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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Kiawah Island Marathon

'Tis the season to be... ... ... merry-thoning in warm weather and drinking wine on the beach in flip flops.  fa la la la la la la la la.

Well, I made it.  Two (ginormous) tonsils still intact and all.  After a bad tonsilitis flare up in August, I decided to forgo a tonsillectomy to continue training.  What were the chances it would come back before the Savannah Marathon on November 7th, and what were the chances it would come back the actual week of the race?  Eh, no way.

Well, shitters, Santa.  Right around Halloween, while already feeling like a loser dressed as a, um, banana, I felt the all too familiar pinch in the back of my throat, and it got worse from there.  Perhaps I asked for it dressing like a banana because, well, I totally ROTTED.

rotten rednecks

Okay, suck it up, fruitcake.  After a 10-day short pity party, I decided to get healthy and push the marathon out five weeks to Kiawah Island.  The risk here was upping the miles again and trying to hold peak.  However, my body seemed to handle it well.  I actually made more progress, bopping (bopping?  did I just make up a word?) through two-mile intervals at 5:56 pace and an eight-mile tempo at 6:10 pace in the middle of a 16-miler.   Plus, after the nasty humidity that cursed Savannah, I started believing it was a blessing in disguise.  While my original goal was sub-2:55, I was confident now to target 2:50 in Kiawah (6:30 pace).

Race week.  Are you f'ing kidding me, weather dude?  What the hell is El Nin~o (<-- um, I can't figure out how to get that tilde thing on top of the letter) anyway?  Whatever it is, it can kiss my bubble ass.  Race day temps were predicted to be 55-60 at the start, 70-75 three hours later, 80-85% humidity, no breeze, sunny.  Ewww k, new plan.  I'd start closer to 6:40 pace and hope for the best in the second half as the temps rose.  I typically like to negative split marathons, but I knew it would be hard here.  Suck.

Race expo.  When I picked up my bib, I was informed that they created a new 200-runner "high performance" corral at the front of the start line.  Anyone with an "A" on their bib was invited, but mine was "A"-less.  Men were seeded by time, and women were chosen by lottery.  Wait, what?!   When I asked how I could get into this corral, I was told not to worry, that I'd only start 10-15 seconds behind the leaders.  I'm pretty sure my face immediately went into stink eye mode as I said "not happening", grabbed a sharpie, drew an "A" on my bib, and left.  I'm such a bitch.

Miles 1-9.  I felt pretty flat off the start line.  Mile one was 6:50.  Oops, too slow.  Mile two was 6:28.  Oops, too fast.  My legs finally synced with the rest of my body around mile three.  This is also where I met Paul, who was targeting a 2:50.  We ran together for a bunch of these early miles and discovered that we lived only one town over from each other.  It was nice to have a new friend along the way, especially while still feeling so comfortable.  ...cuz when I get uncomfortable, I get kinda mean.  Jus' saying.   Miles three to nine were all between 6:27 and 6:38; perhaps a little fast, but it felt easy.  I saw Mike for the first time around mile nine, and he let me know that I was about 2:00 off the leader.  No problem.  I got this.

Miles 10-16.  At mile 11, I had a fantabulous cheering section consisting of Logan, my mother in-law, father in-law, and lotsa STREAKERS.  Then shit got lonely, as I was by myself, and there were no spectators.  I still felt comfortable at halfway (1:26:01), but mile 14 is when I started to feel the sun and temps rising.  I realized I had a new running buddy at this time too, but he was pulling some "Night at the Roxbury" (<-- seriously, watch that.  hilarious) shit on me.   When he said, "Sorry, I'm not good at giving personal space," I barked, "You think?!  Seriously, dude!" and put on a surge to get away from him.  Totally mean.  Anywho, these miles were all between 6:28 and 6:34.

Miles 17-20.  One of my superfab Streakers was out with a spray bottle, and Mike rented a bike so he could give me extra water as the temps rose, which helped a ton.  We were doing more out-and-backs on peninsulas here (five total u-turns along the course, ick).  The good thing about this was that you could see your competition going in the other direction.  The bad thing about this was that you could see your competition going in the other direction.  I knew the leader was getting farther in front of me at this point, so I just started focusing on, ya know, not dying.  At mile 18, I cramped in an, um, unfortunate part of the body.  Seriously, who the F cramps THERE?  I did my best though to keep moving forward as straight as possible as to not jerk any more, um, muscles?  These miles were all between 6:41 and 6:44.  <-- ruh roh, starting to slow...

Final 10K.  Even though I was slowing, I still passed seven men in these final miles.  Any confidence boost helps when you feel like you want to kill yourself.  Most of this portion was run on a greenway.  Poopers.  Speaking of poopers, I had no GI issues the entire time!  Yay!  Aren't you glad you know that?!  I digress.  Anywho, while the greenway sucked boring monkey butt, I was VERY appreciative for the shade.  At mile 25, we merged back with the half-marathoners, who were crossing their 12-mile mark.  Having to weave in-and-out of runners on a narrow path also sucked monkey butt.  Luckily, a lead biker appeared out of, um, I actually have no idea where they appeared out of, and cleared a path for me until we made it back to the road.  Once I crossed the 26-mile mark, I kicked to a 2:54:58, second place overall female, and 12th place male/female finish.  These miles were all between 6:37 (dreaming of wine and burgers) and 7:07 (mental vomit).

Once done, I started crying.  Seriously, since becoming a mom, I cry ALL THE TIME.  I cried when Curious George's kite flew away the other day.  Right.  Anywho, I was happy to be done, happy with the PR in these conditions, happy to hear there was unlimited cider beer in the finish tent, and happy to see this face:

The hardest part of extending my training for Kiawah was leaving this face on Saturday mornings for more long runs.  Logan started associating my running with "bye-bye".  He'd watch me leave and wave out the front door window, and I'd then cry a little before taking my first step.  This is why it meant so much to me on this day when he rang a cowbell and said "Go Mommy!"  It gives me hope that maybe, just a little, he understands what this all means.

Since the race, I've been on a strict diet of wine and cow and a fierce regimen of no running or showering (<-- cuz there's obviously no point if you don't sweat).  I'll give myself a week to reboot, be fat, and figure out my next goals.  

Overall, it was a great weekend.  I'm proud of myself for toughing it out in the second half and thankful for the entire Kiawah experience, as it is an amazingly beautiful place.  I'm even more thankful for extremely supportive family and friends and for the wonderful and unique bond that the Streaker family shares.  

Congrats to all Kiawah finishers!
Happy Running, and Merry Christmas!

Kiawah Streakers!