However, here’s what race day morning looked like from the inside of our warm, dry car:
The early morning rain stopped in time for the race start – hooray! The winds, however, were there to stay. Heading out on the first half of the course was the strongest tail wind I’ve ever experienced. I was flying! I felt strong to start and knew immediately I was “on”. I was also in tune to the tailwind. So was my watch…..8:05…..8:10…..(OMG, must slow down)….8:07….(what? I said slow down!)…..8:30…..(not slow enough)….and so on. I finally resigned myself to the fact that, on and out-and-back course, I would at some point succumb to a strong headwind and be forced to slow down.
Because of a short turn off of the main road, the head wind didn’t unleash it’s full force until mile 15. Talk about a wall – of wind! Actually, it reminded me of last year’s Cape Cod Marathon. Remember that race? The winds were so strong and cold in Falmouth that I nursed an ear ache for 3 weeks! The challenge of Green Mountain Marathon’s course was also it’s draw; a beautiful island connected to the mainland by a causeway, showing off vast farmlands and pretty bays along the way – which meant there was no protection from the lake effect winds. I joked to fellow runners that it was easier running that day than manning a water stop. Those volunteers worked their butts off chasing down empty cups that turned into cardboard missiles! They were everywhere…
I finally slowed down around mile 17. I needed to stop fighting the wind so much and had to slow the pace to keep myself together. Nothing really hurt; I was simply exhausted from the wind. On the final long hill (mile 24 to 25 – perfect placement, right?), a girl came up beside me and encouraged, “We’re almost done”. That one little comment helped me conquer that last bad-ass hill with a renewed focus. Shortly after that, I slowly passed other runners all the way up that hill. One carrot-top guy was walking in that “oh my God, when will this end?” way we all recognize from running marathons, so I yelled, “C’mon, you’ve GOT this!”. I think I startled him, but he did answer, “Thanks, I needed that”. God I love the running camaraderie in the later miles of a marathon. Or maybe it’s desperation. Whatever it is, it’s cool. At mile 25 (top of that godforsaken hill), I found an extra gear and willed myself to stay in that gear until the Finish.
Again from Wikipedia, “Yin and yang are not opposing forces, but complementary forces, unseen and seen, that interact to form a greater whole, as part of a dynamic system.” I had 2 very opposing but complementary halves of the Green Mountain Marathon that formed a greater whole. I had the first half of 8:XX minute miles that made me feel like a rock star. And I had a second half of 9:XX and 10:XX minute miles that forced me to claw my way through the final miles. As fiercely as the wind, rain, and cold attacked, I felt nothing but calm as I picked off the miles. I celebrated those miles I felt like a rock star and I leveraged the tougher miles as practice for my upcoming 50 miler.
A cold/uncomfortable/solid/great/tough/memorable/challenging/exciting/rewarding day. Marathon #12 (aka Yin-Yang Marathon) is in the books. Smile at the finish line....mission accomplished!