Reporting from the Trenches – Philly Half Marathon

After my race experience this past weekend, I wanted to give myself a few days to collect my thoughts before sitting down to blog. This weekend was perhaps the most painful race I have yet participated, which says a lot from a girl who attempted a 100 mile Ultra Marathon in July and experienced her first DNF ever at the Boston Marathon, thanks to a stomach flu and heat combination that did me in. However. I also managed to pull off a new PR this past weekend, so I can’t look at it all doom and gloom. Let me explain – and I promise I won’t be all Debbie Downer for the entire blog.

The Philly Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon was my “goal race” for fall 2012. I set the lofty goal of running a 1:25, as my most recent PR was a 1:28:52. It was ambitious, but everything leading up to race day indicated I was prepared to tackle that goal head-on. I did everything by the book.  I tapered the week prior to the race. I was well-hydrated. I had a banana with oatmeal for breakfast. I warmed up with a mile jog before the start. The weather was perfect. I had gone through hours of mental preparation. My legs felt good. I had talked through my plan of attack with mentors. I was ready.

When I hit the starting line, it all fell apart.  My mental game was off. I settled into an easy pace, as the plan was to start for 6:35 miles for the first three miles and then to start shaving off time. Out of the gate, I had doubts. All of that mental preparation I did I saw fly away from me. I tried to relax, and told myself to settle. Somehow, I just could not shake the doubt from my mind, and my legs and head struggled to sync up. Still, as the miles clicked by, I told myself to calm down as I had plenty of time to get my game together. Then, around mile 6, the tendon (my guess) on my left ankle which has been a minor nagging pain off and on since spring started to flare up. I pushed through it, as I had in pervious races this year.  Ironically this pain did more mental damage than physical.

Then at mile 9, my race crumbled to pieces and there was no salvaging the goal I had set out to achieve.  A few weeks ago I had experienced major pain in my right calf muscle. It felt as though it were knotting and twisting. This pain lasted for about 6 days. I ran through it, and though the pain reminded me of that one experienced right before a muscle Charlie Horses, it never actually fully cramped. Well, after 6 days, that calf pain was magically gone. At mile 9, it suddenly came back, in full force. Unlike the left ankle, this pain was borderline crippling. Physically, I was in agony. Mentally and emotionally, I was losing it. It took every ounce of strength to make it up the final hill to the finish line. My plan of killing the last 5K, and “fishing” for runners was entirely out of the question.

I crossed the finish line in 1:28:35, a 17 second PR from the Brooklyn Half in May. I was devastated, angry, shocked, and asking for ice the minute I saw a medic. Ironically, no one knew where ice was near the finish line. I tried not to act annoyed as I hobbled a good distance to get ice, but I was.

I said I wasn’t going to be completely negative during this blog, so here are some positive things. A PR is a PR, so I should take that for what it is. I have PRed this year in a 5K, two Half Marathons, and a 10-Miler, plus I have run two Ultras. I cannot stay frustrated and say that 2012 has thus far been a disappointment, because it hasn’t. The bigger and more lofty the goals, the better the chance of failure – simply because there is marginal room for error and race day is always unpredictable.

While I am disappointed with this past Sunday, it makes me want to work harder for future goals. Plus I realize now how I can better handle myself if and when things begin to unravel during a race.  The humorous part of all of this: since Tuesday that calf has been fine! I experimented with speed, incline, decline, and it feels totally fine. The muscle is still a bit sensitive to the touch, the bruise that developed is finally fading.

Here are the official race stats:

  • Overall: 422 out of 15142 (top 3%)
  • Division: 23 out of 1857 (top 2%)
  • Gender: 76 out of 8850 (top 1%)
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~ by Elizabeth on September 20, 2012.

2 Responses to “Reporting from the Trenches – Philly Half Marathon”

  1. 1:28:35 is an amazing time. I did a half on Sunday (my first) and finished in 2:38:27!

  2. Congrats on your first Half Marathon! That’s a great accomplishment.

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