This weekend was the culmination of 7 weeks of blood, sweat and tears to get myself race ready. When I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my heel on July 13, I fully expected that I would not have any shot at running this race. I kept doing the math in my head over and over and I just didn’t see how it could happen. My coach, on the other hand, told me that he felt it was a possibility and advised me to take it one run at a time. Being able to cycle during the injury helped me maintain some level of fitness, although there isn’t anything that can keep you in running shape quite like running. I’ve had some ups and downs the past 7 weeks. I’ve been humbled – again. Injuries have a funny way of doing that to you.
I’m not at 100% and I don’t expect to be 100% for quite a while. Every increase in mileage has presented its hiccups. And while I want nothing more than to focus on speed work – speed work provides an extra special hiccup that my body just isn’t quite ready to handle. In the words of Juba from the movie Gladiator, I’ll be doing speed work “soon, but not yet”.
Queen of Stupid Sh*t (QoSS) Strikes Again
I had NO idea how this race would go. I know how I have performed on the recent long runs – but those are at a turtle’s pace. I know how I have performed on the easy runs (which are one degree faster than long runs). I became increasingly nervous this week about “racing” the race, particularly because of some nagging heel issues from a tempo run one week ago Thursday. It was bothering me so much that I had a lengthy discussion with my coach after Tuesday’s run and he told me to ditch the remaining workouts for the week except for the Saturday shake out run. I iced it (some) and wore compressions (less than I should have) and continued my stretching. My heel seemed to be getting better, but on Friday it just seemed to get worse…and worse….and worse.
OK…back up. My coach also told me to “take it easy on the strength” during taper week and I did take it easy. However, Friday morning (I know you can all see the slow-motion crash about to happen) I had a “great” idea while I was doing my ankle exercises. Instead of doing my strength set for my hips, I would do those single leg deadlifts that I have been meaning to add in. (Can I just say this was before I had even one whole cup of coffee?) So, I did the deadlifts. And they were HARD. And I should have stopped. And I shouldn’t have used the heaviest handheld weights that I own. And I regretted it as soon as I finished. I seriously have NO idea what came over me. Obviously someone let Crazy Jen loose AGAIN and forgot to tell me! Just when I thought that I had committed ALL the sins of running….
As a result, my hamstrings hated me and I think that was THE reason my ankle was so angry.
Luckily, everything felt fairly decent on the shake out run, so I tried to put my worries aside.
Up, Up and Away
Race morning finally arrived, and…..I didn’t feel good. My stomach was just nauseous. I tried to eat, but it just didn’t taste good. I knew this was going to cause a problem during the race, but at one hour until the gun, there really wasn’t much I could do. I had decided to stay in a hotel so that I could sleep later, but I was away from home so that kind-of backfired since I didn’t sleep that well. Plus, I had gone to GrapeFest (tomorrow’s post!) and had lots of wine and some fried pickles. Even though I had really good intentions of hydrating at the hotel, it didn’t happen……I’m sure you can see a pattern developing.
My HM PR is 2:14. I’ve actually run a 2:04 HM in training, but I can’t count that. My ego, even knowing that I’ve only just built enough base for this race, really wanted a 2:14. After the week with my ankle, I knew I couldn’t possibly shoot for that without causing some big problems down the road. My coach advised me to run the first mile at 11, through mile 6 at 10:45 and pick up to 10:30 until mile 11, where I could open up if I was feeling like it.
The first few miles went fairly well. I still felt crappy with my stomach issues and nagging allergies, but I was able to maintain my pace easily enough. By mile 7, I started to struggle to keep the pace, which at this point I was sure was directly related to my lack of breakfast (lack of properly hydrating on Saturday hadn’t even crossed my mind at this point). I was planning to take my gel at the next water station but it just so happens that they were handing out squeeze packets of applesauce. I opted for the applesauce. Just thinking about the gel made me sick to my stomach. The applesauce did make me feel better for a bit and it gave me the energy boost I needed.
WAIT! I haven’t even mentioned my ankle. My ankle was a little sore at the start and through the first 3ish miles, but after that it worked itself out or I just went completely numb or I was too worried about my stomach. In any case, the ankle wasn’t an issue. 🙂
The aid station with the applesauce was a two-way water station, so I grabbed an applesauce on the way back through. The second one didn’t taste as good as the first and I spent the next mile or so just dealing with the yuck feeling of water and applesauce sloshing around on my stomach and debating whether to push myself to the point of puking (because I would have HAD to feel better, right?)
Around mile 10, I felt my psoas getting tight. And then I became upset with myself because I haven’t released my psoas in some time and I was sure that the hamstring issue was impacting my psoas and I came full circle to being angry with myself about those dead lifts again. And then I was just mad at my myofascia guy – he really shouldn’t have moved to Colorado and left me to take care of all this on my own. Luckily, I wasn’t thinking about my upset stomach while I was cursing my myofascia guy.
The nausea at mile 12 became almost more than I could handle, so I walked for a tenth of a mile to calm my system down. It worked and gave me enough of a boost to git’er done. I was able to run a good, quick pace the rest of the race. I was glad that I had some in reserve to do that and it sort-of redeemed the crap that happened on the course.
I ended up with 2:26:11. That is my slowest HM EVER. But you know what? I’m not upset at all. Just 10 weeks ago, I was sure that I would not be able to run. And even though I did commit some biggies on the running sin list, I still did it. And my coach told me that I hit it out of the park! Even though he gave me times for a faster race – he expected a 2:35 finish. Imagine what I could have done had I hydrated and eaten properly on Saturday….and skipped the new strength exercise….and not had too much wine at Grape Fest….and actually fueled my body with a good breakfast…. Aaaaaand my ankle seems OK. It is a little swollen and a little sore, but I have my compressions on and am icing it every chance I get. All in all, I have to declare this race a huge success!
Except for the fail….when I stopped my watch at the end of the race, I hit delete instead of save. So I have no splits. No cadence. No heart rate data. No elevation. I nearly passed out right there before I got my medal. Each time I think of it, I get a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. This will be good therapy for my OCD. Right??
Friends at Races are THE BEST
I recently joined Renegade Endurance, which is a running/racing club that has several members in my area. I was able to meet up with a couple of the ladies in the group who also ran the race. It was so much fun meeting new runner friends and I am excited to be a part of this amazing team!
And Dara, the cohort in crime to Erica, volunteered at the race and made a sign especially for little ‘ole me! I LOVE IT!!!