As of yesterday, I can now check off my 101 in 1001 goal* of running a half marathon! Woohoo!
Aside from some strong wind gusts (including pretty much the entire last mile, where I think I may have been moving backwards at some point), the weather for the race was perfect. 50 degrees, slightly cloudy, no humidity. I didn’t even finish my entire water bottle and I felt fine! I brought two packets of sports beans with me and probably only ate one of them (I combined them, so I don’t know exactly), but I never hit that “wall.”
The first half of the race went great. I ran with my friend Carolyn and our half split was 1:09:25, which was 10:36 pace. Right around that time, my knees started to feel really tight, and at about mile 7.5, I had to stop and walk. Carolyn went on ahead and finished the whole race without walking! (Yay Carolyn! You rock!) I knew I was going to need some walking breaks in order to finish (they usually help my legs recharge and I go faster during my running intervals than I would if I ran straight through), so my goal was just to finish in 2.5 hours.
I kept alternating running with a few short walk breaks until I got to mile 10. By that time, my left knee felt really tight. It felt okay while I was walking, but when I tried to run (or, more accurately at that point, to shuffle), it did not feel good. I finished the 10 miles just two minutes slower than I ran the GW Parkway Classic two weeks before, so I was pretty sure my goal of 2.5 hours was within reach… I just needed to cover the last three miles in about 13 minute pace.
By this time, I was definitely walking more than running, but I tried pumping my arms during my running stretches as much as I could to go faster. I wasn’t feeling completely exhausted, which surprised me… it really was my knee that was holding me back. I’d try to jog a little bit for a few minutes at a time and then basically power-walk in between. But when 17 minutes had passed and I hadn’t seen the mile 11 marker yet, I figured I didn’t have a shot at making my goal. There was no way I’d be able to run the last two miles at a fast enough pace to make it. I started extending my walking intervals.
I happened upon the mile 12 marker. (Note: neither Carolyn nor Adam had seen the 11 marker either. I’m guessing the wind had knocked it down.) But by then, I’d slowed down enough I knew I really couldn’t do it. I think if I’d seen the mile 11 marker, I may have been able to push myself fast enough to make it in under 2.5 hours, but I ended up crossing the finish line at 2:32:35. I may not have met my time goal, but I did finish a half marathon and did it in under 12 minute pace. (Actually, prior to running the GW Parkway Classic, my goal was just to go under 12 minute mile pace… I didn’t move up my time goal to 2.5 hours until after I did that race at sub-11 minute pace.)
I don’t think my knees are seriously injured (my right one was tight and sore by the end too), but just a little overworked. I think it’s a stabilizing muscle issue, not tendons or ligaments or anything serious. I’m going to give my legs some time off, and I’m going to train a little differently for my next half marathon. (Yes, I definitely plan on running another one.) In the training program I used, the longest training run was 10 miles. The theory is that the excitement and adrenaline will take you the rest of the way, and yes… I finished, which was the point, but I wanted to finish stronger than that. The training program was for beginners and really is intended only to get you to the finish line, and encourages walking. Next time, I am going to try a more advanced training program that has longer training distances and some speedwork. (Uhhh, I also didn’t do any of my training runs between the 10 mile race and the half marathon, except for one 5K race… I’m sure giving my legs that much time off didn’t help matters either.)
Distance: 13.1 miles
Pace: 11:39/mile (sub-12!!!)
* I also checked off another 101 in 1001 goal this weekend… I made a perfectly poached egg! On my first try! Here’s how:
1.) Fill a large pan with sides full enough to cover the eggs and add vinegar to the poaching water.
2.) Bring the water to a boil and then down to a simmer before putting the eggs in.
3.) Crack the eggs in a dish and then pour into the water, don’t crack them directly into the water.
4.) Leave the eggs for 3-4 minutes and then remove with a slotted spoon.
Perfectly poached eggs! And so simple!