Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Too Hot To Handle

It started in the spring. I decided I wanted to run the Palo Duro Trail Run 20K. So, Dave came up with a reasonable training schedule for my endurance and ability. It started gradually, increasing 2 miles every other week. At the end of May, when the serious training started, I was to run 4 miles on my long run and 6 miles total for the week. These totals increased every other week, until October, wherein I would be up to 13 miles for long runs and 24 miles for the week, at most. I looked at the schedule he set up for me and as I scrolled down and realized at the end of this experiment, I should be able to run 13 miles. Whoa.

About a month ago, I was told about an out-and-back race down the east side of White Rock Lake called Too Hot To Handle. It’s actually two races, a 5K (3.1 miles) and 15K (9.3 miles). Apparently, it is also known for its awesome swag! Dave is currently training for a marathon, so it would be a good long run for him anyway. I was just planning on doing the 5K. I wasn’t up to 9 miles yet, so I thought no way could I do the 15K. Dave encouraged me to sign up for the 15K, and if I got tired at mile 7, I could walk the rest of the way. He was right. I was way past a 5K in my training. After weeks of steadily increasing my mileage, I was up to 7 miles on my long runs. I’m not fast by any means, but I can finish in one piece.

I’ll admit it, the week of the race I was nervous. I don’t know why! I don’t usually get nervous unless I’m the center of attention, which I hate unless I instigate the attention. I guess it’s because this was something I’d never tried and I wanted to succeed. Luckily, we had a full week of activities (per usual) to help keep it off my mind….from taco nights, to DUHHHs, from happy hours, to my first anniversary hash trail on Saturday at Lake Lewisville.

On to race day… I woke up around 4:30 a.m. and tossed and turned until the alarm clocked finally went off at 6:00 a.m. I was up and ready to go. Not exactly a normal occurrence for me. With all my gear laid out the day before, it was an easy morning and out the door we went with our power bars and Gatorade in hand. Thankfully, we arrived with fairly easy parking close to the start/finish. We had some time to kill before the race, so we just chilled in the grass until a few minutes before the start. Dave meandered to the front and I stayed near the middle. At 7:30, the race’s start time, a 5-minute delay was announced…no wait, a 10-minute delay…no, just a few more minutes, folks. Sigh. I finally crossed the starting line a little before 8:00 a.m. I was already sweating.

I took mile 1 and 2 at my normal pace. People were passing me right and left, and I tried to keep my mind away from trying to outrun them. The chafing started about mile 2. Ouch. I spotted Denise about mile 2 with water and beer at the ready. Thanks girl! Catch you on the flip side! About mile 4, right before the turnaround, I was getting really fatigued. I saw one of the event photographers put his camera away. I thought to myself, “Am I really that far back?!” I took a look behind me and I could see a small string of people. This is when I realized this was a runner’s race. This was no fun run. Please, please, please don’t let me be last.

At mile 5 and 6 I found some energy and kicked it up a little. The heat was intense and only about 20% of the course was in the shade. Brutal. Right before the big hill, a biker watching the race asked me if I would like a bottle of cold water. Yes, please! Thank you, biker man. That water was awesome.

I came upon Dave and Denise at the same spot I’d see her before, between mile 7 and 8 now. I knew he’d be finished by now and be there having a beer or two with her while they waited for me. Denise offered me a beer, but all I could think about was not stopping. If I stopped, I may not get started again. Dave refilled my water bottle, gave me a kiss, a few pointers, and pat on the butt and sent me on my way. They yelled words of encouragement which I greatly needed at that point. I’d hit the wall. Hard. I was nearly homicidal and hated everything. I kept asking myself why I'd ever agreed to do anything so incredibly dumb! I didn’t even know if I could walk to the finish. It was painful.

Mile 8 was a full-on walk… I spotted the mile 9 marker a little ways down, and felt a sense of relief, albeit ever so slightly. I was not there yet. The last 0.3 mile was around a corner, so I couldn’t see the finish line until I rounded the corner. As soon as I did, I broke into a quick jog. I was determined to have a strong finish. I mustered energy I didn’t know I had. As the finish line grew closer, I heard Marc and Serenity yelling, “Go Melissa! Yay! Go! Go! Go!” That’s when I broke into a dead sprint and didn’t stop until I crossed the finish line. Hearing my name being cheered by familiar voices gave me the boost my mind and body needed to have a strong finish. Thanks guys!

It was a glorious feeling having run so far for the first time in my life. My body hurt everywhere, but I was so happy. I stood and talked to Marc and Serenity, and compared notes of the race and how brutal the heat was. We headed over to the beer tent where I was sure we’d have to stand in line for one tiny beer. Luckily, and to my very pleasant surprise, there was no line at the beer table and were served immediately! Yay! It was good beer too, microbrew by Gordon Biersch…mmmmmm. Next to the beer table was Jane and David working hard and handing out water. Thanks for volunteering! That water was great! Dave showed up a few minutes later and we had a few more beers. We all took off to meet friends for brunch at Snookies afterwards.

My official time was 2:28:09. I was hoping for a better time, but it gives something for me to compete against. And, I didn’t come in last! Win! Dave did very well and came in near the front of the pack a full hour ahead of me! Good job, babe!

I couldn’t have done it without the encouragement and support of my friends and family. You are the best.

Next up…Tour des Fleurs 20K on September 18. Stay tuned!

After the race. Hey, why is my beer bigger than yours?


Jane Dough said...

Awh. You did great!!!

Denise said...

You did awesome. Congratulations!

Jason Harx said...

a damn fine job, hottie!

Azura said...

Thank you! *blushes*

Serenity said...

I enjoyed reading this blog post! It makes me want to run another race with you sometime soon!