oh the run. the final frontier. all that was standing between me and my title was 13.1 miles of pavement, cedar lined dirt paths, the scorching Texas sun, the disco duets at the energy lab and countless, water drenched, sanity saving sponges...times two.
the run was a two loop course that proved to be everything they said it would be - hard. the out and back to the energy lab was deceiving if only by name. i choose to look at things from a glass half full perspective, so hearing energy lab naturally made me think of gaining energy - not loosing it, which quickly became the super standing theme of the day. the whole way out was uphill, a sort of down hill reprieve on the way back in, only to be met again by more hills, more climbs, more aches and pains, more grabbing blindly for ice cold sponges and soaked white towels, more dreading Quadzilla and more cheerful volunteers to commiserate the experience. as i ran past the Team Barney Butter tailgating area the first time, i was met by loving screams of "great job Kate!" "go get 'em girl" "looking good" and the other veritable coos and caws. i soaked it up and yelled something like "who in the hell signed me up for this madness?!" i was still feeling pretty good at this point. this point of 5 miles and counting. i actually started to think "hey, maybe my knees won't hurt this time around. maybe this is the race that sets the precedent for all future races where i will kick ass and my knees will love me all the way!" ha. hahhahaha. hahhahhahhahahhahahhahahhahhahahha......hahahhahahhahahahhaha. yeah right.
mile 6 came and as if they were on cue from the director's chair, the sharp pains set in and i new the next loop would be hell. hell as in hot. hell as in pain. hell as in "i can't wait for this effing run to be over so i can have my medal and my cider and call it a day." and then i hit it. Quadzilla. in all of its steadily rising glory. its steep ascent. its dirty path of grime and grit. people stopped to walk all around me. to my left was a couple of 40 somethings chatting. to my right was a 25 year old sucking wind. inside me was a little girl wanting so badly to walk that she stuck out her pouty lip and thought "i am going to walk. i am going to walk and i don't care who knows it. i don't care who sees it. i am going to walk" as she continued to run up the monster ahead. run as in shimmy, shake, rattle and roll her way upwards in an attempt to keep the momentum going in such a way that it might take her through the next round. no walking happened on this loop. maybe the next. maybe.
by the 4th aide station of the second loop, my wits were nowhere about me. i was hot. i had to pee. i wanted to walk. i longed for anything to distract me in an attempt to escape the pain. i finally let myself walk through the aide station, not because i was trying to be nice to myself but because i decided to let the high fructose corn syrup devil infiltrate my mind and in the end infiltrate my mouth. Gatorade. oh sweet, evil, corn syrup bearing nectar of the underworld. it was all i could keep down and when i finally gave in to its devilish control, my spirits finally began to rise and i found the one thing that would propel me to the next aide station with the next round of highlighter yellow ick. it was glorious in every sense of the word. i could feel its nonnutritive value trickle down my throat and poison my innards, but i didn't care. i was drinking it and loving it. that little devil drink got me to the next aide station where another little devil drink called my name and i allowed myself another aide station walk through just so i could get it all in my mouth. i neared my tailgating area for the second time, but no joking words - or thoughts for that matter - left my mouth. i needed to preserve all my energy for the final stretch ahead. my second date with the death monster Quadzilla. i could feel him breathing in my direction and i knew he was around the bin. so i picked it up and met him with a vengeance. i plodded and probed, hobbled and hipped up that damn thing like it was my job. i left those whining men and women in my dust and laughed at my misery all the way. for once, i relished in the pain - there was no denying the life in my lungs, the movement in my legs, the delirium in my mind. i was about to become a half ironman. i hadn't walked. i hadn't quit. i hadn't given up on myself. around the next bin i would be all that i wanted and more. i would prove that i was strong enough, fast enough, good enough to be what i wasn't sure i could be.
i rounded the corner, shot for the finish and laughed out loud at the feat i had just accomplished. i was a half ironman and i was going to revel in the glory all day long...
official time: 2:23:33
official pace: 10:57 min/mi (horrible time, but hell - i'll take it)
official temp: mid 90's
official elevation: 371 ft
official feeling: proud, accomplished, iron-worthy!