Clock Time: 3:57:53Chip Time: 3:56:11
Overall Place: 534 / 2089
Gender Place: 127 / 852Division Place: 22 / 126
(Garmin Stats: 26.38 M / 8:58 P)
We got to the Convention Center fairly early and went in to meet up with the rest of the B.R.A. pre-race. Nerves were high, bladders were nervous and everyone had that look of a deer in headlights on their faces. I shot Sam a "Good Luck" text and told him I'd meet him at the Finish. Coach EK came over to me at one point and gave me a talking to; "You've trained well, you've got this, believe in yourself!" Everyone was reassuring each other and offering support and before we knew it, it was time to head over to the Start.
Start Corral: B.o.B & I headed over to the Finish Tent area to drop our bags while Hollster & P-Funk headed over to the car to get Hollster's bib. We thought they'd be coming back to the tent to drop their bags so we hung out for a few and I peed one last time. By this point it was closing in on Start time and nary a Hollster or P-Funk was in sight. We were a little stressed and knew we had to get over to the Start. We cut through with Pete, Speedy Jess's BF who'd be running the 4 hour group with me, and split ways. I gave B.o.B a reassuring hug and hoped/prayed she'd find P-Funk in the Corrals. Pete and I jumped the fence to get in behind the 4 hour group and searched desperately for Captain and Hollster. We finally spotted Speedy Jess flagging us from the other side of the Corral and we weaved through the crowd to her just in time, finding Captain and Hollster waiting. Finding them was such a relief and within moments we were off! 26.2 here we come!!!
The first mile was the usual bottle neck, cluster f*ck. We kept the 4 hour pace leaders sign in our sights and each other no more than a runner away. As we got to Mile 2 the pace leader shot off to make up lost time, the Captain followed suit but Pete, Hollster and I decided we would run the pace we intended; 9:10 for a 4 hour marathon finish. We knew we'd meet up with them again further down the road and we'd still be running strong as opposed to burning ourselves out early on. The next few miles ticked off fairly easy on Davis Island as the sun came up. It was warming up to be a BEAUTIFUL morning (it was about 40* at the start) and I ditched my gloves after we Gu'd at Mile 5.
As we came up on Mile 8 we see a radioactive-yellow shirt and jester hat waiting on us... It's Coach Tom and he jumped in to pace us through to the Finish. We were excited and he was camera happy. I took my first e-cap and we began hitting every water stop, if only for a sip of water. It was still pretty chilly, especially in the shadows of the buildings, I was regretting dumping my gloves and although we didn't feel like we were sweating I could already taste the salt on my skin. As we looped the turn-around at Mile 9 I spotted B.o.B and she was running strong but alone, she never did find P-Funk and I could tell she was frustrated. (I said the first of many prayers for my Boo that she would have a great race...) Not far behind her we saw P-Funk and let her know B.o.B was just ahead. I kept my fingers crossed that they'd find each other. Shortly thereafter we get an unexpected surprise: Caribbean Steve!!! We were all so excited to see him and it totally charged us up! At Mile 10 we took our next Gu and brought it back thru downtown Tampa.
Coach Tom leading Pete, Hollster (just behind me) & I with Caribbean Steve
Coming out of downtown we ran back through the start area and headed on to Bayshore. The miles passed by quickly and it seemed like after a few short minutes we were crossing the Half mat. I triumphantly shouted out that with that I had officially broken 2 hours on the half with time to spare! (1:58:55 according to the tracker alert) A new Half Marathon PR! I also rejoiced in knowing that everyone tracking me would get the alert that I was right on target for a 4 hour finish!
Shortly thereafter was about this time I realized that I needed to pee. In Mile 14 I broke away to gain some distance on our merry little band and just shy of Mile 15 I zipped into a porta-potty and opened the lid to the most disgusting and mentally scarring scene of my life. I will spare you the details but let's just say I'm lucky I made it out without fecal matter on my person and I have truly perfected the art of hovering. *Shudders in horror*
Halfway into mile 19 I opted out of taking my last Gu at the water stop thinking I'd take it at Mile 20 but Mile 20 came and went with nary a water stop and for the life of me I couldn't remember where the next water stop was even though we had just done the stretch before the turn around. Right about this time Coach EK jumped in with me and asked how I was feeling and what I was thinking. I let on to him that I was kinda stressed about my Gu situation and he assured me that water was just around the corner. With that fear settled I told him that besides that I was feeling strong and just about ready to make my move. He told me I was looking great and to stay focused before he fell back to check on Pete, Hollster and Coach Tom. Right about then I saw Jamoosh trodding towards the turn around on the other side and waved HI! (It was only after the fact that I realized he wasn't supposed to run the Full and I cursed him out in my head while simultaneously hoping he was running well and would make it to the finish in one piece. What can I say, I'm a stubborn runner too and I can relate.) Not even a few minutes after that I got to see Caribbean Steve again! Yay! I can't tell you how much happier that made me to see so many peeps on that stretch!
(8:49, 8:59, 9:01, 9:13, 9:02)
(8:58, 8:42, 8:47, 8:35, 8:31)
The Finish Line. I could see it, I could hear it and I knew Team Redhead and Sam where there waiting for me. After all I had raised for Operation Jack and how far everyone from Team Redhead had traveled to see me finish I had to finish strong. Navy Steve told me to pick off the woman in front of me so I kicked it up, thanked them both profusely and ran my heart out. As I came into the chute I saw Harold with his camera off to the side and behind the fence I heard the screams of Team Redhead. I had a smile cemented on my face as I crossed that finish line knowing I had totally shattered my expected time of 4 hours. Clock time read 3:57, a few seconds after crossing I remembered to stop Hermes and it read 3:56. 12 minute PR!!! Sub 4... CHECK!
Finish: I did it. I broke 4 hours with time to spare. When it sank in emotions took over, they gave me my HUGE medal and when I saw Team Redhead I lost it and started to cry. They had collectively traveled from all over Central Florida just to see me Finish. It meant more to me than they will ever know and I was so thankful to share that moment with them.
No sooner had I found a spot, I see those yellow shorts barrelling down the finish chute, I checked the clock before screaming my full head off! My Boo was about to totally crush her old Marathon time and looked so good doing it! I screamed on the top of my lungs "I TOLD YOU SO!!!" as she ran by!
A round of PR's for the best running group a girl could ever be lucky enough to be a part of!!!
I heart you all SO MUCH!
All that being said I'm sure what ya'll really want to know is how I'm feeling and what I'm thinking now that it's over... Well physically I'm feeling ok, I'm sore but it's the good kind of sore, the sore you earned from running your heart out. I'll take that sore anyday! As for emotionally; I'm beyond overjoyed. I am basking in the after glow of a well run race and I don't have a single regret. I ran this race well and have a ton of people to thank for all the help along the way; namely Hollster, Pete and Coach Tom who stuck with me for the majority of the miles, to Coach EK for everything; from the excellent training plan to the reassuring talks, Caribbean Steve for jumping in on us unexpectedly and helping us find renewed strength and finally to Navy Steve & Strawberry E for being my guardian angels and pacing me into the finish.
My Guardian Angels; Strawberry E & Navy Steve
Huge shout out of Congrats to everyone who raced Sunday and PR'd but extra special Congrats goes to my PR Queens and training pals/gals B.o.B, P-Funk and Hollster. The last 14 weeks of training would never have been as great without you. I'm so happy we all had such an amazing race and got to share in the joy together. I love you ladies!
Before I sign off I have one final thanks and that goes out to you my dear readers, for all your encouragement, support and comedic relief along the way. From Lam coining the "Gorilla" theme to Run, BlackGirl, Run calling me her "She-ro" ya'll have kept me going with your antics. Thank you for reading along on another training cycle and marathon... ya'll are the best!