Yeah, yeah, yeah… it’s late. So was I. It’s gonna be lackluster, but… you know. It’s a theme. I figure I want to excel at something, why not make it mediocrity?
So, the Kaiser Half Marathon was a really tough race for me. As you know if you follow this blog, it was the first half marathon I planned to really put in a full training and tapering cycle for, but was sidelined by a mysterious ankle injury two weeks out. I really had hope in the back of my mind that the two weeks off to get the ankle in running shape would get me to the line so well rested and amped on running again that I’d just fly through the course to my goal of 1:59:59.
Despite the race starting at a somewhat human hour of 8AM, I was up at 5, stretched, ate, left the house by 6. Got down to the beach parking lots by about 6:30, and they were a compete clustersmurf. I inched along until I was able to get out of the lot and made the decision to drive up and look for parking at the start line. Followed one of the charter busses (there were lots of them!) up to 25th and parked just a few hundred feet from JFK drive. Walked to the start area. I got there at about 7, so a whole hour to freeze.
Man, was it cold! My shoulders were twitching and shivering. My face hurt. Cold. At one point, I hit the porta potty and wondered if anyone would notice if I just hunkered down and stayed in there for the next 45 minutes. Then I looked around and realized that, really, the cold was preferable all things considered.
Made my way to the start about 20 minutes early. Chatted with some Steelers fans who liked my Terrible Towel. Then spotted a friend from the Runner’s World message boards. Said hello—or something like it. My face was shivering and numb at this point.
The gun goes off and we go nowhere. Slllooooowwwwlllyyyy start to walk some. I think it took more than 4 minutes to cross the line, per the chip time vs. gun time. Even after the mat, we just kind of started to bounce and jostle. I totally wasted my traditional “first song” Birdhouse in Your Soul jam out, since it was long over by the time I started moving at all.
I didn’t even try to get around folks in the beginning, for fear that I’d twist or jar my ankle. And it shows. Things opened up a bit out around the panhandle and back, and then it was pretty smooth sailing through the park. I knew I was off my goal pace, but had faith that maybe I could get a few miles good enough to bring it back in:
Mile 1: 10:05
Mile 2: 9:12
Mile 3: 9:41
Mile 4: 9:14
Mile 5: 9:13
We got to the real downhill portion and, as you can see, I may have gotten a bit too excited:
Mile 6: 8:43
Mile 7: 9:22
Then, we got to The Great Highway. I knew the 5+ mile out-and-back on the Great Highway was going to be my nemesis. I have been running it in training, and it is just one big soulsuck. You might be running along the ocean, technically, but for all practical purposes, it may as well be the 101 between Brisbane and San Mateo. Even worse, you are just 10 feet away from the people who have already gotten to the end and are coming back. Those bastards.
Mile 8: 9:37
At 8.52 miles, I hit a big crack in the roadway and twisted my bad ankle. Like the internet loser that I am, I made a note of it so that if it knocked me out of the race I would have an accurate race report. In this mile, I also saw an awesome woman from the RW message board who goes by “Radi” headed towards the turnoff to the finish, lookin’ like fresh butter on a warm day. I whooped after her like an idiot. “Why did this miserable looking girl with a towel just yelp? I hope she’s not about to barf on my good racing shoes.” (Postscript: Radi went on to finish, I think 14th female overall with a HUGE personal best.)
Mile 9: 9:54
Mile 10: 10:17
That last half mile or so to the turn around was just mentally painful. Of course, at this point, my endurance is just completely shot and my legs feel like lead and my head is just in a horrible place wondering how I can lose so much in just two weeks and why bother to build the fitness at all if it is just so fleeting. I decide that really all I want is to finish and let myself walk some.
Mile 11: 10:29
This mile was more suck, but near the end, I saw a guy wearing a sign on his teeshirt: “Kaiser Saved My Niece” with a cute picture of a kid and I tapped him on the shoulder and thanked him for wearing that and figured there’s no reason why I can’t still pull this out at least a little bit.
Mile 12: 10:07
Mile 13: 9:42 (My Garmin had me going a bit longer, so the distance sync looks to be kind of messed up)
I suppose I finished strong enough to not feel like a total ass considering this was the first time Rob actually saw me cross a finish line. He has it on video, and I pass like 5 or 6 folks on the approach to the line, so I suppose that is good. Still, though, nowhere near what I have been training for since November.
Final Verdict: 2:08:08 – A Personal Record, but on this course vs. US Half, both time-wise and where my head was at, I hardly think it’s worth tooting a horn over.
Postscript: The best part was that my sweet, sweet boyfriend was meeting me at the finish line with my backpack, which had my Endurox and other post-race necessities in it. Well, turns out the backpack was in the car at 40th and Irving. So we had to walk all the way to the car, then realized there was no way to drive over to where the Beach Chalet was for me to meet up with my Runners World friends, so I was hightailing it back through the park with my backpack on, 30 minutes late to the FE, trying to get some Endurox in my system before I totally tanked, with half the roads in the park closed off for the finishline festival and/or folks who were still finishing the race, so I’m like single-track hiking through the bushes in what I assume is the direction of JFK drive. People are following me and then I hit a deadend and scream “SH*&!” and turn around half-crying to see a line of people also turning around. People… never follow Smurf. She doesn’t know where she’s going.
I finally got to the meet-up with my Runners World friends about an hour late, but it was great to chat with others who consider this kind of torture “fun.”
In all, though- it was just a sucky week. Between me trying to rehab my ankle all week with Rob’s stepbrother crashing on the couch, and keep my eating and such in check while they are out filming a karaoke documentary until 2AM every night and just generally dealing with messed up schedules, etc. It was just emotionally, mentally and physically draining. Not to mention that, in the days after my injury, I started packing on water weight at the rate of about a pound a day, which put me in even a worse place. And I still feel it this week. I am STILL super sore. Went out for a 3 mile run yesterday and was barely able to tick off 11 minute miles and had to do some walking. I feel like I am back at newbie beginner square 0.1 , and that is frustrating. But, I guess the lesson that I’m learning is that this running thing isn’t so much a steady climb as it is a roller coaster ride, so I guess I’ll just hang on and see what comes next!
Ps. The teeshirts are awesome, but WTF with no medals?!
PPs. I’m three days into a (hopeful) sprint to the finish on my weightloss goals, and have already lost most of the waterweight I put on when I wasn’t running the past two weeks. I’ve got somewhere between 5 and 7 more pounds to go.