On Sunday, I ran the Oshkosh Half Marathon. It's a great race that I try to run every year... beautiful course, great small-town feel, and horrific weather. Seriously, the weather has been so bad in past years that it's become a bit of a legend among local runners. Hail, sleet, rain, wind, blizzards... it's basically like the universe chooses this day every year to punish us for living in Wisconsin.
The weather this year was a total surprise. It was, dare I say.... pleasant. It was in the forties, a little breezy, and overcast. Perfection.
Rachel and I were originally planning to run it as a relay as part of a little bet we had with a couple of our runner friends. Fueled by intense competitiveness, a little gender pride, and our love of beer, we put a bar tab on the line against our two runner dudes.
However, our need for mileage for marathon training overshadowed even our desire to get drunk for free, so we bowed out of the relay and planned to run the 13.1 together, in all of our hand-holding glory.
|We feel pretty.. oh so pretty...|
Rachel was gunning for a sub-2.. it's been awhile since she's gotten one, and she was ready.
We lined up at the start, sang the anthem, and took off. The first two miles were difficult because we were forced to start in the front of the field, and were passed by literally hundreds of runners as we struggled to find our pace.
As a lot of you know, a 2:00 hour pace is 9:09, and I wanted to keep us in the 8:50s or lower nines to bank a little time in the event of a rough last few miles.
Mile 1-3 - 9:10, 9:16, 9:31
When we glanced down at our Garmins after the first mile, we took it as a sign that this shit was going to happen. Sub 2 baby.
But over the next two miles, we struggled to find a good pace, and I could tell Rachel was pushing a bit for so early in the race.
Mile 4 - 8:43
The fourth mile had us running on a beautiful trail, and we picked it up considerably. Rachel always, always runs faster on a trail. I think she's secretly a fugitive and wants to escape in the woods. I hadn't started doubting a sub-2 finish, but this mile helped bolster my confidence that it was doable for us.
Miles 5-10 - 9:12, 9:02, 8:56, 8:54, 9:06, 9:06
We were finally falling into our groove in these miles. The pace was faster, and I was doing the delicate dance in my head of talking enough to keep Rachel distracted and on pace, and not so much that she would reach over and punch me in the face. By this point, our average was about 9:06/mile, so I knew we were going to be close.
Mile 11 - 10:23
Oh Mile 11, you dirty, dirty whore.
We were running in a residential area, with a pretty good headwind, when I heard from behind me:
Fuck. Rachel had a look of pure pain on her face and was walking with her fingers digging into her side. Crap crap crap. We flirted with a little walk/run during this mile, but her sideache was so bad she could only keep running for a hundred yards or so at a time. Every time she had to stop and walk, I could see the disappointment and frustration written all over her face.
It's tough to watch someone work hard and suffer for 90 minutes only to have it all slip away.
The 2:00 pace group passed us. Crap.
Shortly before mile 12, Rachel started running, slowly. I jogged with her, trying to peek at my Garmin out of the corner of my eye and working out the pace we would need for a sub 2. It was close to Rachel's 5k PR pace, and it wasn't looking good.
Mile 12: 9:00
We started running faster, and faster. There was no talking, only running, and we both knew we were still trying for sub-2, but to say something would have jinxed it (or landed me a black eye.)
Mile 13: 8:24
Where is this speed coming from??? I actually choked up a little, and I knew that if we ran down the finishing chute and saw a 1:59 on that clock, that I was going to cry.
It's hard to put yourself out there, especially with someone running with you, and this mile told me that Rachel wanted this. I so, so badly wanted to help get her to the finish under two.
We rounded the corner off the bridge and down into the finishing area. I looked up and saw it. 1:59.
1:59!!! But I couldn't see the seconds! Was it 1:59:01, or 1:59:59?
They say a picture is worth a thousand words.. here is us when the finish line came into view:
|Run bitch, run!!!|
Sweet, sweet victory.
We hugged, I got teary (shocker), and then we went to celebrate and drank more beers than is ever acceptable at 9 o'clock in the morning, starting in the bathroom of the warming area of the race.
|Recovery Drink of Champions #fuckchocolatemilk|
I am SO PROUD of you Rachie!!!