So yesterday was my 8th Half Marathon. I still cant believe that I am writing that. 8 races that involved 13.1 miles, that isn't even counting all of that mileage that I did when I was training for my FULL marathon, these are just 8 races, I signed up for and finished. I started this journey only 4 years ago, running my first half marathon 3 years ago this month.
This half marathon yesterday was a little bit bittersweet. I had a lot of different emotions and doubts going into this run yesterday. Even though I was training and felt prepared, in the bit of my stomach I knew I was lying to myself. My pace and endurance was not at all like it was a year prior. And that is 100% due to the fact of my injury last year.
When I had been training for all my other half marathons, I had A LOT of running under my belt all ready and I was feeling really good. I was running 3 times a week and doing some cross training. This half marathon, I literally felt like I was starting way over again. And I truly was. I started training for this half right around Christmas time. Which as we all know in my job, was intense and super hard to do. I even took the last 10 days off of doing anything because I was working at my job, non-stop, 13 hour days at that point. The longest in December I ran was around 6 miles, as a long distance and I felt pretty good but my body was achy and tired.
January came and I was ready to take it on because I knew the craziness of Christmas was behind me. And well that was an awesome plan and all, then I got sick. My body shut down completely from being worn down from Christmas. So one week was down a bit and I rested and took it slow, but I knew, I needed to have some long runs under my belt. My body was finally feeling like me again, my runs were getting really good and that runners love and high was back. I went out for a 10 mile run, I knew if I could 10 miles, I was golden.
James had come home for work sick and so nicely gave me the worse cold. Then the Florida weather wrapped in it and I was down for the count. On medication and coughing. And my high from my 10 miler was broken. I had planned to run 12 miles the following week, the week before Best Damn Race, but I was on medication and because I couldn't breathe, I had to settle at the end of the week 5 miles. Which still is a pretty great amount of miles.
This past Monday, I ran a nice easy 3 miles and I was feeling pretty good. But in the back of my mind, I was still anxious from not running 12. Training for me is such a mind game. I mean, I know I could run all the miles, but because I didn't do it, I felt doomed. Crazy I know. I took this whole week to just rest, I probably should have stretched more. But every night I laid out my legs and took it easy. Concentrated on my eating and water intake, which by the way was on point.
The night before I used a foam roller and stick to work out my calves. They were feeling really, really tight. I actually went to bed at a decent time and slept great through out the night.
I got up and was ready to go. Those evil voices in my head, reminding me of some knee pain I was experiencing were making there way to my brain. I had some coffee, which by the way, I do not mind having now before a run and I ate the Kodiak Protein Pancake Mug. I had my stuff all laid out and I taped up my ankle and calf like no other with KT tape. I used a whole damn roll. I stepped outside and it was freezing, so I grabbed a long sleeved and headed over to Jen's house to park and head to the race, she lives right by there.
It was great to start the race off with Jen. She is not only my Boss, but a true friend and my Mentor. I adore this lady like no other. She is on a run streak right now of 3 miles a day and she is up to 71 days. And taking on the half also like no other. Her spirit and positive was just what I needed at the beginning.
Then the race went on.
I started race with out my Galloway beeper and just ran the first mile with the crowd, making my way through, trying to get past everyone and find a good place to hit start. I saw a lot of people doing the run walk method, even in the pace groups and that always puts my mind at ease. I hit my beeper and was ready to go right before the mile mark. I was starting off at 5:1's. My mind was a bit distracted because my knee had some pain and I realized I had to pee again, damn water. SO I figured once I got to 3 miles, I would run in really quick and pee.
I got water at all the water stations, mile 3 I peed and headed out. I had started at the 2:40 pace group and I found I was lagging behind a bit. My pace was still in the 12's but for some reason my legs were not moving. This course was hurting me. The course had some many inclines and hills and up and down, I was no prepared for mentally and physically.
I had not ran any form of hills contiiously since my marathon in October. And for someone who hasn't ran much of a whole year last year, because of slowly coming back this hit me pretty hard. Then the race became a mind game.
The 2:50 pace group came up behind me and I was with my 5:1's for a bit with them. I was watching them and allowing them to be my rabbit. They say in a race if you can't focus, find a rabbit. Chase that rabbit. Well the pacer lady was my rabbit. They were following Galloway and doing 2:1's. So I figured heck I will join in. I couldn't figure it out if it was really 2:1's so I just kept watching and following along. Which became quite hard. I was focusing so much. I wasn't in a groove anymore. I wasn't enjoying the run and then the pain came all at once.
My body, was not happy with me. It did not want to be running anymore. My calves and knees were screaming in pain. The weather was becoming damp and colder by the minute, making my legs hurt, especially my knee. I unfocused from the group and changed my beeper to 3:1's. And went back to my own. I even called James around mile 11, just to hear his voice and have some encouragement. I was not feeling great. I was feeling pretty damn defeated.
I had not felt that way in a race before. I kind of did when I did the challenge for Gasparilla because I had blisters like no other. But I was feeling just sad that I wasn't moving like my heart wanted me too. My legs felt heavy and did not want to move. So I figured I am going to walk more so I can finish strong. I saw a lot of people doing the same and believe it or not, it did bring some comfort.
I snapped myself out of my pity party and knew no matter what, I was not quitting. NEVER would I quit a race, unless I was physically broken. Even though I didn't have a pace or time in mind, getting done under 3 hours would be nice for me. I knew I would hit that goal and it put some pep in my step and I just went with it.
Mile 12 I was like this sucks, why am I doing this and then the finish line was in sight and I was ready. My legs felt like they took flight. I ran that in strong and with some tears, not much and when I got that medal, I knew I couldn't wait to do it again.
Crazy I know. But that sense of accomplishment, it is a high like no other. It makes me feel so alive and awake and I knew I loved, everything about running again.
I grabbed my free beer and it tasted AMAZING. I usually never drink beer after but this was so freaking earned. I walked around a bit trying to find some friends and food, but the line for the food was so long, so I met up with Nanci, her hubby and Corina at Starbucks, its a thing :0)
They earned 3 medals, running the 5k and the 10k Challenge, they are pretty bad ass. I grabbed my coffee and breaky with them and then headed home.
I was feeling a bit sore, but I was feeling really happy and satisfied that I accomplished the half and I never, ever gave up. Sure it wasn't my best run, but James said it best. He told me Ang you haven't been running like you were because of our injury and life, so you were just starting over.
And he was completely right. It took me a year to get back here, sure it was ugly but I got back here and ready to keep going. I love this life of running, how it makes me feel and how strong I become from it. One challenging race will not knock me down, it helps me stand back up.
I have the Iron Girl Half in April and I will be prepared for that one too. But no pressure, the pressure to do good is when all the fun goes away.
I have the Gasparilla 15k in two weeks and I am back.
I am back to running races and loving my life in running!!
So here I am. After a rough year, I got my runners high and runners love back. How do you keep that motivation going, run a race, run a mile, Just never give up.