I ran a half marathon and finished to tell about it

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Look! A new home. I’ll get into why the move another time. For now, here’s my Half Marathon race recap. Half. Marathon! What?!

It’s done. I did.it.

I. Am. A. Half. Marathoner! And it feels a little gangsta.

Most runners will tell you that during a race they think it’s the worst thing ever. And then 30 seconds, 10 minutes, or 2 hours after the finish they are already set to sign up for their next race. For me, with this distance, this feeling took three days to set in.

Let’s start at the beginning. Saturday night Jennie’s sister and bro-in-law had us over for a spaghetti dinner, keeping the Sox game on in the background (priorities, people). Dinner was great, company was excellent, and they were totally on board with my plan to just not think about the race in any way, shape, or form. Except to talk about what time to meet and where Molly and Andy would try to spectate.

Sunday dawned dark and rainy. And though I don’t want to ever run in hours of pouring, gushing rain, I’d rather it be a gray sort of rainy day than warm and sunny. Driving to and from dinner Saturday night and driving to the race on Sunday took me over a lot of the roads I’ve been training on and it gave me a little boost.

Race morning

Race morning

Once in Harwich I hit up the porta potty and then headed into the gym for registration. I saw Jennie on the way in and dropped my stuff with her to go grab my bib. On the way back over Shanna came running up to say hi. Shanna and Jennie are my two biggest fellow runner supporters so it was particularly special to have them both there. We hung around for a bit, hit up the porta potty again, stretched, and then headed to the starting area. For some reason I thought this was a huge race. Instead it was only about 700 people. I was sort of panicing when Shanna gave me some advice. Run your own race. I was already in that general mental state but to hear someone say it out loud solidified my plan.

Jennie decided to run with me for my first interval but I needed to run slower if I was going to make it 13.1 miles so I sent her on her way. And began my own race. I knew I’d be slow. I knew I’d finish near the end of the pack. I thought for the first time, I might actually be last. But then I told myself to stop thinking about it. I was already 18 minutes into the race. Which meant I had at least run 1 mile. In an effort to not freak myself out, I covered the distance part of my watch with some bacon tape courtesy of Andy/Jennie

A re-enactment because I was too nervous at the start to remember to take a picture

A couple miles in, I knew I was in trouble. I had fueled correctly, but I had eaten it too close to race time. My stomach was too full. I didn’t have an upset stomach, but I could tell my body was working on digestion and not blood flow to my legs.

The race claims to be “rolling hills”. Rolling hills, my right foot. All we did was run uphill. It was a loop course. Elevation gain has to be zero. I still don’t believe my garmin elevation profile that says we ran down hill at mile 6.

LiesAll those hills were killing my spirit. And my legs. At mile 4 I tried to convince myself I had done a 9 mile training run. But that run was awful, so I was banking on mile marker 5. Because my 8 mile run had felt great. A little after mile 4, the woman that was behind me passed me. I was pretty sure there were only two people behind her. I was a little bummed she caught up, but I kept thinking “run your own race”. A few minutes later I saw her taking a gu out of her pack. So I ran up a little closer and opened my first Gu as well. We chatted for a minute and then she had a rock in her shoe so she stopped and I kept going. I figure she’d eventually pass me again, but I only got one more brief glance of her behind me until we were on the other side of the finish line. At mile 6 I started to think “One more mile and you’ll me more than halfway” but my race was getting ugly. Fast.My legs and hips hurt. I didn’t feel like I could catch my breath. And there wasn’t another person on the course. The volunteers were still out and were so very kind. Their clapping and smiles were a welcome sight and sound. But even those started to dwindle. I don’t remember much of mile 7. I do remember being stoked for mile 8. Mile 8 meant only 5.1 to go. 5.1 is not much. I’ve run 5+miles at least 7 or 8 times. 5 miles is not a scary distance. And just around the corner from mile 8 would be mile 9. And at mile 9 would be only 4.1 left. Which is only one mile more than a 5k. Mile 10 was the worst. I hit a wall and could not break through. My legs and hips hurt so bad when I ran but not when I walked, everything was cramping, the trucks were cleaning up the cones so now I was out on a road by myself and I was passed by the two people that had stayed far behind me for a long time. And one of them was a dude in cargo shorts and barefoot. I told myself to block it out and just run my own race. His wife then offered me a granola bar. At that point I knew I needed salt. All I had was Gu. And the words granola bar make me only think about chewy sweet quaker granola bars so I said no. And then I thought “maybe they’d have something salty” so I asked. They had one of those nature valley crunch bars and though I’ve been warned to not try something new during a race, I was desperate. Everything was cramping. I didn’t feel like I had any water in me. I ate half and was so grateful to this couple as they pulled further and further away. I passed a porta potty during mile 10 and decided that was the last thing I needed. 5 minutes later I had to pee so bad I thought I’d collapse. So I found some woods, waiting for the motorcycle cop that kept going by to go by again, and answered nature’s call. Classy.

I knew there was a big hill at mile 11. And I was hurting. I made a deal. I could walk the rest of mile 10 if after the mile 11 hill I got back to the 5:1 intervals I had used most of the day and most of training. And that’s exactly what I did. I had 2.1 left. Jennie told me once I hit the bike path I was home free. I gave in and pulled off the bacon tape. I was watching mile 11 move along. At the start of the bike path the volunteer there gave me directions for the end and said “it’s a couple miles down”. I was already at 11.6 and thought “it better not be 2 miles more!” I knew he was estimating and just took him at that. On the bike path, I was in the middle of the woods. I couldn’t keep up with 5:1 so I bumped it to 3:1. I put my head down and kept going. At the 12 mile mark and gave myself a pep talk. I was 1 mile. 5,286 feet. Approximately 2500 steps. I had started this in training. Counting my steps. It kept my mind off the pain and made the end that much more manageable. I queued up the amped up part of my playlist and just kept moving. Coming out of the bike path with 0.5 left Money for Nothing came on and as I was getting into the mindset of finishing strong, Andy came and met me. I was pretty sure it was him and as I got closer it was. He turned and started running with me. He told me where to turn and where the finish was. I walked for 1 more minute thinking I was going to have another third of a mile when I turned the corner. When we did and I realized how close it was, I guess I could have kept running. But I knew to start running before I turned. And there, down a tiny hill, at the turn for the finish were my friends. I guess my bright yellow shirt was helpful in finding me in the crowd, or up a quarter mile hill. Because they went crazy. The people on the course walking back to their cars clapped, they tossed out encouragement, and gave me smiles. I hit the corner for the finish and gave it everything I had left. Jennie has a shaky video of it. I just kept going, eyes half closed. At the finish the volunteers were breaking down the fencing. But one asked my name and they announced it just like all the other finishers.

In the gym was a little left over food and no one else. The finishers medals were missing but the two that had finished before me were on a hunt and finally found them. Shanna took it and put it around my neck for me. It was really nice to be surrounded by friends. And then I told them what I had thought for most of the race and what ended up being my facebook status. “what do you call the guy who graduates last from medical school? Doctor. What do you call the girl who finishes second to last at the race? Half marathoner”.

We then went to Friendly’s and I dove into salty greasy goodness. I took a picture, but no one needs to see that. Krystal couldn’t be at the race because of prior commitments, but she called me during my drive home and let me relive the whole race. Because that’s what best friends are for. Also for sending me some truly hilarious encouragement during the race. (thank you smart phone and several friends with text message jokes/cheers).

Finally at home, I showered, adviled, foam rolled, and then did legs up the wall with ice down my pants (on my hips). Hotness.

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I woke up the next morning and was a little sad about how slow I was, how long my final time was. But it’s what it is. I know I can do better, and I will. On Wednesday I decided to go and look at my runkeeper file again. And it was sort of awesome to see all those mile markers. I really did run 13.1 miles.

race map

I know that I hurt my back and was sideline for more than a month. I’ve gained a lot of weight in the last 6 months. And I didn’t train as hard as should have because I was busy with other stuff and didn’t give it the right priority. Still. At the end of Sunday I had a new medal and a new PR. Turns out Jennie and Shanna PR’d too! A fact I didn’t find out about until at home. I wish I had asked more about their races but I was pretty out of it and just wanted to be done the day.

I want to work on my fitness, me health, and my running and come back to this distance stronger and faster. It’ll happen again. And I would be shocked if it didn’t happen again in the next 10-12 months.

Hearts and half marathons PRs!

Finished, fed, and quite smelly.

Finished, fed, and quite smelly.

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To distance run or not to distance run

I’m currently sitting on my bed, trying to get pumped up for my run. Actually I’m feeling okish in terms of pumped level. Really I’m sitting here to charge my watch a little longer.

I should have run 10 miles last weekend. I did not. I should have run 11 miles yesterday. I did not. I’m running tonight. I hate saying this, but I’m not particularly excited about my race this weekend. The truth is, I’ve discovered, any distance longer than 8 miles? I’m not into it. Not. At. All.  It just takes so much time. And it’s not just the time running. On long run days, you have to think about your long run for almost 48 hours. There’s the day before where you have to watch what you eat and drink. There’s the day of where you have to watch what you eat and drink magnified x10 because now you have to worry about when and how much. Then there’s the getting dressed. I have to put on body glide and make sure I have exactly the right clothes and my shoes are tied correctly and I have a spare breathing strip and water and should I bring long sleeves because the sun is going to go down and I have to pack gels and all this other stuff. Then you run. And that takes forever and the whole time it hurts and the whole time you have to mentally fight yourself to not quit. And then you’re done and your legs are dying and you’re starving. But that doesn’t give you carte blanche to eat whatever you want. Because you have to eat enough so you won’t starve the next day, but not so much that you completely negate all the work she just did. Then you stretch and foam roll and ice and compression sock. And then 5.5 days later you start again. Maybe someday when I’m in better shape and running is easier I’ll find the appeal. But right now my running fitness is less than stellar. And so every step is a battle. And even when I finish my runs all I feel is mentally drained – not energized because I accomplished something. So why do this to myself? I wanted to do this. And I will give it my all on Sunday, I really will. But I don’t think my heart will be in it.

I paused this blog post to go run. Because my watch was charged enough and if I didn’t go then, I really wasn’t going to have much sun. And then look what happened.

Yeah. That’s 10 mile markers right there. 10! And you know what? I didn’t have a single freak out. I didn’t have to stop and give myself a pep talk. Truth be told, some of it was actually kind of fun. And I ran all of the last 0.65 miles. And when I finished, in the middle of Boston Common, I felt like my body was going to explode with happiness. I’m trying to figure out why I didn’t have a problem tonight and had such a miserable time the last two weeks trying for long runs. There’s was the 9 miler that nearly broke me – heart, body, and soul. And the 10 miler that just wasn’t – after two attempts. And there are two things I’ve found for tonight and I think it’s more one than the other. 1) I listened to an old playlist so some of the songs were nice surprises – songs I haven’t heard in a while. But then I ended on a playlist I’ve been using a lot. Which is why I think it has more to do with 2) I made a huge effort to not look at the distance on my watch until the last 2 miles or so. And then it was only because I was hurting and had to keep telling myself “it’s only 2 miles. It’s only 1.5 miles. It’s only 1 mile. It’s 0.65 miles. That’s only 8 more minutes of running max. Just grind it out”. (And I did. Squeeeeeeee) I have to look at my watch frequently to check my time for intervals. Early on if I keep running past the interval, I’ll regret it later. And later if I don’t have the interval, I’ll give up too easy. I think on Sunday I’m going to cover the top half of my watch with lab tape so I can’t keep looking. There are mile markers on the course and I won’t need to know when I hit 13.1 miles. The finish line should clue me in.
After that great of a run I’m feeling optimistic and sort of excited about Sunday now. I still don’t see another distance race any time in the next few months and my dream of running Boston on my birthday will just have to hold tight for another 6 years. But as I was running all through the city tonight I had some really unbelievably fortunate moments. I saw the city skyline from three bridges and one of them revealed the skyline a little at a time until finally the Citgo sign peaked out, I ran along the Charles and “Dirty Water” randomly came up on my playlist, I ran over the Arthur Fielder foot bridge, I ran around the pond in the public garden, rubbed Mama Duck’s head for good luck, ran through the Common, Downtown Crossing, the Rose Kennedy Greenway, Rowes Wharf and along the harbor for two blocks, up past the Old South Meeting House and Fanueil Hall and finally up Beacon Hill (Jennie how in the HELL do you and Sheri do hill repeats up that hill every week???????). All through the second half of the run there was one thing that kept popping in my head and kept me going. Somewhere back in the Public Garden, I was starting to feel the burn. I was at 6 miles. I was more than half way. I only had about another hour of running. But I just wanted to go home. And I had this thought. I am so privileged to be able to walk out my front and run along all these iconic and historic sites. There are a thousand other things I ran by and haven’t even mentioned. And each one makes Boston so distinct. And I love them all.
I guess, what I’m saying is this. Right now, I don’t love distance running. I don’t have the mental space for it. But I do still love running. And I am head over heels in love with running in this city. I want to take you all with my sometime. And show you the views. It’s spectacular. We’ll just keep it to 5 or 6 miles.
For now I’m going to sit on my bed with two ice bags, a heating pad, compression socks, and that glorious, glorious Nuun and then pass out shortly, I’m sure.
Hearts and double freakin’ digits!

An Open Letter to Everything, from My 9 Mile Run

To 9 miles: I just made you mine. What whaaaaaat?

To the 15 mile an hour wind behind me that was so gusty it was curling around making me think the first half of my run was into the wind when it was in fact the second half that was straight into a headwind: You’re a horrible, horrible bitch

To September 16th: It’s still summer. 60F and a sunset before 7 is just not cool, Robert Frost. Ok. Technically it’s cool. But I still don’t like it.

To the 3 high school/college freshman who passed me: If there is no one else on the path and you pass so close to me that I feel a breeze and get a solid, slap-in-the-face whiff of your BO, you’re too close

To the guy who passed me, running in jeans: #RunningFoul!!!! That’s just not nice. I already feel so slow

To the makers of Body Glide, Kashi frozen meals, Pro Compression socks, Gu, and ice: I don’t know why you invented the products you did, but I love you. A lot

Not Pictured: The advil I took, the hot shower that thawed me out, and the foam roller my most awesome roommate loaned me. j/k I just realized the foam roller is in the picture. But I’m too sore to get up and move it. And I already finished dinner.

To Kingston Trio: Why couldn’t Charlie’s wife just pass him a nickel??? Or why couldn’t he sell the sandwich? In this same vein, if you’re riding through a dessert on a horse with no name, why don’t you name the horse? It’s not as if there’s anything else going on. (It’s the same vein because my uncle introduced me to the Kingston Trio recording of Charlie and the MTA and he has also pointed out that the dude should name the horse)

To the views of Boston running under the BU bridge and along the Esplanade: Please don’t ever ever change. You were especially fantastic while listening my Boston playlist, tonight.

To WPI: Thank you for being so awesome that you attracted both my best friend and me.

I think 15 seconds passed between when I sent this and she answered. I mean. Is she not a genius?

To the Red Sox: Why do you have the night off? I’m sitting here, barely moving on the couch and I have runners brain and can’t concentrate on a plot or you know, moving pictures on TV.

To the universe: Thanks for hiding my key in the grass when it fell out of my pocket while I did my pre-run stretch so I could find it when I finished and found out my key wasn’t in my pocket.

To my running group on facebook and pseudo IRL coach, Jennie: Thanks for helping me get over my pre-run freak-out.

Hearts and bags of ice!

Long run wall? What long run wall?

I broke through the distance run wall!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I skipped past 6 miles and just went out for 7 miles. A week ago. And then proceeded almost immediately to Minneapolis, MN. I was hoping to blog from the road but the business trip exploded and then I came home and almost immediately moved to Boston.
I followed up that awesome feeling accomplishment with some runseeing (running to sight see). I went to visit the ballpark where the Twins play

 and visited the cherry and spoon sculpture.

I got back to the corner where my hotel was and I was on cloud 9. I actually got up and ran a workout around a strange city. I saw sights I wouldn’t have if I had stayed in my comfy bed (so tempting). I prioritized running during a hectic trip. And I added another state to the list of states I’ve run in! (MA, CT, NH, KS, TN, FL, and MN!) I looked up to my hotel room and thought about how much I’ve wanted be someone who was committed to a running plan, stayed committed to a running plan. And suddenly, my half marathon in 30ish days doesn’t seen so crazy or scary.
Pretty cool hotel. Minneapolis, you’re pretty good looking

Long run Sunday was my first official morning waking up in my new apartment. I stayed over last week, but I slept on the pull out couch and was only there a few hours so it doesn’t count. Most of my day was spoken for volunteering for Alpha Gam and I knew I’d be tired after, so I made myself get up and run. And you know what? 8 miles done. Bam. I ran over to the next town and back. Crazy pants. Also. I saw the greatest most awesomest view of Boston running under the BU bridge. The running path turns into a dock like thing that juts out of the water and when you come around the bridge support you’re smacked with the most iconic view of the Boston skyline. I could see all the skyscrapers, the esplanade, the state house, the Zakim bridge, the longfellow bridge. I think I could have lit up Fenway park with the smile that exploded across my face. Over the last few years I’ve really come to love this city. And now I live here. And I ran to that view from my front (well, back) door. I didn’t take any pictures. I didn’t want to stop my run. And I think that’s a view that I want to keep a little special. If you want to see it, come run Boston. I’ll take you!

Hearts and successful long runs!

This Damn Long Run Wall

I’ve been away for a while. I can’t break the 6 mile mark and when you keep slamming your giant gourd of a head into the same wall over and over and over you don’t really want to taco ’bout it. (2 things. 1. It took three tries to spell gourd 2. If you don’t know the taco reference google “husband illustrates drunk wife’s joke” and find the video about the corn chips. You’ll thank me)

Back to running. Tonight I ran 50 minutes. And by ran I mean I ran 5 minutes, walked 1-2 minutes, rinsed and repeated. It was a gorgeous night, a little hot in the blasting sun, but the Charles was buzzing. Pretty soon it’s going be filled with thousands of college freshman who think their God’s gift to the city of Boston. For tonight I enjoyed it with all the other locals.

A funny thing happened. I run with a breathe right strip. It looks funny but I’ve always said it helps despite the looks and side eyes from friends and family. Tonight I didn’t have a strip but thought “what the heck. Maybe it is all in my head” and ran anyways. Turns out I was right all along, I need the strip. When I breathe hard all that air flowing quickly through my tiny sinus passages vacuums my nose shut. I’m not kidding. It would have been hilarious if I wasn’t gasping for breath.

On top of that I learned something else tonight. Don’t dress for and run in late summer weather and then go into a Whole Foods produce section without a winter coat. You’ll freeze your arms right off. And then I’ll spill wine on you. Because you can’t lift your own glass. Because you have no arms. And we’re drinking wine. And we’re getting drunker. And let’s face it. Helping a person drink out of a wine glass sober would be hard, never mind drunk. Oh. Wait! Crazy straw. Problem solved. Feel free to enter cold places after a hot run. And be the girl drinking red wine from a crazy straw. Sounds kind of genius, doesn’t it. I might actually do it with my arms still attached. No more stains! I realize I’ve strayed quite a bit here. But I’m rocking my first runner’s high in two weeks and it’s nice. I’m also going to crash in 30 minutes and I’ve not finished dinner yet.

This week I’ve got another day of cross training, another 50 minute run, two rest days, and then it’s time to tackle the long run again. I’m nervous, but it’s gotta happen some time. I got close last week (5.5 out of 6 miles, though the last 2 were mostly walking). I just have to keep pushing ahead and hope that wall is turned to dust. Off to devour dinner, shower, and pass out. Yay sleep!

Hearts and this delicious panini from WF I’m eating for dinner because – um 50 minutes of running. In 78 degree hot sun. After gyming it at 6:30 this morning before work. Alone. Because I was stood up. (Still love you JP)

5 miles. What whaaaaat.

Fact: My half marathon is in 54 days.
Fact: I was sidelined waiting for my back to heal for 5 weeks
Fact: I’ve been not eating well and have been a little willy nilly with my training plan
Fact: My best friend got married this past weekend and and I had a bunch of other things to take care of last week and didn’t sleep enough. Instead of running I chose sleep a couple of times last week.
Fact: Tonight I ran 5 miles.

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Sorry. Can’t help it. I love Ben Wyatt and I love that .gif!

The final tally was 5 miles. In 1 hour 13 minutes 24 seconds. I ran 6 bridges over the Charles. I ran into 1 co-worker. And I was attacked by 4 mosquitoes. This is the furthest I’ve run since March of 2012 when I ran a St. Patrick’s day race. And to be honest, it doesn’t really feel like I ran 5 miles. It feels like I ran 2.5.

In my rush to leave this morning I forgot to grab my Garmin. Before the run I bought myself a hand held water bottle. It’s still hot out in the evenings and I’ve been told by a coach that it’s better to run without holding anything. It had a pocket for my phone and car key. For my run I threw my phone in the pocket and started my plain old digital watch’s stop watch. I ran 4 minute intervals with 1 minute walking in between. Maybe it was just a really nice night for a run. Maybe the paths along the Charles are just that intoxicating. Or maybe for most of the run I was just running: no pressure for pace. I knew that it would take about an hour and 15 minutes to run 5 miles and so that’s what I asked of myself. And instead of seeing what little distance I covered every time I checked the time, I just ran what I could; what my body could handle.

Do I care that I’m still walking way more than I want to? Nope
Am I freaking out about adding a whole additional mile in just five days? A little
Am I going to be a little sore in the morning? Probably (though 45 minutes on the bike at 6:30 should shake that right out)
Does it feel awesome-sauce to look at my RunKeeper map and see 5 (five!!!) mile markers? Hell yes.

It’s the little things.

Hearts and Michelle Obama thumbs up! (PS Did you hear she’s coming out with a rap album to help get kids to get up and move?? I can’t decide if it’s awesome or will out shine Barack Obama’s dad jeans in the embarassing national parent category)

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Back Watch 2013 Continues

When we left off on Friday my back was trying to decide if it hurt or not.

As Friday went on, my back was giving me a little more ‘tude than I would have liked. I was a little worried. Maybe I just shouldn’t run until the pain is completely 100% gone. But if I do that I’ll go crazy. I posted on Friday with a wait and see attitude. I had a bachelorette weekend for my very best friend on Sat/Sun so Friday night I did some errands and made sangria and sandwiches for Saturday’s festivities. At the end my back was saying it was done for the day. I gave in and lay down on a heating pad and was quickly asleep.

I can’t believe this, but I forgot to take a photo of the sangria #takesphotosofeverythingfail
To get it into the pool area of the hotel, I made it in the 2 gallon Hawaiian punch bottle lefter over from making party punch at the bridal shower the weekend before. It was odd to Punchy (seriously, that’s the Hawaiian Punch mascot’s name) riding a wave of red wine and lemon wedges.

Riding down to CT, partying it up all night wearing the cutest and teeniest pink glitter cowboy hats (which solicited some odddddddd comments and got glitter on EVERYTHING), and then riding back to MA my back was feeling pretty good. I should have run yesterday but I was tired, it was hot and humid, and I promised myself I would get up and run before work. (ha!) That turned into running at lunch because I have a birthday party (happy birthday Jennie!!) after work until I realized that doesn’t start until 7:30 and I can probably roll up to that quite smelly/sweaty. 85-95% of the crew that will be gathering are runners. They get it. I much prefer running after work. I’m still moving hella slow and walking a lot more than I want to, so trying to cram in anything more than 1.5 miles I’d feel a little guilty for how long of a “lunch” break I was taking.

My back is a little stiff, but it’s really just discomfort, not pain. My long run from the weekend is supposed to be 4 miles. I’ve mapped out a 3.37 mile route. I’m confident I’ll change that to 3.5. I’ve run too many times with OCD runner Jennie and you can’t stop unless it’s an even time/distance. It’s going to be 79 degrees. With 75% humidity. I’m going to want to cry. But, but! I’ll be running. And it won’t be the damn treadmill (or worse: elliptical!). Plus, what’s a better reward than pizza and birthday cake?

Send cool thoughts my way!

Hearts and happy birthday wishes to my IRL-psuedo-running coach, cheer leader, and all around excellent friend!

UPDATE:
Eff yeah, I did 3.5 miles. They were slow. There was more walking than I wanted. And I thought I was going to be struck by lightening. But they are in the bank!