Some of you guessed it I think. This morning crazy Elina attempted to complete Boston’s Run to Remember half marathon, without proper training. Let me give you a bit of a background as to why I’d attempt such a thing.
Fact: Last summer, I trained my heart out for the BAA half marathon. I followed a serious training schedule, I did my work. In the midst of it all, I learned to love running (before that I was just doing it for the challenge). I also became a much stronger runner.
Fact: On October 11, 2009, I ran the BAA half and blacked out after 12.56 miles. I pushed too hard right at the end and I was severely dehydrated. If you like horror stories, you can read my recap of that race here.
I was so upset with the outcome of that race that I actually wanted to run a half the following weekend. It wasn’t a sane decision, although I truly felt that I trained hard enough that I should be able to complete the race. Probably under 2 hours (PS – if I didn’t walk off the course, I could have actually walked, heck crawled to the finish line and still would have finished it in under 2 hours. I think). Instead, I listened to my husband and chose a half in 2010. A race that would allow me sufficient time to train. I wanted to KILL it on my next one!
So I did it, sometime late last year, I signed up for the Run to Remember half. I set up a training schedule. I wanted to run up to 18 miles at some point. I thought this would make 13.1 seem like nothing on race day. I started training in February and just burnt out. Running didn’t seem fun anymore. Training for a half didn’t seem worth it.
Fact: On March 21, I announced on the blog that I was really letting go this time. That I was going to be kinder to myself and pursue other passions. Running became a choir I wasn’t interested in… and the race was another 2+ months away. I didn’t want to waste 2 months of my life on something that didn’t make me happy. So I stopped running. Really. I maybe ran one time a week (if that) for a month after that. It felt so freeing. I could do whatever work out I wanted (and I really do love working out so the possibilities seemed endless). It was awesome!
And then at the beginning of May I decided to see if I could get back into running. The idea of running the half just 4 weeks later seemed crazy, but I kind of wanted to see if I could do it. I promised myself that if it wasn’t going to make me happy, then I really was to drop it for real this time. But you know what, spring was upon us and it actually felt great to get out and hit the pavement. No, not every run was easy (actually most of them weren’t) – I was coming back for a long running hiatus after all. But it did seem worth it. It felt fantastic to be able to challenge myself in this way again. And really, a post run high cannot be beat. Period.
Last weekend I finally made the decision. I was going to try it. The longest run I did was 8 miles at this point (which was last weekend) but I thought if I just went slow and tried to have fun, I could finish it. I was actually excited for it. Walking was allowed. Timing goals were not.
Are you still with me?
I woke up (actually pretty much bounced out of bed) at 5:45, had my usual pre-long run snack: toast with almond butter and banana + coffee, watched a little tv to calm my nerves (it was a mixture of excitement and definitely a bit of nervousness). I arrived at the World Trade Center around 7:30 (half hour before race time). The Seaport Hotel was right there and it was so nice to be able to use a real bathroom before the race. [They had dozens of porter potties too but I opted for a real bathroom, even if the wait was a tiny bit longer.]
8:00 – someone (I couldn’t see her) sang the national anthem and I started tearing up a bit. The energy was just so magnetic. It was definitely emotional. 7,000 people were going to accomplish something so big today. I was going to accomplish something so big today. Push my body to the limit and finish a half marathon. I was determined to make it happen.
Miles 1-5 – I felt pretty good. I really didn’t want to worry about time but I glanced at my garmin out of habit a few times and saw that I was running about 9 minute miles. It seemed too fast so I tried to slow down.
Mile 5 – was really tough. I knew my friend Katy was going to be around mile 6 or so and I just concentrated on running until I see her. Seeing Katy’s smiley face, cheering me on, was incredible. I was tired though and I still had 7 miles to go. Yikes.
At 6.5 miles (half way point) I had a sip of Gatorade. I hate the idea of that stuff (brought coconut water with me instead) but the extra sugar (and whatever chemicals they douse it with) really did give me a bit of a boost. I could do this!!
My next goal was to make it to somewhere between miles 9 and 10 where Shannon was supposed to be waiting for me. I was kind of done at mile 7. All I kept thinking about is just going slow and hopefully making it to Shannon, who was surely going to help me run the rest (she said she was going to join me if I wanted her to… um yeah, “wanted” is an understatement).
Mile 8.75 – I can’t take it anymore. I am SO exhausted, it’s not even funny. I didn’t know if Shannon was around the corner or if I had to go for another mile but I just couldn’t do it. I actually walked off the course for a minute and then snapped out of it. I was going to finish this thing, even if that meant walking the rest of the way.
I walked for maybe .20 miles and then decided that I really wanted to greet Shannon while running, not walking. It didn’t last long. The second I saw her (basically right around 9 miles), I started walking. And she was walking with me. I really needed a friend at that point. I kept saying how I really thought I could run the whole thing if I was going to go slow, but clearly I couldn’t. I kept on calculating how damn long it would take to walk the rest of the way but my legs felt like lead and I just couldn’t even try to run. Walking was challenging enough.
Mile 10.15 (these extremely accurate mile markers are brought to you by my baby garmin, btw ) – I decided to try to run. To my surprise, my legs felt ok. We were going slow but we were running. The problem was that I drank so much water during our walk that it was now sitting like a rock in my stomach, making me totally nauseous. Just 3 more miles, though, could I do it?
My legs felt fine but my head wasn’t in it anymore. Poor Shannon was doing her best trying to distract me but I was just so ready for it to be over. I knew I’d be proud of myself for just attempting to do it and FINISHING, whether it meant running or walking. At mile 11.5 I gave into my head and started walking again. This is when Shannon suggested that I probably would feel better if I ran at least some of the last part. We made a pact, we were going to do the last mile running, no matter how slow. I kept saying, I can do 1 mile in my sleep, right? Yes I could. I ran the last 1.28 actually (that extra .18 miles I could really do without, thankyouverymuch, race people).
Adam! Getting close!!
Shannon let me run that last 1/4 mile on my own. I finished really strong. I sped up but didn’t push to my absolute limit. Blacking out was not on the agenda for today.
Official net time – 2:24. Miles walked: 2; mile run: 11.28. To be honest the finishing time is just a number to me. I FINISHED A HALF MARATHON TODAY!!! (is that enough smileys? lol)
After crossing the finish line, I went inside the center to grab a water and more Gatorade, then went back out to look for Adam and Shannon. There were so many people everywhere!
It took a while but we finally managed to find each other. I gave Adam a giant sweaty run! He was happy to see me finish (instead of meeting me in the medical tent like last time).
Recovering on a cold floor. 13 miles, baby!
Some race pictures Adam took. Boston looks so pretty from this angle.
Shannon and I:
Shannon I owe you BIG TIME. You saved me today. Seriously.
I am so incredibly happy that I did it but I also never want to do it again. I think I can take it off the bucket list.
PS – Shannon brought this amazing homemade bar for me that I eventually was able to stomach. Go to Tri to Cook and harass her to post the recipe. I need to make these pronto.
That’s it. My plans for the rest of the weekend are to do a whole lot of relaxing. That means dinner out tonight and a pool party for Memorial Day tomorrow. Yay for long weekends!