Monday, October 13, 2014

So, how did you do?

The title of the blog post is the most frequently asked question after I run a race.  My gut reaction is to say I finished. Because it's true.  In essence my goal was completed....I finished the race that I began.

On a cold and rainy Saturday morning, my sister and I stood in a mass of runners just waiting for the Hartford 1/2 Marathon to begin.  At that point the goal was to run the 1/2 with her.  For those of you who know me, you know that I've been training for the last three months.  You've commented on my weight loss, you've waved at me and cheered me on via Facebook posts and encouragement at the gym, and in the last few weeks you kept asking....when is the race?

This run has been in the works for the past two years...but I didn't know it.  Two years ago this fall I ran the Baltimore 1/2....I PR-ed....I ran a little off kilter with a bandaid on my toe and finished the run with a crazy pain in my heel.  I hobbled around the city of Baltimore with my then fiance claiming I was fine.  A few days later I knew I wasn't fine.  It was a pain that just wasn't going away and I was planning on running another 1/2 in 3 weeks time.  I went to the doctor.  Achilles tendonitis he said.  No running he said.  I said, but the half in 3 weeks....he shook his head and said no.   He said you won't run for 3 least.  I pouted and he said see you in a month.

I wept.  I ached as I walked out of the office and called my mom to say, the 1/2 I had planned on running with her would not happen.  (She was less than excited to hear that.)

After 3 months, I wasn't in daily pain.  In January, I completed my first 5K.  It felt great...just to be able to run again.  I didn't care about the time.  I didn't care that it was 17 degrees and I was wearing a million layers.  I was running.  I was back.

And then I took some time to cross train.  I joined the gym.  I started yoga in May of that year.  I did some more 5K runs.  The plan was just to run a few times a week and complete some 5K races when they fit the schedule.  I even told folks that a longer distance race wasn't in the cards for 2013.  It just wasn't worth the potential injury.  If the pain came back, my tendon would've needed 6 months away from running. (After 3, 6 just seemed impossible!)

Enter 2014....a good year.  The second annual frosted chocolate buns 5k in January and I was back in the game.  I put ice traction things on my shoes and ran throughout the winter in the snow!  Good times.  I kept up the yoga.  I turned 40.  I entered some more 5K runs in the spring.  I was fast.  (Well, faster than I had been.)  I placed in a race, I love the small town races for that very reason.  I placed in a few competitive races....I felt faster!  I thought....maybe there is a 1/2 in me.  I talked with my sister, who had her first baby in February....we thought, okay, we can sign up, and run together in October.  We were committed.

This came in the mail:

I adjusted the training plan I had used for Baltimore to allow for only running three days a week.  Since the achilles pain, I have not run back to back days.  I go for a bike ride or hit the elliptical for the cardio, but keep it easy on the tendon.  My training went well.  My speed was good and I felt strong.  My longer runs with hills were the most challenging...and the heat and humidity almost got the better of me one of those days...but training continued. 

I knew I could run Hartford.  Heck, maybe even faster than I ran Baltimore.  I knew I could run Hartford and wanted to do so with my sister.

Prior to the race start, we decided we would start together and see how it went.  We were together in the rain and the up and down hills for 12 miles.  Then she said, go.  I said are you sure?  Yup.  

So I went.  

Crossing the finish line with my arms raised, (Not sure why that feels so good.) I did so with tears in my eyes.  I had run a good race.  My sister had run a stellar race.  I did not feel a thing in my tendon.  I was not hobbling and limping.  I was just a bit chilly from the rain and the cold.  But I had set the goal to run with my sister....and to finish the race....and I did.  

So, how did I do?

I could tell you my time...but that will only mean something to people who are focused on times.

I could show you my bib and finishers metal as proof...because I am proud of here they are.

If you ask me how I did I'm happy to say I ran a solid 1/2 marathon.  Thanks, Laura, for running with me. We laughed, talked, were encouraged by volunteers, bagpipers and a guy in his front lawn playing the didgeridoo.  We encouraged each other.  We shared stories.  We were thankful our husbands and dad made it through the cold and rain to cheer us on.  We were happy, too, that mom stayed home with her 7 month old grandson so he didn't need to weather the race.

The Hartford 1/2 was my favorite run this year.

I set a PR for myself of the joy and accomplishment I felt at the end.  It was the best runner's high ever.  It's the feeling I'll be chasing, instead of numbers in the future, because it was amazing.

Until the next post...

PS.  One additional note about the NU Hartford Marathon and 1/2 Marathon.  The volunteers are AMAZING!  Standing in the cold and rain, shaking cowbells and cheering us on in places on the route that otherwise would've been quiet.  You made the race more than you know.  Thanks for your time, energy and encouragement.

PPS.  The cutest water stop award goes to two stops:  The one with the boy scout troop...and the one with the girl scout troop.  Being served by those smiling faces and small hands brought pure joy to the run.