Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Find Your Happy Pace

I can't complain about much, given I was the only girl with a bed to myself. I got opted as a single, due to my crazy active sleeping habits. But morning came faster than I had anticipated. The only good thing about waking up exhausted, is the fact I was too tired to be nervous. 
Little did my body know that it was about to embark on an excruciating tribulation. 
Jessica's parents drove down to cheer us on. After meeting them, now I have a better understanding of what makes her such a good cheerleader. 
As the start time ticked closer, we warmed up the way any amateurs would, by posing for silly pictures. 
We like to take every moment of life in serious stride. 
Zooma was in intimate race of about 1,200 runners, consisting predominately of woman, with the exception of a few crazy men.....or smart, since they registered for a race knowing they'd be surrounded by hot, fit women. Good job fellas.
We lined up modestly at our "happy pace", waiting for permission to cross the start. 
It was soon evident that our first few steps would be the only easy steps of the race. 
Everyone started to pull away in teams of two, my pace partner being Carrie.
 Still managing to smile at mile 3; only 10.1 more to go!!!
We watched the sun rise over the green spring landscape as we tried to savor some of the only flat land we would cover. 
It was beautiful, and extremely difficult to capture while running. 
WTF: Where's the Finish. That's exactly what we were thinking every time we crawled up one of these inclines. Apparently, Cristina and I's calculations on how steep the hills would be were wrong. Dead wrong. I promise we do better math at work when it really counts.
They were numerous in quantity and hellacious in quality. My running photography may not do them justice, but my legs and lungs relive the phantom pain just by looking at these.
Thankfully my hamstring held up, but missing out on hill training for the last 4 weeks due to recovery really put a dampen on my finishing time. 
Around mile 7, people started getting a bit wobbly and a lady bumped into us. She said, "Sorry," and we excused her, saying no apologies needed, it was then deemed a day of "S-words". We went on reciting words beginning with "S" worthy of describing our current predicament, another distraction technique for the mind.
Shitty. Stanky. Steep. Sweaty. Sucks. Sassy. Strenuous. Stupid. Scenic...........
The blooming blue bonnets kept our minds preoccupied for a short time. 
And the fields of yellow weeds were just as easy on the eye, though, I'd rather seen more water and cytomax stations instead. I took both at every station, and if not for having my camel-pack as well, would have fallen out dead as a doorknob from dehydration.
I'm usually a slow starter to obtaining my runner's high on a good day anyway, but this course completely robbed me of any pleasure running until about mile 9. The feeling only lasted about 1 mile, because after we rounded the hotel, we headed for the worst part our journey. 
It was about the same time that Missy passed us with the following words of encouragement, "That damn golf course goes on forever!"
The course was gorgeous. For golfing. For running, it was a unending windy path of torture, never allowing the eye to lose sight of sidewalk to conquer, while also never revealing it's end. But first, we had to run on soft mulch for 1/4 mile, after being on pavement for over 10.
A booby trap?
It was a mind game I wasn't going to lose.
The creators knew exactly what they were doing when they strategically placed these inspirational quotes along the sidelines of the last few miles. This one was my favorite. 
"Come on mile 12!" is what I mustered out loud for Carrie to hear. 
"We've got to get to mile 11 before we can get to mile 12," she huffed. 
"What? Are you kidding me? This is the longest mile of my life." I sighed. 
My body knew it was surpassing it's training's edge. Up until this day, the longest I'd ever ran at one time was 9.5 miles. Once. Ever. And that was a month prior.
But mile 11 finally arrived.
"Hey, it sure is nice outside today. Would you like to go for a 2 mile jog around the golf course with me and then go lay out by the pool?" Carrie asked.
"Why that sounds like a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning. Let's do it!" I tried to sound as enthusiastic as possible. 
We shared a sentimental moment when we told each other how we couldn't have gotten thus far without the other's support, and eventually the last mile made it's debut. 
"I can do anything for 10, 11, 12 minutes........" I told myself, "Buck up, and finish this."
I directed my voice, a hopeful whimper, towards the scattered people, "Am I almost done?"
"30 more seconds!" I heard a random by-stander call out to me. 
Then I saw the home stretch! Home Sweet, Home Stretch. 
"Wearing 233, here come's Kayla Carruth from Carrollton with her camera in hand!" the announcer yelled. 
I was promptly greeted by my spunky fore-finishing friends, doing dances, giving hugs, showering me with words of encouragement, and pushing chocolate muscle milk in my face. 
Jessica's sweet parents took a mini photo shoot of us, while we deliberated over the good, the bad, and the ugly of our recent accomplishment. We compared chub-rub, blisters, expiring toe nails; talked about blowing snot rockets and catching flies while trying to consume life saving Gu during hill recovery.

Our shirts:
Carrie- WTF, Where's the Finish? Megan- Because running is cheaper than therapy. Tori- Run? I thought they said RUM! Courtney- One More Mile. Dear God, please let there be someone behind me to read this. Cristina- I know, I know. I said I'd never do this again. Me- Toenails are for sissies. Ale- 13.1 miles 'cause I'm only HALF crazy. Jessica- Find your happy pace. Lisa- I like running, just not while I'm doing it. Missy- Attention spectators, yelling you're almost done at 2 miles isn't funny! Kathryn- Find you happy pace.
I was more aware of every aching muscle in my body than ever before, trying to make it down these stairs. The photo-bomber in the pink, with her legs spread from Australia to China, must have felt the same way, because she didn't even attempt to inch out of our group pictures. 
As the announcements took place by the river, we stocked up on free fruit, free wine, and then headed to the pool for recovery.
I reached my goal, finishing the race without walking, with a completion time of no more than my bib number. 
Finishing time: 2:33:53
667th place out of 1,097 (actually better than that, but that's a whole different story)
 I spoke with some experienced half-marathoners that said they'd run a WHOLE marathon before they'd ever  attempt to complete this course again. 
I know I said I'd only do this once, but I can't help but wonder how much better my time would have been if we weren't in hill country. the question arises......
Should I register for another one, to find out?

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