Two things occurred to me as I ran out of the transition area:
- I’d forgotten my legs. These heavy, wooden creaky things below my torso were surely not mine. They didn’t work right. Parts of them were numb, and the other parts hurt.
- Why the heck had I put on my shirt? I had been comfortable on the bike without it. Now I would get too warm. Oh well, at least I looked good – better than I felt.
The run was totally ironic. I’m a Runner, eh? I had been looking forward to this part of the race all morning. This is my strength, my joy! Yet the other two parts of the race had seemed much easier than this.
Despite the crankiness of my lower limbs, they moved. I mercilessly picked up my feet and plopped them down as fast as they would go. It occurred to me that I could slow down or walk, but that wasn’t in my race plan. I could have walked the whole thing at that point and still could make it in under my original goal time of 2 hours, but… I wasn’t there for a feel-good jog. I was there to kick butt! I leaned into it and breathed hard. You can do this for half an hour. Do it!
The first km marker was totally demoralizing. Surely I had gone farther than that! Just before the 2 km mark I walked and drank a cup of Ultima at the water station. When I resumed running I felt a little better. I looked around me at the canal on one side and the residential neighbourhood on the other. There were little signs encouraging us along the way, and oh look! A garage sale! No shopping today, Karen. Yo! Stay focused.
I walked a few steps again as I drank a cup of water on the way back. At about 3.5k I turned a corner and saw Dianne running towards me. We exclaimed and hugged briefly as an old toothless man looked on from his lawn chair. As my friend went the other way he looked at me as if to cheer, and saw me take a few walking steps. He frowned and said “You don’t git to walk. Git running.” Oh yeah, I grinned and ran.
My legs and lungs caught up with the rest of my body. I hurled my body further forward and pushed harder. I remembered my speed training with the 10k group and found my 400m repeat pace. Held it. No more smiling. No more encouraging other racers. Run now; rest later! I am a runner! Oh hey, I am a triathlete!
I heard friends cheering me in. Derek yelled something like “Strong Finish” and I whooped as I leapt through the finish line. Sarah and Derek gave me hugs and high fives. Someone removed my ankle chip and someone else gave me a medal. I was on cloud nine.
I cheered in my friends and made a couple more while munching on watermelon and cookies. Just after Leana left on her run I took my gear out of transition and packed it into the car. I got to cheer in Melody, Leana, Richelle and many others. When the last racer finished we headed in for lasagna and awards. It was a long day, but an awesome race experience. I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.
Results are here. Photos should be up soon as well.