If I have to walk some of it, I don’t care – I will do it and I will finish and I will love it.
I said this in my last post on Dec. 27, not really believing I would have to walk in the race. I have slowly gotten back into running this month after my “year off of running is over” declaration, and once I registered for the Louisiana Half Marathon (and booked a hotel room, dedicating more than $200 to this plan), there was no turning back. I started out slowly, running 6 miles as my long run the last weekend of December. The next week I bumped it up to 10, and last weekend I made it 11. The runs in between those longer runs were few and far between, though, as a busy and active work schedule continues to be an excuse for me.
Nonetheless, I was proud of my being able to run 10 and 11 miles, so I went into the half marathon yesterday optimistic if not only slightly wary due to stomach issues I experienced during training.
On Saturday afternoon, I ate an early dinner around 5 p.m., went to my hotel and prepared every last detail, then got in bed before 8 p.m. Of course, just because I was in bed didn’t mean I was going to fall asleep. I did manage to fall asleep before 10:30, I believe, but since my alarm was set for 4:50 a.m., this wasn’t super encouraging. I woke up with a stomachache around 2, but fell back asleep after about 10-20 minutes, and when my alarm went off, it was gone.
I had planned out where I wanted to park ahead of time, and when I got downtown I was surprised to see so many people already there and parking. Thankfully I grabbed one of the few remaining free parking spots on the street only three blocks from the start. Others coming in after me were all having to park in a paid lot, so I felt really lucky.
I wore these ridiculous huge sweatpants of my brother’s (from way back in high school – he has not missed them) as my throwaway pants. My husband was glad to see those go! As I approached the start near the capitol building, “Louisiana Marathon” was projected on the front. I have to say, I absolutely loved my first marathon experience in this same race two years ago. But I sure was glad I wasn’t doing the full marathon as I approached that starting line.
Shortly after the race started, I knew I was going to have to stop for a porta-potty relatively soon. Bad planning, but I hate waiting in those long lines before the race. I ended up waiting in a line of 5 people at mile 3, but by that point, I had decided not to worry about my final time. I was sweating pretty heavily by then, and I really just wanted to relax and enjoy the experience.
It was tough to do that though, when my stomach issues were starting to rear their ugly head after only 5 miles. At the 7 mile mark, I stopped again to wait for a porta-potty and then took some medicine. I was feeling a little rough physically and mentally, even though I kept telling myself I only had 6 miles left. Marathoners in the same spot had 20. Huge difference. My pain was temporary and I could get through it.
At about 7.5 miles, I found some people I know through my husband’s family. I was so happy to see someone I knew, and I sidled up to them and started chatting. They told me they were doing a run/walk because they hadn’t really trained properly. I decided to do that with them for a little while. I’d been looking for an excuse to slow down or back off a bit, and my pride was going to keep me from doing so for at least a little while longer – but with my stomach and my legs feeling like they were stretched as tight as rubberbands, my breakdown would have come sooner or later, and I’d rather it not come when I’m by myself feeling miserable.
I ended up walk/running the remaining 5 miles with them, and it made it a much better experience for me. I had already decided with the porta-potty breaks and my under-training that it wasn’t going to be a PR experience or anything close, so I might as well take my time and just focus on finishing in whatever time I could. I’m very glad I found some people who kept me company the rest of the way.
Final chip time was 2:37:39, and yes, it is my worst half time by 12 minutes. But after taking a year off from doing ANY double-digit races, and only training for about 3 weeks, I feel pretty good about just completing the race at all.
Now, I have officially forked over an obscene amount of money to run the Rock ‘n Roll New Orleans Half Marathon on Feb. 2. My plan for that to go better than this race is to get more weekday runs in, and to run 12 miles this coming Saturday, just to make sure my body stays adjusted to the higher mileage. I also plan to foam roll regularly and do yoga several times. I also did a poor job of hydrating before this last race, so I need to be drinking lots of water. I plan to run the entire RnR NOLA. No goal on time, yet… we’ll see how this 12-miler goes.