A Finish is a Finish – New Bedford Half Marathon Recap

A finish is a finish..yup, sometimes that is all you can say about a race.

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There are races where I have a goal of getting a PR or a top place finish and others where I just do it for the experience or for training purposes.  Usually I have my top priority half marathons in the Spring and Fall.  After my racing season this past October, I started jumping in half marathons for the experience of just enjoying the races rather than racing hard.  It was more of a way to train my brain and legs to race without going all out and learn how to just embrace the joy of racing.  I have been stuck in this laid back state of mind for a bit too long, especially after a winter of little running. It has finally come and kicked me in the butt.  I also think the Disney Princess Challenge got to my head and made me a bit too cocky.  I was so impressed with my half marathon time given I had raced the 10k hard, had sore calves and little running throughout the winter.  I started thinking I was capable of just jumping in half marathons even when not prepared.  So with that mindset, I said, “Yeah sure, I’ll do the Crossfit Open Workout 15.3 two days before a race…I’ll be recovered by Sunday if I just do shakeout run on Saturday”…Nope. Not the case.  I may have been able to run Disney with sore legs, but that is not something that should be a regular doing.  After some mid-race tears, cramping and one of the most mentally and physically challenging races to date..I have learned my lesson.

Now, I certainly don’t regret my decision to take part in the Open Workout because I loved the workout and finally logged a great score in the Open challenge.  I may have even won some cash if my score is still the top after everyone at my box has done the workout!  But, it definitely affected my race and more importantly, it set me up for potentially injuring myself.

Now that the race is over, I have some clarity to reflect on what exactly happened during the race.  I pretty much lost control of my emotions and broke down mentally and physically.  The feeling of your body just shutting down and working against you is scary.  Every half marathon is a fight and a struggle at some points, but this was different.  This was a feeling of hopelessness. A feeling that my body would not fight with me and was ready to give up while my mind was trying so hard to put up a fight.

Mile 8 was where I experienced my first calf cramp and from then on, there were LOTS of stops to stretch and attempts to get my head back in the race.  Stopping actually did the exact opposite.  Looking back now, every time I stopped I worked myself up more.  It is as if stopping gave me time to process just how bad my emotions were taking over ( I swear I am not this crazy!)

I kept telling myself, “I think my Mom is at mile 11, I just need to get to her.  I just need a familiar face.  A calming voice.  I just need her.” Don’t ask me what I expected her to do about the situation, I still don’t even know.  Sometimes just the presence is just what you need. By mile 11.5, there was no sight of her so I figured she was at the finish line.  At that point, I just stopped..cried..walked…pretty much lost the mental battle.  People running by were pushing me to keep on going but I ignored them until one guy said, “the best thing you can do is run it off!”…Logically, it didn’t make sense. It still doesn’t make sense. How can the cause of your pain also be the solution? Any marathoners out there to help me understand this?? But after a few deep breaths, I gave it a try.  And I somehow managed to push through to the finish.  You know when you hold in a breakdown and then it finally comes out? Well it happened at the finish. Right there.  No control.  I am all about sportsmanship and appreciating just being able to cross the line so that being said, I knew how I should have been acting.  I should have gone back to cheer on my teammates.  I should have said thank you to all the volunteers providing water and medals.  I should have been thankful rather than having a pity party. The mental game got the best of me and I am not proud of my performance nor my actions, but the best I can say is, lesson learned.

imageOuch. It is what it is…

But despite a rough day, my team,  Western Mass Distance Project, did awesome and finished 6th while the masters finished 13th! They all put up such a fight and some solid PRs!  Congrats to all of them and a special thanks for the encouragement.

Glen..you said you read my blog. Maybe you lied 😉 But if you do then, thank you. Thank you for getting us to New Bedford, for all the support and for witnessing crazy runner/female emotions.  I will get a top 3 place soon so I can live up to the expectations!

Enough running talk, lets talk race recovery.  Nothing like recovering from a mental fight with some trivia and burgers!

imageYup.  Winning just wasn’t in the cards that day. My second poor performance 😉 Thankfully, I had the perfect partner who managed to get us some points..and a delicious burger to fill to void of losing.

Despite everything that went wrong on Sunday, being able to finish, spending the evening with such a special person and just being lucky enough to have the opportunity to race is a victory in itself.

Warmer Weather, More Daylight and a Long Run

I don’t know why, but since I have been back from vacation it seems like my life has been a whirlwind of craziness and it has been extra tough to get on here.  It bums me out that I have been slacking on the posts but sometimes other things in life take priority and that is just the way it goes.  But here I am, ready to quickly share some updates.  Springing ahead is one of my  favorite times of the year because it finally feels like Spring.  There is nothing better than walking outside at 6pm and it is still light out!  That in itself is enough to make me smile.  However, this daylight savings hit a little harder than usual with the whole losing an hour of sleep on top of coming down with a cold.  That being said, this will be a short and sweet blog post so I can get to the NyQuil and bed that is waiting for me.

This weekend was full of great workouts.  I rested up Friday so I could tackle the Crossfit Open 15.2 Workout on Saturday morning and a longer run on Sunday.

Oh Man.  15.2 is no joke.

imageI had to scale a bit because I have yet  to conquer the chest-to-bar movement and I am not about to try and do the workout Rx knowing that I won’t be able to get far.  This is definitely one of those workouts where Rxing is not always the smartest.  I like to lift heavy and push myself  but I also value a great workout and not one where the majority of the time is spent trying to do one rep.  That being said, I scaled to assisted pull-ups and managed to get further into the workout.  Nothing noteworthy in terms of my reps and weight but it was an all around great WOD.

Sunday was planned to be a long(er) run because I figured I should hit the pavement before my half marathon on Sunday.  Since the Disney Challenge, I have only done a couple runs and they were by no means long.  I am sure I could still do Sunday’s half marathon without this long run but mentally, I felt a longer run was needed to help ease my nerves.  I set out on my run with no goal in mind.  Just wanted some pain-free miles to better prepare myself for my race.  The weather was a perfect 40 degrees and I even had to shed some layers after a mile which is something I haven’t done in AWHILE.

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My goal for the run was 7 but as I got going I started shooting for 8…and then 9…and then with the little energy I had left, I pushed for 10.  It was great.  No pain. Warm weather.  and JUST what I needed.  It was actually the longest training run since Thanksgiving Day!

imageAnd after a glorious run comes a glorious breakfast.  Omelette with berries and peanut butter banana toast.

Speaking of food – Tonight’s post-workout meal was amazing.

imageSteaks on the grill with a side of Asian inspired stir-fry.  Cooked brown rice, sugar snap peas, mushrooms, onions, garlic and celery sautéed in coconut aminos and sesame oil.

That is all for now.  Time to kick this cold!

Disney Glass Slipper Challenge – Princess Half Marathon Recap

Initially, I planned on writing one giant Glass Slipper Challenge race weekend recap but as I was writing about the Enchanted 10k, I realized that each race is different and amazing in their own way.  It just didn’t feel right to transition immediately into the Half Marathon after I ended a, what I thought was, a well written 10k recap.

So here we are with the second race of the Glass Slipper Challenge

The Disney Princess Half Marathon

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After the 10k, my legs felt shot.  I was proud of my 3rd place finish so I tried to remind myself that my game plan was to race the 10k hard and see what I had left in me for the half marathon.  Despite how annoyed I was with my legs not being very reliable, I was still on point with my game plan. But, let’s be honest.  I knew that was a terrible game plan from the start because I have a difficult time admitting when I should back down and rest.  Aside from some sun bathing and a short visit to Epcot, I spent a good portion of Saturday icing, rolling and living in my ProCompression socks…even if they DID NOT go with my outfit.  Saturday was a whirlwind of emotions, there were moments when my legs felt great and I had a surge of confidence and then there were moments when they did not feel so great and the nerves started kicking in.

One thing that really calmed me down was a couple of women my Mom and I met while waiting for our seat at our pre-race pizza place.  One lady was in a boot because she had tibia tendonitis but was still planning on running the half marathon.  I jumped with joy, not because she was injured, but because I finally met someone who was experiencing similar issues.  I asked her if she was worried about being able to finish.  She was so confident with her answer, “No, I know I will finish it just won’t be fast”…so casual and confident even though she was walking in a boot less than 10 hours away from a half marathon!! And here I am, a little sore but no tibia pain..and im freaking out!  Sometimes you just need to chat with other people to help you put everything in perspective.

With another 2:45 wake-up call around the corner, it was an early night for us.

Sunday morning looked very similar to Saturday…coffee, banana sandwiches, nerves and LOTS OF STRETCHING. In my opinion it was more of a ‘last minute attempt/plead for my legs to come back to life and not be sore’.

imageFunny story about my banana sandwich that did not happen on Saturday and was pretty unexpected.  I am walking onto the bus holding my fine dining plate..

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..and the bus driver says, “Ma’am please don’t bring food on the bus.”..now I understand that the majority of people are not runners and probably could not even tell you how long a 10k or half marathon is so I am used to the interesting comments, however, I am NOT going to just casually toss my breakfast in the trash and then go try to run 13.1 miles.  Luckily, Disney does a great job hiring kind and enthusiastic employees so we were able to agree that as long as I take my empty plate off the bus, I could bring it on. Scarfing down a sandwich didn’t seem like a desirable or wise pre-race move.

The morning was pretty funny/interesting in terms of my nerves.  I woke up feeling confident and just told myself, even if I have to walk half of the race, I WILL finish.  I began accepting the idea of having a very slow race, which is a hard acceptance for me.  Meanwhile, my mom was pretty nervous.  I kept reassuring her that she would do great because she always does fine.  Her training was much better than mine in terms of how many miles she has been logging (yup. my 59-year-old mom runs more than me. I am both impressed and slightly embarrassed) Also, SHE WASN’T EVEN SORE! However, as we started walking into the race, that confidence was sucked right out of me.  My calves were tight and sore which pretty much sent me into a panic.  I never felt more unsure of myself. Meanwhile, my mom was beginning to relax and the roles were reversed.  My response to all her positive comments was probably something negative and maybe not always in the nicest tone, I’ll blame the nerves for that, however, I do feel pretty bad…

imageEven though I have done this race before, I forgot how long the walk is to the Elite Corral.  Let’s just say, once the National Anthem starts playing, it is no longer a walk, it’s a run! I finally made it to the Elite corral and realized, wow that little run over here didn’t even hurt.  Could it be that walking hurts more than running?! Well my friends, that was just the case.

And now with a little confidence and a couple of minutes to spare before the start of the race, I managed to snap a picture of just how amazing this experience is aside from all the other nonsense that trickles through my crazy mind before a race.

imageFrom the second I crossed the start line, I promised myself that I would just have fun. And that is exactly what I did.  I kept a strong pace but I made sure to take in every moment.  I just kept flying through the miles pain-free and comfortable.  It felt amazing.  I did not care about my pace, but I knew it was pretty darn decent. I did not care about my place, but I knew I was up front. I just ran MY race.  I surprised myself with each mile.  I truly was on cloud nine.  I DID NOT expect to feel and do as good as I was doing.  I remember at mile 6 saying to myself “you are doing amazing, keep it up, you have what it takes to finish this strong”  I even surprised myself with that comment.  I am always so hard on myself and my performances.  I aim to be great at everything I try and rarely give myself enough credit for the small victories.  At about mile 10 I started feeling my legs wanting to slow but my pride in what I had done thus far was enough to keep me moving. I passed some security men on bicycles and turned to them to let them know that I was ‘very jealous of their means of transportation’.  I quickly put my ear buds back in so I did not catch their whole response but I did hear, “We are actually jealous of you…”.  At the time I thought to myself, ‘they must be crazy. what in the world could they be jealous of? Being tired? Still have to run 3 more miles?’ Looking back on it now, I still don’t know why they were jealous but I do know  that they were right, they should have been jealous.  I was given the opportunity to run through Disney.  I was just about to complete something I doubted only an hour prior. I had the ability to run 19.3 miles in two days.  I had the ability to run.  Yes.  That is something to be jealous of.  And something I should never take for granted.

And with that ability, I trucked through the last 3 miles to finish an amazing weekend with some solid times and amazing memories.

image10k – 40:22 and Half Marathon – 1:32.39

Scratch that. WE finished the weekend with some solid times and amazing memories.

imageI can’t thank her enough for booking this trip, for running this challenge, and for just being such an amazing person.

It is safe to say, we left Disney limping and with some pretty hefty bling.

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