Monday, December 22, 2014

The Last of the Foot Races

Just over a week ago, I ran my last major running-only race.  Okay, okay, maybe that's overly dramatic.  I might one day do another half-marathon.  I will almost certainly do one as part of a half-ironman (the training for that is so much more bearable for me though....variety, I need variety).  I had my own little "come to Jesus" moment with this race though.  Last year, immediately after a very poorly trained for marathon, I signed up for the same race's half-marathon during early, early bird registration.  See, the thing was, I really liked the race.  They're good people and they have a good set-up and it's a race that is so worth running.  I knew the marathon just wasn't for me, but a half?  Well, somewhere along the way, I have become crazy enough that I find myself using phrases like, "eh, it's only 13 miles".   I'm not entirely sure when this happened, but my gut reaction to a half-marathon is pretty much equivalent to my gut reaction to a 5K these days.  I'm not saying that's accurate (as my legs at the end of 13 miles can attest to), but that's the mindset I find myself dealing with. 

But I was going to do really good on this one.  Since the distance didn't scare me, I could really focus on training for speed and set a good time goal.  My PR on half-marathon is 2:29, so I was aiming for 2:15.  I had great intentions.  I put a training schedule on the fridge.  I calculated paces.  I got sick the very first week.  This was not starting out well.  No worries, the girls started gymnastics at a local high school and the building was right next to the track, I already had my training time carved out for me!  And then reality set in.  The reality was that I really enjoyed watching the girls do gymnastics (which I didn't quite expect) and I really did not enjoy running.  I've always known I didn't enjoy running.  It's too monotonous for me.  No matter where I'm at, whether I have head phones or not, or listen to music or books, it's just not enjoyable the vast majority of the time.  Did I really want to spend all these hours doing something I really didn't like?  Nope.  I didn't. 

So the training plan changed.  I ran when I felt like it, I stopped when I wanted to.  Sometimes I biked on the road or the trainer.  Sometimes I did strength training while watching Once Upon a Time.  I did do most of my long runs.  The only thing worse than running is trying to run while injured in order to avoid a DNF, so mileage building seemed prudent.  As the race got closer, I decided I just wanted to finish in less than 3 hours.  About 2 weeks before the race, I totally changed my strategy from very short intervals to just walking a few minutes at the end of each mile.  Basically, I did everything you're NOT supposed to do before a race. 

And then?  A week before the race, I hurt my foot.  Yup, foot injury.  Not while doing anything cool, mind you, this was a sewing injury.  You heard me right.  SEWING.  See, I sew standing up and I did a lot of work in one day without standing on a mat.  Those hours barefoot on a concrete floor with all my weight on my left foot?  Not a good idea.  I thought it was bruised.  The doctor said she thought it was plantar fasciitis.  I pouted.  I haven't had any PF problems since I switched to zero drop shoes, but this wasn't a case of too much tightness, it was just too much standing around.  I was hopeful I could get it somewhat fixed before the race.  I stayed off of it as much as possible and it did feel significantly better by race day.  I taped it for PF with KT Tape and it actually felt fine by the end of race day (as mentioned before, my poorly conditioned legs were another story). 

Race day came WAY too early.  I ended up staying awake later than planned because I simply couldn't fall asleep.  Sedona woke up somewhere around 2:30am with migraine troubles (holidays and cyclic vomiting/abdominal migraines do not go well together).  The alarm went off at 4:30 and I groggily stumbled out of bed and started drinking coffee.  I could not get amped up about this race.  I am generally annoyingly excited and bouncy on race morning.  I'm pretty sure more than one person has consider tranquilizer darts to just make me shut up and sit still.  I'm not a morning person, this bouncing off the walls while it's still dark outside is purely a "pre-race" and "post-birth" phenomenon (my babies like to come earth side in the middle of the night).  This time though, I was just nervous.  Like, talking myself down from a panic attack nervous.  I'm not sure why. 

Once the gun went off and we got started, all was well.  Josh had a 2 hour goal, so he took off, then turned around before the first corner to wave and blow kisses.  And I was on my own.  This is the longest race I've ever done completely on my own.  That's the big accomplishment from this day.  No one ever told me I could run a little longer.  No one ever said, "okay, you've had a bit of a walking break, let's go".  No one ever said, "hey, you're going a little fast" or "you're a little behind pace".  No one reminded me to drink water or to grab calories.  I did it alone.  I trained by myself in my own way and I ran this race by myself in my own way.  When the going got tough, I pulled myself through.  When my legs cramped up, I stopped to stretch and resisted the urge to sit down.  When it hurt to run, I ran anyway.  When the leaders in the FULL marathon passed me, I cheered them on and just kept moving forward.  This was MY race, done on MY terms.  There couldn't be a better last run. 

From here, I look forward to a triathlon focus.  More swimming, more biking, no more than 1-2 runs a week!

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