Before the Lake Waramug Race, I stretched, worried, taped my foot, rolled out the pain, tapered excessively and ran way shorter distances than planned.
"I don't even know if I can do the 50k," I said, fretting. I had signed up for the 50miler but decided to drop to the 50k...and wasn't even sure I could complete that. I was sad.
So I prepped myself. I told my friends I might not even make it past the 50k. I packed a bag with my kindle crammed full of books, my Spanish verb exercise books (Hey, if I couldn't run an ultra at least I finally might be able to understand the subjunctive? Maybe? Okay, probably not...), and a book about the horrific war in Bosnia by Janine diGiovanni. And some letters to writer and some Spanish exercises...and warm clothes...and hello Mary Harvey packed brownies, why the hell would I run if I could sit and read and eat brownies?
Tony kept telling me I should just do the 50 miler with him, but he knew about the pain I've been feeling - esp with pavement. I didn't want to mess myself up for the slew of races I have ahead - Bear Mtn 50 miler in two weeks, followed by Greenbelt 50k, followed by Brooklyn Half, and then a week off, then North Face DC 50 miler, then pacing at San Diego 100, then pacing at Great NY Running Expedition, then Finger Lakes 50, then Vermont 100, then Moosalamoo 36 Miler, then Burning Man 50k...then summer is over. So a lot of running! And I'd rather not do something stupid and mess my summer of fun up!
I was a bundle of nerves at the start. Actually, I was more like depressed. I chatted with Erin and Mary, who were bubbly and pantless (they were wearing skirts!), and I was freezing and refused to take off my pink zebra striped leggings. This day was going to suck if I dropped. Wayne had pitied me and told me if I dropped really early, he'd make the drive up to CT to fetch me. I had visions of crying the car ride home.
But it didn't happen like that.
Tony and I started off easily, chatting, with Tony complaining we were going too fast and me feeling like this lake went on FOR-E-VER! But it was really pretty - the course was asphalt, running on the side of the road with most of the cars slowing down and driving in the other lane. There were rolling hills, you know, slight up and downs, nothing too terrible. We walked the hills in the later laps, mainly to slow down our speed, give ourselves some time to recover and do something different, and omg, it felt so freaking good just to walk up a hill here and there.
The course also had incredible aid. So you do a 2.2 mile out (and then there's an aid station) and come back 2.2 miles. Then you do a bunch of loops and maybe an out-and-back depending upon your distance. But each loop is 7.6 miles - and each loop has the awesome main aid station, plus three others. Carl Hunt, I have a crush on you. The first aid station I usually didn't stop at, except once to grab pretzels and once to beg for ginger ale (which they didn't have). The second aid station - I think I want my wedding one day to be staged here. Hello! Grilled cheese! Pumpkin pie! What else do you need? Oh yeah ginger ale and some red or blue Gatorade. Pretzel slims! I was in heaven. Tony and I stopped talking to each other in order to cram as much in our mouths as possible. I love this race. And then it was the really cold and windy and sucky and hilly part of the race and then ANOTHER aid station. Mmmm pretzels and ginger ale and GO!
I started out feeling pretty unsure...what could I do? What should I do? Tony was pretty chipper and full of cheer...we chatted about life, races, friends, whatever else. Tony only made me stop to laugh hysterically like a hyena once. I laughed other times like a hyena but I only stopped once.
My foot began hurting, not a lot, but some. I really didn't want to quit, I didn't want to quit. It was around mile 9. I decided I'd try to at least do a 50k.
"C'mon Cherie, do the 50 miler, c'mon, c'mon."
"You know I want to...I just don't want to hurt myself more."
I ate vanilla gus as we ran, gawked at the pretty houses, laughed, drank water, suffered.
And then I missed the 50k turnaround.
"I'll stay with you the rest of the way," Tony promised.
I gritted my teeth. My foot wasn't hurting as much.
The second-to-last loop, Tony was calculating pace. "Cherie, you can def PR. As long as we keep up this pace--"
"Shut up, shut up, I don't know what will happen!"
The last lap -- "Cherie, I think I'm gonna PR. Oh!"
We could both PR? Insane!
We took a walk break. Even before we started walking, Tony was moaning about how amazing it felt. "This is better than sex," I told him. "Right now, I def want this instead of sex." It felt that good. Seriously.
We pushed it. I pushed it. Tony pushed it. We were hurting but --
Tony smashed his Pineland Farms 50miler PR of 8:47 and I kicked my PR of 9:05 -- to 8:31!!!!!
We finished crossing the line together! I was third woman (1min10seconds behind the second place woman). We changed, scarfed some food, and I felt amazing. So high. I couldn't believe that I had PR'd when I thought I was incapable of doing 19 miles less...
My books remained unread that day, but they'll get read. The race - well, that was run, in the best possible way!