It’s too damn early for this. Now that fall is here 7:30 is cold and dark. Only a few more weeks of longs and then I’m done with distance until the spring. One more race to get done. Ten miles this morning.
And I’m not done yet!! Consistent hard work yields results!!
Yesterday morning Sweet Thang and I ran the Indianapolis Women’s Half Marathon. Sweet Thang is by far a faster runner and could of finished the race easily in about 2:30 or so but she stayed with me the whole time because that is the way we trained, “In this together”. Partially out of a desire to simply be a more hard core and better runner and partially out of a desire to work hard for her to make her sacrifice more palatable (to me and my own insecurities not from any feedback from her that she wasn’t as happy as clam running slower next me to all summer long), I trained harder and smarter for this race than I have for any of the previous three half marathons I’ve run. What did that get me, a race finish at just about EXACTLY the same pace as all the other halfs. We finished at 2:59:15 and 2:59:18. I actually got the three seconds faster time which is total bullshit because we crossed that finish at exactly the same time and she did it with FAR more energy left than I.
On the drive home I found myself simmering in some disappointment that I didn’t finish faster, that I’d somehow let myself and Sweet Thang down. Again I really don’t think she cares, and I more than realize the I’m running for life not just a certain race. There are ways to train into speedier times and I really shouldn’t be spending any time at all beating myself up over what in fact is the strongest race I have run.
I trained my butt off:
- I gave up smoking and a few other unhealthy regular habits in late June. Not only because I needed to for my health and sanity, but also because I wanted to increase my running prowess.
- Sweet Thang and I started training for this race about the time the record heat and drought conditions were plaguing most of the country, yet we never missed a run in any of the weeks leading up to the race. We never let the heat or sun derail us. We simply made adjustments and found a way to make it work, one run at a time, 3 days a week, week after week until race time. We often ran with less water than we should of been drinking. Sweet Thang is a Camel compared to me and sweats far less than the buckets at a time I do. In doing this we accidentally accomplished heat training and hydration training. We didn’t plan it this way, we didn’t dwell on how badass we were really being in doing this. Mostly I think we just knew we needed to run, we wanted to run, we couldn’t control the weather so we just DID IT! I can’t tell you how many times I climbed in my car after finishing, looked at the temp gauge reading something like 101-105+ and just thought, “huh, we are crazy but it’s done”.
- Not to dwell on the weather, but we live in Indiana, it does NOT get that hot here. We usually have a few weeks of 90-95 temps in maybe July and August and the rest of the time it’s somewhere in the 80’s. What we do have normally is humidity, which this year we had much less than usual but enough thick air sticky days to condition us to running in that too.
- In the past I’ve had muscle pain, tightness, and soreness difficulties and/or foot injury difficulties, this time I had none of that. Towards the end I did start battling some upper back and shoulder pain and tightness which had me a little worried. I think my lack of injuries this time was a direct correlation to the fact that I actually accomplished some cross training via spin classes and weightlifting. I also stretched a lot more regularly and made liberal use of my foam roller.
Race conditions were extreme:
- When Race morning came we arrived to a course with about 3000 other runners and discovered we were under a Red flag with talk already of what the plan was if it was Black flagged. Red flag means the course and the day are under extreme weather. It means slow down, stop more, drink more water, don’t try to PR, don’t push yourself, don’t be stupid. Black flag means the timers are stopped, the race is over, you can get your medal but there isn’t any official time. I hated the idea of this because if it happens I’m STILL OUT ON THE COURSE AND HAVE TO GET BACK. I’ll get a medal but I’m not going to feel like I earned it. If that ever happens I’m sitting my ass down on the side of the course and waiting for someone or something to come get me. If it isn’t going to count I’m not doing it anymore, harrumph! All that training to waste, all that effort put in so far for naught, the pissiness this would invoke in me would be pretty close to infantile and luckily it didn’t happen. In our case it was 90-93% humidity and Isaac storms headed our way without ever getting there. Temps were not too bad, mid 70’s and over cast, but the air was Indiana thick and heavy already at 6:30 am.
In spite of them I still ran strong and hard, I pushed myself:
- In my last three halfs I’ve run out of ability to run somewhere around mile ten or so and had to walk most of the last 3 miles, one of my goals is to complete a half that I can run in entirety. I REALLY wanted to be able to run all 13.1 miles this time. I didn’t make it BUT I made it much further and felt much stronger than I have in the past. I don’t know how you measure “running the whole thing”, but for me I have always considered it OK to walk through a water stop and not have that count against me. This time we didn’t even have the need to use every water stop and when we did I ran all the way up to them and started running sooner after them. I felt strong in my run all the way to that dreaded mile 10. I was starting to get physically tired, running for over two hours straight will do that, but I didn’t want to give up. Thus began the mental battle for perseverance and strength of will vs. fatigue and the dementia that starts to set in when I can no longer think straight. There is nothing worse than the battle inside my head during a half marathon. I’m tired and I hurt, so I want to walk and shake it out a little. I’m stubborn and I don’t want to “fail” so I don’t want to stop running. I want to cry because the two sides of me are really starting to piss me off. This affects my confidence , which starts to screw with my head even further, which starts to make me acutely aware of every tiny thing on my body that is bothering me. It is really easy to work myself up into pissed off despair. So I have to trick myself. I start with my head, I call upon some kind of inner strength. I tell myself things like ” Shut up, Sherry can’t run anymore, but I get to.” or ” My angels are with me giving me strength, I can just picture them up above me helping me along.” In yesterday’s case I pictured my dead older brother running in front me with his back to me giving me the it’s ok you can do it pep talk. Or ” All .runners have rough patches, I just have to push through this and I will feel better, that’s what those girls in the Olympic Marathon did.” I also try to be very logical with myself. I start at my toes and take inventory. Socks are soaked through with sweat but these are good socks, there shouldn’t be any blisters. My knees don’t hurt, my thighs don’t hurt, my back is getting a bit tight but I can adjust my form to accommodate this. My shirt is soaked through ( did I mention I sweat buckets), but my skirt isn’t dripping yet, so that is a good thing. All this mental chit chat can take 10 seconds or 10 minutes depending on the “place” I am in. I was able to run soley until after mile 10. In miles 11-12 I was able to run way more than I walked but it was starting to get harder. In Mile 13 usually the excitement of being almost done allows me to force myself to the finish, this time the way Mile 13 was laid out and my extreme fatigue and mounting attitude problem caused me to walk more than I ran it.
Usually Mile 13 is “Wahoo, only a little further to go I get another medal, let’s do this”. This time I was more like “F you and your stupid freaking medal, just give it to me you assholes, I don’t even want a finish picture I’m so pissed off about how you laid this last mile out I could spit in your face you stupid race organizers. Who puts 4 turns, 2 water stops, 2 hills and 2 curbs into mile 13 and makes it so I can NEVER see the finish or how to GET there until the last .10, what kind of idiots ARE you? What? I STILL finished right around 3 hours, this is pure crap, F you and the rest of the damn world except Sweet Thang because we were in this together” . There is a reason they say hard core runners are crazy, this is what 13+ miles does to your brain. There is nothing left at the end.
Then 30 seconds after crossing the finish line someone handed me a full bottle of water and the pride of getting another medal kicked in. Then I managed to stumble/fall into some nice soft grass and start stretching, oh man did it hurt but it was over. I could even imagine doing another one, soon. I suppose the lesson learned here is that you can’t judge the success of a run by the bib time, you really should judge it by how you feel. I feel I trained harder, smarter. I feel I pushed myself more physically and mentally. I do not feel like I let myself down, I feel like I can actually consider myself a hard core runner now. When I got to the end there was NOTHING left, I put it ALL out there on the course, and that is the true measure of success.
Someday I’ll run the “whole” thing and some day I will break 2:45 and maybe even 2:30. All I have to do is keep up the good work and maybe find a freaking cool weather race!
Doesn’t every girl enjoy her relaxing bath with ice, apple fritter, and a Dt. Mountain Dew.
Half Marathon number 4 is done!! Time for an ice bath, an apple fritter and a giant Diet Mountain Dew!!! Race recap to come later Lovies because I’m off to the Chateau for three days!!!
Hello Lovies! I’ve got my next Half Marathon 13.1 in 10 days, 16 hours, 40 minutes and 44 seconds and counting down. The Indianapolis Women’s Half Marathon over Labor Day weekend. It will be my 4th in 2 years. I’ve been training pretty hard with my Sweet Thang running buddy. I know her from our kid activity circles and she was also in the 500 Festival Mini Marathon training series I completed in the spring. We hadn’t run together much because in spite of her short little legs she is faster than me at her normal pace. I’d start out with her for as long as I could keep up, which often wasn’t long. I’ve written some about my struggles with the last 13.1 I ran. After the Mini was over I had to rest my foot, I got active at lazing, then I got cleared to run and knew I had to get off my butt or I’d never be trained in time for the Women’s. I knew I run and I was just about to cinch up my big girl panties and get it done alone. But then some crazy stuff started happening in our town with weirdos trying to steal our kids and there were several reported murders of women who were running alone across the country. I didn’t feel safe running alone anymore and I put a call out for a running buddy. She said she would meet me to run one night back in June and somehow we just never stopped.
At first I worried I’d be too slow for her. It only took a few times to work through that she was happy to have the motivation and the company and the pace wasn’t going to be an issue. As the miles climbed I asked her if she was going to sign up for the race. She already has a half booked in November and didn’t know if she wanted to take on one more. As we climbed in consistency and miles per my training plan she pulled out her big girl panties and her credit card and ponied up and entry fee and now I don’t have to run the race alone!
Training for this race in particular has been like no other. I’ve just come off one of the most stressful summers of my adult life, dealing with adventures in ADHD for myself and the kids, YMCA camp nightmares and a very crazy work environment/schedule. Over the months we have taken turns bitching, venting and rambling ( ok it is just me that rambles) and now we can pass 6 miles with no music and only conversation. It’s a darn good thing I had a crapton of long rambling stories I could tell her as we slogged through record heat, humidity, and finally one blessed rain run last night. I feel better than I ever have before a Half Marathon. Injuries have been limited, nutrition has been great, I’ve managed to do some cross training and I have her to push me every single day to run better, faster, longer. I’ve gotten better and stronger in my run, not just because I’ve made some significant lifestyle changes in the last few months but also because I don’t like to let her down. I figure if she is willing to sacrifice pace for me I’d better be willing to push it and work hard for her. She has joined that rare group of women who get to yell at me and tell me what to do.
For instance one day last week we were doing 8 miles. I have gotten into the habit of running with less and less technology. I’ve taken off the heart rate monitor because I thought it was causing me to limit myself in pace without using my body as a guide. I’ve taken off the earphones and run with the music on speaker so we could both hear it and still talk, only turning it up when I needed extra motivation. And a few times I’ve decided to ditch the phone/runkeeper app altogether because I didn’t want an every mile reminder of how far we’d gone and how slow. I just wanted to enjoy the run and the company and let my body do the rest. So I found myself on that 8 miles with no technology whatsoever. It was her turn to pick the route so I just showed up with my self and my belt of various Gu’s. She didn’t really want to run that night, but had forced herself to do it partly out of obligation and partly out of some trash talking from me. So we set off on a new route and began talking. I had no desire to walk at all. This was all well and good until I asked how far we’d gone expecting her to say 6, and she said 5! Ugh, my back was tight and I was getting a little sluggish. I had to walk a bit in mile 6-7, but not much and not for very long. I won’t just stop and walk with Sweet Thang like I will with Babu, I hold out as long as possible and then tell her I’m thinking about walking. We set a point to run to, then to walk to and stick to the plan. It allows for the walk without doing it so long you end up walking the whole thing. We got to 7.0 and she pushed me to run. She pushes me in those last miles because she is naturally faster and has more energy at the end. Let’s run the last mile she tells me, you can do it for another 12 minutes no sweat, and we will be done by the light and we can walk up the hill. I HATE that hill, it is tolerable on mile 2,3, 4 but the more we run our loop the harder it gets and trust me it isn’t even THAT big. I buckled on the BGP and committed to the run, telling myself it would be worth it to walk up the hill. So we push it for the next 12 or so minutes and what happens when we get to the dang light? Well first of all we miss it, as in start to sprint for it and have to STOP miss it. She looks at the runkeeper and we are only at 7.75. I cannot even tell you how ticked off this makes me. The light changes and she starts running, she is ahead of me and I’m huffing up the hill about to die yelling, “you told me I wouldn’t HAVE to run up this hill!” So she turns around as says, “Well you can quit right now if you want, but what’s it gonna be? Are you going to go ahead and stop or make yourself do it? It’s up to you”. THAT BITCH! She knew I’m so stubborn and obstinate I’d make myself run up that damn hill just so I could prove her wrong. She also knew I wanted to run up that hill and how much better I’d feel if I did. So I did just that, I ran up that damn hill. She stopped about 10-20 yards ahead of me and I knew it meant she was at the 8.0 mark, so I dug a little deeper and ran it in to the high five, feeling fantastic I’d made the hill my bitch ( hardly lol). I served as her motivation to start, and she served as my motivation to finish! She asked me later in the week as she was teasing to tell on me for wanting to cast my BGP aside what I would of done if she wasn’t there. I flat out told her I’d of stopped after missing that light mid sprint and called it good at 7.75. I’m a good enough girl like that a lot!
I’m glad we got the 8.01 though, and you know what else, I haven’t walked once in the two 6’s we have put in since! I don’t know how long it will take us to finish the 13.1 together, or if I’ll end up walking the last 3 like I have in every other 13.1 I’ve done but I do know this…..I’ll probably have the best 13.1 of my life and if I do I will have Sweet Thang to thank for a solid half of that effort, the last half!
I guess we will find out in 10 days, 15 hours, 47 minutes and 00 seconds…and counting!
Still totally worth it