That’s exactly how I feel about this race performance wise.
I can’t say it was a bad race given the circumstances of the past 8 months. It wasn’t. I finished in under 2:00 on a long course, not any worse than my first half marathon and I know I should feel better than I do. It was just a somewhat humbling race experience.
The race pick-up was at Fleet Feet which is infinitely better than ours in Buffalo. I loved the bibs (it adds so much more color to my running wall at work) and the long sleeve tech shirts actually fit (besides a nice design and color). The sleeves were just a little short on me, but it will be perfect for running. I hardly ever do anything in my race shirts other than sleep because they’re so large, so I’m pumped that this one will actually be useful! J and I stayed at a Knights Inn motel about 5 minutes away from both coffee (Tim Hortons!) and the race start which was cheap ($50) but very comfy. Our night wasn’t very exciting — Greek food near Syracuse University (recommended by both Hollie and Heather) and Olympics on TV, perfect for me.
Given the weather for this event in the past plus this winter in Upstate New York, we really lucked out with everything about race day. It was a balmy (no sarcasm here!) 35 degrees, partial sun (which turned into full sun), and hardly any breeze. I judged my clothing choice (pants) by the majority of participants and regretted it about a mile into the race. It’s funny how 35 degrees can feel frigid when preceded by 40+ degree days, but after single digit days, it’s like sunbathing weather.
Prior to the race I met up with Laura, Heather, and Hollie. I started off the race with Heather, thinking if my ankle was behaving I could keep up with their 1:50 pace but it just didn’t feel right from the start. I hadn’t warmed up because I was already running 4 miles further than my furthest since May. What was a warm-up going to do for me anyways?
The course is a double out and back so I was able to see Hollie, Laura, and Heather pass by multiple times. Honestly, if I hadn’t been running this race with people I knew, I don’t think I would have liked it as much. It’s not because it’s a bad course or poorly put together — it was perfect in all those aspects. Simply put, I usually (unless trying to PR) want to be totally challenged by hills or weather, or I want to be placed on a route that takes me completely away from the run because I’m wrapped up looking around me. I was kind of pulling for crap weather just because that would be fun to me for a run.
I thought a lot during the race; no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t tune out the run and get lost in my music. This probably was big of a mental challenge as running my first half marathon, if not a little more. I had so many thoughts, I can actually recall them distinctly… I much would have rather had it be the other way.
Mile 1: Whoa that toe is really frozen, please stop feeling like stick in my shoe. Two pairs of socks was a terrible idea. (8:52)
Mile 2: Okay, time to weave a little and settle in. Is my ankle going to stop throbbing soon? (8:38)
Mile 3: We’re turning around soon? [HEY HOLLIE AND LAURA, YOU’RE SO DAMN FAST!] Wow, I’m at about 25 minutes right now? Times four? Wait, how am I on pace to PR? Damn, I’m in better shape than I thought! Three miles… times four… twelve miles…. ugh, my math skills suck when I’m running. (8:32)
Mile 4: Oh my, that sun feels great. Why did I wear Under Armour? Seriously ankle, stop hurting so bad. (8:44)
Mile 5: Hmm, where are you going to be, J? I need to get these gloves out of my pants. Photographer? Look strong, look strong! (8:35)
Mile 6: Time for some Gu — ohmygoodness this is the sweetest thing I’ve had. Oh no, I’m sticky. J, seriously, where are you? (8:33)
Mile 7: Ugh, I’m so thirsty. Why didn’t I get that water last mile? (8:39)
Mile 8: Ouch. Ouchouchouchouch. I can’t keep this stride up with my ankle like this. YES, SPORTS DRINK PLEASE. Ouchouchouch, right hip flexor, how are you not going to let me move my leg in front of my body for my next step? (9:08)
Mile 9: Oh, left hip flexor is going to do the same thing and my ankle is struggling with my weight? That’s cool. Maybe I should stop. [GO HOLLIE SHE ISN’T GOING TO CATCH YOU! Oh high 5’s? Yay!] Well, I’m going to have to walk back the same [OMG LAURA, PUSH FOR IT! More high 5’s, yay!] distance anyways… no, don’t stop. Heel strike. Heel strike. Heel strike. (9:03)
Mile 10: If I run 10:00 miles through the finish, I will be under 2:00. I can do this. Oh this pain face is so ugly, please no cameras. I’m not even tired, everything just hurts. (9:42)
Mile 11: Come on, don’t pass me. Okay fine, I’m going to stick with you and pass you later. I think. Three miles. Two point eight miles. Two point five miles. Why isn’t the end closer? (8:53)
Mile 12: I should not have pushed that hard this soon. Two miles. Pain face for the camera? Pain face for the — no, determined face for the camera. Time to pass you lady in front! (9:11)
Mile 13: Yes, time to loop! There’s the finish, push! On your midfoot — nope, nope, ouchouchouch. Come on! Wait… wait, I keep going? That’s another .5 miles! Why isn’t this course short? OH THIS SUCKS. (8:45)
Mile 14 (.17): Okay, there’s the finish — almost to the beer, oh yes, clock still is sub 2. Finally. Finished. (1:56:40)
I apparently missed J on the first loop. He said I looked really determined (ha!) but got a couple videos which perfectly showcases my wonky leg. I’m so grateful he comes out to these races for me. After high school, running was just my thing for the most part. I don’t have friends or family who run like I do, so I was my own little support but I got used to it. Since we started dating though, I’ve gotten used to having him at those bigger races. Even though I know he thinks I’m nuts for running this far, he smiles (laughs) but offers to help with whatever I need when I’m trying to walk to the car, laying on the couch, or basically trying to exist in the 24 hours after a race saying “Ow!” every time I need to move.
After the race, we all trekked out to Empire Brewing and grabbed brunch. The long wait was worth it because food was delicious (improper blog technique – no pictures of the food) and my beer and mimosa was the perfect size of large (proper blogging technique – take pictures of the booze).
The 24 hours after the race were easily the most miserable I have been in over a year. I was concerned I may have completely re-injured everything and anything addressed in physical therapy over the majority of the past year. Fortunately, waking up Monday was much better — I was still left with a sore ankle, but at least lifting my legs wasn’t impossible. Tuesday was even better and I was able to get a little run in on the treadmill before teaching. The future of my running looks promising for recovery and graduation from PT.
As with every race, I think it’s important to take something away. I know where my fitness is (much of this race was around 85% MHR, so I could have gone a little harder) so at least I have an idea of target paces. I also realized I might not be ready for runs of this distance yet (not surprising). Since I am training for the full marathon in May, I have to think of a different way to approach my long runs to give me the confidence without putting my ankle in so much pain. As of right now, I’m thinking one week splitting my long run into a double (ie: 7+7) with ice and stretching in between, then the following week a single run, but less miles than the previous double (ie: 12), plus more low impact cross training (spin). I’ll definitely be revisiting my training schedule this week.
To sum it up, I would run this race again. In a better mental state leading into the race, I probably would have enjoyed it more regardless of who was running it, too. The price was right, I enjoyed being able to see the leaders multiple times (I like spectating, too!) and the medal/shirt was very worth it, if you’re into that sort of thing. And who isn’t happy with coffee (Tim Horton’s!), hot chocolate, and hot soup in a heated tent after the race?