Saturday, December 5, 2009

It's over!

I have participated in the St. Jude Half-Marathon for three years now, and every year there has been a point at which I have felt overwhelming relief that I was running the half and not the full. This year, that point came when, just past the 10-mile marker, a girl running next to me looked at her watch and said, "Two hours down. Three more to go!"

Ugh. Forget you full people. The half is where it's at.


Two-hours, twenty-seven minutes, and forty-six seconds (unofficially). You wanna know my time from last year? 2:52:24. The year before that it was 3:05:28. 2009 was 25 minutes faster than 2008 and almost 40 minutes faster than 2007. My goal this year was simply to run the whole thing start to finish. Not only did I do that, I did it at an 11:17 pace. For most runners, an 11:17 mile nothing to brag about. But I'm a medicore runner. My first half, my pace was 14:10. Reducing that by almost 3 minutes per mile is a pretty damn big deal to me.

OK, so this was my morning:

I got up around 5:30, got all my stuff in order, took my time getting dressed, and then I ate what I have eaten before every run 10 miles or longer this year: a bowl of organic Naturals Mallow-Oats cereal, a container of Kroger key-lime pie flavored yogurt, and a peanut butter and chocolate chip granola bar.

I left around 6:45. My plan was to get to a parking garage by about 7:15 and then sit in the car for ten minutes in the heat before walking to the start area. Except I forgot that the Memphis Grizzlies House 5k started at 7:15, so three cars before it was my turn to drive across Third Street, the 5k started and I had to sit and wait for 4,000 runners to cross in front of me. I completely freaked out.

But I was OK again by 7:30, which was when I finally was able to cross the street. I parked, scarfed down one last peanut butter and chocolate chip granola bar, and then met my dad, who was walking towards me in case he had to sit in my car and park it for me should the 5k take too long.

7:45 we reached the area where 8,000 half-marathoners and 3,500 marathoners were lining up to start the race. I ran off to go to the bathroom, spent an extremely anxious 15 minutes standing in line, and then, at exactly 8:00 made it to Corral 12 (for runners with an 11:00 - 11:30 pace) and met my parents. I was also supposed to meet some people from my training group but I never saw them so when my corral was up, at 8:20, I started the half-marathon by myself.

And I stayed by myself the whole time. It was strangely liberating. Like one of those things that you have to try once to prove to yourself that you can do it. And now I know. I can run 13.1 miles by myself (well, excluding the 11,500 people running in my general area).

I went out too fast but it's almost impossible not to at a race like that where the start is lined with hundreds of cheering people. I slowed down in my second mile and evened out for the third. Based on how I felt, I estimated I was running an 11:15 pace by the 4th mile, which would have put me at exactly 45 minutes. As I ran across the mile marker, I looked down and my watch read...45:00. After that, I knew I had this thing.

Observations from this year...I only saw one elite runner (lapping us in the final leg of the marathon), right before I entered Overton Park around mile 8.

Even at my increased pace, I was still surrounded by walkers in the final couple of miles.

The general pain of long-distance running didn't truly kick in until around mile 9. I was able to run through it, though.

The hills through miles 10-12 are always a thousand times harder than I remember them.

It was 25 degrees this morning when I started, something I was extremely concerned about because last year it was 32 and I got so cold that my joints locked up around mile 4 and I spent the next two days in more pain than I have ever been in in my entire life. But my rushing around before the race paid off because even with the colder temperature, I was never as cold as I was last year.

Last week at this time it was 20 degrees warmer. And it's been at least 20 degrees warmer every single weekend since training started. Why does God hate the first weekend in December so much?

While my core stayed warm, my gloves got sweaty and wet and by the time I was done running, I had lost all feeling in three fingers on my right hand and one on my left. They were completely white and looked like dead person's fingers and I think I totally freaked my mom out (they're fine now).

I passed people right and left in the last half mile. So many people were finishing with me that Mom and Dad missed me crossing the finish line, but right up until the end, I was weaving in and out and pushing ahead of runners who (inexplicably) seemed to slow down when they saw the finish line instead of speeding up. Lame.

Due to my lateness, I had to park on the 5th floor of the parking garage. There is not much good that can be said about walking up 5 flights of stairs after running a half-marathon.

My right knee really, really hurts and now that the adrenaline rush is over, I feel a bit sick to my stomach, but who the hell cares? I did it!!!! I wasn't sure if I would this year. It wasn't the same without Megan and I can't wait till she's back alongside of me next year. But if I had to do it alone, this was the way to do it. A blog to hold me accountable (to myself, if no one else), a group to help me through the long runs, and with the experience gained from running this race before and not doing such a great job of it.

So here endeth the chronicling of the 2009 half-marathon training. I am happy. I am also tired. The end.

My official time, as posted by The Commercial Appeal:

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Well, that's it then.

My last training run! I'm sad. For the past 4 months or so, I've been scheduling my weekends around these runs. What the hell am I going to do with my time after next week?! (Probably sleep in.)

Well, of all days, today was the day my pedometer failed me. I didn't close it all the way (accidentally) and so after 1:21:26 of running, it said I'd run 0.12 miles. I feel that estimate might be a little low... Google puts it at 6.8 miles, but Google is always stupidly low in its calculation, so we'll (conservatively) say it was 7 miles.

And now I rest for the next week. OH MY GOD IT'S ALMOST TIME.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Home Stretch

Well, this blog didn't turn out to be quite the success I envisioned when I started. I currently have nine unpublished draft posts in my queue, most of them months old, most of them subject lines only. I had a lot of ideas that I never did anything with; for a while there I thought I would spend a lot more time on this blog than I did. I guess we'll never know what thrilling commentary I would have wrung out of the opener "Let's Talk About Race Shirts."

On second thought, that one is probably best left unwritten.

This is not the last entry here, nor was tonight the last run before the half, but we're getting close. I did my one and only weekday run tonight. 4.5 miles in an inexplicably quick 46:48. (I mean seriously. That's a 10:24 pace! That's a full minute faster per mile than I usually run!!)

I'll run Saturday, maybe with the group, but maybe not, depending on what the schedule is and what's going on in the post-Thanksgiving hysteria and then...

...then I will rest. For one week. No running. And the following Saturday, I will run the half-marathon.

Then it will be over. And so will this blog (probably). The past few months have been an experiment of sorts, to see if I could follow a training regimen without Megan to coax me along and to see if I could stick to a semi-regular blogging schedule again. I think I succeeded on both counts.

I was pretty mediocre, but I knew that going into it (thus the name of the blog). It wasn't so much how well I ran (or blogged), it's that I did it. My goal was to get through it. And I'm *almost* there...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I may or may not be living later this afternoon.

But since I'm alive at the moment...


Two hours, fifty-one minutes, two seconds. 28,020 steps. 1,285 calories. That is, by a full three miles, the farthest I have ever run in my life.

And I was alone for the last 4.5 miles. My running buddies turned around at about 10.5.

I'm not saying it wasn't incredibly painful. I'm not saying that my mind didn't completely lose all capacity for rational thought after 11 miles or so. I'm not saying that it wasn't one of the hardest things I have ever put my body through (though, oddly, I think the 12-miler two weeks ago was harder).

But right now I'm feeling pretty damned good.

Fifteen miles. Fuck yes.

(And the half is only 13.1. I've got this bitch!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Everybody's running, and no one makes a move...

Three point six in thirty-seven thirty-seven. (Hey, I broke 150!)

And now...I REST.

This Saturday, I will be doing the final long-long run before the half. Fourteen miles. Gulp.

The following Saturday we'll do six and the Saturday after that, I run the damned thing.

Getting close now...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

That's what I'm talking about.

It had to happen at some point but it took longer than usual this year and I was getting spoiled! I'm talking about the weather, of course. For the first time this season, I had to break out my long pants to run tonight. It's in the 40s. And it started sprinkling on me during my last lap.

NONETHELESS, the run was a success. And whew! Because the last time I ran on that track was last Wednesday, when everything was horrible and I thought perhaps I'd lost my ability to run altogether. There's a certain psychological difficulty in going back to a place where you had a really dismal run, you know, but it worked out greatly because I was kind of awesome this evening (even with the stupidly cold wind and stupidly cold rain drops!).

4.5 miles in 48:57.

By the by, the subject line is in reference to the run itself, and not the weather. Otherwise that just wouldn't make a lot of sense.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Anything over 5 miles is painful.

But it was a pretty good run this morning!

6.3 miles in exactly one hour and 12 minutes, which I'm quite proud of considering last year at this time, I was running 5 miles in exactly one hour and 12 minutes. I'm still at the very back of the pack...but I'm choosing not to focus on that and instead reveling in the personal achievement of shaving off 34 seconds per mile.

And here I am, having run, socialized after, and driven home, and it's all of 7:47 am.

(The marathoners are running 20 today. God bless 'em.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Best-Laid Plans

I thought I was going to run last night to make up for Wednesday's travesty, but that didn't happen. I was tired on a scale I cannot easily hyperbolize.

But I got to one 8-day period, ending with the 12 mile run last Saturday, I ran 28.5 miles. No wonder I was tired!

This week is a back-down week anyway. A mere 6 miles tomorrow. (How weird that I'm at the point where running 6 miles is a "short" run.) So I'm OK with letting my legs rest a little. It'll be back to business next week...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


What just happened? That was damn near dispiriting. I think that was the worst run of this entire training season. It just wasn't in me. I couldn't do it. The only thing I can equate it to is the first run after being very, very sick. That's what my body felt like. Weak and shaky and overall not good.

I did 3.6 miles in 37:48, but I had to stop twice to retie my shoe and then a third time to take off my top shirt because I was DYING of the heat (which is never usually a problem for me! and it wasn't all that warm out anyway!).

I might still be tired from the weekend, but I'm not ruling out my diet, either. I typically eat some form of pasta 6 or 7 days a week, but the past two nights, I've had really low-carb dinners (Mexican last night and a hamburger casserole thing tonight). So that couldn't have helped matters...

Whatever the problem was, my body did not like and decided not to cooperate with me tonight. Bad, bad run.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Uncharted Territory

Prior to today, the longest I had ever run in one stretch was 10.5 miles. That was as far as Megan and I got in our long runs last year. And I don't think we even got that far in last year's half before we took a walk break.

But this morning, starting at 6:00 am, I completed my first 12 mile run. Twelve miles. Two hours, seventeen minutes, and forty-four seconds. OF RUNNING.

So I'm in some pain right now.

My new shoes worked wonders on my joints, and I'm happy to report that I'm currently experiencing minimal knee and ankle pain. But my feet. My feet started to hurt about 4 miles in. Damn those hard new shoes! I remember last year after the half, I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and I could not stand up straight my feet and knees hurt so badly. So I'm guessing I won't know the full level of damage I've done to myself today until I wake up in the middle of the night tonight.

About 8 miles, I hit a low point and basically wanted to die. But around 9 there was a water break, and we stopped for about 20 seconds to down a cup (since this is not like a race where you can drink as you run and just throw your cup to the side of the road...this is the extremely nice people at Breakaway spending their Saturday morning standing around waiting for our sorry selves to drag in to the water stand they've set up) and after that, I felt a lot better.

I was running with two friends I run with most weeks, but this week they added the variable of complaining. A lot. About everything. And on the last leg of a run, it is a horrible, horrible thing to have to listen to people talk about how bad things are. I already knew how bad things were. I could feel it in my body. The only way my body could keep going was if my mind muted its complaints, and it was hard to do that when my mind was being inundated by negative conversation!

I left them in the last mile or so, running just far enough ahead so I couldn't hear them.

We were running a 6 mile loop twice and to break up the monotony the three of us decided to run the loop backwards the second time. The second mile of the loop was extremely hilly, so the downside to our plan was that going backwards put those hills in our 11th mile (instead of our 7th). Again, I felt like dying a little. (And this was the point at which I made a conscious effort to get ahead of the others.)

The other thing is that (as you know) I always wear a pedometer when I run because our routes are mapped by Google and the distances always clock in a tad longer than estimated. We didn't quite complete the first loop before we turned around because, after being asked, I checked my pedometer and we were at 6.2 miles. So we were fine to go ahead and turn around.

But my running mates kept asking for the distance! "How far, Becky?" "What mile are we on, Becky?" "Let us know when we hit 12 miles, Becky!" I never, ever look at my pedometer while I run (too psychologically damaging), but I think that opening and closing it while I was running screwed up the mileage because we were just at 12 miles when we finished when we should have been at at least 12.5.

So really, I have no idea how the hell long I ran, but I'm going to conservatively say 12 because that's what I was supposed to have done.

The lesson of the day is that I may actually prefer running solo to running with people who are talking about the wrong things.

I went to Walgreens yesterday and bought myself a bag of Skittles as an after-run treat. A lot of runners are all like, "Oh, I only eat fruit after I run." Like that makes them awesome people or something.

Fuck that. I just ran 12 miles. I have EARNED these Skittles.

And, um, I think I'm going to go take an ibuprofen or twelve now...