Last week I ran a half marathon in Cleveland, OH. I utterly psyched myself out to the point
having an upset stomach,
trouble sleeping and that unnerving feeling you get when you’re about to cry all weekend. Why? I have ABSO no idea. I was excited and thought I was ready to tackle the challenge and earn a new PR for the distance; it wasn’t my first rodeo, it was half marathon #8.
To briefly recap from my last post, I signed up for the race to run with my friend, Amanda, who was excited for her first half marathon. Our other friend, Bruce, signed up as well, and we had a fun road trip out to Cleveland, complete with a stop at Cracker Barrel for a Sunrise Sampler and a root beer float in a frosty, chilled mug. It was wonderful to reunite the “Three Musketeers”, as we refer to ourselves, and hit up some great places in and around Cleveland. Not a bad little city. I actually wish we were there an extra day or two to explore some more of the city (NEVER thought I’d say that!)! We hit up the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame after the race expo and went to bed early to get up for the race at 4:30, YUCK!
I was SO nervous all morning and not feeling awesome pre-race. It was already muggy outside and I could just foresee that being an issue. We got to the Browns Stadium an hour before the race and were able to “relax” before the run. I was a ball of fluttering, jittering nerves. I pushed myself harder than I realized and went out too fast in the first 5 miles. I was not prepared for the incline throughout the entire course – it was a constant uphill race for 12.9 miles, until the final .2. By the time I got halfway through the race, the heat was coming and the clouds were parting to reveal the sun, the HORRIBLE sun! It just kept feeling more and more difficult. I ended up having to walk several times throughout the back half, something I was NOT anticipating having to do. I was doing SO well lately with my races and feeling good, but I couldn’t possibly have prepared for the inclines of Cleveland with the flatness of Chicago.
As I crossed the finish line without a PR or even matching my best time (I was 2 minutes slower), I wanted to cry, like one of those Olympians who JUST missed the gold, or even the bronze. I was too dehydrated and, perhaps too stubborn. I got my medal, my Popsicle and other recovery foods, and went to find my friends to see how they did. Bruce met his goal of finishing sub-2:00 and Amanda finished her very first half marathon in 2:02! I was so proud of them! I was sad about not doing as well as I wanted to, but wanted to celebrate their achievements and not get too terribly down on myself. Bonuses? – I didn’t end up on the side of the road as roadkill and I didn’t vomit at any point. SCORE!
Flash forward to this weekend. My friend, Kate asked me if I wanted to run as her for the Soldier Field 10 miler on Saturday. She broke her leg in two places over the winter and isn’t even weight bearing for walking yet. I was a little nervous about running this race, as I hurt my back during boxing class Wednesday evening and wasn’t sure how I would feel during the race. I woke up at 5 am and kept playing with the idea of not racing. I wanted to stay in bed so badly and the idea of Cameron in his car, on his way to pick up Ferris Buehler, came to mind. I finally just mustered enough will to force myself out of bed, into my race gear, and out the door. I made it to the race with just 30 minutes to spare. It was chilly, overcast and perfect PR weather.
I felt comfortable waiting in my corral and told myself not to worry about the time and just go for a leisurely run, as if I were getting my workout in for the day. I spied with my runner eyes people in winter hats, gloves, jackets and trash bags on to keep warm. Really?! The course was crowded and I was stuck with some racers, I assumed were going too slow. I didn’t realize that I was pulling a good pace to get passed people and through the first mile.
After the first mile, I gave myself a wee mental fist pump and said to myself, “Just 9 more miles, Little Lady!” and kept going, trying to just keep my pace consistent. Each mile marker gave me a bit more charge for the next. I just wanted to get through mile 5 in less than 50 minutes – success. Mile 6 in less than an hour – success. Mile 7 – I stopped for a short walk while taking my Clif bar energy gel. I didn’t feel a surge of energy again until mile 8 – well, duh! I was only 2 mile away!
I started pushing to keep a steady pace and get passed that 9 mile marker, so I could really bust out the reserves from the tanks. As I rounded the stadium, I picked up pace a bit and entered. I run with an iPod, yes, even during races. As I crossed into the stadium, Jay Z’s “100$ Bill” came on and I took off. I didn’t have the steam I normally use for my big finishing kick, but it was enough and I saw the clock reflect the one minute shave from my total time from miles 8 and 9, as I honed in on the Finish line / 50 year line. I approached the finish and realized that I achieved yet ANOTHER PR in my 10 miler!
I shaved a FULL MINUTE off of my 10 miler! I began to sob and smile and cover my face to not show my celebratory tears of joy, pride, and accomplishment. I walked through Soldier Field to obtain my finishers medal and my gear. Members of the military were giving out the medals. As soon as I approached the serviceman and he placed the medal around my neck, I completely lost it. I know, I’m an emotional wreck, but I just came off of a tough half 6 days earlier, an injured back, the lack of desire to even run the race, and straight up exhaustion. I did it. I didn’t go out looking to do anything more than run for fun. I did not cry for 10 minutes like last time, but there is definitely soon-to-be a race photo somewhere on the internets of me “cry-smiling” circulating.
Post race, I was very hungry and my muscles were super tight. I went to the Physical Therapy tent to get my legs and hips stretched out and headed out to stuff my face, shower, and nap. How does one just shave exactly 60 seconds from their race one month after getting a PR in the previous race. Now after Cleveland, I DID joke that I’d fly through this race after all of the “hill training” I experienced, and sure enough I feel as if that was how I got my PR. Lesson learned from this experience? You’re not always going to have an awesome race, or even break any records, but it’s okay, because no two races are the same.
Now it’s time to take a couple of weeks off of racing and recuperate, before I sign up for my next batch of races. I have my eyes on the Bastille Day 5k race; they put mustaches on the race shirts this year!
——- Update May 30, 2013 ———