The weeks leading up to the Half Marathon were really a series of injuries and mostly preventable errors which caused me to slow down, take extra rest days, experience pain, revise training schedules, and doubt whether or not I could actually run the race.
*It started with an arch issue, like plantar fascitis, resulting from a worn out shoe (lesson is to keep track of shoe mileage and replace at ~400 miles) Enter new shoes, arch support (Superfeet) and KT Tape (a big help).
*Next was a strained hamstring which happened during my first 12 mile training run. I thought it was just a little cramping, due to electrolyte consumption, but it cause some pretty severe pain in the next few days, including having to drop out of a little 5k race for severe pain. This required more time off, ice bath, compression wraps, reduced speed, and a really acute awareness of how that area felt. Oh, and cross training — lots of cycling.
*Third was an Achilles strain. I bought a couple pairs of lower platform (4mm) running shoes and broke them in with some 3,5 and 7 mile runs. But on the 13 mile run, my calves got really crampy at the end, and the Achilles has been sore ever since. I had this once before in the early 90’s when an Air Max sole leaked unbeknownst to me on a 16 mile run. That took a little time to go away.
*Fourth was a pretty nasty rolled ankle / top of foot injury… on my very last longer run, 5 days prior to the race. This resulted in ‘no more running’ until the race. Advice I didn’t keep, because by Wednesday (the race being Thursday) I just needed to see if I was going to be able to go or not. I was ok on a super easy 3 mile run at Piedmont Park prior to checking in at the hotel.
I learned a few things: Replace shoes often. Don’t change shoe platform before a race. Cross Training and lateral strengthening to reduce hamstring injuries, and well, sometimes you just make a mistake and fall down.
I checked into the Marriott Marquis, which is where the race HQ was. I felt very at home at the Runner’s Expo. People like me, looking at stuff they think is cool. Everyone getting the shirts and numbers and milling around. Like being home. Nice.
I hadn’t eaten much that day, so I decided to do a little old fashioned carbo loading. I chose The Waffle House. Not the kind of stuff I normally eat, but easily digestible, and this, I believe served me well.
Race morning I woke up with an alarm. I had all my stuff set out, grabbed a quick shower and dressed. I knew I was ~ 2 miles from the the starting line. My plan was to walk to the starting line a use the clothing storage bag provided. I grabbed a cup of coffee from the Starbucks in the loby and started walking. I walked with a runner from LA in town visiting her family. This was a good choice, walking. I also ate some GU chomps and some bean (basically jelly beans for runners) I stowed my excess stuff (it was much warmer than the weatherman predicted), used the facilites, and wandered into the B corral.
The advent of electronic time bands has really de-stressed the starting line. We started off and I just tried to run at a natural comfortable pace. I was surprised that the splits were as quick as they were, and I felt great. I mean other than feeling tentative with the injuries… it all was much better than I expected.
So the first 4 miles seemed a little draggy… but nice, and by the time I hit 7 I was feeling quite well. I had never used any water or electrolyte gel in any race, ever, but I decided to consume a Roctane at 7 miles, to be safe. Well with a dry mouth, that stuff is like tar. It was making me cough, and I choked it down. Also, I tried to take a cup of water, but it’s really hard for me to drink from a cup while running, and I don’t like to stop. I spilled most of it on me, chocked on the sip I got, and tossed the cup. Not enough.
I did actually stop to drink a cup at one point. Here are my split times:
When I look at those times what I see is a pretty consistent effort hampered by the injuries. Uninjured I would have probably been around 7:50 pace the whole way. Also what I see is that I was a little slower in the hilliest sections… What I expected to see was a real drop off in mile 9 and 10, where mentally I felt like I was going to cramp… and had to keep telling myself to ease up and to adjust and improve my posture. I saw so many runners leaning forward. It reminded me to stand up tall, and keep good form. It really wasn’t until 11.5 I began to really run with some confidence, and by the end I was feeling like I normally do in a race.
A good number of us had a nice competitive pace at the end, and it felt good to be able to run with intent instead of caution. For my efforts I was given this at the finish line:
Then I grabbed my bag of clothes, threw on a windbreaker and a dry shirt (yes the sporty new one) and walked the ~ 2 miles back to the hotel.
1. I liked the race, a lot.
2. I will try to keep a half marathon in my schedule once a year or so
3. My weekly training will include a long run of 10+ miles
4. I need to heal up these injuries now that this is passed
5. I did a few things regrettable wrong and I paid the consequences
6. I did a whole bunch of things right, and reaped the benefits
7. I thrive on consistency and mutual support, such as I get from my friend’s Jennah and Chris, and the people I know from @DailyMile and @Twitter
Feel free to post your comments! And thank you all for your support and healthful and sometimes funny guidance.