Picked Lisa up at 5am. UGH. Coffee. PB&J Sandwich. Whining. Driving. Analyzing. Strategizing. Contemplating. Wondering why we didn’t pick a different sport.
That was the drive to the race – some 40 miles away. It took us 50 minutes to get to the location, when we planned on 30.
Upon the opening of the car doors in the cool weather, in the dark, at the finish line ~ the dorkiness began. Lisa and I just crack ourselves up. No matter if everyone else thinks we’re strange ~ I think it’s just engrained in our MO. (Along the race course, during an apparently weak moment, Lisa dubbed us Laverne and Shirley. I don’t think we ever determined who was who ~ but does it really matter?) :P
We hopped on the shuttle to the staring line, and compulsively analyzed our Garmins, making sure they were set appropriately – mine with intervals, Lisa’s with Trainer Guy. Done. Got to the finish in the perfect amount of time. Said a quick hello to Taryn again. Headed for the starting line (which ended up being about ¼ mile from where we thought it was).
We took off in perfect form. Words were spoken that had never been heard on a run with Pokey and Java ~ words like “we need to slow down” and “I think you’re running too fast again.” And we were ~ we had to consciously work to stay ahead of Trainer Guy – but not too far ahead. We both learned lessons at RNR about coming out of the gate way too fast. Miles 1 and 2 were great – some of the best miles I’ve run. Breathing was hard for both of us, but it was all about the warm up stage.
The first hill surprise came sooner that expected – somewhere between mile 2 and 3. So we walked ~ a lot. I was continually amazed at how much energy is expended on hill running, or even hill-walking. It zapped a lot of my energy way too early on, but we trudged on. While pushing up the hill, we looked for Eileen at the relay station, but missed her. Taryn came up behind us, we commiserated about the hill for a bit, and then she took off. We had her in sight for a while, but not long. Way to rock, Taryn!!
This is where the race starts to get blurry for me. I remember miles 3-6 as being okay ~ but I was hot. The sun had come up over the mountains and it was blazing - at least to me. Luckily we were on a nice grade at this point, and we still kept pace.
At just about the 10k mark, we made a turn back onto Bush Highway and this is where the real fun for me began. At the 10K aid station, we were still on track…a bit ahead of pace. Trust me, my running partner not only had Training Guy on her wrist, but the split breakdown on a piece of paper in her pocket. Would you expect anything less?
Miles 6-10 were pretty rough. We had some decent miles, and some bad miles (one at almost a 16 minute pace!!) A lot of hill work ~ although we did have a few nice downhills as well. I have to admit, there’s nothing like coming to the top of a hill and able to look down the other side ~ a view of nice desert scenery and the open road ~ how can that not feel good? At least for a moment ;)
We made a few "aquaintances" along the way ~ one in particular who stayed neck and neck with us, and had to put up with our comic relief efforts. At the top of the large downhill, we apologized to her for having to listen to us. She laughed and said that she wished she had a running buddy like that to joke with. We invited her to run with us, but somehow she thought she wasn’t fast enough. Silly girl ~ she apparently hadn’t been listening to our conversations well enough.
Then at the 10 mile aid station, a worker asked us if we were twins! We laughed – and I said no, we just dress alike. But it made me wonder if running partners are like spouses ~ you know, the longer you run together, the more you look similar? Hmmmm…..
So amid all the joking and Laverne & Shirley antics, it still happened. My 10 Mile CRASH. Yup, I’m a crasher. I have 3 races under my belt to prove it now.
We were still on pace at the 10 mile mark, until my legs had just reached their max. No real cramping, but the tightness was almost unbearable. I know a lot was related to the hills ~ but a lot of it is just the norm for me also. My energy was zapped and my legs were screaming – and we still had some miles to go on an incline. Not good.
Somewhere between mile 10 and 11 was when Lisa morphed from the nice running partner I usually know, into the Slave Driver that would carry me the last couple miles. Apparently, she learned from the expert while running with Lori at RNR. She spewed all kinds of profound thoughts my way ~
“You didn’t come all this way to walk the last 2 miles!!!” I tried to explain to her that yes, really….I did….but she wouldn’t have it. There would be no loafing for Pokey. She bumped our intervals to 1 minute just to keep me moving.
I asked again for the millionth time for her to go on ahead and get her new PR ~ it was still totally in reach if she ditched her baggage. Of course, she refused. She made a comment about what a lousy friend she would be if she left me behind. I tried to explain that I thought racing wasn’t about friendship ~ it was about running. But she didn’t buy that one either.
My trusty running partner somehow got me and my tired legs across that finish line at my best time ever. It’s hard for me to not let my mind wander to what our race could have been, if it had been a flat course like RNR. I know we would have hit our goal –and then some. But it wasn’t RNR, it was Valley of the Sun and it had its challenges. We faced them one at a time, and got through.
Overall, I guess my legs held up okay (better than before) ~ I had a serious cramp issue at the car (more on that later), but ultimately, I was just pretty tired. Lisa finished strong, with plenty of fuel left in her tank ~ which is a tribute to all the work she has done. KUDOS to my running buddy!
I’m bummed that running season is pretty much over for us ~ I have so many thoughts of what we could do now, that it’s hard not to be bothered by it. But I’ve already done more than I ever thought ~ 3 half marathons in the past 5 months, each of them with their challenges, lessons learned, and more success than the one preceding. I really have no room to complain.
Valley of the Sun is one for my record books - at least for a while. At the end of the day, my running buddy ~ with whom I have shared a ton of sweat, whining, and laughs ~ gave up her own PR to help me get mine. So maybe this running thing is about friendship after all...
Lisa, thanks so much for a GREAT run!
Valley of the Sun Half Marathon
Average pace: 13:06