Polar Bear Series Half Marathon

Polar Bear Series

Sunday March 10, 2013 I ran my first half marathon as part of the Polar Bear Series through the local YMCA. I felt ready. I followed a half marathon training plan since December 2012. I cross-trained, I strength trained. I felt mentally and physically prepared for the race. Then the Sunday before the race during my long run I began to have some pain in my right foot, so I took the week before the race off from running and only went to spin class and worked out on the elliptical trainer. By Thursday I was virtually pain free and my confidence was back that I would be able to race on Sunday.

That Saturday night my youngest daughter vomited during the night and I only got four hours of sleep. I lost an hour of sleep to  daylight savings time and I woke up worried that my lack of sleep would affect my ability to put forth my best effort in the race. I went ahead and prepared to race anyhow, telling myself not to worry, that I would do great.


I had a pre-race bagel with peanut butter and a banana along with an energy drink (just in case!) I put 5 pitted dates in my pocket for during the race fuel, my plan was to eat one at miles 3, 6, 9 and 12 plus an extra if I felt I needed it. I debated wearing my fuel belt, but decided against it.

We headed over to the race site and picked up our bib numbers about 30 minutes before the race. I got myself ready and warmed up a bit. It was a beautiful day, mid-50s and sunny, perfect running weather! About two minutes before the race was supposed to start I realized I had forgotten to put on my IT band strap but there wasn’t enough time to run back to the car and grab it so I decided to just run without it. I hadn’t been having issues lately so felt that I would be okay.

3, 2, 1 and we’re off! I felt good at the start of the race, I had run the course before and knew what to expect as far as turns, etc. I felt confident and began to pick out people that I wanted to catch and pass to keep me going and focused. I was keeping a good steady pace of about 9 minutes per mile and was feeling confident that I was going to meet my goal of finishing in 2 hours. I grabbed some water at the first station, mile 4, and ate a date.


Around miles 5-6 I saw the leaders heading back to the start/finish and knew that the turnaround was at mile 7. Sometime between seeing the leaders and getting to the turn around I began to feel twinges in my right IT band. I quickly stretched a bit on the side of the road and kept going. I got to the turn around at 57 minutes, still on pace to run the 6 miles back and finish in 2 hours.

By mile 8 or so I had to stop and stretch out my right leg/knee again, the pain was sharper and more intense. My husband caught up to me and stopped to ask if I was okay and should he stay with me? I waved him on to go ahead and finish the race at his own pace. I tried to keep running but it got to be more and more difficult, by mile 9 I was alternating walking, stretching and trying to jog a bit. I knew by now that there was no way I was making my goal. Now all I wanted to do was finish the race. I had completely lost sight of my husband. People began to pass me, lots of people.

There were several times during those last 3-4 miles that I felt like just giving up. I thought there was no way I would make it back to the finish. My knee hurt an unbelievable amount, but I kept going. Walk, stretch, try to jog a few feet, stretch, walk again. I ate my dates. I stopped at the water stations where the people handing out water cups shouted words of encouragement like, “Almost there, 2 miles to go!” Those two miles felt like 200, but I persevered.

I caught up to a young man who has done all the races (and happens to be a client where I work) and we commiserated about our injuries (he had a hamstring issue going on) and jogged together for miles 11 & 12. He managed to get another burst of energy and ran the final half mile to the finish. At mile 13 I pushed myself to run the final 0.1 mile to the finish line. Once across I collapsed to the ground in agony.

My official 1st half marathon time was 2:23:33 hours. I was very disappointed in myself that I had failed to meet my goal after all my training and hard work. On the other hand I was proud of myself for having finished a half marathon even though I was injured.

Blueberry Chia Blaster Smoothie | Herbivore Triathlete

After the race there was Gatorade, water, pizza, pretzels and Newton’s available. I had made my Blueberry Chia Blaster Smoothie and drank that instead.


There was an awards ceremony after everyone had crossed the finish line. Everyone who had run and finished all 4 races of the Polar Bear Series was given a medal.

I went to my primary doctor the next day. She sent me for x-rays and referred me to a sports medicine doctor. I saw the sports medicine doctor on Wednesday. He diagnosed me with Iliotibial Band Tendonitis and Peroneal Insertional Tendonitis. I was prescribed anti-inflammatories and physical therapy 3 times per week for the next four weeks. Doc said that if PT clears me I may be allowed to begin low-impact exercise such as swimming or the recumbent bike in 2 weeks. I go back for a follow up with the sports medicine doctor in mid-April.

Bruised Foot | Herbivore Triathlete

To say I’m bummed out is putting it mildly. I do not sit still well. I’m the kind of person who feels guilty and restless when I take one day off from working out. I don’t know what 2-4 weeks will do to me. It will probably drive my family crazy! My fear is that all the gains I’ve made will be lost. I’m worried I will put on a bunch of weight and lose cardio fitness. I don’t have a game plan yet, but perhaps I can still do some yoga or kettlebells or have Jillian Michaels kick my ass using her 6 weeks 6 pack DVD that’s collecting dust. We’ll see.

Check out my other races on the Herbivore Triathlete Race Results Page
Previous Races in 2013: Polar Bear Series 5K & Polar Bear Series 10K & Polar Bear Series 10 Miles
Next Race: Allegany Adventure Run 6K-May 4, 2013 (Trail Run)


6 thoughts on “Polar Bear Series Half Marathon

  1. Erica {Coffee & Quinoa}

    So sorry to hear about your IT band! 😦 You should be proud of your half marathon time with something like that holding you back. Now go get yourself some rest – I’m with you on the frustration that causes, but if you can dedicate yourself to recovering the way you’ve been dedicating yourself to your training, you’ll be sprinting across the finish line at this half next year!

  2. Kerry @ Totes My Oats

    I am so sorry to hear about your injuries! Congratulations on finishing the race. You should be so proud of yourself for doing that. I was supposed to be running my first half in 5 days but that won’t be happening due to chronic knee pain from a past injury. I hope your recovery goes well!

    1. Herbivore Triathlete Post author

      Thanks Kerry, that means a lot. I’m sorry you won’t be able to run your race 😦 Knee injuries are so hard. I had surgery on my ACL in high school and still have issues with my knee.

  3. Jackie at Vegan Yack Attack

    You poor thing! I hope that you heal up quickly and without complications. A half marathon is a big deal, and kudos to you for training and going for it. Sending positive thoughts your way! Also, turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory. 🙂


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