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Gym Belle  - noun  one who enjoys pull-ups, push-ups, lifting things up/putting 'em down, PRs of all kinds, racing, jumping, spinning, daring and blogging re same (more here)


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The Vienna Half Recap

It was as if each of the three espressos I'd sucked down throughout the day in a vain attempt to fight off jet lag joined forces around one am. My heart thudded audibly. The hotel's television likewise conspired against me; it refused to stay off for more than a minute, and it always turned itself back on to full volume. I cursed a lot. I counted the endless loops of CNN stories. I counted sheep. Despite my efforts, sleep played the slippery fish. Around three am, I flirted with the idea of skipping the race altogether. I didn't mean it. I tried to console myself with the thought that I hadn't slept well before last month's 15K either. It didn't help. I took one last bitter look at the clock at 3:30. My alarm went off at 5:30.

Luckily, the morning was bright and sunny, and race day adrenaline kicked in. Bag drop was scheduled for 7:15 to 8:15. At 7:15, few people were there. I wandered the start area. I stretched. As increasing numbers of people showed up without iPods, I got nervous that maybe I had missed a rule banning them. I was not prepared to do this race without music.

I relaxed a bit waiting for the start. Other people had headphones, too. Aside from a faint odor and the staggering height of the crowd, all was familiar. I zoned out to Rihanna.

I always say that I'm not going to go out hard, that it's a waste of energy to fight the initial crowds. I've yet to actually heed my advice. Once I crossed the starting line, I became certain that I'd never make up any time I lost at the beginning, so I pushed. For the first hour, I stayed on pace with no problem. I felt confident that I would PR.

We ran through suburbs that could have been anywhere, but the crowd support was good. I noted one religious group that had fans throughout. They had blue t-shirts and signs that said something about Jesus. (My German is limited to handful of Yiddish curses that, not surprisingly, did not appear on the signs, so I can only guess at the rest.) They sang songs and waved. I, too, sang and waved. Inevitably, as I passed them by, I was crooning about strippers, booties and hustling. G-d works in mysterious ways.

The sun was strong, and I was overdressed. I should have been wearing shorts and a tank top, not capris and a t-shirt. The water stations seemed few and far between. Eventually, my pace slipped. My PR was no longer in the bag. We were finally in the heart of the city and I tried to enjoy the backdrop, but the race was increasingly taking all of my energy and focus, even if I wasn't trying to PR.

Around mile ten, I came seriously close to walking, True, my pace stayed below 9:05, but I was thinking about it. I pushed through. The water station at that point was distributing half bananas. For 200 meters, the ground was littered with plastic cups and banana peels. Clearly, Vienna is lacking in lawyers. I slowed up for that stretch; I'm not totally crazy.

After that point, I was close enough to the finish to know I'd make it. I wouldn't PR, but I could come in sub-two. I sprinted towards the finish line mouthing Kanye's Amazing and checked my watch one last time. I had ten seconds. My unofficial time was 1:59:57. Officially, I finished in1:59:58.

As I collected my medal, little did I know that my race day adventures had only just begun...

-Gym Belle-

PS - Pictures coming soon!

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