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Half Way There.

September 19, 2016

This weekend, I ran the Rock and Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon. I also ran the 5k the day before. I told myself that if I can run an easy half (which I was sure I would), then I’d definitely be able to tackle the full in November. And having been training for weeks, I was sure this would be no great shakes, especially since I’ve ran 6 half marathons before this one, and trained far less for some of them.

Over-confidence is a bad, bad, thing, my friends.

I’ll start with the good part. Overall, the good far outweighs the bad, and I have to say that the weekend as a whole was really pretty fantastic. I ran with a great group of amazing, high-energy people who love running as much as I do. They really made this weekend a blast, and turned it into something I’ll remember forever. So a big shout out and thanks to them.

Also, one of the bands that played were my friends, and they were by far the best band there (and I’m not just saying that because I’m biased). They kept the runners pumped with their funky grooves and upbeat tunes. Many thanks to The Big Unkle  – you helped me more than you know.

The 5k was pretty great too – after last weekend’s 5k success, I told myself it was OK if I ran it slow, since I’d be doing the half the next day. Well, once the horn sounded, that whole idea went out the window, and I couldn’t help myself – I just started passing people, and it felt so easy, I just went with it. I finished with a 27:24. Not too shabby. But definitely not the slow pace at which I said I would go. I was pleased at the finish line, but looking back, I should have stuck with my original plan. My competitive nature got the best of me. But the medal was pretty cool, especially since I have this weird mini obsession with Ben Franklin. Don’t ask.

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This one’s going in a special place.

The first part of my plan did not go as I had envisioned, but I still felt pretty good, and at this point believed the plan was actually going better than I had anticipated. I went to yoga at my favorite studio (Yogawood – it’s a wonderful, happy place) later that afternoon to prepare my hips for the half, and as I went to bed that evening, all was right with the world.

The next morning, I woke again at 5:30, and prepared for the main part of my weekend journey – the half. My husband was accompanying me this time, to cheer me on. We again spent the pre-race minutes hanging with friends, and as race time was upon us, we all parted ways and headed to our assigned corrals.

I felt pretty good. No hip pain, no fatigue, no stomach issues. I was awake and ready to run. It was more humid than I would have liked, but I was sure I’d knock this one out of the park in no time. Heck, maybe I’d even beat my PR (2:13:32, Philadelphia Half Marathon 2014).

The horn sounded, and I started off feeling the same way I felt the day before – running was easy, and I was cruising along at an under 10 minute mile pace, which definitely would be a PR. I rode that wave for 2 miles. The next mile was a little slower, but still not too bad – I could still beat the PR. And then it all fell apart. It was really really humid. I started to slow way down. I felt like the mileage on my Garmin was not increasing and I was running in place. Like that dream where you’re running but going nowhere. I was going nowhere fast. I stopped at the first water station, which I never do, but I was so thirsty. It helped and I got a little pep back. But soon lost it and became really thirsty again. From here on out, I stopped at EVERY SINGLE water station. I felt like I couldn’t get enough to drink. I was dragging myself along, one heavy step at a time. The miles were passing very, very slowly. At least I was not alone – I’ve never seen so many runners walking. I had to walk for a bit myself at one point. But I trudged on. How could I ever run a full if a half felt this bad?? I had to keep going. I stopped for ice, and downed some gatorade. I listened to “I Will Survive” on my ipod. But even good old Gloria Gaynor couldn’t get me pumped at this point. I just had to suck it up, and keep moving forward.

There was my husband at the finish line. He called my name, and I gave him the look of death. Even his support wasn’t helping. I just had to cross the line and get this thing over with. Usually I’m good for a sprint when the finish line comes into view, but that was just not happening. I fake smiled for the camera as I crossed the line, about to collapse, throw up, and cry, all at the same time.

I claimed my medal, and found my husband, and immediately burst into tears. This was my worst half marathon to date. I felt deflated and exhausted. All my training was for nothing, and how could I run a full after this? “You still did good!” my husband said, trying to lift me from my post-race funk/shutdown. We walked for a bit, and I eventually checked my time (2:23:41), which, to my surprise, wasn’t as bad as I thought, and was not my worst half by any means. I was feeling a little better, but still disappointed – not so much about my time, but about how hard the run was. And it was only half the distance I need to go to reach my goal.

But it did end on a positive. Because I ran both races this weekend, I got an extra medal. It might be the coolest medal I’ve ever received. It looks like a guitar, and it’s really pretty sweet.

Maybe, I do rock after all.

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Don’t give up.

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