Actually, today was wildly different because it was . . . RACE DAY!
Check out that loot! Tank (singlet?), sticker, cool flexible cup, and a $1 beer coupon (not pictured) that I gave away because I don't drink beer.
So we got our swag, put our bibs on, chatted with George (the gentleman who encouraged me to do this race after he did it himself last year), took the obligatory selfie:
(Must learn not to have arm in shot!)
and after a few words from the RD regarding the rules (full laps would be counted, then towards the end you get a little flag and you plant that in the ground when the airhorn goes off at the end of the race - or you decide to pack it in, whichever comes first), a little "motivational speaking," and the Star Spangled Banner, we were off. For the first couple of hours, it was cake. We were going a lot faster than we'd expected, we felt good, it wasn't too warm, etc, etc.
The somewhere around 3 and a half hours, the wheels feel off a little. Michelle wasn't feeling well and my feet were not happy (I found out that one of the gel insoles in my left shoe was shredded, causing me to walk on a weird bump until I was able to dump it out into the trash). We stopped for a minute or two, and then decided to proceed slowly until we could reassess. After a little while, with some fuzzy math regarding timing and goals and the day getting increasingly hotter, Michelle decided she wasn't going to continue on after the end of the lap. There was some back and forth but she convinced me to just go ahead with out her, so I started running. It felt odd to run after 4 and a half hours of walking, but it felt good, too.
Until it didn't.
I finished the 4th lap feeling good and then once I was into the 5th lap, I started feeling awful. My feet hurt, my back felt weird, it was hot, I was tired, blah blah blah. I'd picked up my flag after the 4th lap, thinking I would not make a full 5th lap before the end of the 6 hours. I had over an hour (laps were 4.1 miles) but I couldn't do math by that point and couldn't swear that I'd be able to keep up any kind of decent pace, though I was going to try.
Michelle and I had set out to try to get 20 miles, so I kept thinking I HAD to do it, since I'd left her behind. I was not allowed to quit. The funny thing (or not so funny, really) is that my last run/walking miles were actually slower than our beginning walking pace. I did not realize how flipping tired I really was until I was out on that 5th loop by myself, with the sun beating down and my feet screaming at me.
When I hit the last mile, I just kept slowing down and then I'd speed up. I was completely unable to figure out if I was going to make 20 miles (my Garmin was "off" of the official race measurements, but I never could figure out by how much), or if I was going to finish the lap, all I knew was that I had to keep moving.
I powered (as much as I could!) up the last hill to the start/finish area and I still had 5 minutes on the clock! Now, I think that's great, but at the time, I was so defeated. I had to KEEP GOING? I considered stopping, since completing the 5th lap meant I'd hit our 20 mile goal, but everyone was so encouraging I just kept going. I ended up slowing to a walk, and then almost to a crawl. I think the last bit that I walked was at almost a 22min/mile pace. Snail-like. I was just DONE.
Airhorn blew, I planted my flag, then I made the slow journey back to the pavillion.
I did it. I made it through all 6 hours, and I made our goal of 20 miles. I was happy, but practically whimpering, wanting to get my shoes off.
I will spare you pictures. They are not pretty. Oh my goodness.
I won't know my official results for a few days, but since I did 5 full laps plus a little, I know I did at least 20.4 miles. Previously, my longest race ever was a Half Marathon, and my longest training walk was 14 miles. I am super happy with how this all turned out (though I wish I could figure out my blister issue!), and I am so grateful to Michelle for allowing me to be selfish and continue on.
There are so many things in life that I have allowed myself to quit on - I am so thankful that this was not one of them. 6 hours, relentless forward motion. I'll take it.
"Finish" line - where I didn't get to stop!
Me and George after the race.