This past Sunday, I had a date with my nemesis... The Hottest Half.
If you don't remember, you can see my report from last year. I had determined that my body did not get along with the Texas heat. After running a 2:19 in May 2010, I could only pull of a 2:54 in August 2010 at the Hottest Half. (Remember peeps, I'm only comparing with myself... nothing wrong with a 2:54, but it was way off from what I was capable of at that point.)
I had a bone to pick with this race, and I was going to fight it. I was armed with all the right things - way more summer training miles than last year, a lot more time spent in the sun running, plenty of motivating friends along the course, my own fluids (with electrolytes) and an awesome race buddy. The tools were in the tool box, but the plan was still to take it easy and run at an 11ish pace and cross the finish feeling good and strong. With my current PR standing at 2:09, I was hoping to come in anywhere under 2:30 to consider today a win knowing how the heat drains you.
Elaine, Emily, and Denya hopped in the car with me to head down to the race site. Wow, it was more crowded than usual. And immediately time to meander around and say hi to everyone. Pre-race is like a social event for me!
EW, Dana, Me, and Elaine
And to add to the day, 3 of the girls I help coach were racing... the half for Denya (her 3rd), and the 10k for Holly F and Holly C (their 2nd). And yes, we like posing in front of orange porta-potties... who doesn't?
My Racing It Off girls!!! Denya, Me, Holly F, Holly C
Time to head off... so I find the awesome Mary, my race partner for the day, and we head out!
As always the first miles feel labored but fine. At this point the temp is low 80s. Then the never-welcome site... the Mockingbird bridge...
I cannot tell you how much I hate running across this bridge, especially when it's packed full of people... not only is it a bottleneck, but with that bridge bows and bends and just plain stinks. When you think your feet are gonna hit the ground, they don't, they go further, then the next step, the bridge jams up into your legs and jars your knees. I've seen suspension bridges that move less.
Just after, Libby
and Shannon are waiting to cheer... a welcome site! They run out to give me a wristband I wanted to wear under my Garmin to keep it from going crazy from all the sweat.
And we're on our way...
This race goes most of the way around White Rock lake, then turns around and comes back. A very familiar path for me. I just keep it steady the whole way. Around mile 6, a friend of Mary's runs out to hand us a cup of ice. HELLO yumminess. Pretty sure I said I wanted to marry him at that point. I drop some down my bra, and some down my back, and take a bit in my mouth as well as dump some into my water bottle. Seriously, glorious!
I love seeing friends on the course, and as we got closer to the turn-around, we started seeing more and more people. Then the turn-around... always a lovely spot for me, because now it's all about getting back to your car. Although, I was saddened by a lady trying to explain to the volunteer at the turn-around that she didn't want to turn around, that she was done. (If you continue around the lake from that point, it's about 3.5 miles to the park we started at vice the 6.5 left of the race.)
Lots of friends being spotted at this point, and I'm feeling good. I hit mile 8 and remember this is where the wheels fell off last year, but nope, still going. I did take a couple walk breaks. I was definitely tired and felt I could push better if I could just take some really brief walk breaks. Mary obliged.
As we hit mile 10, I started to feel a bit awful. Because it was so hot, I just couldn't quench my thirst. I drank and drank and drank. So now, my tummy was sloshing. Blech. Mile 10 and 12 were my worst. Mile 11 was improved by the knowledge that there would be a bright spot on the horizon... the awesome NTX Runners
. To be more specific - Libby, Shannon, and Greg. All awesome cheerleaders, and Libby had stocked a table with ice and gummy bears (she's so crazy awesome that she brought 120 lbs of ice and 40 lbs of gummy bears to share with runners as she cheered them on).
Greg, Fiona, and Libby
Note: Corina took this photo later, so Fiona was in it as she stopped by during her race, and Shannon isn't in the photo.
Me racing to the table (Photo by Libby!)
And the joke of the day - I talked for days about how I wanted to make it to the table before she ran out (I didn't make it in time last year, of course she stocked up double this year). And then I get to the table, put like 2 ice cubes down my bra and take 2 gummy bears. Really? That's it? My brain was clearly not functioning.
Just a couple miles left at this point... and finally we get to my self-designated last walk break - the bridge. And I must say, the bridge is no better walking than it is running. My sloshy stomach was going NUTS. But I was determined to use this break to suck in some air, then finish strong. And that's what I did.
And in true Lesley fashion, when I see two dudes on the final straightaway trying to push it in... yeah, not gonna happen dudes. I press my turbo-boosters, and sprint them out to the finish. Chicked dudes, you've been chicked. (I'm happy to say that my race buddy, Mary, followed suit and also chicked them!) Finish time 2:21:27. Booyah! Yeah, that's right. Take that Hottest Half. Consider your race taken down!
Mary and Me
I grabbed a quick drink of PowerAde and headed back out to watch friends finish. I got to cheer across some really great runners... and I always love cheering friends across the finish. After a bit, I wondered how Denya was doing, so I put my medal in my race belt, removed my timing chip and bib, and started running back. My friend, Cruz, saw me running and asked what I was doing. When I said I was checking on a friend, he said he was coming too. Fortunately, Denya was already within half mile of the finish line and going steady. We ran her to the final corner and let her go! Woo-hoo!!!
Got her a drink and we sat again towards the finish line and cheered on more friends... not long after, Elaine came to the final straightaway looking strong. There was a dude right in front of her... I said "take him"... and she was ready, she pushed hard and blazed him into the finish. Nothing better than a strong finish.
I asked her how my friend Emily was doing. They had broken off about mile 7. Emily literally just got back from vacation at 10pm the night before and was exhausted from the beach, so I think it's pretty hard core that she showed up. I went back out on the course again, and I almost immediately saw Emily coming around the corner in her final quarter mile. Awesome job, Em!!! (And how did I get ZERO pics of us?????)
All in all, a hard but good day. Great course support. Not so great mother nature support (finishing temp was around 92). Amazing friend support. And we all crossed the finish line standing strong! Woot!!!
And just in case you were wondering... Holly F and Holly C smoked the 10k! Great job ladies!