Race Report: SF10 2016

For those following along… or not following along as the case may be… I haven’t been a very good blogger. If it makes you feel better, I have written a ton of blog posts in my head… I just haven’t actually put them down on paper… so-to-speak

If you follow me on Instagram, then you are probably aware that I am not running as much as I used to. There is a reason for this and it is all part of a bigger picture… but all of that is a blog post in and of itself.

So this whole lack of running thing kinda means that I was going into this race a little blind. The last race I ran for time was back in November when I ran a half while injured.

This whole not really running thing does not mean I have been slacking off. Quite the opposite, I have still been working out hard but I have been leaning more towards HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and trying to get back into strength training.

I knew, from a cardiovascular perspective, I was in top shape… my only question was how would my body handle the pounding of 10 miles. My longest training run was an easy 6 miler with Eric and other than that ONE (yes, one) 6 miler the majority of my running has been 5 milers or running to/from my HIIT training (which is between 1 and 2 miles).

Weekly mileage has been incredibly low… so… yea… running blind

My overall goal going into this race was still that 1:40:00 that I have been chasing for a couple of years now but I also knew that, realistically, I am not really in PR shape for a 10 mile race right now.

Then you factor in the weather… we went from winter to summer more or less overnight so there has been zero time to acclimate.

I didn’t exactly have factors stacked in my favor but I still hoped for one of those perfect running days when the running gods and weather gods decide to be nice… spoiler alert… the gods didn’t get the memo.

I had also figured out that this would be my 79th overall race. And despite having run 78 races already… race anxiety was still out in full force… so needless to say, I did not sleep all that well.

These early race starts are when my work schedule work in my favor because I only had to get up 15 minutes earlier than I normally do for work… then again, I had been wide awake for a solid hour and a half before my alarm went off…. lovely…

Race morning and I checked the weather… it was already 68 degrees at 5 am with about 70% humidity… yea… the weather gods DEFINITELY did not get that memo

I had prepped my bag the night before so I didn’t have much to do in the morning and headed out to the train. The train ride was uneventful and as soon as I got off the train I spotted Eric so we walked to the race together. I checked my bag, took my turn at the port-a-potty (it was far more complicated to get back inside to use a normal restroom) then grabbed a bottle of water and got into my corral.

There wasn’t a ton of time to kill and one of the things I love about this race is the pre-race stuff. Since the race is always on Memorial Day weekend and always at Solider Field… well… you can guess the theme. After a moment of silence for our fallen heroes and heartfelt thank you for those that serve the race began.

Thanks to a nice little 8K PR last summer, I was placed into a decent corral and was right at the front of the start line…. Of course as soon as we were off, I remembered why I told myself that was a bad idea last year… It causes me to go out too fast

It took me about a quarter mile to adjust my error and soon we were heading under the old McCormick place or McCormick Place East and I couldn’t help but think that it would be wonderful if the Star Wars museum went in here and this horrendous under pass was eliminated… but I digress

Mile one split and I am on pace for my goal but I was also very thirsty already… not the best sign but I know that there is a water station about a half mile up. I grab my water at the station and take a short walk break so I can actually drink the water instead of wear it.

At the mile two split, I lost some time but I am still even for my 1:40:00 goal. I was optimistic but I was already thirsty again… and it had only been a half mile.

Once I get to mile 3 I see that I am not WAY off pace… I am also dying of thirst. Yea… this isn’t good. Luckily there is a water station so I grab a cup of water to sip while I walk and take another cup of water to sip half of and then dump the rest on my head.

Mile 4 split and I notice that I am no longer sweating… with just a mere 6 miles left in the race. I am even more off pace now and I know I can either finish the race or I can put myself into danger. Given that I have played the severe dehydration at a race game once before, I opt for the smarter decision and back off a bit.

Right before mile 5 is the turn around and for once I am thankful to be on the LFT because I know there are water fountains there. I stop at the water station which is shortly after the turn around point but I am also walking more than I would like. I keep telling myself to run a quarter mile and walk a tenth but my body is just not cooperating. I proceed to stop at every single water fountain I see.

Come mile 6 I am still stopping at water fountains and I know there is another water station around mile 7. I have internal dialogue going about fighting and not giving up but my throbbing head reminds me that I need water.

I start to feel better after the mile 7 water station and find it easier to push myself a little so I start to try to extend my running intervals a bit and I succeed a bit.

By mile 8 I have still been stopping at water stations and it is definitely helping because I am feeling significantly better than I was just two miles ago. A quick glance at the mile 8 clock tells me there is zero way I am coming in under 1:40:00 and now even a 1:50:00 is out of reach but I still have a fighting chance to come in under 2:00:00

And really… coming in over 2:00:00 would have just royally pissed me off

Time to fight

I manage to run more than walk and I grab water at the last station and try to talk myself into kicking it up a notch for mile 9…

My body just doesn’t entirely agree with that whole kicking it up a notch part. But I do manage to run almost all of mile 9 so that’s something.

When I hit the down hill that will bring us into the stadium, I use the momentum to gun it… and then we TURN instead of going straight. DAMNIT!!!!!!!!

Stupid Beyonce is in town for a concert… and there are TWO shows on consecutive nights so the stage is blocking out NORMAL entrance onto the field.

AHHHHHHHH

I am beyond pissing and moaning in my head right now because I was counting on using that downhill like I have in years past but since we have a little extra to go now (I thought the course was a little different this year) so I start losing speed and am barely holding on trying to keep gunning as hard as I can through the finish. I want to go wide into the finish line but I am boxed in and can’t get around anyone so I am forced to slow just a tad.

I cross the line and feel like I am dying… that little reroute definitely did me in. I know I am officially done for the day.

Another favorite aspect of this race is that service members hand out the medals which is just beyond awesome. They congratulate us when they are the ones we need to congratulate.

After getting my medal and my water, I go and grab my bag… from the person who apparently doesn’t know what bib number area she is working in because it takes her quite some time to find my bag (despite my pointing it out several times) but she keeps telling I am in the wrong number area :-/

Finding Eric was easy because he was waiting outside by the exit. We start heading back to the train. I invite him to get breakfast with me but he isn’t all that hungry. I opt to get off the train a few stops early so I can transfer to a bus to eliminate the mile walk from the train to get breakfast (which is a block from my place).

I was thrilled that I came in under two but I definitely have some work to do and I know I cannot skimp on the long runs come fall training cycle.

3 SF10 5-28-16

4 SF10 5-28-16

 

 

 

Perspective

I have been writing this post in my head for months now…  but I have failed to actually put the words down on paper… errrr… so-to-speak

Perhaps the  main reason I haven’t actually written the post is because it STILL bothers me…

Yes, that little half marathon that I ran in Milwaukee in November… the one where I failed to meet my time goal by 15 minutes.

Yep, that’s the one.

It still bothers me… but I know it shouldn’t

I worked so hard for a year…well… more than a year. I think my training for that race truly started when I got laid off from my old job and I threw all of my emotions into the only thing I could control… My running.

And everything fell into place. I got faster and I stopped fearing the long run. I PR’d every race that fall. I went to Disney World and accomplished something that, when I signed up for the series of races, knew was a HUGE gamble given how my running had been over the previous few years.

By all accounts… I was in the best running shape of my (admittedly) short running career. So I decided I wanted to run a half marathon again and I wanted to run it for time… a thought that hadn’t even come close to crossing my mind in years.

A friend found the race and a plan was set. Everything was going well… so well and then one day I started to feel pain in my left calf… it was dull but nothing I couldn’t handle…. a decision that, in hindsight, was insanely stupid. I continued to run on what, I later learned, was a strain for two weeks. Yea… not smart…

I went for an 11 mile run and it was amazing. I finished the run in 1:44:51 which would give me over 30 minutes to run another 2 miles and still nail my goal. There was still 4 weeks of intense training on my plan with a two week taper. It was in the bag.

The following day, I went for a 3 mile shake out run and that is when everything fell apart. That pain I had been feeling for two weeks… the pain that wasn’t that bad for that 11 mile run was suddenly excruciating… So excruciating that I cut the run short at 2 miles

After a solid week of rest the pain was no better and I knew it was time to get it checked… so off to physical therapy I went.

I was six weeks out from a major goal race that I had worked so hard for and I was injured. I tried to keep some sort of training plan together but the pain was too severe.

For this race, I was going to run blind… Go for broke when I had zero idea of where I truly was after not training for 6 weeks. I held onto that blindness for all it was worth… blissfully unaware of the peril I was about to endure.

And a week before the race my calf was feeling fantastic but my hamstring was excruciating…

I clung to my bliss and ignored the rather persistent pain in my hamstring. My PT knew my plan and we both knew I would stay in PT to address the hamstring.

On race day, with absolutely perfect weather, I hoped that was a sign of the greatness that was going to come but with each step and each mile my blind bliss faded fast.

My hamstring was killing me and it was getting worse and then my knee went haywire. I questioned my ability to finish this race let alone still hit my goal time. I knew my early splits were already far off what they needed to be

My blissfully blind bubble had finally burst. I finished but I was in a lot of pain and I knew I had a long road of PT ahead of me.

One day, several weeks after the race, I was out for a run. My hamstring strain and knee issues had been worked on for close to two full months and I was finally feeling like a runner again. I was feeling good and that was when it hit me…

I ran a half marathon in a lot of pain with a severe hamstring strain and a host of fun knee issues and I still PR’d by a full 15 minutes.

Perspective

Sure, I was nowhere near that 2:15 goal time but it was still a SOLID 15 minute PR… a PR that I earned while injured.

Imagine what I could have done had I not been injured?

So yes, I am still bothered by missing my time goal but I also know that everything was working against me that day. I did the best I was capable of that day. It may not have been good enough for a 2:15 but it was still good enough for a massive PR.

I have never been one to settle and I won’t settle until I hit that 2:15 time goal.

Weekly Training Report: December 28th – January 3rd

Dec 28 - Jan 3

Monday – 1.50 / 15:02 – Pace 10:01

I got back from TX the night before… and the TX storm system followed me home. So I was greeted with quite the winter wallop which was a far cry from the sunny and warm weather that I had just spent a week running in. I knew running outdoors was out of the question… plus I really needed groceries so a trip to the gym was in order. The entire trek to the gym was slippery and I couldn’t help but wonder if I should get Commitment Points, Stupidity Points… or both. And, of course, as soon as I got to the gym, I realized I forgot my knee brace. Going back home was NOT an option so I decided to run without the brace. The knee was rather unhappy with this decision and as much as I wanted to run 2 miles, I knew cutting it short was a smarter idea.

Tuesday – 1.08 / 10:15 – Pace 9:30

PT has become a normal part of my routine over the past…well… three months and this was my “last” appointment. And in case you hadn’t noticed, I decided to do a mini run streak. I like little run streaks because they help me get back on track. I had no time to run between getting off work and getting to PT so I knew I would be running after. The big debate was running at the gym (PT is luckily about a block from my gym) or just run outside. In the end, I decided to just do the run outside. It was definitely cold but luckily most of the sidewalks near the park where cleared earlier in the day… but there were a few icy patches. I definitely never planned to do more than a mile since I have never run after PT and wasn’t sure how my knee would hold up with that. It was a bit tender but only in the areas where my PT scraped it.

Wednesday – 2.63 / 26:26 – Pace 10:04

A little mini goal that I had set for myself when I knew I was cleared to start getting back into running was to hit 600 miles for the year. A far cry from the 700 of last year but considering I spent three months injured and didn’t run much in those 3 months, I knew anything over 600 miles would be too aggressive. With only two days left in the year, I had just under 2.50 miles left to hit 600 for the year and I decided that I wanted to finish off the goal a day early so my planned two miler ended up being a little over 2.50 miles. Part of the reason why I love where I live from a running standpoint is that I live a couple blocks from the zoo… and the zoo parking lot. The zoo parking lot is my winter running secret because it just under a mile in length and always blissfully ice and snow free and very well lit… I only have to deal with the couple of blocks to get to and from the parking lot. Zoo lights was still going on so it was significantly more crowded than it would normally be but I didn’t have any run-ins with cars. I also was further from my water fountain which I hadn’t thought about when I choose the course for the evening… then again, I didn’t decide to run more than two miles until I was already running… so I slowed quite a bit on the last mile because my legs were cold (my thighs and butt are ALWAYS cold in the winter) and I was thirsty. But the knee and hamstring held up

Thursday – 1.08 / 10:05 – Pace 9:20

Work was eerily slow for the last day of the year but even so, we had a handful of small flurries… and one happened as I was doing a final sweep of systems before leaving. So I ended up staying a little late. Since I knew I had the 5K the following morning and my body isn’t used to three days in a row of 2+ miles, I opted to do just a streak keeper. This ended up being a good thing because as soon as I got out of the shower, my boss text me that her and her husband were heading over the bar where I was to meet them for a couple of hours before they went to dinner. I quickly threw on clothes and text Eric (who decided to join us) and headed out. We ended up going to a different bar but it all worked out and I had a great time… even if I did get a tad buzzed which I hadn’t intended on the night before a race… whoops.

Friday – NYD5K Race

I woke up with the slightest bit of a hangover headache even though I tried to kill my buzz before going to sleep the night before. I downed some water and chilled on my couch because my body refuses to let me sleep past 8:30 am no matter what. I changed and headed out for the race. You can read my full race report here. I spent the rest of the day starting the process of taking my Christmas decorations and managed to get most of them down and put away.

Saturday – 2.04 / 19:43 – Pace 9:39

There were several errands that I needed to run and I wanted to finish taking down and putting away my Christmas stuff. The debate for the day was between going to the gym to run my two miles and strength train or just run outside. The sun was shining so I really wanted to run outside but I also wanted to strength train. In the end, I opted to run outside because it would allow me the time to finish taking down my Christmas stuff… the putting away part will wait for another day since I had zero desire to make several trips to my storage locker…

Sunday – Rest

When I decided to do a mini run streak, I set the number at 15 days, which meant Sunday was a rest day. This worked out well since my boss offered me tickets to the Lions/Bears game. I asked Eric if he wanted to join me and he agreed. We met for breakfast to exchange Christmas presents then headed back to my place to layer up (no point sweating like crazy over breakfast) and headed to the game. It was fun and I didn’t really start to get cold until the second half

Race Report: NYD5K 2016

1 NYD5K 2016

This race has become somewhat of a tradition for me. I have signed up over the past 4 years but have only started (and finished) the race 3 times. There was a minor issue with freshly falling snow, extreme wind, very cold temps and barely being able to walk (let alone run) back in 2014… Food was eaten instead.

Since this race is in January in Chicago… there is very little chance that it WON’T be cold and I am ok with that. This year, we got a lovely sleet storm on Monday and then the temps dropped… making it actually feel like winter for the first time this season. Go figure… timing…

As I was walking to the race, I knew I would not be running for time. The race is a LP race which means it is along routes that I run frequently and I knew that the most of the course would be covered in ice still because we would be running on the inner path instead of sidewalks.

I also remembered seeing that Tiffany had posted to FB that she and Harry would be running. She has been injured so I wasn’t positive if they would still be there but I decided to keep my eyes open for them.

Even though this race starts at 11:00 am instead of the usual earlier start time, I also knew that the weather and people being far more hungover than they anticipated would mean for lower numbers… All on top of this being a smaller race to begin with.

Despite living near the race, I have already learned that NOT wearing my winter jacket and taking advantage of gear check for this race is just not an option anymore. After making sure my coat could be stuffed into my normal polka dot race backpack (I like polka dots) so that worked out because the wind was brutal and there was no sun.

Luckily I got there only 15 minutes early and it didn’t take long for me to spot Tiffany… Her bright pink top and high ponytail helped. After teasing her (also TX blood) for wearing two pairs of gloves and thus incapable of operating her phone in any capacity, I told her I would take a picture so I snapped one of her and her husband. Then her husband snapped one of us… I totally stole this picture from her blog 😉

2 NYD5K 2016

We lined up and were off without any huge ceremony. It was slower than normal at the start of the race, part due to ice and part due to walkers NOT lining up in the back…

Harry (Tiffany’s husband) took off to run a little faster but us two hamstring injured chicks took it slow and chatted. We definitely slipped and slid a bit but for the most part didn’t have too many issues… and gratefully we stayed completely upright.

A broken < Insert Body Part of Choice > would not be a good way to start off the New Year… especially before I have even had a cup of coffee.

I really enjoyed being able to run most of the race with her. As we were heading back, my slightly hungover body decided water would be a good idea with about 3/4 of a mile left to run. She kept running and I sipped on a cup of very cold (but not frozen) water. Then I proceeded to walk over an large icy patch that was also going downhill… I didn’t really think that was a good combination

After that part, we were luckily on the sidewalk which was nice and ice free so I was able to run at a more normal pace. I even managed a little kick into the finish (though not much of a kick). Harry and Tiffany were nice enough to wait at the finish line for me 🙂

We hopped into the short line to get our official results as Harry joked he wanted to see how bad it was.

I knew it wouldn’t be a great race time due to the ice but I also didn’t care. This is always a race I just run for time.

3 NYD5K 2016

Not my worse time for this race but not my best either…. I can live with that. Tiffany and Harry had family in town so they were not able to join me for breakfast but that ended up working out because, as a table for one, I was seated right away.

Which was good because I was STARVING and really wanted hot coffee

The before and after of, what has become, my New Years Day Breakfast tradition. It was yummy… in case you couldn’t tell :-p

4 NYD 5K 2016

It was a great start to the New Year!

Starting Over

A week later and some reflection later… well… I am still bummed that I missed my goal. The long runs I had been doing up until I got injured had me where I needed to be to complete my goal

But… my body had other plans.

Nearly 6 full years of running and without a doubt, I have learned at least one thing… It’s not always your race/training day. Running isn’t always easy and there are lots of highs and lows that come with the territory. Sometimes you have an excellent run and everything clicks and then the next day everything can go to hell.

My last long run before getting injured was that… one of those perfect running days where everything clicked. I ran 11 miles in roughly 1:45 which meant I would still have 30 minutes to cover 2.1 miles… I was THERE

So close yet so far away

The next day everything went to hell and I just couldn’t maintain the training that I needed to stay where I was.

My calf healed intake for the race but something had been giving me trouble off and on for about a year reared its ugly head again… 6 days before the race

Perfect timing

I saw my PT once before the race and she told me that it could be a mile strain… like the calf

Well… fan-bloody-tastic

During the race I had pain so bad in my right knee that I thought finishing was going to be a bigger a struggle than I ever considered. Determination and anger took over and blocked the pain so I could finish the race.

I opted to take the next two days off completely. Knowing before I even started that race that I had barely run over the previous 6 weeks and was about to take on 13.10 miles… I knew I was going to hurt a LOT after that race.

And oh boy did I hurt. Monday was brutal and I didn’t start to feel loose until after I had spent a solid 10 minutes with my foam roller when I got home for work.

Tuesday I was feeling better but the pain in the knee was still there off and on and the hamstring/glute was still a huge issue. Even though I felt like I could put in a nice easy mile, I opted to take the day off again until I spoke with my PT

I do in fact have a strain in my hamstring… and the pain in my right knee is caused by some scar tissue build up… No clue when I got scar tissue in my knee… but that had been acting up off and on since March

After speaking with my PT about my calf being the only thing that didn’t hurt and the issues I was having in my hamstring and the intense pain I felt in my knee during the race, I knew that I would be spending some more time in PT.

So that’s where I am at… I will stick with PT a few weeks more to deal with these two lingering issues

Which brings to the main point of the post… Since I do have these issues it best to deal with them and take it easy on the mileage

And really… I have barely run over the past 7 weeks so it doesn’t make sense to try to jump back in the level of training I was at.

I have plenty of time before any significant race is on the schedule so I am going to use the time to get back to basics.

The rest of the year will be low mileage… November will be the month of one milers… and maybe a two or three miler once a week as a “long run”. In December I will move on to two milers with, again, a three or maybe even a 4 miler thrown in.

But for the most part it’s very low mileage from here on out while continuing to address the issues I have. Hopefully, by the time the new year rolls around, I will be all fixed and able to start training the way I want to.

To add to all of this, I am going to be doing a LOT more strength training in my future.

I am also playing with the idea of swimming once a week and/or doing yoga once a week. The tight calves are likely going to remain an issue and doing yoga will help to keep them a little looser. Swimming… well… it might be a good idea to do some form of cardio that is much lower impact.

The yoga and swimming are really just an idea that I am toying with… nothing decided on either of those yet but I might give it a try to see how it fits in.

But first… I need to get my hamstring and knee happy again… those are the priorities

Almost a DNF

For those who do not know a DNF is short for “Did Not Finish”

My running career is thus far DNF free… and really… I am proud of that. I may not have completed all the races I have done in the way I WANTED to complete them all but I have still completed them all.

The reality is, running is something I love and racing is just a part of that and I don’t always WANT to “go big or go home” so-to-speak

I may be a runner but I am not competitive

However, there are those few races that I pour my heart and soul into… the races I run for time and legit train for to run a certain way. The race this past Sunday was one such race.

Basically… I put all my eggs in one basket

I knew when I started to train for this race that a PR would be easy. Never having actually run any of the other three half’s that I completed for time, made that likelihood easy to figure out. But I didn’t want an easy PR I wanted to essentially blow my previous half marathon times out of the water.

And I guess I technically did that… a 15 minute PR is huge and I know that… but being so close yet so far away is kind of eating away at me

The race was such a major let down for me… and it really wasn’t the race itself but the way I ran it. Don’t get me wrong… I KNEW going into this race that everything was pretty much stacked against me. I KNEW that mentally I had lost what little edge I had with my last long being 6 weeks prior to the race. I KNEW that physically my body wasn’t prepared.

I KNEW all of that but I still held onto a glimmer of hope that everything would click and it would be one of those magical run days where miracles happen

And it just wasn’t

Everything fell apart for me on that course… and really… everything fell apart for me 6 weeks prior when I went out for a little 2 mile shake out run and the dull pain I had been feeling for two weeks already became unbearable. This race was just the past 6 weeks of frustration essentially coming out of me over the the 13.10 miles

Part of me thinks I gave up too easily… but the other part of me knows that I was in a LOT of pain that day

Right now I am dealing with wondering if I really COULD have given it more… but the truth is, I do not know that answer. I know how much pain I was in and I know those miles between 9 and 11 were gruesome.

There was a point when I was walking… well… probably more limping and I was in tears and… I can’t even describe the amount of disappointment I was feeling. Chris and I passed a police car and an ambulance and for the first time EVER in my running career I seriously contemplated dropping out of the race.

I was in pain… a lot of pain… I was limping and in tears and I don’t think anyone would have blamed me for dropping out.

The reason I didn’t – If I had dropped out during THIS race it would have been more because I was acting like a petulant child than an inability to finish

Let me explain

There were a million and one things going through my mind during that race. A LOT of those thoughts were centered around self-loathing and extreme disappointment in myself. I was physically incapable of running the race I WANTED to race

And well… basically… because I couldn’t get what I wanted I was acting like a petulant child in my head.

I was pissing and moaning and screaming lots of “whyyyyyyyyys?” In my mind I was having a total temper tantrum

I realized around mile 6 that there was no way in hell my body was going to magically allow me to run faster and make up time reach my 2:15 goal. I was already 5ish minutes off pace and I know that it takes to maintain pace AND make up time. My body was not physically capable of accomplishing that on Sunday

And I was heartbroken over it and instead of accepting it my mind reverted to temper tantrum instead… which really wasn’t all that productive.

If I had dropped out of the race I would never be able to forgive myself for that… I knew that in the moment and I know that now. My body COULD finish that damn race and I also KNEW that.

So I decided to trek on and… well… listen to Chris and do what I was capable of doing.

I let anger take over… anger at myself for even considering dropping out… anger at my body for going haywire 6 weeks before my goal race… anger at that damn 2:30 pace group that kept passing me… anger that as much as I was fighting, I was BARELY holding on… anger that I felt like I was letting down the people that believed in me… anger that getting injured crushed me completely

My struggles began LONG before I crossed that start line, my struggles began when I got injured. I kept trying to keep up some sort of training but I was physically NOT able to do it.

I feel like I gave up even though I know I didn’t. As much as I tried, I kept failing and that failure crushed me.

There is still some anger in me… I am going to use that anger to fuel me… fuel me to get my body back to… well… to not being in pain

My left glute/hamstring still hurt and it is not just muscle soreness… there is something a little more major going on there and my right knee is still wonky as well so need to figure out what is causing that.

There will be another race… and I think I choose it already

But first I need to heal and get my running back on track… and I need to get stronger…

In the meantime… I WILL be proud of that 15 minute PR because that ISN’T a small feat and it IS something to be proud of.

Race Report: Milwaukee Running Festival Half-Marathon

There was never a question that I COULD finish the race… the question was more about whether I would be able to run the race I WANTED to run.

This was 4th half-marathon and the first one that I actually planned to train to run for time. I put together a great training plan and even though the plan would be longer than a traditional half training plan, I was ok with that. Slow and steady

But then I got injured 8 weeks prior to the race. I continued to run for two weeks before the pain became unbearable and I knew it was time to seek some help. I did just that and started physical therapy again.

Still… losing 6 weeks of a training plan right before a goal race… and a goal race that is a pretty significant distance is nothing to snuff. I lost 4 weeks of aggressive training and two weeks of taper that would have allowed me to maintain the mental edge I had built for myself

Instead, I went into this race knowing that mentally a 2:15 race would be difficult and knowing that physically my body wasn’t where it needed to be for a 2:15

Wanting this race and that 2:15 was what I held on to and it was what I used to carry me through the race on Sunday…

But I am getting a little ahead of myself here

Friday after work, I headed home and grabbed my stuff and changed before heading over to Eric’s so we could drive up to Milwaukee together. Luckily the drive was uneventful and we made it in good time. After checking into the hotel, we went in search for food but managed a wrong turn out of the hotel so didn’t quite end up on the area we wanted to be in. Eventually we settled on a place but it was more of a last resort than a place either of us truly wanted to eat at… oh well… While at dinner, we learned that Tiffany and Harry were also in town to run. So that added to the fun for the weekend.

The following morning we woke up and Eric headed for the workout room for a streak keeper while I showered. The weather was already miserable and it was not going to get any better… raining, windy and chilly. We grabbed a quick bite before heading to Walgreens for water and some snacks. I then wanted better coffee than the watery hotel stuff so we started to walk towards packet pick-up and ran into Harry on the street.

We chatted for a bit and decided on a loose dinner plan before I got my coffee (mmmmmm) and headed to the expo.

Mo was there working the Ragnar booth so after getting our packets and while waiting for Chris to arrive, we all chatted. Mo has been chasing a goal time for a marathon and felt like she was in a great place to achieve it this weekend… and I felt like I was hoping for unicorn wings…

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Chris found us and got his packet. After a quick trip around the expo (small races makes for quick expo trips) we used our free passes to go to the Harley Davidson Museum. I don’t own a motorcycle and doubt I ever will but it was neat to see the history behind them. Chris then drove us to one of his fav spots for a quick bite and then back to our hotel so we could drop all of our stuff off. The weather was still awful so we wandered around the “mall” for a bit trying to kill some time.

Eventually Eric and I went back to our hotel so Chris could check into his and take a nap… and not going to lie… I took a nap as well.

That evening we met Chris, Tiffany and Harry for pizza dinner and then grabbed a drink at a local bar. And yes, I did have ONE drink… and two glasses of water. That one drink also allowed me to fall asleep easily and mostly stay asleep… thank goodness because race anxiety was high for this one.

Turn back the clocks and wake up the next morning (thank you extra hour of sleep) we greeted with sunshine and warmer temps… and some wind… could have done without the wind.

Luckily I thought to bring some “ditch clothes” to wear at the start so I never actually got cold waiting to start… there also wasn’t too much time I had to wait because we got there decided very quickly the port-o-potty lines we were WAY too long, did our gear check and lined up… less than 10 minutes later, the gun went off.

I did snap two pics before the race started… All of us lined up and a selfie

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I hung back for about a minute hoping to find Chris before starting the race because we were going to run together but I decided to go ahead and just start knowing he would be able to find… if he wasn’t already ahead of me..

The calf was feeling good but the butt/hamstring were already angry… and I knew it was going to be a LONG race. I also managed to NOT hit the button to turn on my watch hard enough and didn’t notice until about half a mile in… Oops…

For the first few miles I just enjoyed the pretty scenery and ran at a comfortable pace… whatever that may be because I didn’t allow myself to check my pace by looking at watch (which is why it took me half a mile to notice it wasn’t on).

Three-ish miles in and we came to a nice big hill… Ummm… This flat Chicago girl wasn’t having that… not when I was already in pain so I walked up it… This was the first of many hills… all of which I really loathed by the end of the race

The course then started going through a neighborhood with some very lovely older homes which I enjoyed looking at. Around mile 4 or so, Chris popped up on my left side… We chatted briefly before he went back to his music (which I did hear blasting from his headphones the entire race… it was a good distraction at times) and I went back to trying to convince my body to cooperate.

Around mile 6 (and a few hills later) the outside of my right knee started hurting… I think my IT Band got angry but I am not entirely sure it is my IT Band… At this point I am walking all the hills because I just can’t handle them. I know by all the clocks on the mile signs that I am already 5ish minutes off my goal time.

The reality is setting in that today is not a day for a 2:15

So I start coming up with second and third choice times…

We arrive at mile 9 and are running through the Marquette campus… to which Chris is getting a lot of cheers because he is running in his Marquette jersey (and pink knee high compression and USA shorts… he never disappoints with the race attire)

And this where things turn ugly… FAST

The course splits and the marathoner’s climb a nice big hill (and I am think thank F*cking hell I don’t have to take on that hill right now) and the half marathons start making our way back to the finish line…

We get a little ways away from the split and it happens… pain so intense on the outside of my right knee that I immediately stop running and can barely walk. I double over trying to just focus for a minute. Chris asks me if I am ok and I tell him that I am not.

I try taking a few steps but I am limping and seem incapable of walking normal. Tears come to my eyes as the severity of what is going on with a little over three miles left in the race

There is no way in hell a 2:15 is happening and visions of my second and third choice times are quickly slipping away. I keep trying to run but my knee refuses to let me. I am cursing like crazy and as we pass the 10 mile mark, I comment that the next three miles are going to be F*cking hell since I can barely walk right now. Chris tells me that I will just do what I can… which was so beyond greatly appreciated because he is sticking with me which is sacrificing his time as well.

I keep trying to push myself but my knee is NOT cooperating… at one point I stopped running and doubled over again and a women goes running by and says “you got this ladies keep going”

Not only was the encouragement what I needed right now but I also realized suddenly that Chris was referred to as a “lady”… Perhaps it was the pink socks?

And I burst out laughing… which was welcome compared to the tears I had just moments prior

Still trying to push myself… and the 2:30 pace group pacing me… which gets me VERY angry and I start running again

The pain is intense and I know it won’t go away but getting pissed off that the 2:30 pace group passed me helped fuel me… and so the game of rabbitting begins.

I would stay ahead of the 2:30 pace group but not enough for them to NOT catch me… Trying to stay ahead of them and getting angry each time they passed me fueled me for the rest of the race and I focused on the anger

At some point the pain subsided enough to where I could run more but my legs were completely trashed and pushing the pace wasn’t much of an option.

The pace group was right behind me and I didn’t have enough in me to run long chunks at this point so I took short walk breaks… at some point after passing the 12 mile sign, I started to get nausea

I knew I was pretty dehydrated and probably REALLY needed some food but I have run while being nausea before… never thought THAT would have ended up being good training…. So I was able to deal with that

I was still ahead of the 2:30 pace group and I was passing other runners that had already finished and came back along the course to cheer us on… each and every one said my name (it is printed on the bib in case you didn’t notice) and said something encouraging… I can’t recall what any of the words were because I was focused on anger, pain, being nausea, and trying with all my might to cross the finish line by 2:30

I had absolutely ZERO idea where Chris and didn’t have the energy to turn around and look

Once I saw the 13 mile marker I tried to run faster and I think I did but I honestly had nothing left and I was in so much pain…

I saw the finish line clock read 2:32 and change and I knew it was a massive PR for me but it was also so far away from my goal time.

There were so many emotions going through me… anger… pain… happiness… self-loathing…

Oooo… A Chocolate Chip Cookie!!!!

Hahaha… needless to say seeing cookies and knowing I was still a bit nausea got me out of my head a bit

Chris and I went to grab our gear. I had already planned with Eric that I was going to head back to the hotel right away to shower knowing that we might be cutting it close to showering and getting out of the room before check-out time.

Chris’ hotel had a shuttle running and his hotel was only a couple blocks from mine… walking a few blocks was a MUCH better idea than walking the mile or more back. So we went to head back toward the shuttles

But first I saw a results tent and veered over immediately knowing that my watch was off by half a mile and at least 5 minutes…

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2:30:55 is my time… a far cry from 2:15

But it is also about a 15 minute PR

I really shouldn’t be angry and upset about this race. A 15 minute PR is HUGE and I know that. I AM proud of that accomplishment… especially considering how much I fell apart on the back side of the race.

This just was not the race I envisioned and I know it is not what I am truly capable of. Sure, it was ALL I was capable of on THIS day… The immense amount of pain I was in during and after the race… and still am in proves that I wasn’t capable of anything else. I know I left everything I had… and quite a few tears out on that course. But it is just not the race I wanted to run.

I know there will be other races and I know 2:15 is a goal I will chase until I nail it. There is a LOT I need to do to get my body ready to train at that level and I know what needs to be done.

I still have faith in the running portion of the training plan that I put together… I still believe THAT plan would get me where I need to be to run the race I want. I just can’t get injured and have to kill 6 weeks of training. I also know that I need to make strength training part of any future half marathon training plan that I have. The injury is caused by weaknesses that I have… tight calf muscles being a life long weakness that I am going to have to work on. I have other weaknesses too and I know what I need to work on (and have already started with physical therapy).

My running IS where it needs to be and I have full faith in the plan I had… I just need to do more.

It’s time to put together my new plan and figure out another opportunity to run a half for time… until then… I will just put in the work… and perhaps add a few more weeks onto physical therapy…

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