Honestly, I don’t really want to write this. Those of you who follow me on Twitter or are friends with me on Facebook know why. But, I must, so here goes.
The Amica United Healthcare Half Marathon in Newport, RI was my 5th half marathon in 2011 (well, actually ever) and my 12th race in 2011. I signed up for this race the day I got back from running the US Air Force Marathon. Coachy and I were convinced I could do really well with this race, because I was in peak condition endurance wise after running two marathons in two months (I’m pretty sure I heard cries of protest from my legs when I submitted my race registration…).
Saturday morning I drove to Newport to pick up my race pack and check out the expo (what expo?). Okay there were a few vendors, but nothing impressive, so I left. I then went to the farm to work, and spent 8 1/2 hours on my feet – I went from cashier to parking lot attendant all in one day. Needless to say, when I got home Saturday night I was exhausted. I sat on the couch and put my feet up for about an hour, then at 10 called it a night, knowing the alarm was set for 4 a.m.
Apparently 4 a.m. is early because even Lexi didn’t want to get up. I snoozed until 4:20 and finally dragged my butt out of bed. I hadn’t prepared anything the night before because I was too exhausted. It only took me an hour to get dressed and gather everything I needed (breakfast, gu’s, blister prevention, Body Glide, etc…). I hopped in the car for the 45 minute drive to Newport.
I am so glad I left early because when I arrived at the designated half marathon parking area, one school bus was already full of people headed to the start line, and the second bus was filling fast. I quickly grabbed my backpack and got on the bus.
After a short drive to the start we were dropped off at the rotunda at Easton’s Beach in Newport. It was a beautiful morning, aside from the wind, which drove all of the runners inside the building. Myself included, because I forgot to put on long pants, and that’s why you are not seeing any gorgeous early morning beach photos right now.
I sat and chatted with a few different people while eating my peanut butter, banana, and honey whole wheat toast sandwich. The sun was fully up by then, so I went outside to check my bag and warm up. It was about 1/2 hour to start. I ran a very slow 1/2 mile or so, then stretched, and stretched a lot. I was getting nervous given my sub 2-hour goal, but I felt great and the weather was perfect, so I was confident.
The usual race business happened next – blah blah blah announcer talk, National Anthem, time to go.
Half a mile in and it’s straight up hill. My lungs weren’t quite warm enough yet, so I panted my way up but I did it and felt great. It took almost the entire mile to get on pace, the race had over 5,000 runners. The next few miles were truly anti-climactic. I ran my tail off. I slowed at the water stops and took short sips and continued on my way. I lost my pace big time on the water stop at mile 4- thanks to two bozos who stopped dead in front of me blocking the road, so I had to push to make up the time. Luckily by about 4.25 miles we were going downhill so it was easy to bring it back around and Mile 4 was one of my best miles.
I kept pushing, and it was starting to feel a bit hard by Mile 6, but nothing I couldn’t handle. I got my Gu out and ready for the next water stop. The scenery in this race was absolutely gorgeous. Beautiful neighborhoods in Newport, all the way down to a point with spectacular (albeit windy) ocean views. I was finally able to eat my Gu around Mile 7 when there was another water stop. Ugh that stuff is so hard to choke down when you’re running that hard.
By Mile 8 my left leg started to feel a bit funny, but I ignored it. I figured it was all in my head – at this point this was the best 8 miles of my life (literally) and I was not going to let my brain stop me. But by the time I got into Mile 9 I knew something was wrong. My leg was seizing, from the hip down through the middle of my calf, and there was nothing I could do about it but slow down. So I slowed. Mile 9 was still a good mile, even if it was a minute slower than goal pace. I figured if I can at least keep this pace I’ll PR.
At about 9.5 miles the leg pain brought me to a walk. From blazing along at a roughly 9mm for 8 miles, to a freakin’ walk. I was so upset I started crying. I knew my dreams of a sub 2-hour half marathon were gone, but I still had 3.5 miles to go. My leg hurt.
By the way – crying while running is not a good idea. It caused me to practically hyperventilate.
I had conversations with myself – stop crying it won’t do you any good, quit being a baby and run, etc…
I’d run as much as I could until the pain forced me to slow down again. I’d get to the point where it felt like either my hip was going to blow completely out of the socket or my calf was going to explode. And then I’d walk. This went on for the next 2.5 miles.
At Mile 12 I knew I was very close to a miles worth of nothing but running downhill. I had another crying spell (good lord I’m such a baby), I stopped very briefly and stretched on a light post.
I started running again. But now I was angry. I was pissed off. And I thought a PR was still in reach. So I gave it everything I had. I think nothing other than straight up endorphins drove me through to that finish line. I ran my ass off for the last mile, it was so hard that I could only manage a 10 minute mile going down 77 feet. 77 feet worth of elevation loss and all I could muster was a 10 minute mile – pathetic for the girl who LOVES the downhills like nobody’s business.
I crossed the finish line, got my water and medal, and immediately made my way out of there. I wanted to cry more (which I did, in the car on the way home where people wouldn’t stare at me). I was upset. I was angry. I was so psyched for 9 miles that my goal was this close. Only to be beaten down by broken body parts.
Final time: 2:10:24 (official – 11 seconds slower than my PR, which was in May). I realize this is very good considering. I could have given up completely and moped for 3.5 miles til I crossed the finish line. I realize some people would kill for a half time like that, with all of their healthy body parts.
That doesn’t mean I have to like it. I don’t. And I won’t. I’m still upset, I’m still angry, and I’m disappointed. Not in myself, just in general. At least I now know I’ve got the mental game down…
I hope you enjoyed my recap. I’m not sorry that I don’t have a good attitude about this. Coachy says I should be proud that even with broken parts I essentially ran my best half (2:10:26, 13.32 miles, and 9:48 average pace according to my Garmin). My mom called me a slacker, but of course was kidding, and also told me “At least you did it and finished.”
So many other friends and family members have supported me and tried to make me feel better, and I appreciate it. I just think I need a few more days of mourning, and healing. I’m going to be visiting my chiropractor and masseuse in the next week to hopefully get me back in shape quick. I’ll keep you posted on my diagnosis (I hope there isn’t one an alignment and massage can’t fix – fingers crossed).