Two and a half years. That’s how long it had been since I had been able to train for a Half Marathon. Fall of ’09 was the last time I trained for and ran a Half Marathon. I had a Half in Spring of ’10 but spent the last month before the race doped up on anti-inflammatories, not running, and dealing with an injury so this “race” was nothing more than a painful run / walk. I spent the rest of 2010 training for and running a Full marathon. I did run a Half that winter, 20 days after my full, so it was more of a run than a race (you know, you train very differently to run a Full than you do to race a Half!). I had to take the first 5 months of 2011 off to deal with some injuries and the last 6 months of 2011 was again focused on a Full.
I realized this last fall while training for the Marathon. I made a deal with myself that the next time I trained for a Half, I would do everything in my power to get myself a PR. This would mean hitting all my paces, fast and slow, not missing any workouts, focusing on core strength, and most importantly, getting my head back in the game. I think being out of the “Half scene” for so long had me really wanting this next race….craving it.
So, when we decided our next training would be for New Orleans, I was ecstatic! I was feeling strong coming out of Marathon training and told myself, “you’re getting yourself a PR in March, no matter how hard you have to work.” Well, this thought all came crashing down when I spent the month of December in and out of the cardiologists office. I was fairly unconsolable when my doctor told me to stop running. One, i was completely freaked out about my heart and, two, how in the hell would I get a PR if I was sitting on my ass?
Well, fortunately, my cardiologist lifted my “no running” ban and off I went. I decided that i would run this race with and for my heart. I really needed this race..to prove to myself that I am healthy and that my heart can handle running. That may sound weird but this race became very personal to me. I would finish a speed run and think, “take that, heart. i’m making you work!” I have had very few runs since December that I haven’t thought of my heart but I’ve also had very few runs that I didn’t finish and feel grateful for the run.
I’m not gonna lie. I had some frustrating runs. Not that I’ve ever been fast but, wow, take 2 years and focus on the Marathon and walk / runs and then try to spend every week doing 400’s and 800’s and you’re quickly reminded at how different this type of training is. I was having a hard time hitting my paces…I was hitting them but i was working harder than I remember working in the past. I felt strong though. Ready for race week!!
We had one group run the week of race week- some 400’s. I had done two of the 400’s when I caught some gravel and a rock with my left foot and rolled my ankle. It hurt like hell and I knew right away that this wasn’t one that i could run off but more than anything I was devastated that New Orleans might be out the window. Heartbroken. I hobbled home and got ice on it right away but I was devastated. It sucks to get hurt before a race but this one had so many more meanings for me than just a race. Mentally, i needed this race more than any other race I’ve ever run.
I knew that I needed to do everything possible if I was going to make this race happen in 5 days. I spent 2 days getting needled, nights with castor oil wraps on my left leg from mid shin down to my toes (pulled the tendons in my outer calf), days with ice and pillows under my foot, and lots of time “writing” the alphabet with my toes and thank goodness, it all paid off!
I had some pain Friday night from walking around New Orleans but, lucky for me, it rained on Saturday so we spent more time in the car than we did walking, and Sunday brought race day. It couldn’t have been more perfect. I was concerned about my ankle and felt a little unsteady and nervous but i was more focused than ever.
I am so lucky to have had Keith run with me. He knew how important this race was to me and, although we didn’t say 10 words to each other the entire race, it was so great to have him beside me. I never checked my pace. I knew that I needed to run by feel and i needed to feel like I was working. I checked my pace band against the clock at each mile and felt great. At one point keith said, “you might want to slow down..you’re going a bit fast” and my response was that I had no idea if or when my ankle would give out so I would race my heart out while I could. Luckily it never gave out! I had some weird quad cramps the last 5 or 6 miles that I’m guessing may have been exacerbated due to all the Aleve I was taking (who knows, just a guess) but not enough to make me slow down. I had a little chest tightening around mile 10 and thought “oh no, not you” but it went away as quickly as it came.
Suddenly we were heading into the park and nearing the finish. I knew I had my PR in my pocket. I fought back tears as I crossed the finish line. It feels like it’s been a long journey to get to this finish line. Somehow, with all the obstacles, this was my perfect race. I couldn’t have asked for a better finish…Keith, a PR, and a big “take that” at all the fear I’ve had while running for the past 3 months. Thank you, Keith, for your support. I couldn’t have done it without you.