I knew before the race that I was taking a risk, making a gutsy move. I put no limits on what I could run. Was I expecting it to be as rough as it turned out to be? No, but I survived.
Sunday morning, I woke up at 4:00 to begin my prerace routine. Coffee, oatmeal, stare at my phone, more coffee, etc. For some unknown reason, my lower back was extremely stiff. I thought I would loosen up as the morning went on, so I was not concerned. What I was concerned about was the effect that the high humidity would have on me. The weather forecast showed the humidity peaking at the race start time. I have had severe asthma since I was 3. Not exercise induced, but allergy and air quality related asthma. I expected breathing the humid air to be an additional challenge .
My husband and kids dropped me off downtown near gear check, which was also next to the finish line. I asked a paramedic for the location of the start, and he told me that the start and finish were in the same place, right next to him. Acting like I had just received useful information, I walked away in search of better directions. A volunteer pointed me in the right direction. The race start was next to the Omni, a few blocks away.
My 2 mile warm up did not go so well. My left side felt locked up, but I warmed up enough to feel ready to go. About 15 minutes before the start, I saw my husband. This surprised me, because he had not planned on coming. He usually works on Saturdays and Sundays, but he switched some things around to be able to come!
I made my way to the start, focused on my plan, set up my watch, and waited. I started out at a 6:35 pace. Within the first mile, we were running up a hill that seemed harder than it should have. I knew around mile 4 that I was in trouble. I wasn’t in any pain, but whatever was locked up made running feel like I was fighting my own body. I held onto a good pace (6:30-6:35) through mile 5, but that pace was getting too hard too fast. With hills coming up, along with the humidity, I knew I was toast, but I kept fighting. I stopped looking at my watch and held onto what I could. My legs started cramping at mile 8. At mile 9, I almost stopped.
It was uncharacteristic of me to even give myself that option. I never quit.
My legs were done, my lungs were done, my fight was depleted. I don’t know what kept me going. Maybe while I was thinking about all of the pain, and miles, and thick air, I covered enough ground to go ahead and finish. So, I kept running, kept fighting, tried focusing on my form, realized I needed to focus more on running in a straight line, heard a police officer speak into his radio, and wondered if he was letting the officer up ahead know that 1548 is coming and looks like she may pass out. Luckily, I didn’t pass out, but I was barely holding on.
With no kick, I crossed the finish line and collapsed over the side rail. I felt like death warmed over. Although I was disappointed with my time and lack of a PR, I knew I left it all out there. I used every ounce of energy, every bit of fight, everything I had in me.
After I recovered enough to talk, I met up with my husband who, I found out later, had hopped onto the course to run to the finish when he saw that I was using the rail to hold myself up.
My ‘no limits, zero quit’ attitude is no secret in my family.
On the Reunion Lawn, another runner that had recently finished got my attention and told me that his wife, who was also right there, reads my blog. Hearing this completely re-energized me. They offered to take a picture of my husband and I in front of Reunion Tower. This was such a nice way to finish such a tough race!
A week of long recovery runs
3-4 weeks of hard high mileage training
Another Half Marathon