If you missed Part I you should check it out here before reading any further! Now where were we…? Oh yes, the start of the race…
BANG! Ding, ding…ding, ding. The trolley car sound was the cue and Bethtober was off! Well off to a slow trot as the hundreds of runners ahead of her made their way across the start line and onto the course, triggering their timing chips.
A knot had formed in the pit of her stomach. She felt the weight of the goal she was going to attempt to accomplish, 13.1 miles in less than two hours. She also felt the sloshing of liquid in her bladder which had filled back up during the thirty or so minutes she spent waiting for the race to start. Awesome.
The 1:50 pacer was running with his red and white balloons right in front of Bethtober. Like a rabbit chasing a carrot, she knew if she could just keep those balloons in her sights, she’d be set!
The Chia Fresca was a new addition to the pre-race routine. Confident the benefits of the chia seed had been worth the extra eight ounces of water she consumed now she had to figure out if she could wait until after she crossed the finish line to relieve herself. She had to make an important decision, bathroom or balloons?
Luckily, Bethtober had an advantage. This was her neighborhood. She ran this course every weekend; this was her course. She knew that just before mile two there was a restroom tucked away in the park. Not a race affiliated port-a-potty that would likely already have a line of runners, a secret potty. Having the smallest, most hydrated bladder in the world necessitated that Bethtober know the locations of a lot of secret potties.
There was no guarantee that it would be open and the detour was still going to take precious seconds maybe even minutes off her finish time but she had to go for it. The remaining miles seemed too painful otherwise. So a few minutes later Bethtober sprinted away from the pack and her proverbial carrot and towards the secret potty.
She was in and out pretty quickly and ahhhhhh, relieved. Now it was race time! Bethtober briefly entertained the thought that she had just ruined her chances of a sub-two hour finish for this half marathon before she remembered the balloons. If she could just get back to those balloons…was it even possible at this point? She wasn’t sure but she surely wasn’t going to give up at mile two!
She took off!
It felt almost like a sprint but her breathing was controlled so she knew she could keep the fast pace up. After mile four she started to feel lightheaded and questioned whether she was pushing herself too much too early. She still had nine miles to go so she slowed down just a bit until the next water station. Hydrated and motivated by thoughts of La Brujita (Born to Run reference people, read it!) she took off again!
Bethtober wanted to kick this race’s asphalt! If she didn’t make it in time, it wasn’t going to be because she didn’t try her best. It was going to be because she stopped to pee in the middle of the race. 😉 She decided to keep the fast pace up until she couldn’t anymore. Then she would take a brief break by slowing a bit, checking Gus to ensure she was still under a ten minute per mile pace, and then she would repeat the cycle over again. But every time she glanced at Gus he was reporting unimaginable pace stats. There was no way she was running that fast and still feeling that good. Maybe Gus’s satellites weren’t properly aligned. Due to the potty detour, Gus was displaying mileage and a race time that was off a bit so Bethtober tried to focus on the course instead. She made her way passed her beloved buffaloes, out of the park and onto the beach highway. For a minute she thought the weather conditions may even be too hot for a thirteen mile run but then she caught a breeze off the ocean. What on earth could be better than this? She took in the sun, scenery and sensations. She was at peace and caught herself smiling on the outside too.
With about six miles left to go, down and then back up the beach highway, she kicked up the pace again. She could now see the first runners on the other side of the street heading in the opposite direction, towards the finish line. She wondered when the red and white balloons would pass her and then remembered she was still chasing them! About a mile before she reached the turnaround point she saw them. That meant they were about two miles ahead of her. That couldn’t be right. They couldn’t have gained two miles on her while she was peeing! I’m a professional peer! That detour couldn’t have taken more than two minutes, not TWO MILES! Bethtober thought.
As the red and white bouncing balloons got closer she confirmed her suspicions. 1:40! Those weren’t the right balloons! Knowing her balloons were just ten minutes behind those balloons set her off again! She was close and she could almost taste the carrot.
As Bethtober approached the mile ten marker she took one of her headphones out of her ear to hear the race volunteer call out the times. She heard the time and checked Gus. She repeated the time in her head, double checked Gus again, did some quick math and started welling up. Barring any unforeseen disasters, she was going to do it. She knew it then. She had been keeping up an eight or nine minute per mile pace the entire race and even if she slowed to ten or eleven at this point, she would make it. She eased back a bit and shed a tear. She did it. Then she thought: you didn’t do anything yet! You still have three more miles to run, RUN! So she did.
The last three miles were kind of a blur. A mix of emotions ran through Bethtober’s body and her knees were starting to feel tender. She envisioned crossing the finish line, hoping to catch a glimpse of The Chef as she accomplished her goal. She kept checking Gus as if she were pinching herself. Was this really happening? As the crowd thickened and the course turned back into the park, she knew she was close. She thought of her childhood home, on the top of a steep street. Growing up her Dadtober reinforced a sprint to the finish. You didn’t walk up the hill; you pushed it to the end. So she pushed it.
She didn’t see The Chef but the second she took her cell phone out of her pocket as she walked through the corrals trying to find the water stand, he was calling.
“You did it!” He exclaimed. She couldn’t cry because frankly she couldn’t breathe, but she wanted to. She had done it. With a final finish time of 1:56:11! With a bathroom break! She began to imagine the possibility of an even faster finish time, without a secret potty detour.
Turns out her parents were right; she really can accomplish something she puts her mind to! Even if it takes a year and a half of training, a 26.2 mile race under her belt and four half marathons to get there!
Maybe next race she’ll chase the 1:40 carrot.