I’m not sure if this is a lesson in how to kick off a New Year, or a lesson in how not to kick off a New Year.
Sunday, I “ran” the Run to Read Half Marathon in Fairmont, West Virginia. Four of us drove down to this winter race – Vick, Kim G., Jessica, and I. Jessica was kind enough to run with me, even though she was faring better and could have finished ahead of me. Look how happy and cute we were before the race:
But let’s back up for a moment. About two months ago, Vicki found this race as part of her initiative to run a half marathon every month for the first six months of 2015 (after which, she’ll begin training for the Richmond [full] Marathon, taking place in November). I decided to sign up, since I’d missed my half marathon in October due to injury, and because I tend to get out there to run more when I have a goal to work toward.
I’d counted out the number of weeks until the race, and I figured that I had just enough time to ramp up my weekly long-runs to 10 or 11 miles so that I could finish this half. From the outset, I had no intentions of “racing” it – no gunning for a PR or even necessarily performing as well as my last couple of half marathons. Just wanted to finish. Well, I did that, but barely.
Among bad weather, schedule conflicts, and one morning where my iPhone/alarm clock wasn’t plugged in, I didn’t log nearly the miles I’d intended. I did three “long” runs of seven miles, but that was my longest run prior to this half. But still, I thought I’d be okay. I mean, I knew it was going to take me a long. time. to finish, but I thought it would be okay. I expected that, if everything went great, it would take about 2:30, and that if it didn’t go great, the worst-case scenario was ~2:40.
So how does 2:51:57 sound? It was ridiculous.
Here’s the scene: The race is a double out-and-back course. The first leg of it is five miles on pavement – which also took us through tunnel (my favorite part!) about a quarter mile long. That part went completely smoothly except for when I stepped off the edge of the road inside the tunnel because it was so dark.
Now is when I want to tell you that I hurt myself in the tunnel and that I had to limp and hop through the rest of the race, and that’s what took so long. But I’d be lying.
The second – the eight mile – leg of the race was on a limestone trail. Or so I’m told that there was a limestone trail under there. The trail was snow-covered, much of which was not packed down (even though virtually everyone else ran over it before we did). It was like running on sand. Not the down-by-the-sea, packed-down, wet sand. The sand on the rest of the beach.
I still held up alright until just before we hit the second turnaround, at roughly nine miles. (I should add here that Jessica, who was a bit ahead of me, stopped at the turnaround to wait for me so that we could finish together.) After that, everything started to hurt. My hips/butt were on fire. But that was “regular” running discomfort. The bigger problem – which I’m blaming on the combination of inadequate training and the trail conditions – was that my knees and ankles started to hurt. (My Achilles were killing me the next morning.)
We absolutely crawled through the last 4-5 miles.
Mile twelve took seventeen minutes. (Actually, I might have been moving faster had I crawled.)
At the end of a race, I typically have enough umph in me to pick it up for the last mile or so just to get. done. But this time, I was just plain done.
We managed to pick it up to a jog (and you may know how I hate that word) in order to cross the finish line, where we received our medals. Jess and I received different medals than Vicki and Kim got. The one of the left is the one that was “advertised” with the race and the one the other girls received. The one on the right is the one Jess and I went home with. I actually prefer the image on our medal, but the medal itself wasn’t quite as solid as the other one.
We are not sure if we got different medals because the race ran out of the medal on the left, due to a lot of race-day registrations and we ended up with leftovers from last year, or if it was because we ended up with race walker medals. (I’m actually pretty confident that the race walkers finished ahead of us, too.)
So the race kicked my butt, but in the right direction. It motivated me to get back to serious training – and by “serious” I mean simply following a plan and not making excuses. I did re-sign myself up at Planet Fitness to use the treadmills, so I can’t use the weather as an excuse any more, so that’s a start.
And even though our time was ridiculous, it still beat the snot out of sitting home on the couch. I mean, even if you’re a slow badass, it’s still pretty badass to go out and cover 13.1 miles in the Northeast in January, right? Right?!