Racing Again!!!!!

Post-Race beer!!!!

Post-Race beer!!!!

This past Sunday I toed the line for my first race since injuring in November at the Harrisburg Marathon. Yes, I ran Boston three weeks ago, but I did not race. I simply ran it nice and easy. (See my previous post regarding my Boston 2013 experience).

This Sunday was also my 4-year-anniversary of racing – which is hard to believe! It all began at the Broad Street Run in 2010, when a very nervous runner began a 10-mile journey in Philadelphia. I cannot picture my life without running, and I am surprised at how far I have come in such a short amount of time. The cool thing is that most of my PRs are in my FUTURE – which is exciting!

Being my first post-Boston race, I went into Broad Street with a lot of anxiety. PTSD has plagued me almost every day since April 15th, and large crowds and loud noises are especially difficult. While I have learned to live with jumping at noises, waking up hearing bombs go off (in my head, I assume), and finding ways to ward off panic attacks when at street fairs, Grand Central Station, and other crowded areas, I knew a race with 40,000 runners (yes, that’s a LOT of people) was going to test me.

PTSD has also plagued my training, which had not been going entirely as planned before Boston. My tempo runs always went poorly, and I struggled with combining speed and distance. My track sessions faired better, but not great. After Boston, a crowded track left me on the border of panic attacks and tears, and I had to start to plan my workouts for when the track was least-crowded. Flying soccer balls, people dodging in front of me, going the wrong way….It was too much.

I decided last week that I would do my best in Philly, but a PR was highly unlikely. I originally planned on running a 1:02-1:04 race, and I knew it would take a miracle for my body to pull that off. Instead, I decided I would do my best, and find positives about race day. After all, I love this race, and I love running. Being hung up on an out-of-reach PR seemed silly.

Race morning came, and I handled the large crowds as best I could. I told myself to not panic, which sometimes works. Instead I focused on my 10 mile journey. Before the race, the organizers dedicated the race to Boston, which brought up all kinds of terrible feelings. I wanted to yell. I wanted to cry. I wanted to shout that everyone needs to stop making Boston about THEM, as thousands of runners wore red socks in dedication to Boston. Instead, I took deep breaths and blocked out the dedications.

The first four miles felt good. Mentally, I was focused and happy. My body somehow was on target to run a 1:04:xx, which was a nice surprise, but I didn’t think it would last. The funny thing about PTSD is that things will set it off that I wouldn’t expect. After mile 4, as I ran past Temple University, the school marching band was playing (I cannot even remember the song!), but I burst into tears. I was a mess. Let me tell you, it is hard to run a 6:25 minute mile while sobbing.

I got myself together after a few minutes of struggling mentally and physically (thanks to crying), and was emotionally okay until a few miles later a small child handed me a cup of water. Again, I began to cry.

Between mile 7-8 I began to tire. A runner pulled up next to me and suggested we work together. This sounded like a good plan, until my left hamstring began to tighten. This was new. I have never had hamstring issues before. After a mile or so together, I told her to push on without me. I told her she looked strong, which she did.

Somewhere after mile 8 I got my head to take control over my tired body. I hadn’t run this hard and this far since autumn 2012. I knew my head was my last weapon. Perhaps it’s the years of experience, age, or my dumb workhorse mentality, but I refused to give in and slow any more than I already had. I cranked out those last few miles on fumes, and the will to fight.

I slowly fished a few runners in, and somehow had a kick at the end. I crossed the line in 1:05:37. Just shy of last year’s PR of 1:05:24. The inability to PR didn’t matter. I walked away from the finish line, suddenly very much aware of my surroundings. I began to panic. I began to cry. I began to anticipate something to explode somewhere. I mentally prepared myself to run for my life again. However, nothing happened. As I walked to get my medal and a cup of gatorade from a volunteer, I remember looking this young girl in her eyes and thanking her for volunteering.

My brother and Chris met me at the family meeting area after they finished, and we celebrated later with cheese steaks and beer – like you do in Philly. Perhaps the best part of the day was sharing the race with Chris (his third Broad Street Run), and my brother, James ran his FIRST RACE EVER!!!!!


~ by Elizabeth on May 6, 2013.

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