If you've read Moonie
's report, you know my finish time. You know my strategy. You even know a little bit about our race. But I'll just tell you the same story from my perspective and hope it's interesting enough to hold your attention.
I finally registered for the Philly half about 3 weeks ago. I had no business running this race. None. You know the 10% rule? Increase your miles by no more than 10%? Well, this race would effectively increase my annual
total by 10%. I was headed towards disaster: injury, embarrassment, DNF. I don't even know why I said I would. I just said I would run it and dammit, I was doing it. I knew I could run the 8K and I knew I'd have to walk part of that distance too, so I decided, I would not be defeated. I was committed (or should have been one or the other).
$90 paid. I was registered for the half.
My training wasn't spotty. My training was nonexistent. I've been running minimally all summer, and had just over a 100 miles behind me. I had maybe 300 walking miles on my legs. I'd been taking tap lessons, so I had a little cross training and that was it.
After half heartedly following a plan the lovely Nettie devised for me, I decided a couple of weeks ago I need to see what I could do. And do it in a way that would work for me. 2 Sundays ago, I got up, hydrated, ate and took myself to the Y. I knew, unlike most people, I would be able to get in a better and longer run on the treadmill than outside. The distractions and worries I have are minimized inside. There's water. There's toilets. I can stop anytime. I don't have to worry about traffic. And there's the freaky crazy leg guy to watch (Dianosaur
knows who I mean).
I decided to test out an idea I had as well. I'd gone out for a 6 mile run the weekend before. It was singularly the worst run I've ever had. I couldn't make it more than 100 feet before I need to stop. I knew I had to do something unusual. Gallowalking wasn't gonna work for me. I decided to run a mile, then walk a brisk mile and see how far I could go.
I finished 11 miles on the treadmill that day. Comparatively fast running miles and actually fast walking miles. Overall
pace was only about a minute slower than my last half. I had found a perfect solution for me. I felt good.
Fast forward to last week. My body decided to play a cruel trick on me and I was unsure I'd even be able to run. I was devasted. I grabbed every feminine supply
I had and a huge bottle of Aleve. HighHeat
picked me up on Friday morning at o'dark hundred. Poor guy was stuck in a tin can with a woman who does not like being in one. I fell asleep shortly after we hit the road, only to jolt awake an hour later saying, "I don't thnk I packed a sports bra" (I wasn't dreaming, I knew I hadn't pulled the one I intended to wear out of the clean laundry, but I hunted through my bag after our breakfast stop and found I had thrown another one in.) I was also so concerned about hydration, we had to stop 3 times. Plus there was a stop in New Haven...which Heater said felt like a drug drop, but in fact was to pick up my surprise for my fellow Kick runners...a vinyl banner a friend made for us. And lastly we stopped to have Frankie
follow us into the city in his fabu yellow rental.
There were meet ups and lunches, airport pick ups, hotel drop offs, and a blur of activity between getting to Philly and race morning. My dear friend Beaker
hosted me on Fri night but I moved to a hotel on Sat so I would be closer to the race start, would have my own space and could mentally prepare. And lo and behold, the great Voodoo
had the room next to mine! So I had someone to knock on my door when it was time to leave for the race.
I was dressed in my new (turned out to be fine move...but risky) running skirt. My new (also fine) long sleeve compression shirt and my nifty Kickin' it shirt. I'd thrown on a light fleece and goretex jacket; I'd forgotten to bring pants with me, so my legs were bare. I'd gotten some cheap gloves at the Rite Aid the day before...I did not have a hat.
I wore new socks with lady bugs on the ankles. My mother has incurable breast cancer. Her best friend decided her token of strength would be a lady bug and gave her a lady bug bracelet that she'd gotten for herself when she went through a tough time. Ma's been holding on for 5+ years now. So I wore my lady bugs for my mom as my strength.
In the end I was dressed just right. My new skirt was perfect and it had small pockets on the back hips, so I kept my supplies in one (clif bloks, aleve, feminine supplies) in one and the gloves when I took them off in the other.
A fellow 30 gave me a trash bag to put off after I checked my bag and Moonie, Frankie
and I lined up. I was nervous. I put my head down and just tried to focus. To calm my nerves. I knew I'd done well a couple weeks before but that was inside. I'd forgotten my inhaler and I didn't know if the cold would effect me. I wasn't confident. I wasn't sure that I wouldn't hate my running partners by the end and they me because I don't do well in races. I told them outright...I don't like enthusiasm. If I seem to be hurting, or ailing, or fighting with myself...don't encourage me. They know about Salty Moe
, so they laughed and said, you got it. No enthusiasm.
Finally we started. Run a mile, walk a mile. The running was ok. First mile my shins started to hurt but I was expecting it. I had wicked shin pain until they warmed up....it would just take a couple miles. Run a mile, walk a mile. We talked, we laughed, we looked a things around us, we looked at people around us. We cheered on Nettie
in her blue tutu, that I happily provided her. We cheered on a woman in the 5:30 pace group named Elaine
who was running her first marathon at age 50. Around mile 6, I made the decision I needed to stop at the portolets...sadly it took far longer than anticipated and we lost about 8 mins.
Run a mile, walk a mile. Past the frat houses with cowbells and beer. I knew 10 miles would be my breaking point and I told my friends as much. If we can get through ten, then we'll come up with a way to get through the last 5K. Our running was steady and even, our walking was fast (so fast, Moonie jogged next to me.) I ate a few Clif Bloks sometime after 7 miles to ward off the fatigue I was expecting...it seemed to help.
We approached walking the water station where Merigayle
was volunteering and said hello! She walked us to the end of the stop and cheered us on...we started running again.
10 miles. I'd gone as far as I knew I could. I told the gentlemen, I don't know how I will do from here, but I'd like to try to keep doing what we're doing. But I want to walk the up hills and run the down hills. The last hill we ran took its toll on me and I didn't want to push it...I wanted to finish and have fun. My breathing was never labored but for that one hill and I wanted to keep it that way.
As Moonie mentioned, we came upon a long curving downhill the last part of the race. It was technically a walking mile. I saw that hill....and two thin, fit women with blonde ponytails, who had just passed me, and I started running at pace with them. I ran like a real runner. I ran like my feet had wings. I didn't tell my boys what I was doing but they knew. I knew they'd catch up with me, but I needed to feel that pace for once.
I felt joyful.
Those of you who know me will know how great and wonderous that was. Nothing else mattered then. I don't run like that. Running is hard, arduous work for me. It's only fun because I wasn't ever supposed to be able to do it.
The rest of the race was hard. My toe started to cramp up and spasm. I was running during my walking mile and walking during my running mile. We were close to the finish, but not close enough. I wanted to run, but my foot hurt. Finally the finish line...and to our right....LOUD SCREAMING CHEERS! COWBELL! CLAPPING AND HOLLERING!!!!! Our friends, our dear dear fellow Kickrunners, from nearby and far far away, we're cheering for us as loud and as hard as they could! We grabbed each other hands and smiled and ran across the finish line.
We'd done it. Moonie, Frankie and I had been a good team. More importantly they had been good friends. All along they said they were running with me to get me across that finish line smiling and they did.
I've had a rough 12 months. Running has taken a back seat while I've worked on some other projects just to keep myself busy so I wouldn't be thinking about some of the difficult personal stuff I've had going on. I didn't know if I would ever run again. I certainly didn't know if a long distance would ever be possible. I didn't know if I would enjoy running at all.
I didn't know I would find joy in it.
Someone around here told me I deserved to have a good time at that race. I don't know if I believed him, but I know did. I was surrounded by good friends, some old, some new, some who have helped me in ways they will never know and those who know they have helped me.
All I know is I was teary eyed leaving the city of brotherly love yesterday. I tried to hide it but I know Heater
was on to me. He let me be quiet with my thoughts...and I thank him as well. (and I apologize for telling you to f#ck off later in the car ride.
I told a friend I want to be a better runner now. It's time.