Monday, November 26, 2012

Half Marathon Blues

Hi everyone! It’s been over two weeks since the half marathon and I think I am finally ready to talk about it. About everything that is going on in my head. And where I am going from here.
First, I really need to reiterate (in case you didn’t watch my post-half vlog) that I am very happy to have completed my first half marathon. I am super proud of myself for spending 4+ months training and preparing for something I never thought possible and then going out and doing it. I had never really experienced anything of that magnitude (re: intense training culminating with a gigantic, 27K+, event) so from start to finish the whole experience was quiet surreal. It is something I will never forget.
That being said- I’m pissed and disappointed and defeated and sad. I worked really, really hard. I put in the time and the effort. I was committed to this 100%. And to suffer through an injury just a few weeks before the half, followed by getting sick the week of, well that just was not what I had planned.
I had worked so hard; chiropractor, massage therapy, yoga, acupuncture, vitamins, juicing, ice baths, rest, etc to get myself healthy for the half and I really thought I was. Until I was in it and realized I wasn’t.
Until I had to watch everything I had worked towards crumble around me.
Until I had to accept that I wasn’t going to run for 13.1 miles. That my ‘running’ would feel like I was in molasses and that me walking was actually a faster pace than my body would let me ‘run’. It was a complete mind-fuck- excuse my French.
Every runner has bad days, that’s just life. But no one expects it to happen on the big day, the only day that counts.
I completed a half marathon- that is something I am proud of.
I did it in 03:07 and that is something I am not.
I didn’t have a number in my head I was trying to achieve or beat. This would be the benchmarking race. I just wanted to run and enjoy myself which I tried like hell to do.
I didn’t have a number in my head BUT I most certainly did not think it would take me over 3 hours to complete a half marathon. My 12 mile time was 02:20 so no, I didn’t ever think it would take 47 minutes longer to complete an additional 1.1 miles.
My mile pace for the half was a 14:17 min/mile. I have never, ever run at a 14:17 pace. Even my slowest long runs when I was first starting out were sub-13 min/mile pace. Before I started running I was walking 5Ks at a 12:50 pace. So, yeah- 14:17 wasn’t even a number that crossed my mind.
And as I type this out I feel foolish even talking about these feelings but I just want you to know where I am right now and how that day changed things for me.
After the half I got much, much sicker than I had been. I was a mess. I wasn’t really sore from the half. Just sick. And very tired. So I spent a few days sleeping, trying to get healthy.
Then when I finally felt better the only thing I felt was pissed. I was so mad at my performance and my injury and I just wanted redemption.  I wanted another chance to prove to myself that I could run the half I trained for, the half I expected to run.
I even thought about signing up for another half right away.
But I wasn’t even sure if I could actually run. So first I needed to test out the leg. And that is what I set out to do 6 days after the half. Run. Just to see how I felt.
And it was disastrous. I got about 2.5 miles from home and I was in a world of hurt. I was experiencing the same issue I was on the day of the half, just worse. I couldn’t run. I could not force my left leg to move. It felt sluggish, restricted. And on that day- painful.
And so there I was 2.5 miles from home. Pissed. Angry. Defeated. And 2.5 miles from home. I had to walk back alone with my thoughts which, trust me, weren’t pretty.
I wasn’t pissed that this injury was probably worse than I had thought. I wasn’t pissed that it meant rest and that it could possibly mean having to cancel/change future plans. I was pissed that I had all these emotions inside that I didn’t have an outlet for. I couldn’t run to redeem myself. But worse than that was that I couldn’t run period. Running has become so cathartic for me that not having it in my life has left me an emotional mess.
This took some time to work through.
But now I am back. And I have a plan. And a new focus. And I am ready to pick up the pieces and move on from the half.
I am 7 weeks out from the 3M Half Marathon which I am not sure I will be ready for in time. But I am easing back into running. I have set up a new training schedule focusing just on getting ready for this half. The next few weeks I will be easing back into training. Slow, easy runs only. No intervals or tempo runs- just running at a comfortable pace. I am hoping that I am ready to ease back in. I ran 4 miles last Thursday at the Turkey Trot and felt really good. No pain. I kept it slow and it worked out well. Tomorrow I start off my training schedule with a 3 mile run. We’ll see how it goes.
Another thing I really want to focus on over the next couple of months is my cross-training. Not only do I need to build strength back up in my leg I also need to focus on building core strength. What I’ve decided to do is supplement my running with barre classes. There is a studio near my home in San Antonio that offers Smart Barre classes. Here is the class description from their website in case you aren’t familiar with the Barre classes:
“Smart Barre practices concentrated movements that function as deep sculpting tools to strengthen and lengthen muscles. As a total body workout, this class fuses principles of ballet, Pilates, and yoga to target body areas in which women struggle- the core, hips, thighs, seat and arms. A traditional ballet barre is used to help maintain balance and provide resistance, however, you will not need a tutu in this class to achieve the long, lean look of a dancer. In addition to the barre, light weights, a playground ball, and a cushy mat are used. An efficient, upbeat workout, you will find it a “smart” use of time.”
I went to my first class last Saturday and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s tough, don’t get me wrong, but it is just what I need. Not only am I trying to improve my running I am also trying to tone up and lose a few pounds. I have Paul’s Officer Candidate School graduation in January and I want to look good for it. It’s a formal event which I will need to dress up for so I want to feel comfortable in whatever I wear.
I am also going to ride my bike (I may even ride to/from Barre class on Saturday mornings) and take Nia, Journey Dance and yoga classes whenever I can as well as continue with my weekly Thai Yoga therapy.
So that’s my plan for now. I hope to be able to get back into the swing of things with my running/training but if my body isn’t ready for it I will wait. But even if I can’t run I vow to continue my cross training. My end goal is to be strong and healthy and there are many avenues that can get me there. I have to remember that.
"We may train or peak for a certain race, but running is a lifetime sport."  ~Alberto Salazar
11/22/2012- Before the start of the Turkey Trot 4-Miler