Thursday, August 28, 2014

Rhode Warrior, the Run and Why I Hate the Number 23

So I headed out for my run, eating my banana. I ran through the flags and onto the street. I had to get to the other side of the road.  There was a cop at the cross walk directing traffic and the runners. This was a two loop course and the cross walk was also where you would turn around.

The cop put his hands up to stop a car that was coming, I took a couple steps and the car did not stop. I had a moment of panic, and the cop shouted at the driver. I was a little shaken and pissed. This stupid driver almost hit me and in front of my family to boot.  I shook it off and headed on my way.

First thing on my agenda was get to the first water stop and use the bathroom.  As soon as I started to really run though, I felt a rock or something in my left shoe. You know, the one that did not get the sand and gravel rinsed off.  Shoot!  I hoped it would just move and not bother me, so I hung in there until the first water stop.

I was moving slow but felt ok.  I had high hopes for the run. I thought it would be my strongest leg of the day. This is a flat course but no real shade and the sun was just beating down.  I grabbed some water and saw that someone was in the porta potty.  I waited. And waited some more. I finally knocked and a voice said, "I'll be right out!" Ok, so I sat down and took off my shoe and sock and fixed the gravel problem. Stood up and she was still not out. I gave up and just prayed that there was a PP at the next stop. I wasted a lot of time there and that second mile was my longest split of the day.

I got to the end of Atlantic Ave. and a left was coming up but I saw a PP on the other side of the road.  I didn't want to take any chances that I would not see another one in time, so I crossed over and then continued on my way.

The cool thing about running up the stretch of Atlantic Ave., was I go to see some of my friends who were also racing. It was great to cheer each other on.

I was pretty much alone, but I was able t see people ahead of me and I knew there were some behind me, but most of them were on their second loop.  I was behind a guy with a huge ironman tattoo on his leg and we chatted a couple minutes.  

When I turned onto Clifford St. he pulled away but Bethany had caught up to me.  Again, so very happy to see a friendly face and I was thrilled to have someone to run with for a couple miles.  She was on her second leg and was having a pretty good race. 

Once Bethany had about two miles to go, I wished her well and told her how jealous I was that she was about to finish and I still had to loop around.  I was tired.  She wished me well and picked it up for a finish that I wish I could of seen.  

Right after that, Mike pulled up next to me in his truck and cheered me on. I told him I still had to go around and he said that he would see me up ahead.

I was alone again, and Atlantic seemed to never end.  I know I said earlier that the turn around was right at the start, but for some reason, at this point, I though it was sooner.  I was running and getting upset thinking I would never finish.  And then, I saw my family. I started to cry, I was so happy.  The kids started to run with me and so did Mr. RWM.  Beth and Mike were there too cheering me on.   I think I said something like, "Where the hell is the turn around!?"  It is no fun knowing the finish line is right in front of you and you can't cross it.
Thanks for getting these pictures, Beth!

Gracie, George and Mr. RWM and me shuffling along.

Thank you Mike! This was one of the best moments of my run.

Finally, the cop and the turn around. Mr. RWM stayed with me as we crossed over and Mike started running with me too.  It was awesome to have them there.  My son was tailing behind and Mr. RWM had to go back with him but Mike stayed.  This was the best part of my run.  I was able to hold a conversation and I actually had fun running and chatting with him.  Mike stayed for almost two miles.  I was sad to see him go but this was the best I was running since I started and I felt good with just five miles to go.

When I approached the end of the road, the volunteer was cleaning up the cones. When he saw me, he said, "Oh, I am so sorry, they told me I could clean up."  Wow, well, I told him I think I am the last one. He asked if I was alright and I told him I was fine.  I continued on my run and hoping that other volunteers were still there as I was not sure I would remember which way to go.  I got to the next water stop and no one was there. The table was still set, plenty of water, oranges and pretzels, but no people.  This crushed me. I know it is a long day, and trust me, I appreciate all the help and time that each and every volunteer put in for the day, it just took me by surprise.

I knew a left was coming up.  The flagger was gone but the arrow sign was still there. Ok, I guess if the signs are there, I won't get lost. However, with each turn and water stop, I prayed that there would be another person.   There wasn't.  At a larger intersection, I even had to wait for the light to change before I could cross.  

At mile ten, I pulled out my phone and texted Mr. RWM, "At mile ten.  Walking."

Here's the thing, I trained to finish and finish only.  I knew with all the problems I ran into during training and the missed workouts, that I may very well come in last.  If you know me, last does not bother me. It really doesn't. I have never done anything like this before and I knew my training wasn't perfect. What got me though, is the fact that I was not prepared for the loneliness of the day.  Of course I have some runs that are alone and I have been in plenty of races without friends, but in those races, I have always been around other people. There was always a friendly face at a water stop.  Those tough last miles are when, I think, most people need the smiles and the way to go's the most.

I never once thought of giving up, I just kept moving forward. When I got to the intersection that would take me back onto Atlantic Ave and to the finish, the volunteer who had cleaned up the cones was still there!  When he saw me coming, he stopped all the cars, put his water down and applauded me as I approached him.  I started to cry. When I got close he held out his hand so that he could shake mine.  He told me I was doing so good and I thanked him from the bottom of my heart.  He was an angel to me and I will never forget that moment.  

I was really watching the time all day.  I wanted to finish in eight hours or less.  It wasn't going to happen.  All the time I saved on the swim and bike, was gone.  I couldn't believe the run had taken me this long.  A flat, fast course and I was still on it.  I felt a little defeated but again, the only thing I could think of was getting to that finish line.  

A man on a bike passed me and said good job.  A minute later he was riding next to me.  He asked if I was ok which, actually, I was. I was still moving and I was going to finish. I was just moving slow.  He said I was breathing fine and was happy I could hold a conversation with him.  Wow, I must really look like shit if a total stranger was concerned. We actually had a nice conversation and he told me about doing the NYC triathlon a couple weeks ago.  As he was talking, I saw Mr. RWM running towards me.

I was so happy to see him.  I thanked the man on the bike for sticking with me and he went on his way.  Mr. RWM said he was tracking me and I was really slowing down so he was worried and wanted to find me.  This is funny because mile twelve was my second fastest mile of the day.  I didn't care, I had company and I was less than a mile to the finish line.

You guys have to know, that Mr. RWM does not run, ever.  This was the second time he was running with me today.  I was so proud of him and so happy to have him by my side as I was about to complete one of my biggest challenges to date.  

It wasn't long before I saw my family. My parents, my kids. They were cheering and smiling and jumping up and down.  They were loud and I loved it!  I ran into the finish, got water and my medal and my kids came running over to hug me followed by my parents.  I couldn't stop crying.  I was so happy to stop moving.  Once I cleared my eyes and started walking to my bike, I noticed that it was not the only one on the rack.  I was in shock. There were still people on the course?!  I felt a mix of emotions here.  I wasn't last but that did not make me happy per se. I felt sad that I didn't look back, how far were they?  Could we have run together for a bit?  I wondered how they felt. Did they have the same lonely feelings as I did?  Were they staying positive?

I got over to my bike and started to pack up when Bethany came over. We hugged and congratulated each other. She was heading to the beach with her family.  I was heading home for a shower and food.  

I got my stuff and the kids and I went to the finish and cheered in the next two runners.  Two women, both amazing.  All together, there were four people who finished after me.

The run took my 3:13.  My finish time was 8:23:23. I was 70 overall.  The 22 women and 6th in my AG.  

My goal was under eight hours and not die.  Well, I went over and I was pretty sure I was dead.  I have been trying to wrap my head around what really went wrong on the run.  The course was flat, but it was very hot.  I was tired and wasted energy feeling bad for myself.  What I really needed to do was suck it up and run.  I had a faster pace in me, I know it.  I walked most of mile ten and that really hurt me.  However, I finished and if I really think about it, that was the main goal.  

In January, I didn't know how to swim.  I hurt my arm and ended up in PT for six weeks, no swimming.  I not only didn't own a road bike, I never even sat on one until my friends loaned me theirs.  I could run, that we know, but I may have been a little over confident in that department.  My first triathlon was in June, my second was July and they were both sprints.  Then come August, I take on a half iron distance tri.  Clueless and a bit crazy got me here.  I am so very proud that I finished but I probably should of taken on this distance next year with a little more experience under my belt.  I didn't though, and I will proudly display my 70.3 sticker on my truck. But you know, this race was actually, 72.1 miles.  No sticker for that distance!

After a fantastic shower, the family and I went out to dinner and boy did I eat!  When I got dressed, I couldn't think of a better shirt to wear.  My Another Mother Runner, I am stronger than I thought. And yes, I wore my medal to dinner.

So why do I hate the number 23 you ask?  It's silly really. I wanted to finish this race in eight hours and I finished in 8:23.  I wanted to finish my marathon in five hours and I finished in 5:23. What kind of crazy, weird coincidence is this?  I know I need to be happy that I finished and I am, but I think I need to get rid of the :23 for both of those distances.  It won't be next year, but it will happen. Stay tuned...

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole


  1. You did it, you finished and that is what counts! Great job!

    ~Wendy at Taking the Long Way Home

  2. So very proud of you! It's hard to keep going in those times. And love how you're using this as a way to think about what to do better/different. You are definitely motivating me to think about this.

  3. Loved reading all about your day. It made me smile, laugh and even cry. You are amazing!

  4. Loved reading all about your day. It made me smile, laugh and even shed a few tears. You are amazing!

  5. You did it!!! I am sad that the volunteers didn't stick around until the end. I know how much you crave and need human interaction (such a foregin concept to me - ha!). What an adventure. You look fantastic!!! Still beaming!!! When's the next one??? SUPER KUDOS!!!!!

  6. I'm reading this entry in tears, I'm so happy that you conquered this animal of a race! You are SUCH an inspiration!!! God Bless, Sam (new girl)

  7. Nicole, you should be really proud. You did it! I'm very comfortable with that course, as it's a mile from my house and I run parts of it year round, but it was just so hot out there and with virtually no shade on the course, I just wanted it to end. Way to stick with it and conquer the Rhode Warrior!

  8. I read this through tears also! I just hope that some day I will have the courage and the strength to push through and conquer as you did! The miles alone are the toughest. Super great job!