THIS IS GOING TO TAKE LONGER THAN I PREFER. Those were my words to Michelle as I passed my crazy crew at mile seven-ish - near the end of the first loop. I wasn't feeling so hot and the same feeling that I had had on the bike was chasing me on the run. I didn't want to do this loop two more times. It's too early to feel this way. It's hotter than I prefer. This gum has dirt in it.
My first four miles had been great. I stuck to my plan of a four minute run + 30 second walk. But, somewhere on the out and back spur I made the mistake of worrying about the outcome. This was not going to be the run I wanted (4:45ish for my 45th triathlon), my friends were going to have to wait so long for me to finish. I was not going to finish in under 12 hours. Worry. Whining. Wimpy. Whipped. Walking. Not 4G philosophy. Not Wonder Woman words. I could barely hear the sound of my friends cheering for all the whining in my head.
But, as soon as the words left my mouth, I was able to let it go. I need a reset, I thought. I pulled out my mini Wrunder Woman (yeah, I spelled that right) and walked for two minutes. I danced through the BASE SALT energy tent (they were playing Lady Gaga -- loudly -- and dancing). I made my way up out of the greenway and into the fan zone: three blocks of spectators, plus special needs and an aid station. I was back on it and ready for loop two. I danced back through the BASE SALT zone (Gangam Style) and past my crew. Sunshine was screaming U2 lyrics at me, Ace was taking pictures and cheering and Boss & Jess high-fived me.
I loved the run course. There were parts that were in the sun and parts that were packed gravel and the return lap is up a gradual hill. But most of it was paved and shaded. It followed Santa Rosa creek and felt far away from downtown. It was quiet and there were places I could hear the creek below and see the runners on the north side as they headed back in. I saw wild turkeys (including three minors), I spotted a musical performance of Much Ado About Nothing in the park and saw Mr. Push-It again. This time, he was wearing only a sign (or so he made it look with his bare chest and exposed legs). I think his sign said: IF YOU WALK, I DROP THE SIGN. As I passed with a group of women, he said: eyes up here, girls! Eyes up here! And pointed to his own eyes.
I had been dreading the second loop but it actually flew by. I admit it: It may have been the Red Bull. I had waited until mile 8 to drink one and it was worth the wait. Plus, I liked ticking off the spots that I'd only have to see one more time. I only have to go up this ramp one more time. I only pass by this aid station one more time. I passed my crew, then the BASE salts [I wanna say DONTCHA by the Pussycat Dolls], then the fan zone, then the BASE salts [Baby, You're a FIREWORK], then my crew. They headed to the finish line and I finished up my last loop. This loop was even better. I could tick off every spot that I was going to see for the last time.
I played leap frog with two other runners who were also run/walking. I made up six new mantras and repeated one for every four-minute run interval. I counted to 100 in French. I ran my secret goal pace (9:30/mile) for two of the four minute intervals and it did not feel great so I quit looking at my pace. I read the signs that my crew had written on the sidewalk: HI! WANNA BE FRIENDS? and IT'S NOT A HILL. IT'S A SUNFLOWER and 4G: GUSTO GUMPTION GRUEL & GRACE and UNC GIRLS ARE FAST. Hey, wait a minute!
I came up out of the greenway and was ready to finish. I knew not to start too early because it is about 1200 meters to the finish (three times around a track), but I picked up my cadence and tried to propel myself forward with a bit of a pick-up. I made it past the bike transition, around the changing tents and towards D-Street on the heels of two runners - one much older (he was 75) one younger (she was 26). Go Get that Finish, she cheered as I passed. C'mon, let's go! I shot back. I bolted up the finish chute which was so long - and not long enough. I started yelling my fool head off. YES! I shouted. I AM AN IRONMAN. I DID IT! I started prompting the people on the sidelines to cheer back - fists pumping, arms raised - WOOO HOO! I heard Ace and Jen cheer on my left and high-fived Michelle and Jess on the right. I practically jumped across the finish line, faced the cameras and did my best Wonder Woman pose.
COMING SOON.......THE FINISH & MORE