Monday, March 17, 2014

Run Happy.

"Happiness is me running this run right now."
quote on the sweatshirt of an older gentleman running the Get Lucky half marathon on Saturday

I signed up for the Get Lucky half marathon and planned on being ready for it. My friend wrote up a beautiful, well thought out training plan for us to follow. I hung it up in the pantry where I'd see it every time I stopped by to grab chocolate chips. That happened a lot. And there it stayed for many months. The months of February and March were brutal in regards to husband's travel schedule and weather. I completed exactly one of the training runs on the schedule. I ran two times in February and a handful of times in March. I attribute this to three things.
1) legitimate reasons like no treadmill, below zero again, kids without childcare, husband out of town
2) plain laziness
3) difficulty adding fitness back into my routine after having Asher-sleep deprivation is real, ya'll.

Which means, I was severely undertrained and totally committed to running this half marathon. I was prepared to walk if necessary, but I was going to cross the finish line.

Race Time:
Up and at 'em nice and early to get to Saint Paul. I had given myself a nice little pep talk and felt good about it. Then Audrey, always one to say it like it is said, "13.1 miles? That's like (calculates in her mind) more than twice as long as you've run so far." True story, but let's do this! My brother decided to run it at the last minute, suggesting that making bad decisions that could inflict bodily harm on oneself is hereditary. We drove down and met up with three of my friends and then we were off. As we crossed the starting line the DJ said, "It's a great day for a race and you have a great tailwind pushing you along." That sounds great, but the problem is that the race was out and back so if the wind is at your back for half the race, it's blasting your face for the other half. Boooo.

Miles 1-7 were fine and dandy. When I got to mile 7 feeling that good I knew I was going to finish. I was smiling and laughing and cracking jokes along with the rest of our jolly group. I kept my pace steady in the low to mid-9:00s. There were times I thought I could go faster, but I knew if I did the last half of the race would be brutal. Or rather, even more brutal. I didn't want more brutal. There were also a few hills that we ran down that I tried to pretend we wouldn't have to run back up on the way back. I started getting really warm and annoyed at my clothing decision. In fact I was wondering how long it would take me to duck into a porta-potty to take off my base layer. I'm really glad that I didn't do that because then we hit the turn around.


The wind whipping in my face let me know this was about to get rough. I quickly put my hat and gloves back on. By now my brother had run ahead and two of my friends were a bit ahead, but I could still see them. One friend and I were still running together, but I wasn't talking as much. Similar to when I'm in labor, when the going gets tough, I get silent. I turn inward. Miles 8-10 were quiet. There was a pretty long hill at mile 10 that I had to talk myself through. I picked a stoplight at the top of the hill and said, "Just get to the stoplight." Then I hunkered down and got myself to the stoplight. Hill done. Sounds easy. Felt hard.

Around mile 11 it started to hit me that this was going to happen. I had to walk once at this point. I told myself I'd just walk to the water stop. My two friends circled back and I told them I'd made the executive decision to walk to the water stop. My breathing was fine, but my legs were exhausted. I took an assessment, starting at my feet and going up to my head. Nothing actually hurt; I just ached from using undertrained muscles for too long. Since nothing hurt I decided to just run, even though I wasn't to the water stop yet. I figured the less I walked, the faster I'd finish this thing.

It was also mile 11 when someone shouted, "You're almost there." This is a falsehood. 2.1 miles may seem close to a bystander who has only traveled that distance in their vehicle or on a bike. To someone at the tail end of a half marathon, 2.1 miles feels very far away. People should play more cowbell and stop saying that. And there ends my Running Public Service Announcement.

Mile 12 hurt. My legs were done. All of a sudden Jenna's name popped into my head. I turned to my friend and said, "I'm running for Jenna right now." I thought of all the pain she endured with such grace and beauty. And I thought of this tiny little bit of pain that I paid good money to put up with and that would end once I crossed the finish line and I told myself to shut up and run. So I did. When I wanted to stop I'd say her name over and over in my head. I'd look up at the sky and marvel the beautiful sun and try to ignore the burn.
Jenna, always inspiring me
Mile 12.5 is when things got really rough. I kind of lost my peripheral vision. Well, I really actually did lose the use of peripheral vision. I was like a horse wearing blinders; I could see what was directly in front of me and everything to the side was so blurry I couldn't distinguish it. I toyed with the idea of telling my friend that I might need a medic at the end, but I didn't want to waste energy talking. I got to mile 13. Second Running PSA. Ditch the 13 mile marker in a half marathon and just go straight to 13.1. That last .1 mile felt like another mile.

Anyway, got to mile 13 and tried to speed up a wee bit. There's a curve at the end so I couldn't see the finish line. I just kept saying, in my head and out loud, "I need the finish line." Someone cheering said, "You're almost there!" I said, "Really? Like can you see it from where you're standing?" They said it was right under a bridge I could see from my angle. FINALLY!

My brother and friends ran back to finish with me. And I crossed the dang finish line. And I bent over and grabbed my knees and I told my brother to just stand there with his arm around me to make sure I didn't fall down. He had to steady me a few times, but after about two minutes I stood up and was fine. I mean, obviously I ran more than I should have considering my training, or lack thereof, but it was still fun and good and worth it.
I made it and I'm still smiling

People ask me how it went and I just say, "Well, it happened." It wasn't my best race. In fact, it was my worst race. But I'm perfectly okay with it and content with how it went. Good run, lovely day, great company, sweet green St. Paddy's Day sweatshirt.

And, since my running goals this year are Intact Ligaments, No Babies, and Happy Running, I'm with the guy in the neon green sweatshirt: "Happiness is me running this run right now."

It is worth repeating that I would have walked more if needed. My goal was simply to finish, but I would not have done bodily harm to accomplish that. Basically, as a women's running coach, I'm telling you to train as I say and not as I did. Next time I'll just go ahead and train as I say, too.

1 comment:

  1. It would be ludicrous to say "I felt your pain", cuz I know that would be a lie if interpreted literally. However, through my tears, I did indeed feel, not the pain but the bittersweet joy of hanging in there even though the trek to the goal is gut-wrenching, painful misery. And as is so often true in life, our God (often in the form of a "Jenna") is the real One who drags us over the finish line - crying, laughing, hurting, rejoicing and hanging on to someone else. Congratulations!