Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Weekend of Firsts

This was a weekend for the record books, for sure. One again, I signed up for the Runner's World Hat Trick on what happened to be one of the busiest weekends this Fall. Friday was too busy that I didn't have time to pick up my bib. I decided to wait until early Saturday am. The hubbs and I met up with some friends at a local tavern for food and beers (I had delicious cider - gluten freak). We rounded out the evening with the Dorney Park Haunt. I held firmly in not being pressured to ride any roller coasters. I don't do well, and I wasn't in the mood to lose my voice before a busy race weekend. We picked up the kiddies just before midnight and got them all tucked in before turning in ourselves. At the rate I was going, I'd be getting just under five hours of sleep. My goal was to finish each race...NOT race. 
Saturday race morning, I rolled out of bed to shower, dress and head out for a Dunkin' large hot tea with sugar. I pulled into the ultimate parking spot just shy of 6 am. Instead of pissing away two hours doing nothing, I thankfully, brought a book and ripped though a couple dozen pages. Look at me!  Close to the start of the 5K, I bumped into a friend making her way back after injury.  I had hoped to find someone to run with - this turned out perfectly!  We chatted through most of the race and finished strong. Eventually, we returned to my car to get warm and hang. I'd be on my own for the 10K - I cherished the rest of my time with her. 
My goal at the start of the 10K was to finish..that was my only goal. Who the hell was I kidding?  
I found a few friends, we exchanged well wishes and headed on our way. Long story short, I crossed the finish line with a new PR. Oh, snap!  After cooling down in a warm space, I drove home in search for food...lots of food. I picked up lunch for the family and we joyously ate together.  I took my time eating, but absolutely devoured every bite. We all decided that quiet time was in order. I must have passed out for 90 minutes; the couch ate me up. It took a while for me to get moving again, but knowing we had another busy evening lit a fire under my butt. 
School Halloween carnival and a Halloween parade was on the agenda. I packed the car with the double stroller, blankets, hoodies, water, snacks and everything short of the kitchen sink. The carnival was cute...I think the two year old had more fun than her older sister.  We spent about 45 minutes there before finding a local spot for a quick dinner. Two kids meals, one burger and one chicken sandwich later, we headed back outside to find the perfect parade watching perch. The parade 5K started at 7 pm.  The kiddies enjoyed cheering on the costumed runners and pointing out familiar characters.  Although the parade started at 7:30, we were at the tail end of the route. We waited for what felt like an eternity. Sadly, the rain came first. It came on so strong that I decided to run back to the car to grab three umbrellas. Before the lead police cruiser approached the corner, I crossed the street and proceeded to run the sidewalk in time to cover the kids.  
My glasses were covered in rain making it tough to see.  A little further. And just like that, a woman stepped back into my path causing me to trip over her heel. I went airborne. Superman style. I landed flat, face down and slid about four feet on the slippery concrete. My palms, chest and knees burned. I put my face on the ground and laid there for about thirty seconds. 'Oh, Shit,' was what I remember myself saying. Then, from four feet behind me I heard a woman say, 'Oh my God. Are you okay?'  I didn't turn around. I didn't answer. I pushed myself up, grabbed the umbrellas and took off running again. I threw the umbrellas down at the base of the stroller and bent over trying to catch my breath. Very long story later (with lots of passion and curse words - sorry babe), we eventually camped out under a closed bank drive through lane until the rain let up somewhat for us to book it to the car. 
We warmed up in the car and drove home. After putting the kids to bed, I took a hot shower and passed out forgetting to take ibuprofen. 
Another five am wake up, another trip to Dunkin' and another drive to the start of the half marathon. I thought I could run.  My knees ached, but it felt more like my bruised skin passing over my knee cap instead of the actual bone. My goal was to cross that finish line - nothing more. I tried to find a friend at the start, but it proved impossible with the sea of people I had to navigate. I'm surprised I was able to line up with the 9:30 pace group. Again, I wasn't looking for time, but I figured that pace would be manageable given yesterday's races and last night's fall. 
As expected, some of the hills were killer, but I powered through. I think the Quadzilla shirt I was sporting helped me eat those hills. The sun warmed my body, whereas the shade forced me to pull my hat down tight. Given the situation I was pleasantly surprised with my pace. I mentally started to fade with about four miles to go.  I started to chant - focus, focus, focus.  There could be a PR in my future, but I didn't want to get too excited about it. I had seen that before - PR pace, feeling good...then the mental game takes over; the pace group I'm running from chases me down and eats me up, just like my couch. I ran a fast downhill with two-ish miles to go...on my way. The pack crossed the bridge and rounded the curve towards another water stop.  I kept moving. We rounded another two corners to meet the mile 12 marker and the race clock.  Even if I ran the slowest mile, I would come in under my PR. But seriously, another damn hill. I knew it was coming, but my legs had forgotten. Those chicken legs ran that stretch of road twice yesterday; it seemed as if they were on strike today. 
A lovely woman on the side of the road saw me struggling.  She started screaming at me, 'FOCUS!  You got this. Don't quit. Just focus. If not, you will regret this tomorrow. I can't run. Do it for me!'  I had no freakin clue who she was, but I still remember her face.  I still hear her voice. I started chanting again - focus, focus, focus. We rounded the last curve to make way for the finish line. 
I crossed in 1:53:19. My previous record of 1:59:14 (2010) fell.