Tuesday, November 6, 2012

And that's a wrap

Not really though, you haven't heard the last of us.

It's been an amazing run and it ended with a pretty good one on Sunday. I'll try to be as brief and least race report-ish as possible, but bare with me.

The last week of taper was hard. I didn't really know what to expect on race day. That's where trusting your training and fitness comes into play. I had to keep telling myself that the work was done and I needed to let things take their course through my body. I felt achey, cranky, lethargic, anxious, nervous, excited and on occasion, relaxed (usually when I was running). But, I made it to race day without ruining or disobeying the taper and I was ready to go, chompin' at the bit.

I had some doubts; I had a phantom pain in my knee that bothered me throughout taper and I also questioned whether I could hold my pace. But when it came time to toe the line, I never looked back.

Gregor and I ran the first mile or so together, but unfortunately he had been nursing an injury for the past two weeks and only able to run sparingly, so we had to be smart and run our own races. Fist bump and we went our separate ways. I was lucky enough to have the one and only Lauren Holesh run up on me and ask to run together. My response: absolutely. The result: best decision ever. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Lauren ran for varsity for UNC and we fed off each other the rest of the way.

We took it out very conservatively, coming through 10km in about 41 minutes. I wanted a conservative 10km split, but this was a little slower than I anticipated, so we kicked it up a notch. As a result, the next 7 miles, to the half marathon split, were a little too fast, coming in a little over 1:25. But, I was right where I wanted to be, assuming I could still pull off a slight negative split.

Lauren and I chatted sometimes and other times not. If things were quiet for a while she would ask me "How are you feeling?" or "What are you thinking?". This helped me to get out of my own head, verbalize things and then reciprocate and ask her how she felt. As Lauren and I approached the turn around at Shelley Lake at mile 17, we passed the woman in 2nd place, putting Lauren in 2nd place. All along she told me that she liked how steady I was and trusted my pacing...this began to make me nervous considering she was in contention to win the women's race! And at this point I started to hurt, miles 18-22 were a struggle zone for me. I told Lauren I understood if she needed to go, she was in 2nd place after all! But, she stuck with me, and I ran those 4 miles glued to her shoulder.

I started to come back into my own as we approached the biggest hill of the course. The hill is right before mile 23, coming up to Meredith College. We passed the 1st place woman at the foot of the hill to take the lead. I asked Lauren if she wanted to make her hurt a bit, her response (once we got to the top): "I hate you." I deserved it, but I think it created a decisive split.

3 long miles left to go. We decided to keep it steady, put one foot in front of the other and hold our pace. At this point we were off the greenway and back in the thick of things with plenty of people to cheer us on. It was cool to see spectators we had seen heading out on the greenway react to the fact that we were still running together at mile 23 and beyond. Mixed in with those reactions were also a lot of, "You got it ladies!" and "You go girls!" My response: "Nope!" I'm not sure people realized that I was indeed not female and I'm not sure why they thought I was in the first place...guess it's time for a haircut.

The last miles dragged on. They include running directly away from the finish line to a turn around, and then straight back down rolling Hillsborough Street to the finish. We had plenty of support from Lauren's family coming down that stretch. We must not have been running very fast because it seemed like they kept up with us for those last 2 miles! Shortly after the last turnaround, we saw the 2nd place woman coming towards us not too far behind and knew we had to go. Passing the last marker before the finish at mile 25 we went. Lauren stayed on my hip and we went as fast as our legs would carry us, which would end up being a 6:35 mile, but felt atrocious at that point.

I ended up finishing a bit ahead of Lauren, making sure not to steal her thunder and get in the way of her finishing tape. But, I think she got me by a few seconds on chip time! We hugged, couldn't really say much at that point, but both knew that we had shared a unique experience. Running an entire marathon with a complete stranger, running from behind to have her take first in the women's race, and working together the entire way...that's a rad story if you ask me. I couldn't have run the race I did without her, and I like to think I helped her out a bit as well!

All said and done, the effort was good enough for a 2:51:14 and 9th place overall. I'll take it!

I couldn't have done it without the support of my family and friends. I had a cheering and loving contingent waiting at the finish line.

I most definitely couldn't have done it without my boy Gregor. We signed up for this thing in May, sorta on a whim. It turned out to be a bonding experience like no other. We trained countless miles and laps around the track together at ungodly hours (morning and night). People talk about the unspoken bond you get from running together, and it's real. As esteemed running coach Mark Wetmore would put it, you're hardened and callused by running, and when you share that it's a weird elation.

But most of all, I couldn't have done it without the inspiration of YOUR support of the Building Phase and Chatham Habitat for Humanity! We have raised an incredible $2,070 and every cent of it will go to Habitat to help them Build affordable housing. It's inspiring to me to have something bigger to run for than myself and it's inspiring to me how people are willing to open-up and give to a worthy cause. Thank YOU for making this experience and making this race.

We hope to keep this endeavor rolling with training for future events, work-site days, and maybe even a Building Phase race of its own! We'll be sure to keep you updated!

Thanks for reading, thanks for supporting, thanks for Building.

Sincerely,

Wilbie

p.s. The fundraising site is still open, it's not too late to donate or spread the word! Here's the link: https://sna.etapestry.com/fundraiser/ChathamHabitatforHumanity/buildingphase/


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