I was feeling it this morning as I jogged to the Florida Marathon (and half) start line, and not in a good way! But I was still determined to make the best of it. I figured sub 90 was still a comfortable goal. I wouldn’t make the overall podium (and with the competition at todays race I knew that probably wouldn’t even happen on my best day), yet the age group win was still realistic. The heat would be my ally today. As a South Floridian who frequently trains mid afternoon, I’m far more adapted to that than most runners. I found the 1:30 pace leader and said hello. “Kick me if you pass me” I said, “It means I’m not doing what I should be!” Lined up near the front, I armed myself with my mantra. For Sean, Krystle, Linghzi and Martin, pain or no pain, I would get this run done!
The gun went off, and we raced up the road – away from the bridge that beat me up yesterday! Although that was a comforting thought at first, recalling that this meant I’d be ending the race with it was a bit of a kick in the gut. I just needed to make sure my first 12 miles were on point. We still started out on a climb, but the bridge would be the finale! With the incline, I settled back to my pace quickly and held steady for several miles. Faster than I thought I’d be running, and still amazingly conversational. Perhaps this wasn’t going to be as rough of a day as I thought
Mile four was solid. Downhill and my fastest yet, things were starting to look up… I ran a bit past a turnaround point before being called back by a volunteer. I guess I really didn’t want to turn around and go back up! After a brief corrective surge, that’s were my day got tougher. Just like yesterday it was the climb that brought on the pain. My next two miles slowed a bit, but still were reasonable. Of course that was when we hit the first bridge!
My body ground to a halt. The pain was excruciating and I was only halfway. This had abrudbtly turned to a “just finish” day! Although it was a beautiful course, and the on course entertainment made it an enjoyable event… it certainly wasn’t going to be my day! The top of that bridge made a great photo for the race photographers, with the beautiful backdrop and the white clad pianist doing his thing. Cue my death-face… sorry for ruining the shot! My facial expressions certainly don’t make running look ‘fun’! Shortly thereafter the first pacer caught me, and no he didn’t kick me. It sure hurt like he did though!
Mile nine… my worst yet. I haven’t hurt this much in months. But I can’t stop. That would be contrary to everything I am. Adjust goals… just finish.I found it in me to pick up the pace just a bit. And then just as quickly, the course gave me a kick to the gut. Not far up ahead, there loomed that massive bridge. It was almost taunting me, daring me to run fast and promising to break me. Yes, I’d run (perhaps not fast), but no… it wouldn’t break me! I kept moving forward, found the bridge and with the sun beating down, conquered it. I barely had any juice left in me, and with the pain and my less than ideal time there was no point in pushing the downhill anyway. Gravity sped me up just a bit, and I powered through the finish.
I collected my medal, downed some water and inhaled some food. Mission accomplished; not quite the original mission I had set out on though. In a humorous twist, it was the 1:30 pacer who won the age group – pushing me back to fourth place. There would be no prize for me today, which was kind of a shame as their awards were actually pretty cool. As a consolation prize, I still got my Floridiot medal for running both days this weekend.
But no consolation was needed. Pain or no, I can still run. And run I did. It was a good day! I hung around to enjoy the post race party, congratulated the Brooks Hansons team who dominated todays race and celebrated another beautiful run.