Yesterday I ran the Rock and Roll Dallas Half Marathon! It was the slowest, ugliest, and I think hardest half marathon I have ever run. My time was terrible. It was hot…and hilly. I got blisters…and I was dehydrated.
This sounds like the perfect recipe for the worst race ever, right?
Nope, not at all! Taking all of these things into account, I can honestly say it was one of the best half marathons I have ever run. Despite my “slowness” I hauled my body 13.1 miles. And that in itself is something to be proud of! Even though I posted my slowest 13.1 time, I know that deep down in my gut, I gave it everything I had, and I left everything on the course. This was the first race I can recall having to fight so hard to finish, but I did it.
Operating my post-baby body in a distance race almost felt the same as when I first started running. Its awkward, and weird, and with every step, I was reminded that I am not as strong as I once was. Humility at its finest, my friends. I had high hopes for my finish time (reasonable, yet slightly aggressive), but somewhere in the back of my brain, knowing that this race was my first solo effort distance race post-baby, I knew I had to be okay with whatever the clock said when I crossed the finish line. Surprisingly, I was.
The last two years of racing before the baby brought out this super competitive side of me (not to worry, I was most competitive with myself and not others). If I had a bad race day, I would obsess over it, beat myself up, and punish myself with restrictive diets and two-a-day workouts. Looking back, it was crazy.
This race was different. Crossing the start line with the mentality of “just do the best you can” gave me such a sense of peace. I was able to enjoy watching other runners, take in the scenery, and chat it up with my super awesome running buddy. In short, I allowed my brain to turn this race into an experience…one that I desperately needed. I have been wrestling with a lot of self doubt lately. Rock and Roll Dallas was more than just the 13.1 miles of the course…it was a giant leap over my mental 13.1 hurdle. While it wasn’t fast, I still did it. And you know what this means, don’t you? It means that this mama has still got it in her! HALLELUJAH!
So now about the race…here is the good, the bad, and the ugly…
I was not ready for the hills.
“Hill work” in South Louisiana is almost non-existent. I put it in quotes because the city I live in barely has hills. We often do hill training on the overpasses or rolling mounds that we like to call hills. Let’s just say that the exaggerated piles of dirt that we call hills were not proper training for the inclines that we experienced from Mile 3 through Mile 8.
I was not ready for the heat.
In the past few weeks, Louisiana has seen rising temperatures. Being a girl that loves the summer heat, I did not think this would be an issue. I was SO wrong. Even though I have been doing some long runs in the heat, they had been in the evening, when the sun was not so high up in the sky. Though the course was absolutely beautiful, it did not bring much in the way of shade. I felt like the sun was blazing right down on us…and it was, as evidenced by my sunburned shoulders and cheeks today.
I got blisters.
Bodyglide was no match for the awkward foot falls that resulted in all that hill-climbing. In getting dressed for the race, I rubbed that stick of Bodyglide over every inch of each foot…on the tops, sides, bottoms, all around the toes, and all around the ankle. Sadly, the anti-friction super power of Bodyglide was all gone by Mile 5. This was the first time I have EVER experienced a blister while using Bodyglide. When I first starting to feel the hot spots (under the two smallest toes, both feet), I was completely thrown off. I probably should have stopped at the medical tent for some attention, but we pushed on!
I was dehydrated.
This is completely my own fault. I drank lots of water on Thursday and Friday before the race…more than 90oz each day, at least. Saturday, however, was a different story. I know it sounds ridiculous, but drinking water COMPLETELY slipped my mind. Erica and I were having so much fun in the car and I was so distracted, it didn’t even occur to me to drink water. I think my subconscious also had something to do with the sabotage because lots of water drinking leads to lots of bathroom stops…and we were just too excited to get to Dallas! In my bag I packed my hand held Amphipod and Nuun, but at the last minute, I decided not to carry it, thinking there would be plenty of hydration stations along the way. What a bad idea. While there we lots of water stops, they weren’t where I needed them to be…which let to panic and stressing on my part. Let’s just say, lesson learned.
Despite all of these hiccups, I had an awesome day…
- I ran my fastest 5k that I have run in MONTHS. The first 3.1 miles was around the 32:00 mark.
- This led to my fastest 10k in my last three 10k run distances. 6.2 miles was around the 01:09:00 mark.
- Miles 3 through 8 were uphill…and exhausting.
- Miles 6 through 8 were mostly walked. We were running out of steam and those hills were murder.
- I had “heard” that after you get past the crest of the hill at Mile 8 that it was a sloping downhill all the way to the finish. Huh. I’m not sure where the sloping downhill went, because it seemed pretty even to me. I still need to download the info from my Garmin and see the actual elevation statistics.
- Miles 8 through 10 were run in intervals…3:00 minute push, 1:00 minute recovery.
- I ran out of gas at Mile 10 and I was TIRED.
- Miles 10 through 13 were a fight. I repeated my mantra, fought for every quarter of a mile, and dreamed about the beer at the end. I WILL NOT DIE. I WILL NOT DIE. I WILL NOT DIE.
- The last 0.1 mile was JOYOUS. I caught the eye of my friend, I picked up the pace, and I did a little dance across the finish line. It was spectacular!
Making the whirlwind trip to Dallas and back with Erica was a blast! Having a friend by your side to keep you motivated when you feel like calling it quits is so important. I needed her to keep me going, and her antics left me with no lack of entertainment! And with all of her on-route photo taking, I think she has a new nickname…the Touristy Runner! It has a ring to it, yes?
While I had a great race experience, I can assure you that I will never again post a time this slow for a half marathon. It isn’t that I am embarrassed by my time or anything like that, it is just that I prefer to move faster. Basically, if I am going to be investing that much time running a race, I want it to be for a full marathon and not a half (just my personal preference). More extensive training is definitely needed before I register for another half marathon. Getting a happy trigger finger when signing up for races isn’t always the smartest plan. Moving forward, I am looking to do a fall half marathon and possibly an early winter full marathon. For the next 12 weeks or so, the goal is to bring the mileage/run down, increase run frequency to get my body really comfortable, and increase strength training (which, I will admit, I really don’t like to do). Necessary evils!
I have another race in mind, but I have to work out the details and logistics before I put it out there in the universe.
One last thing before I wrap this up…I just want to say that the support you can find from other runners across the Twitterverse and blogosphere is truly amazing. I appreciate every kind word that was sent our way on race day. It means so much. It just goes to show you that despite all the negativity you hear on the news or read in the paper, there are a lot of really awesome and thoughtful people in the world.
How was YOUR weekend? Did you race or get in a long run? How did it go?