Monday, May 5, 2014

April Self Portrait

April was the big month of my half marathon.  First one I had done in over 2 years.  Lots of anticipation.... but minimal training.  Which ultimately led to a disappointing performance.  I don't want to make excuses, but I'm going to ;)  This winter was BRUTAL!  First winter back in PA for over 10 years, and of course it had to be an exceptionally cold and snowy one.  All of the snow and ice really messed with my training, and come race time it showed.

Normally once I sign up for a race I am very committed to sticking with my training plan to prepare for it.  That's one of the reasons that I keep signing up for races.  I find that, sadly, it is the one thing that keeps me motivated to workout.  I follow my training plans (at least the running portion) to a T, and I usually feel fairly prepared come race day.  Living in NC, the weather was never really a factor in training.  Sure there were hot days, but that just means you have to get out there earlier.  Winter weather was never an issue.  Being in PA in the winter, with snow and ice covered roads, and no gym membership or treadmill (until the week before my race), my training was at the mercy of said weather.  In the month of February it snowed literally every 2-3 days for the entire month.  So February's training took a big hit.

I knew that I was less prepared than I had ever been for a race this long, but for some reason I still wasn't that worried.  I thought, "I've done this before.  I've got this."  Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.  Yeah.  This half marathon was the worst one that I have ever participated in.  It was only rivaled by the Charlotte Half Marathon many years ago for the hilliest, hardest course.  I felt terrible.  It was 4 miles of decency, 3 miles of struggle, and 6 miles of torture.  The area around my shoulder blades hurt, my stomach hurt, my head hurt, my ankle hurt, and my legs could NOT continue to run the entire way.  I was quite literally a mess.

The lack of training combined with the hilliest, hardest course I've ever run, led to an extremely disappointing performance.  This was my 8th half marathon, and my second worst time.  I had to run/walk the last 6 miles, something I've NEVER had to do in a race before.  My goal is usually to simply run the entire race.  That was my goal this time as well, and I failed.... miserably.  But I literally felt like my legs could not run any more.  They wouldn't go.  It was a first for me, and hopefully not something I will experience often.  Having lived in Raleigh for 5 years, I knew that it was a hilly city, but that course was a BEAST.  It was ALL hills.  One after another, after another, after another.  No flat reprieves.  Only hills.  And although I trained on some hills, my body was far from preapred for 13.1 miles of them.  Hills work a whole different set of muscles, and mine were not trained sufficiently.

Although this race was one that I sometimes think I'd like to forget, there are some positives that came out of the experience.  This was not only the hardest physical challenge I've ever done, but it was the hardest mental as well.  It took EVERYTHING that I had to keep going.  Mind over matter 100%.  My body was screaming "Stop this nonsense!", but my mind would not let my body quit.  And for that I am proud.  That is one of the reasons I remain drawn to half marathons.  For the challenge.  I love putting my whole being to the test.  There were some inspirational signs along the way (thank goodness!), and the one that I loved and kept repeating to myself was, "There will come a day when you can no longer do this.  Today is NOT that day!"  Over and over in my head: "Today is NOT that day."  I persevered, finished the race, and wore that medal with pride.

Another positive is that I already signed up for my next half marathon (set for October), and I am determined to up my game.  For goodness sakes, I do NOT want a repeat performance.  I will train properly, because I now know how excruciating it is when you don't.  So this race and all of the training (or lack thereof) that went into it taught me a valuable lesson.  I cannot rely on past experience to get me through.  I need to train with purpose and make it count.  After all, the only difference between try and triumph is a little umph :)


  1. Awesome job! We were all proud of you!!

  2. As Teddy Roosevelt once said:

    "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."