Monday, March 14, 2011

All things are possible - or how I made the third time a charm...

I did it.

My third attempt, but I finally showed the 1/2 marathon who was boss.

It was 7 years ago that I decided I was going to try the Shamrock'n half marathon during its inaugural race and my brain is failing me how far I actually got. I think it was 8 miles, but lately I keep thinking it was only 6 miles.

The last time I tried was around 2008/2009 - at that point I think I gave up around 5 miles.

The culprit? My stupid knees. Yes, stupid.

I decided my body clearly was not built to run long distances.

Then I got the itch to try again and this time I was going to do everything possible to make sure it happened. I got weekly massages, used my foam roller to beat up my IT band (and make me cry - you try it!), and decided I was ok with walking a portion of it. I had ran 4-5 miles with very little issues, so in the back of my head I told myself I could at least run 2/3rds to 3/4ths of the distance and walk the rest.

Training progressed, I ran 3 times a week and around week 6 or 7 of training, my knees were all but yelling at me that I was treading on thin ice. At this point I honestly just ran once a week - my long runs. I was afraid this wouldn't be enough, but my knees needed the break.

Then I get sick - the achey, chest burning, lethargic kind - two weeks prior to the race. I did an 8 mile run, got sick, a week and a half later I did a 4 mile run and hoped that was enough.

Enter race day: scared for my knees, nervous I'd have to walk more than I anticipated and take forever to finish, but thankful for perfect weather (for me - clouds, 50-60 degree weather, no wind or rain).

In the end, I did it. I got my medal.

My knees held up until a bit later than usual.. somewhere between mile 6 and 7 I thought "oh no", but I kept going. Miles 7-10 I did my normal walking only through the aid stations and stopping to stretch. At miles 11 and 12 I stopped again to stretch.

Almost there. Enter charlie horses and cramping in my calves. In fact, at this point my calves and feet started hurting MORE than my knees. Only a mile to go.

I could see the Tower Bridge and I knew Raley Field (the finish) was just on the other side. I picked up my speed - I wanted this over fast no matter how bad it hurt.

This is where my spirit got broken. The ONLY point during the entire race that I thought I might not finish was the last 1/2 mile. I know, weird huh? In that last 1/2 mile I saw people who had already finished walking the opposite direction to go to their cars. In that last 1 /2 mile I was out of breath because I was pushing myself hard to get it done. And in that last 1/2 mile I thought I was this close to the finish because I figured I knew where we entered the stadium and how we finished on the field.

I was wrong.

Turns out we practically ran around the entire stadium before entering the backside of the stadium


A major cramp just about took me down a few hundred feet from the finish.

But I got there... I did it.

I even managed up the entire flight of stairs to get out of the field and up to the concession area.

Why they did that to us, I don't know...

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