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The morning of the race, I went downstairs for the Panama Jack sun visor I had lying ready on the dining room table. Next to it was Taryn’s Nike visor with a note: “You need a more professional hat to wear. I don’t want you to be embarrassed. Try not to get it too sweaty though. Good luck, I love you.” You have to realize – Taryn loves her clothing and this is a brand new visor she’s worn maybe once. This was true, sacrificial love she was showing here!
I grabbed a banana and Jim said, “Aren’t you going to eat your ironman cereal?” Oh yes, I’d forgotten he’d bought Wheaties Multigrain last night at Walmart for me because it says on the front, “used in the ironman”. One thing I gotta say about Jim – he’s a very supportive husband. He goes to great lengths to make sure I have what I need to get through all these crazy events, even paying attention to the little things.
Hayley had ACT testing so Jim took her while I headed to the soccer complex. Got my number pinned on, warmed up a bit, stretched, Jim pulled up with a surprise for me – Kylie had gotten out of bed to watch mommy run. She and Jim had on their “Team Ruthie” T-shirts he had made last year for my first Triathlon (that’s another blog).
I had prepped Andrea that I could not run fast, and that I really just wanted to keep our same practice pace for most of the run until the end. We usually talk the whole time. The race started and everyone pulled out in front of us. I would liken this to a bunch of hopping rabbits. “This is faster than we usually start out!” I yelled. “Well, we’ve gotta at least keep one or two people in sight!” She countered. Sheesh, I knew it.
We settled into somewhat of a rhythm. She talked, I tried to answer and breathe at the same time. There are plenty of hills – which means you get to sort of coast down, that’s the good part. We ran down, down, down a fun hill. And then, the bad part – up Monster Hill. This was NOT fun. “OK, we are just gonna POWER through this!” Coach Andrea encouraged. “If I was on my bike this hill would be MUCH easier.” I panted. “Yeah, if there’s one thing we know, it’s hills!!! We got this, we do hills!” She attempted enthusiastically. (We do hills on BIKES. There’s a difference.) She told me a story about somebody who did something and tried to make it like we were having a convo. I have no idea what she said but I knew what she was doing. She was trying to make me think my lungs weren’t exploding. Not happening.
At the top I gasped for breath. Some 12 year old kid blew by me. “Why is youth wasted on the young?” I thought. The 5k peeps were walking toward us, some running. Families with strollers, kids and parents holding hands, smiling. Not in agony, in other words.
Some cute 19 year old chic passed us and said something about losers. I guess my brain was foggy as well as the weather, because a few minutes later I figured it out. “I think she said ‘good job, LADIES, not losers'” I panted. Andrea guffawed. In situations such as this, Andrea has a tendency to start losing it and all of a sudden, I become extremely funny. Funny in a complaining sort of way. At least she thinks so.
At 4 1/2 miles we’re headed back up another hill and she’s saying when we get to the top, we’re gunning it to the bottom. I arrive at the top and promptly tell her I can’t gun it yet, that I’m still going uphill. She starts giggling again. I wonder aloud how the marathoners and the iron man-ers go to the bathroom during races. Andrea replies, knowingly, that they just go in their pants. “Well, I can barely make it through this, I would need a colostomy bag.” I said. She snickered – “DON’T get me started, you’ll make me go in MY pants!”
We topped the hill and the walkers parted for us. Andrea said something to them about us not running over them. “No worries, we’re nearly dead anyway.” I gasped.
Passing the finish line, everyone rooted us on – we had one more lap to go. Andrea’s kids tried to congratulate her, our husbands laughing and taking pictures. I rallied the crowd in a chant, “One more lap! One more lap!” They mostly just laughed at me. They probably felt sorry for me because I looked so tired and sweaty.
“OK, Ruthie, we’re blasting this last mile, let’s go!” “No. I cannot blast it, in fact, I need to walk.” I replied. “Oh no you don’t, you got this!” Andrea coached. I grumped. She tried to chit chat, even then. “Just think, after this you can eat whatever you want.” Almost before it was out of her mouth I countered, “Don’t talk about food right now, I think I’m gonna throw up.” We rounded the last curve before the finish line. “OK, Ruthie, see that bench up there?” I responded with a grunt. “When we get there, we’re gonna go all out to the finish line!” “Oh, I thought you were gonna say we’re gonna sit down and take a break.” She giggled again. We increased speed, the crowd (mostly our husbands and Andrea’s kids) cheered us to the end. I crossed the line, thought about it for a minute, grabbed my tummy and said, “Where’s the trash can?!”
Somehow I managed to keep my ironman multigrains down. It took a good two hours before I could even think of eating. My quads have screamed at me ever since and it’ll take a few days to be able to go up and down stairs without pain. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but THANK YOU, Andrea, for pushing me! You are always up for any challenge that I mention – that’s why I’m not even saying the words “Half Marathon” in your presence. You go ahead, girl, I’ll root for you!!!