Another 13.1 under my belt, and I’m a proud gal.
(Click to read race recaps from my first and second half marathons.)
Because this one, my friends? It was the roughest I’ve done thus far, mentally and physically.
I just couldn’t, for some reason, get myself mentally in the groove. I’m not sure why, but right from the get-go, I had trouble getting completely excited or enjoying the moment… even after I was hurtling past starting line. I just wanted to be done, before I’d even begun. I think this was mainly because I was nervous my fibula pain was going to flare up, even with the Advil I popped right before race time.
As a result of that nervous energy mixed with adrenaline, I started out a bit too fast (rookie mistake), so the first mile or two I was trying to reign myself in so I wouldn’t tire out my legs too much too early. And then we hit a hefty hill, right on the Queensway Bridge in mile two. I go-go-Gadget’ed my little legs and kept on running. I was debating stopping and walking for a breath like a number of folks around me, but two of my friends who were also running the half caught up with me at that moment, and having them flanking my sides kept me moving at a solid pace.
From there on out, I plunged ahead and focused solely on my playlist (which I loved!), and keeping up with my two friends. I was also keeping an eye out for my boyfriend and two of our friends, who I knew were going to be watching at various mile markers along the course. I was feeling pretty good physically and forced myself to take my boyfriend’s advice and smile at each mile (and whenever I saw a camera coming near me, naturally). My pace was flying (for me, that is )- consistently floating somewhere between 8:15 and 9 minute miles.
And then, I was at mile 8.5. A woman not in the race was power-walking straight through the crowd of runners, going in the opposite direction we were running. She bumped right into my left side, hard enough that my Garmin GPS watch stopped working/died. From there, the wheels fell off.
Suddenly, I had no idea what my pace was because I’ve aways relied on my watch or a treadmill to notify me of how fast I was going and to keep me on track. I stopped in my tracks and mildly panicked for a few moments, and then realized I needed to get my booty moving. I had gotten separated from my friends in the confusion, though, and could barely see one of their ponytails ahead of me until eventually I was completely on my own.
I tried to dig deep and gave myself a pep talk to keep going, reminding myself that duh, the GPS watch was not the thing keeping my legs moving this whole time. It was ME, just like in all my training runs, so surely I could keep going and listen to my body for pace cues.
I was SO grateful at this point that the friday afternoon prior I had read an article by Runner’s World Jenny Hadfield about running according to “color” - either red (maximum effort), orange (middle/race pace effort), and yellow (warm-up). I tried to tap into that, and kept on moving forward. I don’t think I even saw much of the scenery around me, just sheer determination looking straight ahead.
By mile 11, however, I was starving despite doing my normal fueling regimen (and pre-fueling – all just like in previous races + training), and started to get really bad cramping and stiffness in my right quad. Oh maaaaaaan. It was NOT pretty, and I had to stop and walk a few times. The course was also not at all as flat or straight as the website had led me to believe, which was not helping my mood. Since my watch was not working, I had no idea how long I was actually walking, and mentally I had just checked out. I no longer cared about my pace, which I had previously been trying to get closer to 2 hours vs. my most recent half marathon PR of 2:06 (2:07 official). I just wanted the race over, and I was convinced I was going to end up crossing the finish at least 20 minutes slower than my previous two finishes, despite having trained the last few weeks for a speedier finish.
…Which is when I sort of remembered that in order for the race to be over sooner, I had to keep running and not give up. So, that’s what I did.
Finally we made it to mile 12 marker, and I remember thinking it was the longest freakin’ mile of my life. I may have started cussing out loud, asking anyone within ear shot where the heck the end of this race was. I also sort of flipped off my poor boyfriend, who saw me right before the mile 13 marker. Whoops.
AND THEN, at mile 13, with literally 1/10 of a mile to go, I got the worst side stitch of my life. I’m not even exaggerating. It stopped me in my tracks, and I had to walk for a second toward the finish line. I finally willed my leggies to move, with one of my hands holding my side in an effort to contain the pain.
Pretty sure I crossed the finish line with a scowl on my face. Not the best.
I ambled over to grab the water and my medal, and spotted my dad, at which point I think I told him I never wanted to do that again, ever. Shortly after I found out my time – 2:08 – and felt a lot better…. somehow I had come in a minute sooner than my first half marathon (2:09 at the Santa Rosa Half Marathon). WHAT THE WHAT?
Call it a racing miracle.
My friends ended up coming in around 2:03, which I honestly believe I could have come in at as well had it not been for those silly mishaps, given my training effort for this half.
And the cramping? OMG. I know a number of other people who were struggling from them as well during the race (and a girl who fainted!), which makes me think it was actually a lot hotter/humid during the race than any of us actually realized with the cool ocean breezes.
The river of sweat and caked on salt covering my body might have been a clue too.
I celebrated afterwards with some pancakes, obviously (from here).
And holy moly, did my whole body hurt afterwards, especially my quads. But not my fibula. That little bugger was/is fine now.
My quads are just now feeling semi back to normal and not like I’m 95 years old. I’m sure going to Disney Land the day after my half wasn’t the best recovery idea… but it was definitely worth it.
Now! I am enjoing a little running break….. at least for the next week, mainly because I have no interest in putting my running shoes back on.
It’s all yoga and barre right now, and hopefully some Body Pump.
We’ll talk soon about my plans for my next half, because I think I need to rethink my training for the future. And in the end, I’m just tremendously proud of myself for doing this race, period, and not full on out quitting in those last few miles because I was uncomfortable. In the grand scheme of things, race times don’t matter; there are more important things in life.
Tell me: ever have a not fun/no good/terrible race experience?! What happened?