I am hoping this will be the first of many posts after my almost year-long disappearance from the “blogging grid”. I’m still not even sure if anyone out there even reads any of this but my fingers are crossed that maybe one day someone will stumble upon my blog. I have so much to write about and a month left of summer vacation to blog my little heart out.
My first (and quite easily my last) half marathon was in Annapolis, MD and sponsored by Zooma Women Race Series. Before running the race, the farthest I’ve ever run was maybe ten miles or so. And for all of you that don’t know, a half marathon measures out to be 13.1 miles. As you also know (if you have indulged yourself in my prior posts), I have a lot of physical ailments. Note to all: playing a competitive sport in college will deteriorate your body. After three years I have PFPS (patella femoral pain syndrome aka runner’s knee) in both of my knees, CECS (chronic exertional compartment syndrome) in four compartments in my shins AND because of these first two ailments, I have weak and inflexible hips. Lastly, and unrelated to the previous three issues, I also have plantar fasciitis.
Given all of this background information, it is very safe o say that completing this half marathon was far from a walk in the park (literally about twelve miles farther). Luckily I ran the race with my sister who is about a year and a half younger than me. We kept each other company and tried to keep our morale high. Here’s a quick play-by-play on how the race went: The first two miles were the best; everyone was happy, energetic and my body and spirits were in a good place. After the second mile, the 5k runners turned away from the rest of the racers to head back and complete their race. Fast forward to around the 4.5 mile mark (I wore my Garmin Forerunner 15 to track my heart rate, our distance and pace and I watched that damn watch every tenth of a mile – counting down until the finish line), around now I’m jealously watching every 10k runner happily turning around, knowing that their pain is almost over. Lucky for us we aren’t even halfway through our misery. At around mile seven let’s just say we both needed one of three very necessary porta-pot pit stops. Miles six through twelve are all a blur but once we hit the twelfth mile marker (as measured by the official race markers – angrily, my GPS watch read 12.2 miles), we ran (very slow jog) by a police officer, thanked him for stopping traffic and allowing us to pass, and proceded to ask how the last mile looked. To our great disappointment he explained “Way to go! You girls just have to turn the corner, go straight and finish up the final uphill.” In case you didn’t digest that last part, let me repeat to you, HE SAID THERE WAS ANOTHER UPHILL??!? If I hadn’t died yet this far into the race, this was the sole comment that drained any and all morale I had left in me. Long story short though, we finished our half marathon!! Proudest and one of the more painful moments in my life thus far.
Rewind again back to before I grew bitter about the 10k runners. Now I’ll describe to you how my body broke down within the first half of my race. My arches began aching at first; this was a manageable pain and I could easily ignore it as we trekked through the streets of Historic Annapolis. Next up was my knees. Every step was more and more painful. Walking helped but when this pain was brought on at around the seventh mile, I couldn’t make my sister walk with me for the last six miles, so I continued to keep running. Just within the seventh mile, I started to heel strike my strides to reduce the impact on my knees. If you don’t know anything about running form, then I’ll be happy to inform you that heel-striking causes an extremely quick onset of my CECS symptoms. By now you’re probably all rereading the beginning of my post to see what else could possibly go wrong, pain-wise, with my body. Feet, check. Knees, check. Shins, check. So finally, my hips. Simply put, once my shins flare up (literally the small muscles in my shins get extremely swollen), my hips take a beating too.
Pro-tips for any half marathon virgins out there reading this: train before the race, foam roll your legs the night after your race and hydrate during the race. Training is essential to best prepare your body for exerting itself for three hours (give or take) straight. Foam rolling will reduce fatigue in your muscles and will help with recovery. Lastly I’m glad I drank two cups of water and one cup of Gatorade at every rest station. On my race day, it was very hot and I needed to consume liquids to replenish all lost fluids through sweating (and crying; just kidding, no tears were actually shed.) Advil was also essential during the hours after my race, which helped me physically move up from the couch to my bed. You might think I’m kidding but I’m 100% not; ask my sister.
All in all, I’m very proud of myself for completing the race (even if my GPS watch measured it to be 13.6 miles and not 13.1 miles) and maybe for the future I’ll possibly consider another half but definitely 5k and 10k length races.