It’s over. The final week has come and gone, along with the race… and I’ve lived to run another day.
It was convenient that J and I had Monday off together after that hot, sweaty, relatively awful run on Sunday before this week. We took a drive out to Letchworth State Park and hiked down to the lower falls (127 steps down… and back up!) along with a few other little routes totaling about two miles.
It’s been about 15 years since I was last there. I can tell you the exact year (2001) that I was last at Letchworth because I went camping with my childhood best friend and my parents surprised me with the latest ‘NSync CD, “Celebrity”. We put each of our CDs into our CD players and tried to sync them up together, probably driving her parents absolutely nuts singing out loud for the entire 90 minute drive.
It was nice to trek it as an adult and be able to share it with J, though. I love the love we both share for everything in nature from snakes (like the endangered timber rattlesnake we ran into right after J said, “What, be careful? There’s no poisonous snakes in New York!”) to all birds, to even just trees and rocks.
On Tuesday, I went to CrossFit for our endurance class which hosted some new faces from the Buffalo Triathlon Club. Since half of us were racing, we did a relatively easy workout which still made me sore. After our typical warm-up active stretches, we had a partner workout where we both lost count of our reps. I think we were in first, but did an extra set in our brain fog. Between the two of us, we had to do 40 wall balls (10lb ball), 40 hip hinge rows with the TRX, and 40 backwards lunges per leg. If one partner was working, you were resting. We basically did sets of ten for everything as our strategy.
I tested out the Amino Energy powder again on Wednesday to make sure it would set okay with my stomach before the race. I decided to start off with the pace I envisioned for my first few miles (close to 8:40), then push it to my “pick it up pace (closer to 8:00) and then keep it easy for the last two miles. My easy pace felt good, my push it pace felt comfortably tough. Overall, I felt excited and ready for Sunday. I was not happy that I went to bed exhausted at 8:30pm, only to wake up jittery with restless legs at 12:30am. I learned my lesson about using that at 5:30pm.
I took Thursday and Friday off. I thought about running on Friday, but decided a Saturday morning run to shake it out would be better. Instead, I hydrated and rolled out my feet with a golf ball, which were unusually sore for no good reason.
Saturday I didn’t want to run far, just enough to keep my legs loose but not stress out my body. I only ran one mile due to time constraints and my inner calves were screaming. I didn’t have a good reason for my tibial issues other than race nerves, but I didn’t want to push it just in case.
When Laura came in the afternoon, we headed straight to the expo, the pasta party, and eventually for a walk to get second dinner and breakfast for the morning. It was a relaxing day, perfect for the day before a race.
On Sunday, the alarm went off at 4:30 because the roads to where we were parking would close at 5:30… even though no runner would come by until 7:35-7:40 at the earliest. We walked to the convention center to hang out (more on that cluster later) and eventually to the start. It was comfortable outside when we left my apartment (shorts and long sleeve was perfect), but seemed to warm-up quickly. I went to the start with just a tank top and shorts, didn’t shiver and the brief walk/run to the bathrooms again and to the starting line left my mouth dry, despite hydrating with 20 oz at 6am (which is more than my norm at that time).
Without getting into too much detail, the race became a struggle after mile 7-8. I felt amazing before that and didn’t have any doubts about carrying on my pace. In all, hydration proved to be a huge issue for me and I think mentally, I hit a little bit of a wall. I finished in 1:56:08 per my chip time despite comfortably hovering around a 1:47-1:48 finish. I should not finish a May half marathon in a time that’s almost the same as my Lake Effect Half Marathon time from the year before, even if the weather was unseasonably warm that year.
On the bright side, I ran into a lot of people that made me smile and I finished without injury as long as you don’t look at the toes on my right foot. I was able to take a brief 1.5 mile walk on a trail at J’s family’s cottage and only hobbled the first few steps after getting up from seated position. I call that a success after my past two years. Did I accomplish my Buffalo Half goal? I need to remember that yes, yes I did.