So, yeah, that 10K Amy and Cheryl ran 2 weeks ago? PR Central. Granted both of their previous PRs had been on that same course (a moronically and ridiculously hilly course), and they’re in waaay better shape now, but still. When it comes to chasing PRs, you never know. I was an annoying nervous Nelly the morning of the race, blathering last-minute tips for hill running during their warmup. I even made up an acronym using the word “beer” for the 4 things to remember on hills, but I seemed to retain at least a shred of sanity and didn’t offer up that gem in the super-stressful minutes before the race. (And luckily for those reading this, I can’t remember it now.)
I was clipping timing chips at the finish (clearly, I’m in a rut when it comes to the jobs I volunteer to do at races), so I had a great view of the finishers coming down the final hill to the finish. Amy came in first, and I bellowed our now completely worn out announcement of racing achievement: “You schooled those bitches!” Naturally, there was a mother with her 8-year-old standing right behind me. Nice.
Apparently, Cheryl was about 20 seconds behind Amy, but I didn’t get to see her finish because this guy I know who is the RD for a local rinky dink marathon was practically sitting in my lap as he pretended to be throwing up on me. This is a charming ritual that began a year or so ago after I hurled midway through a half marathon moments after this delightful young man passed me. Isn’t running great?
So, anyway, I missed Cheryl coming in, and then I was all stressed and panicky as the seconds ticked by. Was she okay? Her chances at a PR were gone! Had I committed some heinous coaching error that had ruined this race for her? Would she ever run again? Was I a terrible human being?? At about this point, I noticed her casually chatting away over by the water. Good grief. I was extra happy because: A) Cheryl had clearly gotten a PR, and B) I had promised to buy her a bottle of single malt scotch if she did so, and C) I like single malt scotch, and, let’s face it, I’d be drinking most of it.
And, so, on to the big race 2 weeks later. Cheryl was originally going to go for a 5K PR and Amy was shooting for a half marathon PR. (However, Cheryl had been having some foot pain, and in case you haven’t heard about it, I had a foot injury last year which has turned me into Polly Paranoia when it comes to any pain even peripherally podiatric [alliteration bonanza!!]). So we adjusted her goals a bit. Or, rather, I adjusted them, while Cheryl was still super-secretly planning to go for it.
The three of us ran together on the Tom King Half Marathon course one week before the race. The entire course is flat as hell and moderately boring. Perfect for fast running. I had instructed Amy to do about 40 minutes at HM pace (8:15), which would be her last workout before the race. This came at the end of a tough week of training, so I figured it might be relatively difficult. When we all met up at the finish, Amy really didn’t seem a hair fatigued, and she presented nary a complaint of difficulty. Later on, though, her blog reflected the classic, “Oh shit. If those 5 miles were that hard how, will I ever race 13 of them in 7 days???”
Can any of us even remotely fathom how on earth we run the paces we run on race day? No. It’s incomprehensible. It’s otherworldly and insane. That’s why we race.
Hello race morning. Even though the 5K had a very early start time, and our Circadian rhythms were most certainly out of wack, Cheryl and I felt fab during our warmup run. The weather was perfect. I’d had too much coffee. A huge moon was setting over Nashville just as the sun was rising. Everyone was in a good mood. (Well, except for that homeless dude who was yelling at the sidewalk.)
I didn’t see Amy until mile one of the 5k (more on my racing incrediblosity in a later entirely self-absorbed post about ME). She was standing on the curb with Steve, who would be pacing her, and at that point it was about 20 minutes until the start of the half. In one of those blurred ridiculous thought processes that only occur while racing, it dawned on me that she should be warming up. Amy yelled, “Go Tanya!” and I yelled, “Warm up!!” and as I raced away, I heard a vaguely annoyed, “Warm up?” If I hadn’t been in so much pain, I might have laughed.
Cheryl blasted into the stadium not far behind me at the finish, and came within 19 seconds of her PR, winning her age group. She was instantly despondent, but I barked at her not to get greedy about PRs since they don’t happen every time you race and they never happen anymore for wretched old hags like me. (I’m pretty sure this insightful lecture made her feel better.) She cheered up, and we headed into the Stadium Club for the 5K awards.
I had really wanted to be in the stands when Amy finished so that I could shout out obscenities and stuff, but the awards overlapped with the half marathon finish. Luckily there were about a million TVs in the stadium club showing the finish line and the clock. Amy’s previous PR had been 1:49:54, so I was anticipating her finishing somewhere between 1:47 and 1:48. Around 1:43 I began glancing at the screens. Around 1:44 some chick dashed across the finish and promptly doubled over in the classic finish line hurl pose that I know so well. “Ha ha,” I thought. “Better her than me! Ha ha.”
I looked again. It kind of looked like Amy, but it couldn’t be. Could it?
1:44:40! A fucking 5 minute and 14-second PR. Steve had paced her perfectly, and these past 13 weeks of training paid off big time. A steady 8-minute pace the whole way when a handful of miles at 8:15 had seemed so hard only a week earlier. Isn’t racing mind-boggling? Yes, it is. Isn’t coaching gratifying? In more ways than I would have imagined.
Later that evening, Cheryl and I met up with Amy and some dude who had also had a major PR (major, I say!) that day for important rehydration. As a thank you, Amy gave me a serious bottle of top-notch Kentucky bourbon (isn’t coaching gratifying?) and a card. Following some very kind and thoughtful comments, Amy ended the card with a nod to our cherished mantra: “Two words: Bitches schooled.”
p.s…Amy’s race report!