Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Rock N Roll 2008

(updated to be SLIGHTLY more pc...6/9)
well, i did it. i finished the highly anticipated, alarmingly daunting 26.2 miles of continuous pavement slapping and Shot Block popping. it was a day to be remembered and not just because of the immense accomplishment of defying my own physical limits, but because i really felt the love and support of good friends and family like i've never experienced before. be prepared, this is shaping up to be a very long post ;)

the morning started at 4:05 AM with the sound of my backup alarm. it seems as though i set alarm one of my alarm clock (set for 6:30 AM, actual race starting time) instead of the race day alarm two (set for 4 AM). thank God i had the sense to set my phone alarm; it quite literally saved my ass! i felt rested enough as the bell sounded, cutting through my dream of who knows what, to punt me from my slumber. we had gone to bed at about 8:30 the night before after eating a very yummy pre-race dinner of rice pasta with garlic sauce (heavy on the garlic), grilled jumbo shrimp and sauteed baby broccoli. sooooooo good! i felt energized and ready to get on the road. mom made a pot of very weak coffee (race day ritual) while i got dressed and put my nutrition together for the day. with everything on and everything i would need in tow, we left the apartment and headed to Michael's house to meet the team. as we waited for everyone to arrive, i continued to stretch my ITB and other muscles so i would have long and flexible legs to carry me through the trek ahead.

the starting line was nothing like i had ever seen before. in a word: CRAZY. there were people everywhere, for miles they lined the streets, speckled the grass and stood in lines for the port o potties. it was a sight to behold. officially it tallied to be 16,373 runners to finish the race, but to start...who knows. a lot. as 6:30 neared, my nerves perked up but not as much as a regular race day. i stayed pretty calm the entire time and never had the freak out moment that usually piggy-backs race mornings. Elle, Alex, Sarah and i all started together in corral 19 while Michael started up in corral 14. it took a good 10 minutes to actually cross the starting line. like i said: CRAZY.

Elle and i took off right away to start making our way through the massive droves of runners that were keeping us from getting into a comfortable, natural stride. i don't think i actually reached that point until mile 6 of the course. i did end up running into my old friend Trey at about mile 2 (he was late to the race in perfect Trey-day fashion), who i didn't know i missed quite as much as i do until i saw him. it was fantastic to get to see him, chat with him for a couple of miles and catch up on life. he's a great guy. i'm sorry we've lost touch. such is life and the happenstances that take you along your path. i'd say just before mile 6, him and Elle found their own pace and took off a bit ahead of me. from then on i was on my own. it was to be a day of intense determination, unwavering stamina, inexplicable pain and the ability to dig deeper than i ever thought possible.

i felt really good until mile 8. i was keeping a steady 10:30ish per mile pace and feeling really strong...and then it the feeling as you exit the nice air conditioned comfort of your home into the blazing heat of the Texas sun, that wave of heat slapping you in the face and knocking the breath clear out of you. and this was only mile 8. i still had 18.2 miles to go "God help me get through this." i put my head slightly down so the brim of my hat prohibited me from seeing what was to come and tried to desperately get to my place of detachment. the place i go when things become unbearable. i know this place well, but the amount of pain it takes to get there is a fine line between finding the place or finding has always worked in my favor before, but one never truly knows how much you can take until you take it. the outcome is never certain and frighteningly volatile.

i was able to make it to mile 14 in pretty high spirits, knowing my friends and my mom were waiting there to greet me. it was the most fantastic greeting i have ever encountered. approximately 15 people were there waiting for me with signs, cheers, high fives and hugs. i switched out my run bottle with the backup one my mom was to bring that contained fresh Accelerade and a new pack of Shot Blocks. i stopped to take quite a few pics while Angie screamed "NO, DON'T STOP! YOU HAVE TO KEEP GOING!!!" and laughed all the way. it was great fun and just the lift i needed. i hadn't yet made it to the point of no return and was trying to push it off as long as i could. this moment, this display of immense pride from my support crew, the love i felt from every single one of them was unexplainable and i truly felt blessed to have them there. and yes, i cried but it was joyful and overwhelming and fantastic. i left feeling refreshed and then i took a sip from my new run bottle and it was as if the heavens had opened up and the angels sang, "hallelujah, hallelujah" mom had put ice in it!!! i literally can not tell you the joy i felt and the tears welled up again. thanks mom, you are unequivocally the best mom in the entire world.

i was joined by my fellow teammates Sarah and Alex at mile 17 and greeted by the PB support crew of Jesse, Jenn, Austin, Kelly, Ogas, Ditas, Lilly and Bob at mile 18. by this point i was moving quite a bit slower and the pain was to the point of absolute hell, but the support we had out there just kept amazing me each time i saw one of our groups. they were God sends...or Angie/Alexis sends if you want to get technical. they had really planned this out well :) i couldn't have asked for anything better! they all had signs, cut outs of our faces and cheers to spread. comically inspiring.

this might be the time to tell you a bit about my competitive nature. its on the verge of maniacal. if i have it in my mind to beat someone, you best be damned sure it's gonna happen. i've experienced many of these in my lifetime through training days, triathlons and other races, but none as strong as the will to beat, we'll call her UD (AKA uber douche). there is a background here (not that she has done anything to me but the fact that she lives her life and treats those around her with such hidden and unabashed deceit is more than i can bear), one that is not worth mentioning because to give it validation through words is nauseating, but let it be known that it was my sole objective to come in under 5 hours and to beat UD...the good guys will prevail in this story. i was determined to have some manner of a fairytale ending, even if its not the kind little girls dream of. so when she caught up to me at mile 17, i dug deep and forged on a half a step faster to widen the gap.

UD caught up again just before we came upon our mile 14 support crew that had travelled to meet up with us at mile 22. i was more than happy to see them because i was by now in the most unfathomable pain. i really cannot put into words the steady, creeping, all-consuming agony that had started at mile 8 and was now in full bloom in the midst of my being. every fiber of my physical, mental, spiritual entity hurt with such an intense fire that the depths of my soul, my higher-self could feel the heat. towards the end of 22 UD was steps behind me. i could feel her at the back of my shadow. at that moment i passed Angie, and she took wings and carried me with her. she began to run, in her jeans, in the heat of the day, after drinking mimosas all morning long, after spending hours tending to all the plans to make us feel supported throughout the course, she ran with me. she said things like "you can do this" and when i answered in tears with, "i don't know if i can keep going. i can't describe the pain..." she came back at me with, "you are the strongest, most determined person i know." she ran me up a hill to round out mile 23, told me she believed in me and knew above all else that i could make this happen, that i could accomplish all that i wanted and to just do it. UD never caught up with me again after that. thank you Angie. you can never know how much our friendship means to me or what it felt like to have you get me up that hill.

i thought of all the pain Taishi had to have gone through while having radiation pumped into his little body, all the countless nights Jane's son had suffered through during his chemo treatments, Bryan's struggle as he went through a stem cell transplant, the heart wrenching sadness Jeff's family must have felt when he relapsed, the despair Ria's children and husband felt when she died, the tragic grief our families felt after losing Josh and the completely devouring sense of emptiness and anguish i feel every time i think of how my brother was taken from me, the inconsolable sorrow my mom must feel knowing she outlived her handsome "angel-butt-face" and the fact that her granddaughter will never get to know the true beauty of her father's love...

from 23 on, no words could be said to soothe me. no sentiment could be thought to console me. i was fried in every sense of the word. i was to the point of cussing at my brother. "Clark Anthony, get your effing ass over here and get me through this! You're an angel, angels perform miracles! Get your ass to work!" and other profanities that i cannot remember. my mind wasn't even coherent enough to be able to recite Hail Mary's which is faithfully what i chant in my place of detachment. the pain was unbearable. i was hurting like i've never hurt before...pain is a funny thing. it can inhibit or it can propel. in every person its different. no one person has the same reaction or deals with it in the same manner. my brother made sure mine was the latter. so i guess he did perform a miracle that day. he gave me the fortitude to venture to a place i had yet to visit physically and saw me through to the other side. i saw a bright yellow sign at mile 24...PAIN IS TEMPORARY and that is what was to get me through the last 2.2 miles. i literally had no other coherent thought through the rest of the race except "pain is temporary, pride is forever"

as i rounded mile 26 i noticed tunnel vision had set in, but i don't know how long it had been there. the finish line seemed to never come, even when it was in my sights. i heard nothing, thought nothing, saw nothing except finish, and that's what i did.

it literally took me an hour to get from the finish line to the letter 'Z' where my team was meeting. i was moving at a pace slower than i'd imagine a turtle would move after a marathon. i was wrapped in ice from head to toe and glowing with the most fantastic feeling of pride and accomplishment. i had done it. i had done it and i had done it by myself. i had no one meet me to run me in. i had no ipod distractions to keep my mind off the pain (although i did try for about 2 miles and had to give it back). i had no BOD waiting to congratulate me at the end. it was all me and it felt so great to know it was over. all of it. over. the anticipation. the disappointments. the Saturday torture sessions. the race. it was all behind me and as i exited the finish area with my ice, my race towel, my metal and my pride i was greeted by my best friend Tonice, the most unconditionally loving and supportive mother to ever live, my teammates and some of the greatest friends i've ever known (save for Jessie and Harlan who were stuck in Texas). one of the best, yet most painful days of my life and i wouldn't trade it or change a thing about it for the world.

we then left to go get my half of the mother/daughter tattoo (mom got hers the day before) and then rounded out the evening with the most scrumptious house salad with all the fixings and sweet tomato vinaigrette you've ever ordered, the most delicious blue cheese crusted - medium rare - center cut fillet you've ever tasted, and the most glorious - fully - loaded baked potato you've ever seen. add a blueberry something or other to dull the ever lingering pain, Marty and Gunn to add laughter and entertainment, my mom continuing to shine with the ever lasting love that is her spirit and you get one hell of a day. thank you all for everything. i could not have done it with out you. all of the supportive advice, life saving sessions, emails, phone calls, notes and cards. every little bit of positive energy sent my way. everything. you all know who you are and i thank you from the very most sincere, grateful and loving part of me.

official time: 4:53:37
official pace: 11:12 per mile
official division place: 904/2107
official feeling: awe


gunnbr said...

I'm proud of you Katie!! I could feel the pain as I read through there. I don't know if I could have done it! GOOD JOB!!

Jeff H said...

Congrats Katie, sounds like a sufferfest! Time for some recovery.

Ryan Denner said...

nice work katie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! you rocked it! congrats!!!!!!!!!!!!

Marty said...

"Pain is weakness leaving the body"...your are much stronger now, "Short & Texan"!! Thanks for lettig me spend some time with you guys at dinner. Keep it up!

Paul said...

Hi Katie,

Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment :). Great work at RnR!!

Regarding the five fingers, they are great for barefoot running w/o building up the callouses. Start easy and short building up to longer distances. Soft surfaces are easier to start on and then try pavement. They will make your feet strong but be careful at first. They really make you focus on form. You can't cheat with them.

Take care,

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