No longer can you say I will never be “half the man my brother is!” Yesterday I became that half a man!* You may recall that I began running back in April out of boredom and really enjoyed it. This year’s hobby finally culminated my attempt of the Seacoast Half Marathon yesterday. This was my first race over 4 miles, and the first race for which I partially trained, more on that later.
(Note: *Half-a-man because all of my brothers have run marathons, and I have finally run a half)
For those who just want the facts and figures:
- 624th overall
- 118th in my age group
- 2:05:36 overall time
- 9:35 minutes per mile
Full results here:
I was 1st out of all “Rorys”
Only two people from my town beat me, and they were not in my age bracket.
I beat 434 people, plus 36 race walkers.
No one over 70 beat me.
I beat that guy wearing jeans.
I saw a bunch of seals sunning themselves on the rocks off the beach.
I have never run further than 10 miles.
Not fun facts:
100% of people from my town beat me, and they were both at least 10 years older than me
The oldest person ahead of me was 65. (Oldest woman, 63)
Youngest was 16.
Two race-walkers beat me.
Every mile after 11 was pure agony.
Approaching the finish line
12 weeks before: I start a program for ramping up my mileage to race day.
7 weeks before: I meet my orthopedic surgeon about knee pain. He diagnoses a partially torn patella tendon, advises 4 weeks rest. I rest.
3 weeks before: I start running again, but only about twice a week, 6 miles maximum.
Pre-race: I started to get a little nervous around Wednesday. You see, most advice online says “try these tactics during training” so you aren’t surprised on race day. My training has been severely limited by a knee injury, so I haven’t tried much of anything!
I eat the traditional pasta and bread the night before, heavy hydration all day. Banana in the morning (should have had a lot more in retrospect)
Approximately 1200 people are registered for the race. I have only run 3 races in my life, and none with more than 100-150 people. It’s a crowded start, new experience.
Gun goes, and it takes me about 45 seconds to pass the starting line. Downhill, crowded, weird. My goal is 2:00 hours, and I know that 10:00 minute miles will get me in at 2:11. After running 7:30s for 6 miles about two weeks before, I figure I should be able to run faster than 10:00 minute miles (note to self: 6 miles is much shorter than 13.1)
I run at about 9:30 per mile through 2, where seeing my girlfriend cheer me on keeps the spirit strong. Feeling no pain, and feeling good physically.
Next five miles loops us along a gorgeous stretch of ocean, makes me wish I was sitting on the beach with a good book. Around mile 5, the bottoms of both feet feel like they are burning. At mile 7, when I see my girlfriend again, I flash the universal sign for “Timeout” and explain that everything feels great, but my feet are killing. Around the corner, I take off both shoes, adjust socks, and feel much better. I had also just passed the only water station with “Gu” available. This is a high energy snack that real runners probably use, but I had never tried it and didn’t want conflict in my stomach. Big mistake, because I realized I was out of energy about a mile later.
I was thrilled that my bum knee was feeling fine, bummed about the apparent sock/shoe issues, but generally still feeling on track. Around 9 miles, I realized I really needed to pick up the pace to beat 2 hours. I picked it up, but was obviously kidding myself. I ran a fairly fast mile in about 8:00 minutes, but around the 11 mile mark, my legs started to get sloppy. Not only had I not eaten enough, but I did not drink enough water. My feet were still burning, and when I stopped to adjust the shoes and socks for about the 4th time, my calves cramped up. This freaked me out, and was the first time I really wondered if I might not be able to finish. Pain wouldn’t stop me, but muscles refusing to function would be hard to ignore.
Despite hitting 11 miles around 1:45, leaving me close to hitting 2 hours with two fast miles, my goal had shifted to finishing. I jogged for a while, walked, jogged, stretched my calves. In a cruel twist, the only real hill on the course is the last mile, and I ran it like a fragile shell of the person who started the race. It’s hard to run in a fetal position, but I did my best to do just that. That said, I actually plowed through the last two miles in about 22 minutes and made the finish without dying, which was nice.
I had some trouble eating post-race, but got two waters and a banana down while walking around outside. Inside, they had a nice spread of food for the runners. After eating half a pizza I was good to go. Iced my knee when I got home, but with only two blisters and sore muscles, I feel pretty good.
One day after, I am very stiff, worse than yesterday. I feel like I have become stiffer as the day has gone on. I did take a short walk today that felt good while doing it, but may not have helped. I hope to get back in the gym tomorrow or Wednesday, but I have no plan to run again before the spring. Ski season takes precedence, despite being the source of the knee injury in the first place.
So, will I do it again? Probably. I would like to prove that I can do it with less drama, and maybe under 2:00. Despite finishing, those last two miles showed me that I wasn’t ready, and I don’t like that feeling. However, with the little training I was able to do, I should be satisfied just to finish, but that’s just not who I am.
Footnote: The title of the post was from some running advice I read that stated that you can feel hung-over post-race due to dehydration. I definitely experienced that yesterday. Now, I just feel like someone whacked my legs with a sock full of quarters.