I am an ATHLETE!!! (Just don’t ask me to climb a flight of stairs.)
Ouch…That’s about all I have to say right now.
Ha, ha…Just kidding. This is my blog, and my race report, so I definitely have a few things to say. But now that I am a half-marathon
finisher survivor, the biggest thing on my mind is, “Wow. I hurt a lot more the day after than I thought I would.”
If you read my earlier angst-filled post, you already heard me whine about my injured foot, and knew that it was no sure thing I would run Sunday. But dammit, I paid the entry fee, and if there’s one thing I hate, it’s the idea of paying for a race and then denying myself the pain and suffering of participating.
So before the crack of dawn Sunday morning, I strapped on my motion-control shoes, ate a bowl of oatmeal, and headed to downtown Portland for the Heartbreaker Half. It was a brisk 34 degrees outside, but luckily I had many blocks to walk from where I had to park the car to get myself warmed up. And I managed to time things just about right…Enough time to get through the porta-potty line and line up for my race without too many extra minutes to freeze and/or freak myself out.
Not that it mattered…A combination of nerves and the Gatorade I slurped down as I left my car gave me a horribly queasy stomach for the first 5 or 6 miles of the race. But I kept my breakfast down, and kept telling myself the nausea would pass eventually, and on the bright side, my foot didn’t hurt yet! But although they were flat and unchallenging, those first miles were the worst part of the race for me.
Just before mile 6, the course started climbing up hill, eventually getting pretty steep. I learned later that the course climbs about 500 feet betweeen miles 6 and 10. (Glad I didn’t know that ahead of time!) Ironically, this was when I started relaxing a little and chatting with the other runners. Misery loves company, right? Something about running hard and still only achieving an 11:30 mile just makes you comfortable striking up a conversation/complaint with a stranger. Plus, as I’ve mentioned before, I know I’m not fast, so I might as well be a cheerleader for others!
After this grueling uphill section, we ended up running on a bike path bordering a beautiful wooded park…Still pretty hilly, but with enough twists and turns you couldn’t really see what was coming next. All the better, in my opinion. My legs were getting pretty tired, but I’d only felt a few twinges in my foot, (Seriously, my Brooks shoes are like a walking cast!) so I was beginning to feel like I might actually be able to finish this thing. And the nausea was gone by now, so I was able to eat an energy chew every couple miles, which kept me from burning out altogether. Interestingly, throughout this section of the race, I traded leads several times with a racewalker who was maintaining a pace that was so steady I could have set my watch by it. Yep, I’m not even ashamed to say it… I was averaging about the same speed as a walker. But hey, what normal person walks at and 11-min. mile? She really was amazing, and I told her so.
Eventually we left the park and began to head downhill, back to the city center and the finish line. With around 3 miles to go, I was now pretty sure I would be able to finish, and man, I couldn’t finish soon enough. I picked up the pace, finally said “see ya” for good to my race-walking buddy, and did my best to ignore my rubbery legs and twinging ankle.
In the last couple miles, I mentioned to another runner that this was my first half-marathon…She congratulated me, then pulled ahead…But just as we passed the 12-mile mark, she turned, jogged back towards me, and said, “Sometimes the last mile is the hardest.” “You want to keep me company?” I asked, and we ran the last mile together, sharing her stories about running all over the world, and mine about being a beginner triathlete. The last mile flew by, (at least in part because I ran it about 2 minutes faster than my average for the previous 12!) and pretty soon we were coming up on the finish. Sharon, my new friend, told me she was going to back off so I could have the finish to myself, and I made it across the line in 2:23:39…21 seconds faster than my projected time.
Finishing was awesome, the strawberry shortcake they served was awesome, I’m told that they announced my name when I crossed the finish line, which would have been awesome if I’d been paying attention…The only part that wasn’t so awesome was not seeing my husband and son cheering for me at the finish. Apparently DH got mixed up and ended up along the 10K course finish, which came in from the other direction. Poor guy had been waiting there for half an hour with camera at the ready. If he hadn’t heard my name over the loudspeaker, he might never have realized his mistake! So no finish line photos, but that’s just fine.
As for the recovery, my muscles were so sore the next day that walking down stairs was nearly impossible. Tensing my quadriceps sent waves of pain throughout me. And I was reduced to waddling around the house in the posture of a geriatric duck. Oh, and my foot hurts too. Time for a few days off from running, I guess. And maybe a trip to the podiatrist.
So I can check it off my list: half-marathon, complete. Building an endurance base to help me through an Olympic distance triathlon: complete. Plans for another half-marathon? Not anytime soon, that’s for sure!