… running a half marathon. seriously. Why would anyone, let alone 5000 people, want to do this? for fun? wha…? I don’t know, maybe it was easier being almost 290+lbs and not even considering this kind of thing. Anyway, it’s done. My first 1/2 Marathon. I have pretty mixed feelings about it. I feel exhilarated that I completed it, yet I remember very well how it may have been the hardest (no, I can state in no uncertain terms that is WAS the hardest) physical thing I have ever done in my life. The question is… … why?
There are people who do this for fun. There are people who do this for fitness. There are people that do this for the social aspect. There are people who do this as an escape. There are people who do this because they are addicted. There are people who do this to compete. There are people who actually do this for the money. I don’t know where I fit in. Maybe I fit in a few of these, but as I was about 4km from the finish today, I was wishing I was none of these.
Last November I went out for my first ever run( for the sake of running, not like it was running scared or mad or anything). January 1st, I ran 10k for the first time. Jan 26th I joined a 10k clinic at the Running Room,and 3 weeks later I switched to the 1/2 Marathon clinic. The Training for the 1/2 is supposed to be 16 weeks, with a goal race at the very end. The Running Room is not affiliated with the HSBC Calgary Marathon weekend, so the clinic was set to finish up for the Calgary Policeman’s Half Marathon and the Vancouver Marathon Weekend. That was 5 weeks before my race, the Calgary 1/2.
I realize now you can train too long. Especially if you are new to running like I am. I think the extra 5 weeks of training took something out of me. Let me clarify. I ran with a group of about 20 people all the way up to week 16 in training. There were 5 or 6 of us who ran together all the time, and we fed off each other, pushed each other and generally ‘made’ each other run, even if you didn’t feel like it. The last 5 weeks it really just fell apart. I still ran Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, and I tried to follow a logical training plan, but even when you would go to the Running Room, no one would have any set direction for distance or training style, so it was just a bit wishy washy. I don’t have any issues with it, I understand what happened, I just wish I could have found a little more motivation the last 3-5 weeks. Going into the race weekend I was extremely anxious, not becuase of the distance, as I had completed the distance on 3 previous occasions, but because I think I lost some of the training benefits in the last few weeks. HOWEVER…
I think I had a pretty good run, considering all the factors and that it was my first big race.
With all the above said, there is no way I could have completed this INCREDIBLE feat (for me) without the training program at the Running Room. I have to thank Tracie, Susan and Glenn, for an amazing experience in training. I learned that you can run the distances, that you need to eat healthy food, there is a right way to run, stretching is important, shoes are more important, Long slow runs are the right way to train long distances, and that running with other people is much more enjoyable than running alone. I followed the training and I completed my goal!
I woke up at 4:45. I have to eat my peanut butter sandwich, drink a big glass of water and a half a cup of coffee. This all has to be exactly 2 hours before the race to get the benefit of the carbs and water and to facilitate the body, well… er, getting rid of excess waste. That explains the 1/2 cup of coffee eh? Well, on every long training run over 16 kms, this little routine has gone right on plan. So today is no exception, right? wrong. no getting rid. I finish the whole cup of coffee and the sit around for about a 1/2 hour. nothing. I have to go, to the race that is. So I get dressed in all my gear, Running shorts with built in compression ginch, Technical shirt, hat and fitted socks, One of two pair of identical shoes, complete with happy feet insoles and speedlaces, My Garmin 305, my Fuel belt loaded with 32 oz of Gu2O electrolyte drink if 4 separate bottles, 2 pack of Gu Wildberry(with caffine) gel, 1 pack of chapstick, my cellphone, truck keys, driver license, visa and debit card. Yeah…
I hop in the truck and head down to the MaxBell arena parking lot to get on the train down to the race location in Bridgeland. I get to the staging areas at 6am, so now I have an hour to relax and soak in the atmosphere… and hopefully… well, you know. I run into a few people from the running room, chat a little, then I figure it’s time to stash my duffle at the bag check and start warming up a little. First things first though, I spot a Tim Hortons booth. Over I go for a piping hot cup of black ‘gitter moving’ coffee. When I finish my coffee it’s time for a few warm up jogging laps. Hey whaddya know, it worked! Yay for me.
A little more warmups and all of a sudden it’s time to head over to the start. Wow, 5000 people are a lot to put together shoulder to shoulder. I am standing with a few of my Running Room friends when the gun goes off and … we stand there. hehe, pretty typical of a big race. We got moving about 4 minutes after the gun, thank goodness my time starts via the chip on my shoe when we cross the start line. The first 3km was probably my favourite part of the race. I really enjoyed the massive group of people as they were all excited and chatting and just generally happy at this point. It was a very scenic in this part of the race as well, winding through Bridgeland, past the zoo, into Inglewood and Ramsey and behind the Saddledome. It is a fairly rolly, windey route for the first 5km. It was fun. that didn’t really last too much longer. I felt bad for the people who had to line up for the porta-johns at the water stations, as they seemed to be moving very slow and it is probably a not a very good race strategy for a good finishing time. There were pretty significant line-ups at all the porto-loos along the way.
I had written a race strategy last night and created a wristband with the details. Well that was a good idea in principal, but It pretty much got thrown out with the slow moving pack for the first 5km. So I just tried to run steady.When we turned onto 17th ave, it sort of went south for me. During training we try to run some really scenic areas and I really enjoy the runs. This part was not pretty at all. In fact it was just hard. about 21 long city blocks, straight, flat and mind numbing. It’s here where I started to feel the end of my second toe rubbing in my shoe. You see, my second toes are about 1/4” longer than my big toe, so they rub. They were fine for the last few weeks as they built up a nice callous, however the other day, the callous came off and left really nice tender skin, ready to rub in my shoe. (sorry about this picture…) It did, starting about 7km. I sort of ignored it for a while anyway.
It’s not that I felt bad at this point, I was still feeling quite good, I was just missing trees and curves and conversation. With this many people out there, it was still pretty solitary. Maybe I should have ran with my Ipod. The one long run I did do in training by myself was with music and it seemed easier at the time, AND it was only 2 minutes slower than my time today.
They advertised ‘on course entertainement’ in the race brochure. Well, we had a guy playing a fiddle on 17th ave. A little further down the road was an old hippy couple playing a banjo and accordion. When we rounded the off ramp from 14th onto Memorial there was a really cool drumming group, so we saw them again on the way back down memorial after the 1/2 marathon turnaround. The funniest was the Elvis impersonator. He was a hoot! all dressed up, with big speakers, doing karaoke on a tiny little stage. However, i couldn’t help but feel that the entertainment and the events were all geared up for the full marathon runners because there were a few of the entertainers just getting set up or on breaks while we were passing by. This surprised me a little as there were almost 5 times the 1/2 marathon runners as there were full runners.
On a funnyish note, when we turned onto Memorial, the elite runners were already coming back down memorial. One guy said to another guy, he felt sorry for them because they were running so hard. I commented (unsolicited) that we are the ones to feel sorry for, because we are out here for WAY longer than them.
Well, I made it to the turn around at about 13km, and it started to go down hill really fast for me. For some reason I started to feel quite bad. My toe started to ache, my legs were tired and my heart was really racing. In the race I actually peaked at 181 beats, which is my MAX HR, where in training I never got over 172 beats. Once I turned back on memorial at the turn around, the final 8km seemed a really long way. I couldn’t help my mind from thinking negatively. I tried all sorts of mind tricks, but I just kept coming back to ‘gawd I feel bad’ and ‘I think i’m hitting the wall’… OH no, I have never had these kinds of thoughts before during my runs, I have always been Mr. positive. what the heck is happening to me?
All the while, I am still on pace for a sub 2hr half. That thought was the only thing that kept me going. Even if I am hitting the wall, or ‘bonking’, I still have a chance to get in under my goal of 1:59:59. I should qualify that. Here is my thought process:
Maybe I should just walk it in (I did walk quite a bit in the last 4km, but only for 10-15 secs at time, just to slow my HR)
4 more kms is too far (and like 17th ave, Memorial is VERY long, I would have rather been up on the pathway than on the road)
I feel so unbelievably bad, I have no energy, my legs are sore
I think I am dehydrated, hope I don’t pass out
My whole body hurts.
Are my arms supposed to tingle like that?
Gawd it’s hot out.
I need new shoes.
Finishing in over 2 hours is ok
However, I did have a response to a lot of these thoughts, and for a while I actually forced myself to zone out and think about nothing, just let my body carry me. I did come to at about the 18km mark and I started running through all the things that could help me, in my mind.
Traci is at the finish line, and If I don’t get there when I said I would, she would be worrying
I have trained for this, and I have completed this distance 3 times already
I am not hitting the wall, if I was hitting the wall I would have to stop
Just slow down a little, I am still on pace!
IF I think I feel bad now, think about how I will feel if I don’t finish.
I CHOOSE to do this, no one forced me to do this.
Then I started thinking about running quotes I use:
If I quit now, how will I get back to my car?
Pain is temporary, Quitting lasts forever
It helped. I still felt awful, but I think the training and my desire to complete my goal took over, and I sort of zoned out again. The Race organizers make a nice flat course, until the final 1km, then uphill we go! I haven’t looked at my gps data, but I am pretty sure this is where I maxed out my HR, I walked for one last stint with 500meters to go, then ran the rest of the way in.
Never in my life have I felt so un-believably bad and good at the same time as when I crossed the finish line. I took a good hard look at the medical tent before deciding that I really just needed a drink and a place to sit for a minute or 2. This proved hard to find as the drink line was ridiculous and there wasn’t anywhere to sit near the finish. I finally found Traci, gawd she looked good, who split off from me at the finish as we were all too ripe smelling for her, and was able to make it into the food line and get a banana, orange and a few other recovery snacks.
I completed the run in 1:58:30. I think it’s pretty good. I do think I could have done quite a bit better. I suppose that gives me goals to shoot for. I was a bit emotional, not because of the time, but because it was SO hard, yet I pushed through and completed it! My body was so sore and out of sorts at the end, I have never felt anything like it. It was probably the first time in my life I used up all of my physical ability, with nothing left in the tank. Why would I want to do that? who knows, but I hope it is one of those things that make me stronger, and not jaded.
I walked with Traci to our car and she drove me over to my Truck and I went home. All of this and I was home just after 10am. yeesh. That’s a lot of work, all before lunch. Traci covertly stopped at Safeway and picked up a “Way to go Daddy” Cake.
Thanks Honey! After burning 2650 calories this morning, I had 2 pieces!
We sat out on the deck, played in the new pool then had naps! What a DAY!