Monday, October 22, 2012

October 21st, 2012 –The Marla Runyan Half Marathon

The continued prayer is, “Lord keep me focused. Keep my mind stayed on You. Help me to bring You praise. I know You believe in me. Please help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

Who goes out and runs a Half Marathon without even training for it?

This girl!

While a minute part of me is impressed with the badass mutha that must make me, the majority of me knows how silly and potentially dangerous that could have been.

Fortunately, I have a pretty solid base of running experience so I was fairly certain I wouldn’t do any permanent damage but this one was pretty hairy.

My previous training run, about 5 days before the race, was supposed to be a 3.85 mile sprint. Exactly one mile from home, I strained my calf muscle and had to walk it in. I knew I’d hurt myself pretty badly and that had never happened before so I wasn’t quite sure what to do. However, I figured, I’d better rest well before the race.

Also, two weeks prior, I ran the RAD 10k in Agoura, a beautifully scenic and extremely hilly course which left me in sciatic pain agony for about 3 days.

All of these things combined, meant I didn’t get the full distance in even once before this race. The longest run I’d done was just shy of seven miles.

So I was facing this race injured and ill-prepared. What to do? What to do?!

So my options were to:

1) Run the race and risk further injury.
2) Walk the course and enjoy the scenic topography of Camarillo. Or
3) Forfeit my entry fees for a great cause, stay home and recover completely.

When I am faced with a running (or any other) conundrum, I seek the council for four men: Jesus, my husband, my brother, and my good friend Lloyd.

Jesus said, “You can do all things cuz I give you strength”. Awesome! Thanks, Jesus!!!

Chris said, “Go. And if you hurt yourself CALL ME and ask for a pick up. If you keep going and really mess yourself up, I’ll be mad at you! Now eat something and go to sleep, you have an early rise tomorrow.” Thanks, Babe, for knowing that I couldn’t back down.

Frank said, “I’m sure you’ll be fine. You’ve been running for years… You’re well prepared, if not overly prepared… Stop trippin’ and just go run it!!!” It’s so cool to have a badass ex-Marine brother who runs like chocolate lightning. He *so* gets me!

Lloyd said, “As long as you aren’t injured, just treat it like a long easy run. Do very short easy runs during the week if possible. No run the day before.” Sounds good. Lloyd always knows what to say. Of course, at the time I wasn’t injured. And had I taken his advice on the “easy does it” part, I may not have been injured at all.

As it was, I was belly up to the start line, not sure if I was going to be able to see the finish. The course was a steady climb until about the 5.5 mile mark, then a steady decline. But it was relatively flat.

I had readjusted my goal from PR, to finish in under 3 hours, to just don’t get swept up!!! (There was a rather generous 4 hour course limit).

Throughout my entire running career, I have always struck with my toe. Because of that, I tend to take smaller steps but I tend to suffer fewer injuries. It’s always worked well for me and aside from some occasional AT issues and the *very* rare blister or complete toenail loss, I saw no reason to make major adjustments to my stride.

However, having strained my left calf, planting with my toe had become excruciatingly painful. So I had about 3 days to train myself to run 13.1 miles, planting with my heel…. But only on the left!

Um….. What?!

I was already set with a good plan for hydration and calorie replacement so no worries there. So when the gun fired, it was all about getting used to this new stride and getting comfortable with it.

Miles 1 and 2 were pretty sloppy. That’s normal. The first couple miles are always a little miserable for me.

Miles 3 through 7 were about focusing on the distance and discovering that a major race is *really* the wrong time to work through a brand new running form.

By mile 8, I was literally in tears. At this point, I had run through all of my mantras and mind tricks. Michael Jackson had done all he could do and now it was time to call on a Higher Power. So I switched to my Gospel Jams and begged Jesus for help.

As usual, He was right on time. Up through about mile 8, I had maintained about an 11 minute pace. I was happy with that but it had become clear to me that I wouldn’t be able to keep it up. I thought, if I could just get to mile 10, I would consider myself a success and allow myself to walk it in.

Mile 10 came and right on schedule, there was The Wall. Still, I couldn’t make myself stop. I know I should have but I thought, as long as there is breath in my body, I had to keep running. I knew a PR was out of the question but I could still make it in in under 3 hours if I just kept going.

Why? No one’s paying me. No one will think any less of me if I stopped. Even if I walked the rest of the way in, I wasn’t in much danger of being swept up. Why keep running? Certainly not to maintain my dignity! I’d left my dignity somewhere after the 9 mile mark when I arrived at the Aid Station breathless, weeping openly and unable to properly thank the kind volunteer who refilled my water bottle for me because I couldn’t get my fingers to respond to the commands my brain was sending. Why keep going?

Because I had to…… I just did.

So with my head bowed, my eyes closed and in very real danger of veering off course and into traffic, I kept running.

I can’t tell you how I got through miles 11 and 12 but I made it through. When I saw the 13 mile marker, I was so happy!!! My pace had dropped to 13 minutes but I didn’t care! This one had almost beaten me….. Almost.

This turned out to be the worst and the BEST race I’d ever done!!! Never had I ever gone into a race so discouraged and unsure of myself.

To top everything off, I made it in in under 3 hours and at the Finish Line were my two good friends: Lisa and Devin. This was Lisa and my 3rd race together and Devin and I work at the same office. It was *so* great to have people there with me after such a hard-fought victory… and yes, it was a victory!

Lisa and I did packet pick up together the day before and got to meet Marla Runyan herself! That was an honor!!!

We were all so happy to have run the race and to be done with it! I actually had a beer! I’d never had a beer after a race before but I’m given to understand that a cold beer tastes best after a long run.... And they were free to all of the Half Marathon finishers!!! I’ll have to take “their” word for it cuz I can’t imagine drinking beer just because. Ew!

I felt GREAT afterward!!! We all did! Sure, the muscles will cool and the pain will set in. I will likely have to see a doctor and I will certainly need a week to fully recover but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

These are 3 sets of very tired, very happy feet!!!

The human body is an amazing machine….. Able to withstand all manner of self-inflicted torture. I can’t wait to do it again!

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