Yesterday I ran 23 miles. Actually, it was 23.15 miles but hey, who’s counting?
A few months ago I convinced hubby to request a Saturday off (yes, it really sucks that he works all.weekend.long) so I could run a half marathon and tack some miles on to make an even (or possibly odd) 23 miles for the day. I hadn’t run a race in 2013 yet due to the severe bout of flu I had last winter and had to bail on the 15k in January and then this wretched move to NOLA shot any dreams that I had of running the ATL Half for the third year in a row. When I discovered a half in December, I knew I had to take it. My plan for the day was to get down there early, run a two mile warm up, run the half and then tack on 8 miles and be done.
When I picked up my bib at the running store (yes the race was so small the “packet pick up” was at a store) I asked how big the race was. The woman tried to tell me it was a big race. I figured that since the quantity of bibs for the 5k AND the Half was smaller than the letter “B” at the ATL half, she didn’t know what big was. I was right. I had hubby and boys drop me off at the entrance to City Park so I could put in my two miles. I ran past the start line so I could get the lay of the scene and discovered I had tons of time. I had enough time to get three miles in and stretch before the National Anthem.
The Ole Man River Half started promptly at 8 am. The temperature was a cool 66, feels like 66. The wretched humidity was up to 94%. I could feel the cool, thick air as I hopped out of the car and I knew it was going to be a hard 23 miles. I’m not sure how or why, but the first 7 miles (remember 3 before the half, so 4 into the half) were well under the 12 minute pace. Once again, I blew my wad by going out way too fast for the distance and humidity that day. I guess it was race day jitters? I should know better by now. I even went into the day knowing that it was a possibility. Once my watched beeped 7 miles (4 into the half), I knew I was done. Crap. 9 miles left of the race and 16 miles left to run. I struggled. My pace slowed down and then the headwinds at the lake started working against me. The overpasses felt like mountains. It sprinkled a bit. I think that some people would call it rain, but I knew the “rain” could be much worse. Thankfully, it didn’t outright rain or I would have been screwed. Then the clouds burned off and the darned sun came out. I could feel the road starting to melt in the sun. The second half of the race was all a blur. Finally, I entered back into the park and the beautiful oak trees created some shade. As I entered the finish chute, I saw hubby and the boys holding the most amazing signs cheering me on. I literally cried when I saw them. The boys hopped in and brought me across the finish line!
I told hubby that was the hardest half I have ever run and he quickly reminded me that I have never put in 3 miles before a race. I did a quick stretch and walked with them back to the car. They went to play mini golf in the park and I pushed on through for the last 7 miles. Mid race I had planned to just bail. Jump in the car and go home with them. But then I saw those beautiful signs and I knew I couldn’t give up. I’m not a quitter. I adjusted my run-walk ratio to 2:2 and pushed on. I did it. I finished 23 miles and I felt like wonder woman! My IT band didn’t hurt like it did on my 20 miler. I think I could have pushed on for another 3.1 miles and completed the marathon distance. Don’t get me wrong, I hurt, but I was uncomfortable vs. the severe pain I felt last time.
What worked for this race:
Aspaeris pivot compression shorts really helped my IT band
Body glide on my feet and under the front of my bra line
Gels every 4 miles
Clif bar to munch on throughout the run (no real hunger pains mid run)
Hydration: 2-10 oz flasks of nuun + 2-8 oz flaks of nuun on my fuel belt+ 24 oz hand held of nuun in the front pocket of my race vest (hydration pack) + race vest full of water.
Body glide on my shoulder straps and at the back of my bra- hello chafing!
Hydrate with electrolytes in the 24 hours before the race. When I finished the half, my hands were the equivalent of Fred Flintstone feet. I asked a friend who is almost done with nursing school and is an endurance athlete and she told me that I was dehydrated and I need to hydrate the day before with a combination of nuun and coconut water. I’m going to try that next time. I’ll keep y’all posted.
I didn’t PR on this race or even this run. I was incredibly proud of myself for keeping my pace below 12 minutes for the first 7 miles, even if it means that I struggled the last part of my run. The reason being is that when I finish this marathon and train for my next half, I will have a MAJOR half marathon PR. My endurance-athlete nurse friend told me that running doesn’t get easier, you just get faster. I have been sad that my pace has actually slowed down by a full minute this training round. I try to remind myself that my distance is doubling and unless you’re Kenyan, a marathon is not a sprint. Yesterday’s paces proved to me that with the proper training and focus, I will kick some major asphalt on my next half marathon.
Two weeks of light running then the big 26.0, then the long waited taper. I feel like I’ve been training for a year now.
It’s a great day for running y’all!