked towards the exit to go get in my corral. I ran into a few BCRR members when I was walking out and Nicole (one of the fastest women runners in the club) mentioned something about the trash bag I was wearing... I just knew it would keep me dry and warm.. (Think again!!) As soon as I walked outside wind spit in ours faces... It was so strong I had to bend at the waist to face it. The trash bag was screaming around my shoulders and back - trying to break free. Rain was pelting me. I briefly thanked myself for duct taping the toe box of my shoes to give my socks some salvation from the cold rain.
Standing in the corral - all the runners seemed to huddle together for heat and shelter. Most of them were looking around, giving "are you freaking kidding me" glances... It was pouring rain. Huge drops of rain wear pelting down on us. I looked further forward towards the start and the rain against the buildings was coming in sideways. It was almost cleansing to feel the rain run down my cheeks and drop off my eyelashes. My hair was stuck to my head. My ponytail soaked.
The gun went off with a BANG.
I was in the B corral so it took a little longer than I had anticipated to start moving. Start. Stop. Start. Stop. Finally a light jog. When I crossed the start line and picked up my pace to a comfortable "start pace". The rain felt like needles stabbing the skin on my face. Not so much the "cleansing feeling" I had about 5 minutes prior. I still had my trash bag on and my arms were inside of it. I refused to take it off or rip holes into it for my arms to come out. I was freezing. When we ran down the viaduct water began to collect and the duct tape on my shoes only kept my socks dry for about the first 5 miles. 21 miles of wet socks was in my future. I was still thankful that Landi gave me that idea. It helped beyond belief.
I saw Chris at mile 5 and he said "You are CRUISING". I felt strong, I felt prepared. I hated this rain. When we hit mile 8 the wind began to pick up and I felt like I was running with my eyes closed to keep the rain from hitting my eyes. People began to fall down from unseen (rain covered) potholes, which I immediately thought to run in the center of the street. In Houston, potholes collect on the side of the street from the weight of heavy buses, flooding and hot Texas summers... (Learned about concrete expansion and contraction on a work project) So I think this saved me from a little fall.
At mile 12 this teeny tiny little girl ran up next to me and said, "Ma'am is it normally for your arms to feel funny?" My maternal instincts kicked in.... I asked her how they felt funny, if her chest felt ok or tight, if she was able to breathe, if her tummy hurt..... She said everything was fine but her arms felt tingly when she put them down at her side (we are still running - and she is no older than 12).. I told her that happens sometimes because you keep your arms at your side for so long when you run.. I told her if she started to feel bad to stop, walk and ask for help. I hope she ended up being ok....
I saw my future sister in law Caroline a little past mile 12. She was screaming her head off which made me laugh... I needed that giggle. I was starting to feel 'heavy'... At mile 13 I saw Chris again, with our friends Patrick and his wife Camille - they were screaming for me! I gave Chris a big high five and a big FAKE SMILE. I was starting to have negative thoughts. By mile 15 the wind was full force. My jacket (I ditched the trash bag around mile 9) was flapping around, my hair (long thick hair) was wet and felt like it weighed about 20 pounds on the back of my head, my shoes were heavy.. I started to feel the weight of my legs.. This was NOT GOOD. This wasn't supposed to happen till about mile 20-23. I was in trouble.
|Caroline took this around mile 21|
At mile 18 I saw Christopher's blond hair.. I ran up to him as quickly as I could. His mom had made me such a pretty pink sign "WE LOVE YOU KELLI GO KELLI GO!".. Chris' dad had this horrified look on his face when I ran up. I bend over and put my hands on my knees and said, I don't think I can do this. His mom said very sternly "YES YOU CAN".. Chris told me to suck it up - I trained to hard for this and 17 miles should be a piece of cake for me.... Charlie (his dad) said nothing... (Later to find out he was so worried about me because he said I was extremely pale). I stood up and ran off back to the race, with minimal determination to finish.
Miles 19, 20, 21 were straight into the wind and nothing but pain. I could hear myself saying "You can't finish this. Just run to the med tent. You've come this far just stop"... I knew I would need something to drown out these thoughts. They were so negative, my confidence was gone. I put my headphones in and cranked up the music as loud as it would go. (I am surprised I have hearing left). I rocked those last dreadful miles to ACDC, Carrie Underwood and other strange mixes.
At mile 22 Caroline (future sis) jumped out again and screamed at me.. It took me by surprise since I was zoned out. I told her I didn't know if I could finish.. She said I have 4 miles to go.. 4 Easy peasy miles... She ran with me a couple hundred meters... And told me Chris would be at the finish line for me, beaming with pride..
I kept running. Keep. Moving. Forward.
My pace began to alter, my stride began to shorten. My legs felt like logs. I felt like I was running through knee high water. I couldn't go any faster if I tried. Miles 23, 24 were the longest miles I have ever run.
My good friend Elizabeth jumped out at mile 24 (she ran the half in 1:44) I started to tear up and she told me the hard part was over. I was so close. She told me she would run with me and I told her it was ok - I would be done soon. She was so uplifting. (She does have one of the biggest hearts) She smiled a big white smile which definitely lightened my mood and gave me the last bit of inner strength I needed.... (Thanks Lizzy!!)
|200M to go....|
Mile 26... I saw Ilya a running friend cheering with a cowbell, he gave me strength... and I saw Chris, again... He pumped his arms and told me "GO BABY GO"... I literally couldn't go any faster....but I knew I wouldn't let him down. I knew I wouldn't let myself down. I would finish as strong as my body and mind would let me.
|SO HAPPY TO FINISH|
4:25:20. a PR. And better than Chicago. (Chicago was a MUCH more fun and easier run) The most mentally challenging race. I learned one thing from this entire race.... I need to work on my mental game. I need to work on my confidence. I cannot let my mind take over like that..ever again.