Thirty-Two Seconds. 32. In a sport that often comes down to hundredths of a second, thirty-two whole seconds seems like a lot.
Last month, I ran my first half marathon of the year. It was supposed to be a long training run in preparation for the Carmel Half Marathon this Saturday. Somewhere along the line, though, Summer and I decided we were ready to attempt our Declare It Day goals of running a sub-2 hour half that day. Despite writing this post (by hand!) the night before that race nearly 4 weeks ago, I have been hesitant to share it because, to be honest, I’m still struggling with so many of the emotions I experienced leading up to and immediately after that race. Originally, I planned to write out a few thoughts and edit (a lot) before posting, but it sort of came spilling out all at once as I began writing. Since I also made a DID goal to “give grace” – and that includes to myself – I’m doing it scared :) and sharing this as is … sort of fitting since my next half marathon starts bright and early tomorrow morning!*** The Night Before the Sam Costa Half: 3/18/16 ***
Nothing about this week has been normal. No running, No workouts, No Bible Study, about twice as many hours at work than normal and a terrible last long training run. In fact, I haven’t had a good long run since Polar Bear four weeks ago. My last three long runs have been brutal both mentally and physically (and that’s an understatement) to say the least. My shorter runs have only been slightly better – but still a struggle nonetheless.
On the eve of the scary “sub-2 attempt” I am writing this post for two reasons. Mainly because I can’t sleep (of course!) but also because I want to remember exactly how I felt tonight – regardless of what happens tomorrow.
The work week, the major family decisions, the timing of it all – is it going to be a blessing or a curse? Will it matter at all?
To say my training runs have been bad isn’t entirely fair. Did I hit my prescribed pace (and with no stops) these last few weeks? No. Which is super frustrating for a goal-oriented person!
But it wasn’t until someone pointed out to me that, at this time last year, a comfortable run for me for about a 10 min/mile and now I’m trying to run a 2 hour half, about a 9:08 min/mile pace and a few of my training runs have been in the 8:50’s. Have I made huge strides in just this past year? Absolutely.
I’m still in recovery for my Type A personality, so seeing the progress rather than the so-called failure is difficult. The perfectionist in me (sometimes dormant, sometimes overbearing) knows that a bad training run isn’t good for my race day mojo … or my results.
Last week’s run sucked. In a No Good Very Bad Day kind of way. In a way I didn’t know was possible until the moment that it happened. It can be summed up with two words: Ugly Cry. Wanna know why there’s only feet in this post-run picture? Because my mascara was running faster than me and had written hot mess all over my face. I can safely say stress played a large part in that bad run – so many changes looming (from schedules to big family decisions) that I have been carrying squarely on my shoulders for the last several months. But that doesn’t explain the last 3 weeks! The first miles were winded (but the first mile’s always a liar, right?!) Either way, I felt discouraged and my legs felt heavy despite a very low mileage week. My heart was pounding despite the cooler, perfect temps and I was sweating EVERYWHERE!
We set out for 10 miles but it may as well have been 1000 because at miles 2 and 3 and 4 I wanted to quit. At mile 5 we stopped for fuel. Most of our group had been ahead and out of sight for a while. Mary and Melissa were just in front of Annette and I … and I lost it. I mean, a mental-breakdown-ugly-cry was happening in the middle of the most popular running/walking trail on the north side of Indy and I was the star of the show.
The stress of life had been knocking on the door for months – but more, I realized that the very thing I had come to rely on as my stress reliever was actually at the root of some of my stress. This training (for sub-2) for me has been an eye-opener. I’ve been running for almost 6 years, trying to improve my pace or splits each time but with no specific goals in mind until now.
Last November I ran a personal best at the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon – beating my previous best from that same race the year before by a full 5 minutes! Trying to knock off another 6+ minutes in less than 3 months of training is a very lofty goal for me. But I was determined to do it! Until I started doing the work! I kept second-guessing myself here or there, and almost quit once before but didn’t want to let my other RG’s down. Last Saturday, I thought that was it. I was done. I was NEVER doing this. And I still don’t know …
But I realized I have to run this race for ME. Not because someone else set a goal for me. Not because we came up with a cute hashtag. Because I worked hard to get where I am. Because I want to. Because I get to. Because I can.
***** ***** *****I finished that race in 2:00:31. Thirty-two seconds shy of my goal.
There were a lot of little things that went wrong that morning. Stopping to tie a shoe in the first mile. Circling the water station at mile 5 to get water rather than Gatorade. Getting barely any sleep the night before.
And some unexpected moments that have become treasured memories – like hearing my name yelled out by a dear friend from college (who I haven’t seen in many years) when I really needed a boost around mile 9. Having Geri appear out of nowhere to run part of that last mile with me … UP A HILL. Finding out Mary and Jenny decided to surprise us at the finish line and hearing them cheer me in. Picking my collapsed self up off the asphalt to join the others. Finding a very unexpected burst of energy to run out to meet Summer and cross the finish line (for the second time) with my best training buddy.I struggled with that 32 seconds for a long time. I PR’d that race by more than 6 minutes – that’s something to be proud of, I know. And I am, now! But this was never about a PR. It was a specific goal. Under 2 hours. That’s it. And that goal has yet to be met.