When I signed up for the Rockford half marathon, I was excited. After my half in September, I was anxious to do another one. Besides I signed up in December, and figured it was more than enough time to train. I was wrong.
Though we’d had a mild winter until then, January brought snow storm after snow storm, freezing temperatures and me being lazy, meant that my training sucked. My last long long run was in January when I hit 12 miles. The degree to which I was under trained, did not hit me until I was in Florida for work earlier this month. I tried to go on a run while there, but the Florida humidity got to me. I was waiting for my flight back to Chicago, when I took a look at my race schedule. I wasn’t even aware that I had been thinking about it, but I knew right then, that there was no way I could do a half. Even if I trained every day for the next three weeks, there would be no way I’d be half ready. After a series of emails between Simon, the race organizer and I, I changed events.
I emailed the race organizer and asked to change events. I was told that I had until packet pick up to do so. I emailed him back the same day, and told him that no, I was sure I wanted to change it and never heard back. This inspired many nightmares where I showed up for packet pick up and they forced me to run the half anyway. Needless to say I’ve not been sleeping well.
Simon has always been the driver on my races, save for two. Rockford is about an hour away from us, so it meant we had to leave at 5:20. I haven’t been up that early on a Sunday…in like ever. We made the trek, and it wasn’t too long before I’d begun to have stomach issues. It was at this point we realized, pulling into Rockford that we were at the wrong location. EFF. I pulled out my cellphone and punched in a new address, and realized it would take us about 22 minutes to get to get to packet pick up. It was 6:35. The race started at 7:15. And my stomach was killing me.
We sped across mostly deserted Rockford, and made it just at 6:50. After a minor meltdown about where I should be dropped and the location of the port-o-potties, I bolted from the car and raced over to get my race bib. I was so frazzled, I missed the sign telling me to get my bib number before I got my packet. And even though I’d read the race participant guide, I had no idea how to attach my tracker to my shoe. Thank God for the Gear Check guy. I checked my jacket and my race shirt and headed for the bathroom. The lines were mercifully short, and I got to the start line just in time for the Half Marathon/Marathoners which started at 7. I located Simon and gave him my cell phone.
I had planned to run the race with my own water supply, but once I put it around my waist, I realized it was too heavy. I dumped it and gave it to Simon keeping only my clif bar. I was about to leave him, when I realized that I was missing something. My music! I’d left in Simon’s car when I bolted. I wasn’t really sure how I’d be able to do the mileage without my tunes. I’ve always used it as a way to pick up the tempo and power through the pain. I was upset for a bit, but I had no choice at that point. I lined up and waited for the inevitable.
This is my pleased face. It was about this time I also realized I’d forgotten to stretch and warm up. This race was going to be awesome.
The race was timed perfectly. The gun went off exactly at 7:15. I took off with the rest of the crowd, completely unsure of myself. I felt out of my element as if I’d never run a race before. I kept a pretty good pace, or so I thought. I refused to get pulled into monitoring my pace. With all the things that had gone wrong, I just wanted to finish the race and call it a day.
The first three miles were good. I felt on top of my game and I was almost halfway done. And then something weird happened. Another runner started up a conversation with me. In all my races, I’ve never had this happen. I’ve had people that I’ve smiled at and tried to encourage, but I’ve never actually had someone start and try to maintain a conversation. It was about this time that I became aware of how tired I was…and how hot it was. I could feel my mojo going out of me, and now this woman wants to talk? She told me about her 4 kids, and that this was her first race and that she was a Crossfitter, and so she was naturally fit. At one point, I powered past her, because I was aware I was slowing down and she was starting to annoy me. Once she was about 4 people behind, I heard her ask what the time was. 41:30. She answered, “Oh Good. 65 minutes is my goal” and she took off. There had been a group of us who had simply wound up running together keeping a pretty even pace at 10:36 per mile. She must have been recovering while she kept up with us. It was this point that I knew something was wrong. I wanted to pass this woman. I wanted to keep up with her and just bolt past her…but I couldn’t move. I mean, I kept running, but I was suddenly exhausted. Exhausted and hot.
I made it to mile 5 and tried to motivate myself. Only 1.2 to go and I could do it. But at the same time I couldn’t. I just wanted to stop and walk. I wished that I had my cellphone so I could call Simon to come get me. By now, I’d found a new mark. At the beginning of the race, there had been a rather loud gentleman who had passed me within the first mile. I didn’t think anything of it, because I’m not particularly fast, and people passing me tends to happen. But here he was again. When I saw him again, he was walking. He kept glancing behind him, I assume at me. My one rule at races is that I don’t turn around. I will try to make sure I that I don’t dart in front of people, but no, I don’t look around. He would run a little bit, and then stop. I would pass him only to hear him plodding along beside me. We rounded a corner together, and there was the finish line.
I was so tired. If lying down and taking a nap had been an option, I would have gladly have taken it, .21 miles from the finish line.
I looked down at my watch and it was 1:05. I knew my previous pr was 1:06. I didn’t see myself finishing in that time, let alone surviving it. I was on empty. I was hot, I was hungry and I was sleepy. I didn’t eat my clif bar during the race, simply because I was thirsty and didn’t want to stop to drink water and also eat the clif bar. So I’d kept running and was paying for it now.
When I finally decided to kick it, it was simply because, I needed to finish. I was hot, tired, thirsty and this guy was in front of me and I needed to pass him. I don’t know why, but I did. Even if it meant death, it had to be done. So I sped up. And then in the crowd of onlookers, I heard someone say “Yea, that’s it. Give it a kick.” Someone else said, “Finish strong.”
So I did.
In the time that I rounded the corner to the finish line, it took 40 seconds. I crossed the finish line, saw Simon and walked away from him. I practically ran to a fence at the side and just held on. I was pretty certain I was going to black out. Simon was there asking me questions, but I didn’t know how to tell him what I needed. I needed water poured on me. I needed to lay down. I wanted to drink all the water in the world. At some point what I assume was a race official came over. I have no idea what he looked like, because that fence and I were besties. I would not let go. They eventually pried me lose, and sat me in the a tent where Simon took time to pour water on me, and feed me bananas. At one point I thought I was better enough to leave, only to almost fall over. About 30 minutes after I finished, we left the tent.
I was feeling better. After I left it hit me. Even with all the things that had gone wrong, I had managed to pull a PR. Despite all the times I had been at the top of my game, and not managed it, here it was. Take it or leave it. I’ll take it.
Even at this point, I was having issues walking, but Simon was a pretty good crutch. I swear, the wet spots are not me wetting myself, that is water. Though I was hungry enough to eat, we decided to drive home instead. On the way home we talked about changing our race strategies. With how hot it has been, we definitely have to work more on hydration. Even though I felt like I was going to die, I don’t regret giving Simon my water before the race started. It was far to heavy. I need a hydration belt that’s lighter. Simon has a race next week. I’m excited to be on the other side of the fence