My First Half Marathon

**This post has sat unfinished in my drafts for over 2 months.  But as I told my friend recently, published is better than perfection, I’m pushing it out.**

When I started this blog I had this crazy idea that I was going to be a triathlete.  Even though I was overweight and out of shape.  Even though I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was in high school and I hadn’t run a whole mile since 10th grade.  I swam for fun, I didn’t swim for distance and time.

I still haven’t done my triathlon, but I have ridden a bike.  (Admittedly, I need to do that more.) I have swam laps in the pool until I was exhausted.

But the running part?  Ha! That, I can absolutely tell you I progressed on!

On June 5th I ran my first half marathon!  It was the third one I’ve signed up for – so I guess it was third time – the charm.  I ran the San Diego Rock n Roll Half Marathon!

I started my training late.  I started my long runs in April.  Because my work schedule is a little erratic I could always depend on Sundays being free for long runs.  My idea was to increase my mileage by 1 mile each week.  I was in the middle of a round of 21 Day Fix Extreme and it got more difficult to balance that schedule with running and rest.  (And work which also got a little crazy.) For the most part this approach worked and I ended up completing my 10 miler the week before my event.  That really helped my confidence in knowing I could do 13.1  I had accidentally done a 9.5 on my 10K in Las Vegas.

It was really helpful that a friend let us stay at her place that was conveniently situated within walking distance of the start and the finish.  I did the requisite preparations.  Carbohydrates the night before.  Plenty of hydration.  I stood in line for the bathroom until it was time to start.  I had my gels and salt twists.  I didn’t get a playlist together but I have Apple Music on my phone.

It really was the hardest thing I have ever done.  I just kept moving forward.  I ran as much as I could, which ended up being a lot more than I anticipated.  My calve cramps were the only things I stopped for.  They didn’t really start until after mile 8 and I did a brief stretch out on the curb a couple of times to get through.  I drank water at the water stations, Gatorade when it was offered.  I used 1 gel and it was probably not the best idea.  It really made my stomach hurt after about a mile after taking it. The end of the course had some downhills, which I appreciated.  I finished stronger than I thought I would.

Afterward I kind of felt drunk.  I could only move slow and my thinking wasn’t really where it should have been.  I had recovery food (banana) and waited for my friend to finish the full marathon.  Stopping was the hardest part.  Sitting was awful until it was time to get up and then THAT was awful.  I did get to enjoy Gavin DeGraw as the headliner though!

The walk back up to my friend’s house was SLOW.  Everything hurt.  All 3 of us were beat up and miserable.  I don’t really remember what we did or what we ate that day, but I do remember that the next day was NOT as awful as I thought it would be.  I went to Bloom and got Traumeel in my shot.  I used my plantar fasciitis braces.  I was more okay than I expected to be.

So from thinking that I’d be “one and done” I’m actually considering doing this race again next year.  I don’t think that RnR Las Vegas in November is in the cards.  I still think that with better conditioning and with less weight to run with I could actually have a much better time at this.

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The Run I Didn’t Run

I was supposed to run the Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon in Vegas today (well, at time of writing it was yesterday).  I didn’t run.  I didn’t even walk.  Despite being very undertrained – I’ve been putting in sporadic treadmill sessions – and having plantar fasciitis and general ankle aching, I was going to woman up and do 13.1.

Thanks to Patrick for carrying Kurt's remembrance bib.

Thanks to Patrick for carrying Kurt’s remembrance bib.

There were 2 things that put me over the edge to wanting to do this anyway, aside from just being a badass chick.  The first is, this run benefits the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation and my dear friend Kurt passed away from Crohn’s related complications.  Crohn’s also impacts several friends, sorority sisters, and children of friends.  So I wanted to do it for them.

The second reason I wanted to run anyway is last year I made a friend in my corral for the 10K.  Lynnette and I had a lot of fun, even when we got sort of lost and had to double back to actually finish the 10K.  We had made plans to do the half together and I didn’t want to let her down.  She’s super cool and I was looking forward to spending time with her again.

So what pushed me over the edge?  Over the last 2 days I walked around Las Vegas in supportive shoes and recover flip flops, yet – by yesterday afternoon I was getting some knee pain.  Overall I did early 20 miles in those 2 days, which is quite a bit more than I expected.  The knee pain got worse overnight.  I got a brace, started icing, elevated it, rested it, but close to race time, I was still in a lot of pain and hobbling.  If it had been a 5K, I probably would have sucked it up.  But with 4 times that distance, I decided that this would have to be a race I’d sit out.

So I DNFed this one.  Heck, I didn’t even start.  I got some great advice in the Expo for my plantar fasciitis.  Once I’m back home I’m full throttle on getting that healed because it’s really impacting my training negatively.  In general, taking care of my soft tissue needs to be a priority because, hey, I’m not getting any younger.  Knee, feet, ankles, they are all going to be well taken care of.

And June will be here before I know it.  This may not have been my first half marathon – but maybe it’s because I had more things to learn.  Listening to my body is important.  If I’m going to keep improving the world one cup of coffee at a time, I’m going to have to stand.  Busted knees aren’t good with that.

I have a feeling Kurt would have thought I was insane for wanting to do a half marathon.  But, it was important to me that the remembrance bib be worn, so Patrick wore it for me.  I hope I get to come back some other time and do this race right.

My Finest 5K.

I have to tell you all, the race yesterday was miserable and fabulous at the same time. Waking up earlier than a normal early race day was just as hard this year as last year. At least it wasn’t cold! I spent much of the drive muttering that I couldn’t believe I was doing this again. My friend that rallied us all to sign up wasn’t even going!

Once we got there, it wasn’t as cold or as dark as the year before and we knew what to expect so I wasn’t as nervous. I bounced around in my wave group. I started with a good run pace from the get go. I fell back to a cross country ski style walk just like my trainer had told me to do once it got hard and uphill. I picked up my knees.

When the downhill portions came, I picked up the pace and ran. I ran more than I ever have in my entire life! I picked a landmark to run to, and then found I could keep going past even though I didn’t think I could. I kept my trainer’s voice in my brain – keep your head up, move those arms. My own inner voice screamed – don’t land on your heels!

And I passed people. A lot of people. Some people leap frogged with me, but everyone I decided to beat – I beat.

My husband was at the finish, already done and surprised I was so early. I knew it was a good finish. I knew I had beat my best. That nice little endorphin high kicked in and I bounced around some more and tried to stretch out anything I needed to.

Even though it was early and dark to start, it was the best race I’ve had yet and I’m proudly looking at that medal right now.

Happy FInishers!

Happy FInishers!