As I prepared to run my 4th ever 20 miler, I had a lot of support from family, friends, and readers. I had next to zero confidence going into this run. I made the decision to run my 18 miler 2 weeks before in two parts and that decision had me thinking that I may have sold myself short.
I didn’t feel like I felt the pain of an 18 miler and therefore running 20 was going to kill me. I did not see this ending well at all. Plus I took a lot of time off after Fool’s Run and then burned the tops of my feet while I was in Florida and didn’t run that entire week.
It seemed like a good idea to sandwich the Cleveland 10 Miler in the middle of 20 for motivation. I could run 5 miles from my house to the starting line, run the race, and run the five miles home. It would break up the monotony and I would have some friends along the way. But there was still that small part of me that thought, “what if I can’t finish?”
I woke up a little later than I wanted on Saturday morning. I wanted to be out the door at 730AM to have enough time to run to the starting line of the race, which Gmap-pedometer told me was about 4.8 miles. I got out the door on time, but didn’t give myself enough time to go through some pre-run morning rituals.
I made toast but didn’t really want it. I wish I had something else to eat. So walking out the door I knew I would be hungry. I had no fuel for during the run, a fellow runner was bringing me some honey stingers for the race so S-caps were going to have to get me there. I just felt a little off.
Of course my Garmin struggled to find satellite when I got outside, as it always does in Lakewood, so I just started on my way and let it connect enroute. I think it caught satellite somewhere around half a mile. About a mile into my run I started to have irrational panic. I started to panic that an hour was not enough time to reach the starting line.
I sped up to make up time, then felt like I was over working myself to early and slowed down. Then panicked again and sped up. I was a mess.
Funny thing is, I know I can run 5 miles in 50 minutes. Even less. Why the hell was I worried?
I reached the starting line with plenty of time – Shocking – mostly because I underestimated the distance a little bit. The distance from my house was only about 4.25 miles. Which meant I had to make up 3 quarters of a mile somewhere and that just didn’t sit right with me.
I talked to fellow runners and fidgeted excessively as we waited for the bell. Then I got a text message that my boyfriend was looking for me at the start and had come to see me off. I was so excited to have the support I immediately felt better. Not soon after finding Justin in the crowd it was time to start. The bell sounded, and runners took off.
In the first mile, I felt great. I wasn’t straining or breathing heavy. I felt like I was at a good pace. I noticed that my garmin said I was running under a 10 minute mile. However exciting, it was not a good idea to be running that fast. I had to remind myself over and over again that I was not racing. I needed to slow down.
I passed my good friend KatieO cheering on runners like a champ. It was a great day for spectators, and runners really, because the weather was so nice. I stopped to say hello to Katie and give her my long sleeved shirt. Her bright smile motivated me even more. I was at about mile 6 for the day and was feeling pretty good.
(stripping down… thanks for holding my sweaty clothes katie!)
When I got to mile 9 of the day I saw Justin on the course. Roughly half way into the 10 miler. When I saw him, just 3 miles after seeing Katie, I was hurting pretty badly. My piriformis was tightening up like crazy and I could feel it. My butt hurt, which made my leg hurt, which dragged down my entire right side. I was in full on panic mode. I still have 11 miles to go for the day.
Around mile 12 of my run, somewhere close to mile 8 of the race, I got a little upset. I was only 2 miles from the finish line but was slowing down like crazy. My back and legs hurt and I had to walk. It was so defeating to be passed by so many people. To know how close to last I was going to come in to the finish line. It was incredibly hard to break that mental cycle of failure.
I wasn’t getting passed because I was slow or out of shape (well, a little out of shape), I was getting passed because I was at mile 12 of 20 and I started out to fast. The rational Julie knew this. How come the nut-job runner Julie couldn’t grasp this?
I had to break down and walk within a half a mile from the finish. What a kick in the teeth. But then I saw Justin off in the distance and just started running again. Just get through that finish line for crying out loud. I crossed the finish at 1:50:15.
For having run 4 miles followed by a 10 mile race, I was definitely running to fast. No wonder I felt crappy. I averaged 10:30 pace for most of the race and then slowed to an 11:30 or so because of all the walking I had to do. If I had just ran at an 11 – 11:30 pace the entire time, I probably would have survived better.
After smashing a banana at the finish line and walking a mile with Justin to his car, I picked up the pace for the remaining 4 miles of my run. It was killer.
If it hadn’t been for the bright warm weather I am not sure I would have survived at all. My legs were screaming, my feet hurt from all the abuse. My upper back was sore from all the crouching and bad form. I was miserable. I did my best to maintain a steady walk/run combo. Run for .75 mile, walk for .25. On and off. It seemed to work pretty well. But I was toast by the time I reached my apartment building.
I sat outside my building on the curb like a lost puppy for probably 15 minutes before moving to the parking lot to stretch. I can only imagine what people driving by thought I was doing. I noticed I never took my race bib off either. People probably though I was some loon running her own imaginary race.
Once I got into my apartment I texted Justin to let him know I was alive. Then I sat on my couch and ate the rest of my chips-ahoy cookies until they were gone.
I knew I needed to eat something other than cookies so I showered and insisted that Justin take me to Melt. All of a sudden I was on a total runners high. I felt no pain (except a minor cramp as we waited 45 minutes for a table) and was actually kind of giddy. I also wanted to drink. A lot.
This resulted in a night out with some old college friends in town for the weekend. You would have thought that I would crash and burn after such a ridiculous run, but no. I actually closed the bar that night. But trouble was brewing.
My foot was killing me. The top of my foot felt stressed. Like stressed as in a stress fracture. I could have sworn that I broke something. I limped around all morning on Sunday. I worried like crazy that I was not going to be able to run Pittsburgh this weekend.
“You don’t think you can run at all?” Justin asked.
Run? I could barely walk. I decided I would beg and plead for any open spot to see the running doc this week. I had my fingers crossed that Monday morning he would have an opening. So on Sunday night I foam rolled. I foam rolled the shit out of my piriformis. And magically, my foot started to feel better.
So I foam rolled some more. And some more. Then I stared googling. I read that my pain could be caused by tight calf muscles. So I stretched. And stretched some more. And then foam rolled.
I am happy to report I am walking almost (almost) pain free today.
So this marathon might actually happen.
Are you feeling ready for your spring race? Wish you had more time or feeling totally prepared? I wish I had more time. Doesn’t that just figure.