Off to the races…literally!

December 14, 2013

“The best rides are the ones where you bite off much more than you can chew, and live through it.” ~ Doug Bradbury

Wow!  How true that is, and what an AMAZING journey it has been to be a part of HITS Austin at the Circuit of the Americas.  After 8-weeks of the most intense training I have ever received, I was “off to the races…literally.”  I strapped my “trek lexa” to the back of my car and began my trek to Austin. Finally, my morning began with carbs!  I didn’t want to take the time to make breakfast so I stopped by “Happy Donuts” for some sausage and cheese kolaches, and was a super “happy girl.”  Since I needed to carb up before the race anyway, I didn’t feel guilty.  The road trip to Austin went well, though about half-way there, the rains came.  I arrived at Texas Running Company for packet pickup and had the pleasure of meeting Beth Leibo (from TRC) who was instrumental in gifting me with my sweet Brooks running shoes.

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Upon completion, I decided to stop by a local Food Truck (since Austin is known for its food trucks) and carbed up AGAIN.  This time I had an awesome entrée Puccia and dessert Puccia.

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Who know that you could go in to a carb coma?

I was in a world of hurt. My body hasn’t been used to so many carbs, and I quickly had thoughts of only eating vegetables for the rest of my life.  LOL!  Next, I reached my destination for the night, curled up on the comfy mattress, rested my body and mind, and set off for a solid night’s sleep.  The next morning, I had intended to be an “early bird” to see my new friend, Caryl (one of the other HITS Austin winners) start her half marathon, but at the last minute I chose to sleep in.  I had one of the most glorious night’s sleeps I have ever had, which was very much needed, as it was a 9-hour day in the “frozen tundra” of the Circuit of the Americas, followed by a 5-hour road-trip back to southeast Texas.

Here is a video of my pre-race Pep Talk!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irxm1NoMl-A

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When I arrived at COTA, I immediately ran in to Cortney (another HITS Austin winner) who then introduced me from “afar” to Coach Mark.  Coach Mark was instructing the marathon and half-marathon runners which direction to run, so I was unable to visit with him at that time.

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Honestly, I just wanted to hug the man, because 1) I am a hugger and 2) He has been an incredible coach, cheerleader and supporter to me throughout this 8-week journey to COTA.  Shortly after my arrival, I had the pleasure of cheering on Caryl (HITS Austin winner) as she finished her half-marathon!

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It was so exciting to meet these amazing women who have supported and encouraged me throughout this “ride,” as well.  Soon after Caryl’s finish I was finally able hug Coach Mark and meet the man who had weekly advised and prepared me for this race.

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Words cannot describe my excitement!  The sheer magnitude of the fabulous facility called the Circuit of the Americas was overwhelming enough, and here I was going to run and bike a track where hundreds upon thousands of race cars have raced in front of thousands of spectators. It was now my turn!  My time between the morning sessions and my race was filled with visits to different venders, conversations with other runners and constant hydration, fueling with food and visits to the restroom, to ensure that I didn’t have to make a “pit stop” during my race.  Mission accomplished!

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It was time!!!  

Coach Mark called for all “sprint dualthon” racers to get to the starting line!  I was so pumped about this race.  Oh, a side note, there were a lot of native Texans (remember, I am from Wisconsin)  turning blue due to the “frozen tundra-esque” weather.  It was super cold and windy and many were wearing only a t-shirt and running shorts.  I, however, had on two pair of socks, three pair of pants, three sweatshirts, a new HITS beanie to keep my head warm and my hood was on.  While I came fully prepared in both body and mind, I wasn’t expecting the results that came with this race.  The 2.25 mile run began with a steep uphill climb, which most of us walked, but once I hit the down-hill curve I had an amazing run!!  I set a goal of finishing each leg of the run in 26 minutes, averaging 11.55 per mile.  I would never have imagined that I would enter transition at 22:41 which is an average pace of 10:36 per mile!!!! There were hills on this course, people!  You know, like, “climb every mountain” kind of hills. I couldn’t believe it. Much thanks needs to go out to my running buddy, “B,” who was directly responsible for the success of my runs today. That being said, the “mountain climbing” continued on the bike.  Due to the quick pace of my run, I was sweating like a hog and shed some clothing during transition.  It took me a few minutes to get ready in transition, but I got on my bike and began to ride. There were twists and turns and ups and downs.  One hill in particular is going to be tattooed into my memory forever! Do you remember in one of my earlier blogs when I was discussing my inexperience with my bike shoes clipped in?  My worst nightmare was about to come true.  So, here I am cruising literally down an awesome “cliff” when I realize I am going 31mph!  “Thirty-one miles per hour,” I proudly puffed myself up?!?!  “I’m a rock star!  Whooooooooooooo!” The smile on my face was so big that rays of sunshine must have begun coming out from behind the gloomy clouds!  That was until I abruptly, realized I had to change gears to accommodate the climbing of the next “mountain.” May I remind you, I have never had to switch gears while going 31 miles per hour on a downhill slope, which quickly became an uphill climb up a “mountain,” because we don’t have “mountains” in these here parts. So, I found myself in panic mode and while my speed began to suddenly slow, my brain suddenly shouts “mayday, mayday,” but my feet don’t listen.  They can’t get out of the clips fast enough and the next thing I saw was two tires in the bright blue sky and my “pants on the ground.”  It was one of those moments that, in my sick sense of humor, should have been on video, because surely I would have made the highlight reel for the “play of the day” in all of sports television.  Fortunately, I didn’t even loose a tear, I picked myself up by my “boots,” which were literally still strapped to my bike pedals, and walked up that darn hill.  I got myself together and finished the first half of the bike race.  The fortunate or unfortunate part (depending on how you look at it) was that I had to ride that same hill yet another time, because to complete the 14-mile bike, they had us riding the same leg twice. Lucky me!  In true “warrior princess” fashion, I mastered that hill the second time and finished the bike in 1 hour and 17 minutes.  My goal was to complete it in one hour, but I hadn’t expected there to be so many hills and neither did I know I would have a self-fulfilling prophecy – my Humpty Dumpty moment (see one of my previous blogs).

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As soon as the bike was finished I was super psyched to run again.  I mean, I was the gal in cross country that people yelled at, shouting “unhook the plow.” It is absolutely unfathomable that I would be stoked to run, yet, I am now a runner! I am actually not sure what my run time was on the final sprint, but I felt fabulous, and when I got to the downhill finish, there was nothing stopping me!  I finished harder than I ever have!  I crossed the finish line with a time of 02:12:50.313, which includes two transition times.  If I do a little “guess” work in my head, I am going to estimate I was in transition about 5-minutes each time, which leaves me with a final run time of 22.59, which is beyond belief! Running this race was life-changing.  On my ride home I talked to my running buddy “b” and we are already anticipating our next run.  My legs need to rest for a few days, as well as my bum, which I expect will have a bruise the size of Texas, due to the unexpected fall, but I did it and I am excited about what will come next.

I would love to hear from you too.  Send me a note from my blog so I can be an encourager on your journey as well.  A huge Texas-sized thank you to HITS Austin, for choosing me to be a part of this race, to Coach Mark for your invaluable training and guidance, Caryl and Cortney for your unending encouragement, to Beth Leibo and Sam from Texas Running Company for hooking me up with new shoes and a Texas Running Company t-shirt, to “B” for being my running buddy, to my friends and family for your support, and above all to my Heavenly Father for protecting me from my fall today, which could have been really, really bad, and finally to my amazing God who softened my heart enough to help me grasp that I am worth fighting for! Thank you!
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Psalm 18: 32-36 “It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. 34 He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great.  You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.

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