As I drove the 3.5 hour trip home, my mind was full of excitement. I would soon get to see my Mom, Aunt, Uncle, Cousin, Grandparents, Niece, and possibly my sister. I had not been home in 4 months. The longest time I can ever remember. I missed the familiarity of it all. I missed just getting to chill with them. Things have changed a lot around there in the past 5 years. Ive moved away, my sister now has a 2 year old, her own home, and 4 horses (her dream), my little brother left for college, my mom and step dad no longer live together, and my best friend/cousin has moved to Arizona. One thing that has not changed is the mindset they all have about me. My family and friends have always had faith in my ability to be the person and athlete I want to be. It is fun to go home, and be reminded of that. My Poppa, and Aunt Deb probably mentioned me winning the race I would be running on Sunday 15 times before Saturday had ever dawned.
I love their belief in me.
Saturday came and went all too quickly, and next thing I know it was time to wake up and get ready to race. I met up with Carol for warm up, and we laughed and enjoyed the easy 15 mins together before it was time to really get serious. I had run this race one other time in 2006. 36:07 was my finishing time then. With the way things have been going I would be happy to improve on that. I prayed for only one thing going into the race. That I would be mentally tough, and focused from start to finish.
As we did our final strides, and got down to our race day gear, I began to feel pretty nervous. I remember asking my mom to pray for my mental toughness too, and then it was time to lay it out there. The gun went off, and we were on our way. We came through the mile in 5:15 and I was the lead woman. Shortly there after I saw a familiar figure, and gave a hello nod. R. D. Goodwright, was a runner at Youngstown State when we met as we were both running under Matt Woods one summer. He asked what my goal was and I said anything under 35 mins would be a PR. He nodded and said "lets go".
5:21 through the 2nd mile R. D. grabbed 2 waters and handed one my way. I smiled and took a swig. "Double hills, don't be fooled" he said, and I looked up, only to see a very large hill in front of me and remember from 06 that when you got around the bend, it just went up again. So I told myself the same thing we always did in college, 'just tap it out'. Soon enough we were cresting the top of the hill and making our way back down. 5:50...slow, but still leading.
We began to hit a few small rolling stretches and the pace quickened to 5:35. Then R. D. was off to help another guy he knew. I kept trying to push the pace, and R. D. slowly came back. 5:44 through 5 miles and then she blew by me. A Kenyan woman from Kentucky. I tired to go with her, and heard R. D. from 20 meters behind remind me it was worth it. So I pressed...HARD. We hit the bridge over the river heading into downtown, and despite my best effort she started to pull away. 600 meters to go my mom was there, screaming "Becki, go you can catch her". I gave it another push, only to find myself tying up pretty badly. But only 600 meters to go, I can give in now. So I pressed as hard as I could. 34:56. A new PR, and an answered prayer. I had made it the whole way feeling like I was racing, and not giving up!
I still have a long way to go to find my confidence, but this was a good step in the right direction.
26.2 miles im coming after you...one step at a time.