I must admit I did not feel much like swimming when Saturday morning rolled around. I had worked quite hard the day previous, even if my heart wasn't originally in the effort. I was scheduled to swim the 500 free and the 50 back on Saturday, only two morning events this time because I wanted to save myself for my half marathon effort on Sunday. Of course, morning or not, the 500 free is not an event to take lightly in terms of energy suckage. It is a killer.
I will be straight. Kurt did not want me swim racing at all this weekend. He wanted me to rest and focus solely on the half. He nearly strangled me (except you can't strangle over email, luckily for moi) when I mentioned I may be cornered into doing a few relays. When I told him how hard it was to say no to Zach and Son (MESC meet organizers) he resorted to begging--something like please please please do not do any more events! The begging was too much. I knew I had to say no (NE record up for grabs or not, right, Son?) :) and I also knew I should scratch the 500.
And I did scratch it. I came to Blodgett on Saturday morning just to race the little ol' 50 back. I warmed up well (as opposed to the previous day) and practiced a few starts. I was in the 9th heat of 14--the middle--of course. The worst part of the back is jumping in the water to start. The water is so damn icy it takes your breath away, and then you just prolong the agony by waiting to start as you hang onto that little bar under the blocks.
My start was once again a rather pathetic back flop. I really really do suck at them, but I got over it and into the groove and had a fast tight turn at the 25. I kicked hard off the wall and then continued to kick like a mother the whole second length, touching the pad in 35.8. When I was 14 I came in second in the 50 back at our Junior High Championship in a 33 something. So I am a little off that... but 35.8! Not so bad for 26 years later. And I had lopped two seconds off my seed time, which is pretty sweet since the last time I did the 50 back I had on one of those spiffy speedsuits. I ended up placing 7th out of 11 in AG. (not even the middle, God dammit) but I am still happy with the effort, and I got to collect my pretty purple ribbons for two 7th places in the 100 and 50 back.
I was stressed to the freaking max for this race.
I had a plan, but when I really thought about this plan I felt seriously ill. The plan was to take it out in 6:55 pace on the Garmin, knowing that the Garmin GPS is always slightly off (measuring miles slightly short) and so a 6:55 pace would likely truly be a 7:00 pace at race's end.
This pace was not an unreasonable target given how I have been running in training lately. However, it is faster than my previous 10K PR (not that that my 10K PR is anything to brag about), but still, I was going to take it out in a pace faster than I had ever averaged in a 10K? Was I high?
So I simply tried no to think. I would just execute. I would not let myself down, and I would prove to Kurt that I can race and not let me head get in the way. I would.
(God, I hoped I would.)
One of the reasons I picked this half is because I didn't know anyone doing it. Less pressure when you don't know anyone there and you can just fart and blow snot rockets as you race without fear someone will tell on you. Turns out I knew a ton of people at the race, though. One of my athletes, Jim, was there (okay, I knew he was racing... :) Courtney and Pat were there (Pat got second even after getting lost on the course), my GNRC friends Zac, Tom and John were there (Zac was fourth. I know all the fast people, huh?) and my two blogger friends Ana Maria and Kristina were there, too. (Ana Maria was 4th female and Kristina had a BIG PR, going well under 1:40.)
Anyway. I clearly could not rest easy if I chose to fart, piss, or blow snot during the race. I did anyway, but the fact that I knew people at the race did cause me pause.
Onward. This post is getting to be way too long, so I will cut to the chase. I took it out maybe a little too hard. I then held my own for quite a long time, even though I could not for the life of me find a big body to sit behind so I could avoid the wind off the water. I doubted myself at mile 5 when we hit a big hill, but then I pulled it together on the big downhill that followed. I felt good in the middle--or as good as can be expected given I was racing a 1/2--and didn't lose it again until mile 11 when a rather long, large hill forced me to slow my pace and wonder if I had enough gas in the tank to finish. I pulled it together again, though, and finished well, though I admit there may have been a little pissing my pants involved in the last tenth or so.
Here are my splits:
7:01 (4/5 had that damn hill)
7:06 (started to lose it b/c of the hills)
7:15 (started to wonder if I would finish or drop dead if this hill didn't end)
6:55 (pulled it together through here)
5:44 ( for last little bit, downhill)
Finished in 1:30:59. I would write 1:31 flat, but I killed myself to get to the finish when I saw I was close to breaking 1:31, so I am giving myself full credit for that one second. I also PR'd the 10K (in 42:55) and the 10 mile (in 1:09.09). So yes, this was a super big PR race for me! I ended up 8th overall and 3rd in my AG. The field was big... with about 850 racing, I think, so I am mighty proud, thanks.
Thanks to Kurt. Like mucho thanks. like mucho mucho mucho thanks.