That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. - Nietzsche

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Little Miami Half Marathon - race recap

First of all, I really really really thought I'd have to let this one go. In the days following last week's 5k, I HURT. For a couple of days, it hurt to walk. It hurt when I woke up in the morning. I was rolling my left foot to the outside so it didn't hurt. It HURT to go down stairs. I vented on an online forum and was basically told to hang up my marathon dreams for a while. (That forum will remain nameless. Things got a bit dramatic, and I will say, I responded rather bitchily at times myself, so I'm not blameless.)

Needless to say, this past week I've pretty much been a wreck. I bawled my eyes out during my swimming workout Monday. Note: I do not recommend this. While nobody can tell you're crying in the pool, it gets really freaking hard to breathe in there. I biked 20 miles each on Tuesday and Wednesday and that saved my sanity a little. Thursday I worked a 12 hour day so I skipped the workout. Friday I talked my husband into walking a few miles with me. I could walk on the leg, but I was still very aware of it. Arrgh.

So Saturday, I went to the after-hours clinic at my doc's office. I was pretty sure I was going to be told NOT to run today (yeah, and you saw the title so you know better!) BUT things had been getting better. It had stopped hurting so much and had downgraded to the occasional twinge, but I had a lot of pinpoint pain, which scared the crap out of me. Pinpoint pain is not good news for a runner. Then, that morning, I was on the couch messing with it, and I realized something. I made my husband check to make sure I wasn't dreaming. "Right there, hon! Right there is where it hurts, and that is NOT WHERE THE BONE IS. That's between the bones! That's not a bone! What is that?? A ligament or something??"

My husband loves it when I drag him into crazytown with me. But seriously, that was the first time that I realized that maybe I was not making a return visit to stress fracture land.

So, the doc's office!! Yeah, he said it did not at all look to him to be anything bone related or anything that starts with the word "stress". He said I strained the...err....ligament? tendon? He told me what it was called and I know I should pay better attention....but honestly, he gave me the good news first and I was downright giddy and couldn't process everything. "So, I'm for a marathon. It's in four weeks." "Go back to training. Just be careful. Ease your way back in. Good luck." "Err, umm, I'm signed up for a half marathon tomorrow. I was just going to treat it like a training run, I swear. I'm going to run it easy. I'm slow." "OK. Just walk if it hurts." I asked him if I was doing any sort of damage by running on it, and he said no!!!

I celebrated by spending the rest of the day shopping (including getting new running shorts!) and carb-loading for dinner.

Got up early this morning. Husband decided yesterday to run the 10k - his first 10k ever! His first words this morning were, "Running sucks!!!" I was still way nervous about the leg, but I had looked up how to KT tape a calf strain, and I must say, I did a bang-up job. It looked professionally taped. I wish I could've showed it off more, but there's no way I was running without the calf sleeves today. Rode with my running buddy Jene and got there early enough for packet pickup. I had made myself a cup of coffee to go, which I had sipped on my way to the race. The point of the pre-race coffee is twofold - the caffeine boost, obviously, and to clear out the ol' colon. I've learned the hard way what happens when I run with an unclear colon, let's just say.

We were in line for packet pickup when the coffee kicked in, and not the caffeine boost part. And by the time we got out of line, before you could say "runner's trots", the porta potty lines were HUGE. Jene, Mark (that's husband - he does have a name) and I joked as we waited in line, but the jokes got a little more serious as I began to question for real whether I would make it to the potty in time. I did!! They delayed the race start due to the potty crisis, and we got there just a few minutes before the start.

We were off! My shin didn't hurt!! Actually, it felt great. It felt downright sproingy. I regretted not taping my other leg too. I had a HARD time not trying to keep up with everyone, especially my running buddy. I felt like I could run with her; I also knew that she was gunning for a sub-2:00 that totally was not in my power. Although at the beginning of that race, I felt like EVERYTHING was in my power.

I ran my first mile in 9:39. My first thought was, "yay!! fast!!" My second thought was, "That was my average 5k pace last weekend. Not back in the day. LAST WEEKEND. I probably need to slow the eff down." The problem was that I felt really good. I didn't want to slow down. My pace felt comfy and my attempts to slow down led to my second mile still being a 9:50 - still too fast. I decided not to care and just run at the pace that felt good. I ended up running right behind this guy for a while, and I told him I wasn't stalking him, I just liked his pace. But then he slowed down to a 10:30 and I ran around him.

I actually felt unhappy when my pace dropped into the 10's. I had to mentally shake myself quite a bit. TEN SOMETHING IS YOUR LONG RUN PACE, IDIOT!! THIS IS A LONG RUN!! It was still faster than I had thought I could run so comfortably. I gave myself permission to slow down because I still had a long way to go. I did - 10:08, 10:16, 10:21, 10:21. The 10:08 was still fast, considering I walked at a water stop at that mile. They had Heed. I decided to try it. That stuff is straight up nasty. I took a swig, spit it out, and backtracked for the WATER. Just after mile 6, I saw Jene on the way back. I meant to yell something encouraging like, "Go, Jene! You can do it, running buddy!" But I was feeling a little disoriented (another sign I was going too fast) and instead, I threw my hands up in the air and yelled, "woo!"

Got to the water stop at the turnaround. I recognized that I was starting to fade and asked them for a gel. Again, it was nasty. It was raspberry and gritty and left a feeling in my mouth like a fluoride treatment at the dentist. 10:36. I had a goal of doing a 10:30 pace overall and I was way ahead of that. I tried to predict my finishing time. I watched the runners headed in the opposite direction for the turnaround, and saw someone that I kinda thought looked like my blogging/daily mile buddy Christina - and she gave me a big smile and wave and said my name. Yay! We met in person! Sort of!! I was pretty jazzed. I looked down and saw that I was running an 8 something. WTF. Although by that point I had realized that the trees seemed to be screwing with my garmin, which was varying by up to a minute either way while my pace still felt the same. I think it was evening out because the distance was right, but I decided not to trust what it said for my pace at any given moment. That mile: 10:20.

And THERE was the wall. I hit it hard. My right quad locked up. It hurt. Not injury hurt, just felt tight and tired. Then the other quad joined it. Then my current injury spot tightened up. I looked down: 8.5 miles down. NOT the time for this. I was bored. The slight rain had let up and the sun was trying to break through the trees and fry me.

Basically, the rest of the race was a lot of me playing mental tricks with myself - counting songs, counting minutes, trying to get to a certain time or mile marker. It was the point in the race where time magically slows way down, so you feel like you've been running for 10 minutes and it was only 1. My walk breaks at the water stops got a little longer as it took more effort to make my legs keep running. They didn't want to. I made them. I watched my pace slow way down and decided to abandon any monitoring of my pace just to finish. I got to the last two miles and tried my best to enjoy them as a nice, easy run. THIS IS FUN, I tried to tell myself. This is fun this is fun this is fun this is fun. No, it's boring and it hurts and I want to walk. BUT THIS IS FUN.

My last three miles were 11+. The two before that were in the 10:50's. That's the part of the race that perturbs me - not that I slowed down for those 5 miles, because I was giving it all I had. Where I screwed myself was in those first few miles. I had no choice but to gradually slow down from there. I would've been happier, and not had to deal with a 5 mile strugglefest, had I gone slowly. Lesson learned: don't start out comfy. Comfy won't stay comfy for long. Start out S L O W. I want the marathon to be fun, and it won't be fun if I repeat this performance - I would've had 13 more miles of thisisfunthisisfunthisisfun.

I was passed by a few people toward the end - people who, I know, ran smarter than I did (a few that I had passed earlier on!) but largely, I had the last half of the race to myself. Just me and the orange shirt guy up ahead of me that I was following.

Anyway, I got to the finish line and this chick came out of NOWHERE and flew by me. I tried to catch her but she was absolutely flying. (My .1 was at a 9:09 pace and it felt ridiculously fast!) I knew, though, that I got my sub-2:20. I had been telling myself that for a while, and that was what kept me going. I kind of wanted to run the whole thing at a 10:30 pace, but in the end, my average pace was 10:34, and that is totally close enough.

Best news: shin/calf/ankle is FINE. It's still owie when I push on the owie spot, but it held up better than I expected during and after the race. I'm SO relieved. A little worried for the 26.2 because of the struggle today, but...I haven't ran in a week. I only logged 8 miles the week before that. (This is due to owies, not laziness!!) I totally feel like my cardio endurance is there, but my legs gave up on me. Hopefully in the next four weeks I can get them re-used to running. And I can slow down for the 26.2. And I should!!

I went home to an ice bath. I used to think ice bath people were crazy, but it feels SO GOOD and it loosened up the quads a bit. I forsee lots of stretching in my future!!

Unofficial time: 2:18. PR by 17ish minutes. I'm happy with that.


  1. Great job! Wow, I am so glad you got to race today. It sounds like things were pretty emotional leading up to today. What good news that you're good to go for the AFM. :)

    Look at that pace. WOW! Are you going to run a goal half marathon later this year (after the AFM)? I'm hoping to set a PR at the Cincinnati Half Marathon in October. Imagine how fast you'll be with regular amounts of training!

    Do you have a time goal for the marathon? Like you, I plan to go S L O W and enjoy it. Still, it's hard not to let a super-slow goal pace creep into the back of my head...

    Now for the creepy stalker comment: I totally thought I saw your husband on the trail! You just posted a few pictures of you two, so his face was fresh in my mind.

  2. Yeah, I didn't let on so much in my blog, but pretty emotional is an understatement. Hot mess is more like it. :) This week I need to apologize to everyone who saw my super emotional side last week! (On my period too. SOOO didn't help!)

    I haven't committed to anything after AFM - there's a 5k and a 10k I *want* to do, but I need to make sure I get through this uninjured first. I'm not above considering it, although I was thinking my goal half would be early next year. I had my half time down to about 2:13 while I was training for the Pig but that all came crashing down - I'm happy that I'm *close* to my former speed. (I also probably took the speed up several notches too fast at that point, so I'm good with a slow rebuild.)

    I do and I don't have a marathon goal time - I kind of did but I'm not sure how realistic it is, and with my fear of injury, my last couple of long runs are going to be SLOW and FLAT. (I think) I'm ready to throw out the goal time and focus on finishing happy. As happy as one can be after running 26 miles. :)

    You may very well have seen him!! Apparently, so says Jene, he looks just like his picture, and he was wearing the same bandana (and I think the aviators) from the pic. So it's not so creepy if you made the connection!!

  3. Way to work though it and nail that PR! We are pretty damn close to PR buddies on the half - I got a 2:17 at Indy this year - a 15 minute PR!

  4. Great job! I just happened on this race report because I did the same one yesterday! Not a bad race, but a bit on the boring side. Good luck with your marathon!

  5. @M - sweet! Maybe we should meet up and run a race together one of these days. I don't currently have anyone to run with who matches my pace and I get bored!!

    @cmay - I agree, it did get boring. At first it was pretty, but by the end of the race I was thinking, "NO MORE TREES!!!!" This is why I don't do long runs on the bike path.