November 06, 2011


This time two years ago, I ran the half-marathon of my life...a nice PR of 1 hour 54 minutes and some change. This time yesterday, I was crossing the finish line of the most memorable half-marathon of my life....not the slowest, but not the fastest...but definitely the one I will never forget.

Let me preface this story with another story: when I was six months pregnant I thought it was a great idea to register for a marathon...the Savannah Rock n Roll Marathon to be specific. It was my body come-back plan. Train for a marathon and lose the 55 pounds I gained while I was preggo. Well, shortly after I had Brenna I lost the weight...without running. It just sort of happened. I tried to eat right, do a little Fit-Camp here and there, and on the occasion that I had nothing else to do, I'd run. Quickly, I realized that there was no way I was going to run the volume needed to complete a marathon and not have my legs fall off. So, I decided to "just do the half." That's what I kept saying..."I'm just doing the half...." like it was no big deal...

Because, really, I had convinced myself that if I could train and run a 1:54 half-marathon, then surely I could just go out and run a half-marathon when I had no time goal in mind.

At some point I convinced myself that I could also run said half-marathon by not training at all. Because, really, I've done it before...I can do it again, right?

Well, yes...and no...

It's true that I showed up for the race. And it is a fact that I finished. But, everything that happened in between...well, it was a comedy of errors...that seemed to get not-so-funny as the miles ticked by. I ran the race with my brother, Bryan. It was his first half-marathon and I really envisioned myself being his "coach." I'd talk him through the tough times and we'd laugh about silly things on the flat parts of the race. I'd convince him that he could do this and at the end we'd give each high fives and plan our next one. All that business about being his coach....first comedic event. He ACTUALLY trained for the race. As a matter of fact, barring a knee injury, he was prepared to run the entire marathon. His shortest mileage week leading up to the race was about 40 miles. 4-o-m-i-l-e-s. (It should be noted that I didn't even run 40 miles in an entire month this year.) In the end he turned out to be the coach, and rightfully so...he earned that distinction.

My second comedy of errors was the fact that I really didn't pack well for this race. I didn't bring gloves...the shorts I packed had never been tested in any run of distance...and the jacket that I donned...well, it's back at mile 2 somewhere...and it was not a "throw-away" running item. Actually, it was the first warm thing I purchased once I lost the baby weight. That jacket and I have seen some trying times, and it will be sorely missed...but that's what I get for not having a race plan. As far as gloves go, Coach Bryan was smart enough to bring two pairs...and those "not tested" running shorts will never be graced in a race again. At some point during mile 12 I really thought I probably had blood running down my legs from the awful havoc that was being wreaked on my inner thighs (yeah, I know...TMI).

Back to the race. Our corral finally got to the start line about 8 minutes after the official start of the race. I was excited and nervous and happy but still thinking with my Coach hat on....I was going to muster up the energy to get my brother though this thing!

It took me about 10 minutes and 18 seconds to realize I had made a huge mistake. We got to mile one and I felt awful. Everything from the tip of my Morton's toe to my hip flexors (both of them) were screaming in agony. I mean, really...places that I didn't even know could hurt, hurt. If I hadn't been running with Bryan, I think I would have turned around and headed back to the start.

It was that awful.

And I still had 12.1 miles to go.

I spent the next 10 miles trying to make the best of it. We stopped to walk twice, both times for 1/10 of a mile. Every time we would begin to run again, I wondered if my legs were going to make it any further. The pain would radiate from the inside of my feet, to my IT band area, to my hips, and then back to the bottom of my feet. I kept telling myself "I will n-e-v-e-r do this again." It didn't take long for the Coach role to be transferred to my brother. I beat myself up for a mile or so, feeling like I had let him down. I was supposed to be the motivating factor in this run! But, at that point, I'm not even sure I smiled for any camera shots and my "thank yous" to the volunteers were just mutters under my breath...

By the time we got to mile 11, I was toast. I could feel myself slowing down and there was nothing inside of me that could make my legs turnover faster. I told Bryan to go on ahead...I didn't want to spoil his race. He stuck by me, encouraging me and reminding me that we were almost done.

Mile 12 was the most painful thing I've ever done (remember that I had a c-section with Brenna, so I can't use the old adage of childbirth being painful..if only I had of had that morphine pump for this race!!!!).

I never want to revisit that mile 12 again. It was at that point that I realized I could have been in serious trouble. If there had of been one little obstacle in my way...a large rock...a piece of ink pen...I would have been flat on my face because there was no way I could make a sudden movement to dodge anything. Every part of my legs felt like they were crumbling underneath me. We also were getting past by the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place marathoners at this point...which did absolutely nothing for my confidence level.

We finally rounded the corner to see the finish line. I wanted to sprint so brain kept telling my legs to go...go...go...but my legs were rebellious. They just kept saying "screw you and your not training for this thing!" We finally crossed the finish line in 2 hours 21 minutes and some change.

It was over. Finally. I remembered to give Bryan the mandatory high-five. Heck, he really deserved a big sweaty hug for pushing me through this thing! We grabbed our water...and Cytomax...and fruit cup...and banana...and marathon bar...and bagel...and spoon...oh, and our medals too. I wish I had a picture of my loot. I grabbed some of everything even though I didn't even have the energy to peel my banana. I guess, in my cheapskateness, I thought I've paid for all of this, I'm going to take advantage of it.

And then...out of nowhere, I saw Troy & Brenna. She was in a backpack-type carrier and through the crowd, she saw us...she kept waving - and looking a little confused - but still waving. It made me want to see what I had accomplished...what I was capable of...and what I would never ever do again....

I'm back home now...rested...jogged and walked a three mile recovery this morning. Actually, planning my next race...the one I plan on training for! And I promise I will never ever ever ever ever try to run a distance event again without putting some thought into training!!

Thanks to Troy for taking care of Brenna (oh, side note: runners are noisy folks at 4am...loved the baby waking up in the hotel room for all the commotion going on outside of our door)...thanks to Bryan for pulling me through this...thanks to Run Coach for calling me like it is - I'm a knucklehead...


charlie said...

Congratulations on earning your latest merit badge in your running career! I think it's safe to say that every runner who's been at it for a length of time has a similar story. I know I do!! Learn from it and laugh it off. Glad to hear you're going to do it right for the next one, that means there's going to be a next one...!

Sam Martinez said...

Well at least you can take pleasure in knowing you've given others an example of what not to do :>) Run Strong knucklehead. RC (TEAM POD) not to be confused with TEAM POR.

Anonymous said...

We've definitely all been there, and having survived that mile 12 should give you plenty to draw on in all your future (and hopefully better!) mile 12s. I totally relate to the untried running shorts situation. Actually, I wince in sympathetic pain.