This past weekend I went up to Traverse City with some friends to run the Bayshore Half Marathon. It was my first half and I think it’s my new favorite distance.
In the weeks leading up to the race, I was starting to feel really burned out. I had some really shitty runs and I was kind of getting to the point where I just wanted the race to be behind me. I had wanted to do this race since I heard about it last year, but training for it since January really took its toll.
About three weeks before the race, I developed plantar fasciitis in my left foot, and from there I strained my peroneal tendons in the same leg/foot. That led to me taking two weeks off immediately prior to the race, and I’ll be honest, I wasn’t too crushed about it. Obviously I still wanted to run the race, but I was totally okay with not being able to run in the lead-up. I needed the rest, at least mentally. I did get some long bike rides in and some solid lifting sessions, though, which felt great.
Of course, not running the two weeks before the race left me not having even the slightest idea what pace I should aim for or how fast I should go out. I had been training for 8s and I think 8:15s would have been a realistic and conservative goal had I been healthy, but with the time off I kind of just had to wing it.
I ran about 5 miles with a couple friends the night before the race with 600mg of ibuprofen in my system. There was some nagging pain, but it didn’t get worse as I ran and I felt like I loosened up pretty well. The morning of the race, I had some pain in my left arch, but the swelling on the outside of my heel/ankle was minimal, so I decided not to take anything for it. That turned out to be a good choice because the pain dissipated a few miles into the race and hasn’t come back since!
I went out at a pretty comfortable pace and clocked about an 8:20 average for the first 5 or so miles. After that, I started slowing down, which was somewhat conscious because I really didn’t know what kind of pace I could handle given my time off. I had told myself I could walk through the aid station around 10k, but I ended up feeling good through about mile ten, which I passed in 1:27:01. After that, I bonked pretty hard. I think an energy gel probably would have helped, but since I had never used one in training, I wasn’t sure how my stomach would handle it, so I just took some Gatorade a couple times. I walked through an aid station during mile 11 and finished that mile in 9:53. The whole last 5k took about 30 minutes, ouch.
I wanted to push the last mile pretty hard, but I didn’t have it in me, though whether mentally or physically, I’m not sure. I kicked like three times during the last 1.1 because I kept trying to push and it just wasn’t happening. I tried to play the Reel People In Game and passed a couple girls in matching outfits, but I didn’t hang on (pretty sure it was mental weakness, not gonna lie) and they passed me again maybe a minute later. With about a quarter mile to go, my friend Eric passed me and yelled to me something about being almost there and finishing on the track. He pulled me faster for a few seconds, then it was fading time again. Finally, once I got onto the track for the last .1ish, I pushed as hard as I could and practically fell over the finish line. As soon as I stopped running, I could barely walk. So maybe it was a little bit physical. But I really need to work on my mental game.
I finished in 1:57:11, which is an average pace of 8:56. Despite everything that could have gone better, life is good because…
- I finished my first half marathon!
- I broke 2 hours on my first try AND averaged under 9:00 pace.
- I ate lots of ice cream and pie. Like, a lot.
- I had a great mini-vacation with some awesome people.
- I am healthy again!!
Aaaand now I get to enjoy some relaxed running and base-building this summer before training for MRun cross-country season (which I might not take that seriously) and the Detroit Half Marathon which I am doing with my friend Jessica in October (and which I want to take pretty seriously).
Number one on my list of improvements to make for my second half? DON’T GET INJURED AND HAVE TO TAKE TIME OFF. Shouldn’t be too hard…?