A quick change in the transition tent and I was off on the run!! I have to tell you I was so happy and excited during probably 95% of this race. I could not stop smiling and almost every single picture taken of me during the race, I am literally beaming from ear to ear. I think that is something that sticks out to me the most. I really remember feeling so much gratitude all day long that I was even able to do such a thing.
Unlike the bike, where I had a pretty concrete plan, I knew the run was going to be a bit more unpredictable, only because this was the first time I had ever put all of it together. The thing about going long is that you really have to trust the training because race day is pretty much the only day you are going to get a chance to really see how it all pans out. My plan was to gradually build up to my desired heart rate and then hold it steady, stick with my nutrition plan, and see what happened.
The first 4-5 miles felt so amazing. I reached my goal HR around the end of the first mile and was able to tick off 6 pretty even miles at a pace that was a bit faster than I had expected. Since I was still right in my HR zone, I went with it knowing that I would most likely just slow down from there. I got a huge boost around mile 2 when I saw Team Rev3 Mama Bear, Carole Sharpless, and got to give her a huge sweaty hug. After the first easy miles, I felt like I really needed to use the bathroom. I wasn't in any sort of GI distress, I just had to go. I made a quick stop in a port-o-potty (or potty rockets, as Noah once called them) with no success. For the next few miles, I slowed just a bit while I sort of obsessed about every single bathroom I passed - should I go in this one? no. okay the next one? the next one? here it comes, am I going to go in it? It was actually kind of funny how much the decision weighed on my mind. Finally I just decided that I was going to go in and not come out until I had taken care of business. That was my slowest mile of the race (13:09) right around mile 10, but it was a great decision. I felt so much better afterward.
The rest of the first loop was uneventful. My feet and legs were definitely hurting, but I wasn't even noticing my knee that had had me worried on the bike. I was like a woman with a mission at each aid station - "WATER. SALT. COKE." I started switching back and forth between coke and a nip of gel from my flask at each station and that was working great. My pace was holding steady, and I was looking forward to seeing the boys at the turnaround. Also during the first loop there were some great spectators including Tim and Greg, who really gave me some great motivation. I kept seeing this older couple on every corner, and they started giving me big cheers and some cowbell each time they saw me.
As I swung into the turn-around and special needs, I got to see Ryan and Noah for some high fives and sweaty hugs. Every time I saw my family, my mom, dad and sister, Kel and the boys, I would get kind of emotional. It was just so amazing to be out there and having such great support. It really means a lot to me.
At special needs I grabbed my Pringles which, as it turns out, I had absolutely no desire for, my 2nd gel flask, and some more salt. Then I got to pass by everyone again and Kel gave me a big kiss. The perfect way to start the 2nd loop!
Once out of the park, I really got a second wind and was able to run a little harder with my HR just a bit higher. I felt so good. The one thing that didn't feel good were my lips. They were so chapped and I was dreaming about some chapstick. I decided at the 2nd aid station to just ask if any of the volunteers had any. Everyone was saying no (can you blame them, really?) and then, like an angel of light, Mama Bear Carole says to me, "Just keep running. I'll catch up and you can use mine." It was the best chapstick EVER!! I saw her a few more times through the 2nd loop and every time she let me have a hit of that chapstick. I owe you one, Carole!!
I started really focusing on nutrition at this point, and every time I crossed a mat I would think of all the people at home following me online. I would actually say, "Hi, guys. I'm doing great! Thanks " Throughout the run, I would run with other people here and there, but for the most part I was on my own, doing my own thing. I did have another mild obsession with the bathrooms on the second loop, but I'm not sure why - still haven't figured that one out yet. I was still surprised to see my pace, albeit slow for compared to some, was staying extremely steady, and as I hit mile 20, my goal was to just keep on keeping on. I started counting down the aid stations. I started thinking about my kids and my family waiting for me at the finish line. And I just kept on running.
The last mile was a wave of emotion for me. I turned in the park and knew I was almost at the end of the day. There was a blue path through the parking lot and I remember thinking, "I'm really doing this. I'm really going to do this!" I started to get choked up and then I saw Kel and the boys waiting to run me across the finish line. Ryan grabbed my hand, Noah took off and jumped over like 3 cones and Kel was running beside me. I heard Stu yell my name and hold his hand up for a high five, and I crossed the line and yelled, "I did it!! I did it!!" My family was screaming and I was laughing and my kids were laughing and Kel was laughing. I had no idea what my time was. I had no idea if I had won my division. At that moment all that mattered was I was with my family on a day that I will remember forever. An epic lifetime moment.
Special thanks to Rev3Tri for providing FREE (yes, free) finisher's photos for all athletes on race day. I think the look on my face on the last one says it all.
A day like this doesn't happen without a lot of work and a lot of support from a lot of people. I cannot say enough about my wonderful husband who picked up a lot of slack while I was out riding 100s of miles each week, who never complained about me being gone on another run, who encouraged me and supported me through each and every mile of this year. I love you so much, Kel. Also my family, Ryan and Noah, you are both my heart. Ryan, you gave me the courage to begin this crazy journey and Noah, your hugs have powered me more than you will ever know. To my mom, dad and sister, thank you for coming out to cheer me on, thank you for taking care of the boys so I didn't have to worry about them at all during the race, and thank you for loving me just as I am.
Thank you to all of my peeps who were cheering me on. Team Trimommy ROCKS!!! Here are a few pics, but I know there were so many more of you. I felt you pulling me to the finish line all day, and I thank you for all the notes, emails, facebook messages, tweets and texts that kept rolling in throughout the weekend. After the race I spent more than an hour reading everything.