That was my response after last weekend’s Half Marathon. It had not hit me that I had not run more than 6 miles since Ironman Augusta in September 2013. How had I gone so long without running a real distance, and how, to the greater point, did I ever think I could get through one without hurting?
Months have a way of blocking the pain from your memory. You remember that there WAS pain, but you forget how bad it was. It’s how women keep having babies after the first one. I have watched this twice and have no earthly idea how any woman would go through that twice, let alone three, four, five times.
As I was sitting in the hotel room after the run, not wanting to get up and get in the shower, wondering aloud why I was having so much pain in my feet “again”, Jennifer said to me “you know you haven’t run this far in over a year?”
Um .. what?
Turns out she was right. With everything that has happened personally and medically my running was non-existent. I pulled out of every long triathlon in 2014 and instead ran sprints, which is only 3 miles at most. The longest run I had was a couple of weeks ago when Jennifer and I ran 6.13 to “prepare mentally for the distance” coming up. I admit that the 6 miler felt pretty good, so I was confident going in that I would be OK.
And I was.
For 11.3 miles.
But the problem is that the race is 13.1 (or 13.34 by my watch).
The day started off well. Even though I wake up a lot during the night before a race, when the alarm went off at 3 I felt pretty good, hopping out of bed and ready to go in plenty of time to catch the 4:15 bus to the race start. It was a bit nippy, about 52 degrees, and I contemplated running with the jacket on (I am a wimp about the cold) but standing around I could feel it getting warmer so I opted to run with just sleeves and dumped my jacket in the gear bag and handed it in. By the time we headed over to the Team in Training tent to get pictures taken and walk over to the starting corrals I was pretty comfortable.
The first impression was how crowded it was. I thought I had seen crowds running Disney, but this was a LOT of people, announced at over 7,000. Disney is built for this … Cape Canaveral is not. I would expect them to rectify this in the future races, because we were really on top of each other for a good 2 miles after the start. We aligned ourselves with the Galloway pace group targeting 3:15:00, which is a 30 second 45 second run/walk split. This is what I train at so I thought as long as I can stick with the group, or keep them behind me I was good to go.
It seemed slow when we started, and I had a hard time slowing my pace to stay with them, so I decided to run and walk at my training pace and just see how it worked. There was a lot of darting in and around groups of people (harkening back to a recent podcast about race etiquette), at time 4-5 abreast across the road, so I think that not only added mileage but also contribute to some of the knee pain I was feeling afterwards.
The course was beautiful. The half marathon route takes you south along the Indian River about 6.5 miles and then doubles back. The marathon route, which starts 30 minutes AFTER the half, goes north first then doubles back to pick up the half route. Pretty smart thing as only the fastest of the fast marathoners caught up before the end, and it was cool to be able to see the races leaders for both distances running. The sun comes up over the river on the left and was magnificent. I wish I had taken a few moments to take some pictures, so maybe next year.
I stuck with my plan for a great deal of the race and was feeling pretty good. I had lost sight of the 3:15 pace group so took that as a good sign, and at the 6.5 turnaround was actually tracking to a 3 hour race (my previous best in a half was 3:07 so it was looking like I might have a shot at a PB), but as it often happens, counting your chickens never works out. About .25 miles after the turn I saw Jennifer and she was looking pretty good, but did not see the pace group. A few moments later the 3:30 group came into sight so I was wondering how I missed the 3:15’s.
Then I heard it.
It made me jump! I looked to my left and there was the group. They had caught up to me somehow. I became determined to put distance between them and me, and I think this is where the wheels came off. I started pushing too hard on the runs, and at mile 11.3 my feet and knees said “enough”. I had not had foot pain in a long time so I was surprised when it started, that aged old friend I thought I had said goodbye to so many months ago was back … and he was not happy.
Jennifer came up behind me right before mile 12, and I was reduced to a walk. Truth be known I walked most of the last two miles, and my pace showed it. What was projecting out to, at worst, a 3:15 race became a 3:26:41 race.
But you know what? The original plan was a sub-3:30.
Imagine if I had training correctly eh??
All in all I enjoyed the race. It has its hiccups (over crowded at points, bus drivers not knowing how to get to race site, etc.) but it is a race I look forward to doing again.
Next on the agenda is the Disney Marathon. And I am worried about it. I have just over 30 days to prepare for double the distance I just completed. I am sore. But I am going to give it a shot. This has been a trying year, 2014 has, but I want to start 2015 with a good race and a good milestone to beat. If I DNF, well … so what … it won’t stop me from continuing on. With all the trials and failures this year I know I can keep going regardless.
That alone makes 2014 a success.