Sunday, November 3, 2013

three part duex

As I mentioned earlier, my goal for October 2013 was to run three half marathons. October is over, and so are my three races. Each one was different in its own way, and in many ways surprised me.

The first race, my friend Jen ended up running with me, her husband was running the full marathon that day.

We didn't find each other at the beginning of the race, but she found me around mile 1. I had told her that I probably wouldn't do a lot of talking on the run and that held true. Around mile 2 we ran into a colleague of Jen's who was running the full marathon, we ran with her until the split off around mile 6. It was good because Jen and her friend talked and I didn't feel like I needed to. Overall, I felt good, there were some great crowds and running with Jen and her friend we were keeping solid 10:40 pace which is a really good speed for me at that distance. This was an odd race for me, because even though I had a lot on my mind, I didn't think about any of it on the run, which is not typical for me.
I almost didn't think about anything, except at the end when I started to realize I was close to meeting a PR and wanted to keep pushing. Mile 11 seems to be my nemesis, and is always my slowest mile, and it was again this time, but I kicked it in and ran the last two miles back down around 11 minute miles and finished with a PR. That had not been my plan but I was very excited about the end. I cried when I crossed the line, and got to hug Sunshine who was at the end with my Aunt and Uncle. And I was on cloud 9 with how I felt and my time.

After the race I had some major gastro-intestinal issues which made me very nervous about the next two races. Muscle wise I was sore the next day but nothing horrible.

During the next two weeks I went and bought a new pair of sneakers, the ones I wore in the first half were right near my mileage limit but didn't want get a new pair right before the race, so this way I had two weeks to try them, I went for several runs, including a couple of  6 plus mile runs with a friend training to run her first marathon at the end of the month. My ankle was a little sore after the race, which is unusual for me, and I attributed it to the high mileage sneakers. Also during the two weeks off, during a Tae Kwon Do class I pulled my calf doing of all things, jumping jacks, which in turn started to make my knee hurt. I haven't had any problems with my knees this whole year so this was very disappointing and the focus of my thoughts prepping for the 2nd race. I iced a lot and ended up buying some KT tape.

We headed up Saturday for the 2nd race, and drove the course, although I'd run the last 8 miles of the course, a friend of the people I was staying with was doing the full marathon and hadn't seen the course. It is a beautiful course, so I didn't mind at all.

I iced my knee on the drive up and knew my focus was really on that rather than anything else, I was nervous about being able to complete the route. Before each race, I paint my toe nails a new color, the colors I pick don't always mean anything, this time I let Sunshine pick the color and she chose purple, which worked out nicely because I didn't paint my two toes that are black and blue and you could barely tell. I lost a nail before we headed up, which I was actually happy that it had happened. The night before the race I had a dream that it snowed, which made me laugh, it is October and it is Maine so it wouldn't be out of the question, but really? I wasn't quite ready for that. It ended up raining in the morning and the start of the marathon was in the rain (we started 30 minutes later) but it stopped raining very quickly.  I have to say that this was one of the hardest races for me. I was in pain from just about mile 3 on. My knee with the KT tape held up quite well. But my hamstrings were very very unhappy with me. The majority of this course is up hill and it took all I had to power through.

It was actually interesting for me because the physical pain opened some emotional pain doors, some 'stuff' that has been bothering me and that I've been beating myself up about for who knows how long. As I approach mile 6 and a rouge water stop with awesome signs that said things like 'Hey Stranger, I am proud of you'. I said to myself, okay, you can wallow in this 'stuff' for the next 7.1 miles and then it is gone, you must let it go. And a few steps later with my hamstrings screaming at me the most amazing thing happened, a little voice in my head said- 'When are you going to realize that you are enough?' It caused me to gasp and I spent the next mile crying.  I finished the race, it was slow but ended up falling in the middle, time-wise, of the 8 half marathons I have done, so I'll take it. I sprinted at the end out of sheer will power to not be passed in the finish shoot and cried as I was embraced by my family waiting for me.

I was sore probably through Wednesday after the 2nd race, and was anxious about pain on the final race. I knew the last race was going to be pretty flat, but it required a long drive the morning of, being a planner, I left probably 45 minutes too early, and could have slept in longer, but I didn't want to miss it! I was tired, physically from lack of sleep and also from all of the running, but I had committed to the race and would do it. For the first 5 miles I felt great, I was actually on pace to beat my PR from earlier in the month, partly because it was so flat, and also because we were running on a very busy highway with lots of cheering people. Also, it was very cold, my toes were numb for probably the first 2 miles, but then loosened up. Somewhere just before mile 6 we went through a beautiful covered bridge and I felt like time was standing still, I was probably going very slow at this point, but it was quiet, peaceful, I came around the corner and saw all of the people who I had been running near who had dropped me and thought --catch them. 

This worked for about the next mile and a half and then again, I ran out of steam. That was how the last 5 miles went, push for a mile, dog it for a mile. I was still making good time, I think mostly due to the flatness of the course. I knew I was struggling, so I said, if nothing else, don't let mile 11 be your nemesis this time, it is one mile, run it like any other mile- and I did- it was finally not my slowest mile! And then mile 12 hit, and I had shooting pains in my ankle, something I had never experienced before. Should I have stopped? Maybe, but it was really only 1 mile more, but I couldn't stop, I couldn't walk, I passed two people who were walking the last little bit, but I refused. And really, that was what this race was all about for me, a battle between my mind and my body and negotiations about what we could do. In the end, I finished in a time just about half way between the first and second races of the month. Miraculously, I felt pretty good Sunday night after a hot shower and a little ice on my ankle. I went for a couple slow short runs during the week, and although tender, I was not in pain. 

And just good for measure I ran a 10k this weekend, one I do every year because I love the course, its beautiful and it supports a great cause, I was very tired going in, very tired and really just wanted to finish faster than my slowest time on the course (when I weighed about 30 lbs more than I do now).

To my surprise, I finished in a PR, I felt fantastic on the course perhaps my body and mind were just so elated to be running half of 13.1 miles that they were like- oh yeah baby, let's do this! 

October was tough for me. I am proud of myself for setting my goal and reaching it. I am proud of pushing through the low moments and getting it done. I am still processing the fact that I struggle with understanding that I am really ENOUGH, and it seems like a really great step in the right direction.

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