Okay - usually I try and post the race recap within 24 hours of the race. Mainly because I'm old and forgetful and need to write it as soon as possible before I forget important details. However, I needed a bit more time to process this race. It was definately not what I expected it to be.
I started with the under training but mentally, I know I could do it and was prepared to do whatever it took to get through the full. My biggest concern was Perfect Pacer, who has not been able to train as much as he usually would. That started 2 years ago, when he was almost hit by a car on a night run. It was probably unrealistic to think we would finish a full.
The morning of the Route 66 it was 24 degrees outside but felt like 18. That's official according to weather.com. So here's what I decided would be best to wear: winter running tights, merino wool socks, my Adidas boost, Nike polar running thermal, team race singlet over it, Oiselle Arm warmers over the running thermal, Brooks winter running beanie, Under Armour running gloves, throw away gloves, flip belt. It wasn't enough.
Race started will. We went with our friend Y to the start line, we were all in the same corral. Even saw some other friends in the corral. Got one picture in - it was just too cold to even think of pictures.
The race started as usual, Lots of fanfare and excitement - I do think Route 66 does one of the finest races we've ever participated in so it was nothing less then expected! It was a hilly course - which I was prepared for - they don't really freak me out anymore and I'd been doing hill repeats on the biggest hill on the course for months!
We were on race pace the first 3 or 4 miles (about 9:30) but by mile 7 we were at a 10:00 mile (which is what I usually run my LDs at). I noticed that I could no longer feel my fingers and had already thrown away my throw away gloves at mile 3 (they were warm at that moment). Thankfully Perfect Pacer had taken his throw aways off and tucked them in his pockets. I put them on promptly. The rest of me was relatively warm with the exception my toes, my fingers and my face.
By mile 9, we were beginning to walk and run. I wasn't even tracking pace at that point because the objective had changed to simply finish. By mile 10, it was more then clear that Perfect Pacer was in extreme pain (not from lack of training but due to his degenerative disk disease). I had a feeling that we would be taking a DQ and diverting to the half finish line. But I was still holding out hope. After all, we had discussed the backup plan of walking more then running in order to get to the full finish line (if that's what it took).
At mile 11 (when I still couldn't feel my fingers and they were literally burning), Perfect Pacer was having trouble just walking. I was beginning to hear those voices in my head - "you can do the other half without him", "no you can't, you've never even run a 5k without him", "who will be there if you hit the wall", "what are you even considering not finishing?". I hate mind games. I knew I needed to let Perfect Pacer know it was okay for him to go the half finish line. I just didn't know what I was going to do yet. He kept telling me to go on without him.
About .25 mile from the turnoff, Perfect Pacer stopped and simply crouched down on the race course. I knew that this was the moment I was dreading. This was looking bad. How could I continue and simply hope he made it to his finish line (he doesn't run with his phone so there would be no communication what so ever for miles if we separated)? Then there was "the guy". You know - the one that says "half on the left, full on the right". He looked right at me (I swear) and pointed right at me (I double swear) and he simply said "ya'll need to go right".
I heard myself say, "no, we are going left". It was in that moment that I made the decision to divert and to finish the race with the one person by my side that had always been there for me. We had always said we'd never cross the finish line without the other and I wasn't about to break that tradition. Perfect Pacer gimped and we sort of trotted, hand in hand, across the finish line. All I could think of was, "my fingers have hypothermia, don't give me a medal."
The finish line was awesome as usual, set up for high security and protection of the runners. Our kids totally missed us at the finish line as they were waiting at home thinking they'd be meeting us in 4 hours at the Full finish line. I had texted them at mile 11 and said "meet us at the half finish, pretty sure dad is headed that way." I neglected to let them know our pace (because I had quit tracking it).
After the medal area, water, solar blankets, we were funneled into a tent with numerous serving lines of spaghetti and oranges. I couldn't even think about eating. I just needed to get out and get warm.
We met up with the kidlets at the corner, walked briskly to the car and waiting on our friend Y to get to the car. She had been in the medical tent because she couldn't feel her hands and she had finished quite a bit before us. Upon arriving home, I was still bitter cold and shaking so I promptly climbed into bed, under 2 down comforters (and yes, with all my race clothes still on - don't judge me). About an hour later, I woke up and could feel my feet and fingers again.
I begin peeling off the layers and realized that my feet were covered in blisters (because I broke the biggest race day - nothing new - I had put on a new pair of merino wool socks instead of a tried and true pair). I couldn't feel them on the course because I had no feeling in my feet. I realized that if I had continued onto the full finish, I'd probably have been covered in bloody blistered feet so for that I was grateful.
I still have mixed emotions about getting a DQ. We finished in 2:23:59, which is definitely our poorest times, but we were not expected a PR this time. We just wanted to finish.
Later that evening, at Perfect Pacer's 54th Bday party, he announced that he was done running long distance with me but would make sure he was at all the major mileage points when I would need him the most. I'm still trying to process through that as well. This definitely was not the race I expected it to be.