Sweaty, Sore and Slow

I completed another half-marathon this past Sunday. When I added my medal to the other ones, I counted 12 (2 for full marathons), but this was the first half marathon in about 5 years. I felt tired but happy. Each race inspires me to continue running despite the highs and lows throughout training and the race itself. It’s never not worth it in the end for me.

My training went pretty well. My version of training this time included one long run every Sunday. I did a couple shorter hill-training runs early on, but mostly, during the week, I went to the gym for my conditioning and strength training. A couple of weeks ago I reached 19k, on schedule.

However, last week I had a bit of a head cold. And my back hurt. I think I pulled it picking up a couple of kettlebells at the gym the day before. And now it felt a bit like there is a knife in the left side of my lower back, going into my butt. But, as is typical, time and stretches, helped and it felt mostly better by the weekend.

I was feeling a little low-level anxiety the day before the race. I’m pretty sure my husband noticed I was a bit testy! But I concentrated on carb loading (yay!), had some delicious pumpkin, coconut pasta for dinner, and went to bed early.

On the morning of race day, I enjoyed an Americano and got my gear together. I played around with my bib until I had it properly secured and not lopsided. I applied my Body Glide to all the parts of me that rub together and cause chafing over the long run.

I left on schedule to take the streetcar to the start line. Still clearly pumping out a bit of anxiety, I thought I’d walk to the start line, then realized part way that I wouldn’t get there “10 minutes” before the first corral start time, as required, so I got on a streetcar and then realized the diversion wasn’t going to help with time, so I hopped into a cab with another person on their way to the race.

Then I made my way through the crowds. I am not a big crowd person. At the same time, I can appreciate the festive, supportive atmosphere, I get stressed trying to make my way through the slow walkers/spectators/baby strollers/smokers(!) trying to figure out where my corral was (2nd from last).

Once I found my corral, I decided I had time, and needed to pee, so I went to the dreaded Porta Potty and made my way back to the corral. I listened to Mayor Tory congratulate us all for being there (thanks, Mayor Tory, can you bring back the Relief Line over the Ontario Line?), and then the first corral was off at 8:45. Then we all fidgeted on the spot and tried to stay warm until our corral was allowed to start at about 9:10. We were off!

I felt OK, starting slow and steady. I hadn’t had any liquid while waiting, but lo and behold (probably nerves) I had to pee urgently about 1km in. At the first 2km pit stop, I reluctantly got in line to pee (at least 3-4 min off my time right??). Back on the road, I felt OK, but stiff. Started repeating the motto in my head “I am doing great. This is probably the best part of my day!”. Before the pit stop I was pretty close to the 2:20 pace bunny but I couldn’t see her anymore.

What I could see was my fellow runners. One thing I like about running is that at a race, it is always evident, that it is available to everyone. Fit seniors, curvy, tall, skinny, male, female, those wearing signs that they are kind of injured, but doing it anyway. Those inspiring people can also be slightly annoying throughout the race too. The random throat clearing spitters, the random stoppers without warning,
the space weavers who have no sense of the space around them. This race was surprisingly dense throughout. Good for camaraderie. Requires more motto chanting for me.

About halfway through, I was feeling pretty sore in my butt/lower back, but I popped a Motrin and repeated my motto over and over. I also stopped to stretch briefly (2 minutes off my time right?). I learned in my training this time, that a running gel helped with leg stiffness about halfway through. But I didn’t bring any, figuring there would be some at the race, but the one and only gel station was fresh out of gels by the time I got there (except for the sticky discarded packages on the ground).

I was sure my motto for this race was going to be “Sweaty, Sore and Slow”. I was certain I was running slower than ever. But, I was shocked when I got to the finish line, within my usual time – 2:26 (about 2:20 minus the pee break and stretch right??).

Overall it was a decent race. The weather was glorious. My husband was waiting for me at the end and I was very happy to see him (and be on our way to brunch at Impact Kitchen). A friend (Hi Seanna!) said hi to me about a 1/3rd of the way in and it gave me an extra pep in my step. I also ended the race with the conviction that I will continue my longer runs through the winter and try to incorporate more speed work.

It’s been mentioned by many that running is a great metaphor for life – sticking through the hard times and enjoying the benefit at the end, and all that. Running a race is a good reminder of these benefits.



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