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.
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.
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)