At least that’s over with. [If you want to see my photos, click here!]
I’ve had this entire post typed up since Tuesday but decided to sit on it for a few days before editing it. I knew I was being hard on myself and in a few days I’d have a different outlook.
I’ve made it through all the feelings – happy I finished, disappointed I had to walk, relieved I’m not injured, frustrated at the outcome of the race. While I didn’t know what to expect when I started on Sunday, I certainly didn’t expect the race to go the way it did.
In the week leading up to the race, I felt typical pre-race feelings. My shins and arches were sore for no reason. I didn’t change anything leading into the week as far as nutrition, just some extra water. The day before the race I ate more carbs, but not excessively compared to my “bad diet” days.
On Sunday, it was comfortable outside – long sleeve and shorts was enough coverage to walk to the convention center. Laura and I walked the half mile from the car to the start and relaxed for a little over an hour where I took care of the final tasks – bag check, bathroom, food (Vega Bar), and drinking my Amino Energy.
I ran into a college friend and we hit the bathrooms one last time before lining up between the 1:45 and 1:50 pacers. It was closer than I intended to start, but I wasn’t concerned. It isn’t a mental challenge for me to run my own race and not let others influence me. It’s also not such a tight race where people are going to struggle to pass me if I was a little slower than the crowd.
After the air horn went off, I settled into a comfortable warm-up pace just like I planned. I felt confident knowing that I’ve run every inch of this 13.1 mile course since October (I live under 1.5 miles from the start and we actually pass my apartment on the course). I hit the first mile in 8:48.
In the second mile, I picked up the pace a little to attempt to bank a little time when I felt good knowing hills were up ahead. I don’t know what made me want to push the pace versus my initial warm-up plan- I just felt good (duh, who doesn’t at mile 2). My second mile was in 8:15.
Somewhere during mile 2 – 3, there was a water stop. I skipped it because I didn’t feel like I needed it at that point, but in retrospect regret this decision. Mile 3 I had inadvertently picked up my pace even more – 8:08.
Miles 4 and 5 were somewhat of a blur, I just know I told myself to slow down for the hills. I decided this was a good time to take a Gu. I started to see CFNC posters pegged into the ground and it definitely picked me up a little bit more with each one. I figured I would get water at their stop, but as I approached I realized it was for the 15th mile, not the 5th. I didn’t want to throw things off for anyone behind me, so I kept going. (8:26, 8:25)
As we approached a downhill again, I started to pick it up once more. I saw my cross country coach from high school at this point which gave me a little pep again. At this point though, I was starting to feel the effects of a warm morning, no water, and letting my adrenaline get the better of me (8:04).
Mile 7-8 was when things really started the downward spiral. I wasn’t feeling the greatest – my body was warm, but I felt cold and shivery. I was more nervous than anything with how my body was reacting to the run.
Finally, I saw a water station. I may have missed one around mile 4, but can’t recall. I immediately grabbed Gatorade, but unfortunately my legs were venturing to a place they haven’t been in years. My breathing was labored for the first time in the race and I was passed by the 1:50 pace group. The leader told me to catch up when I felt better. “I will!” I shouted back, but I didn’t. All I could think about was how much further I really had to run (8:26, 8:42).
During mile 9, I tried to take my second gel but my stomach felt unsteady. I pulled to the side, walked and the taste made my stomach turn. I started picking out little points along the road. Make it to that garbage can, throw out the Gu and power on. I finished in 9:34 and it still wasn’t my slowest mile.
Miles 10-13 were absolute Hell. It’s one of my favorite points to run in Buffalo because it takes you out to the marina and back, it’s right by my work, there are people everywhere cheering and I just find it to be one of the most beautiful points in the city. It ate me alive. It’s a “flat” portion, the elevation graph shows very minor waves and to be honest, I didn’t even know they existed until looking at the graph. I hit two water stops somewhere around here, I took two cups of Gatorade from a volunteer and walked to the side to drink them in full.
I looked for J and my Mom, even though I knew they weren’t there. I saw them at this point in 2013 and I told both of them not to bother coming this year, but I really needed a familiar face and hoped I’d see them. I kept looking at my watch and thinking about how many more minutes I needed to run, just trying to figure the math of my finish time. I walked, I slogged, I walked, I struggled. During mile 11, a lady saw me walking and yelled to me, “You’re almost there, take a breath and keep going!” and so I did. I started running again, she cheered, and I gave her a thumbs up. But it sucked and I was embarrassed to say the least. (10:10, 9:27)
As the course turned, I could hear the finish line to my left. I knew I had just over another mile to go in a circle. It was such a tease. There was a little bit of a climb here and to the finish, I only wanted to walk but I kept telling myself that I only had a mile to go. “Just like ten more minutes even if you go slowly.” I kept repeating things like this to myself (9:07).
When I saw the finish, I pushed as best I could. I didn’t have much to give but it was better than nothing. There was one person ahead of me that I tried to catch; I don’t even remember if I did. I crossed the line happy to see I didn’t have a personal worst, but wasn’t ecstatic in my finish either (7:41 pace).
In retrospect, I just did not have the endurance for a half marathon. It’s not to say it wasn’t smart to run it, but my training had the “just finish” mentality.
My legs were tired afterwards, but I wasn’t in pain like last time. Stairs were not an issue (yay!). I was able to go on a two mile walk afterwards and enjoy a ten mile bike ride on Sunday. Now, five days later and my left hip is still tight, but it doesn’t feel like an injury, just a sore spot that needs some TLC. I have a massage scheduled next week which will hopefully take care of that!
So now I’ve finished half marathon number four, but just the second of which I finish uninjured and that’s huge for me. I’m taking a couple weeks to get back in the swing of things and recover fully, with very light running and a bit of easy CrossFit strength training. I know I took this run more as a long run, but I still want to be sure I am totally recovered. Since my legs don’t react kindly to high mileage yet, I know I need to be 100% before starting to train for Chicago and this is the best way I can do that!