Yesterday I ran the Detroit Free Press half-marathon. This was my first race since running a marathon in 2007. Sheesh. It’s been 5.5 years and that’s just embarrassing.
It’s not that I stopped running. I ran when I was four-months pregnant in 2009. I laced up my running shoes when my daughter was four weeks old. I was in better shape during my year-long maternity than now because I went back to my long commute and work. Until June, it was a struggle. I had gained weight and found it hard to run once or even twice a week. I hit bottom and then I set a goal.
At some point early this summer, I decided to run the half-marathon. I figured I had four months to train, more than enough time. And it was. I used a training schedule out of my issue of Runner's World that only required three days a week of running until a month before the race when I had to run four days a week.
But for whatever reason, this half-marathon was harder than the full marathon I ran in 2007. It was harder than the other two half marathons I've run. It's possible I didn't have the same amount of base running that I did in previous years. I was sick and unable to run for two of my 12 weeks of training.
I also feel like I messed up on race day. I ate breakfast at 9 a.m. Although my run started at 11 a.m. I had planned to eat a bowl of oatmeal in the car on the way to Detroit but instead split a granola bar with my daughter. I needed that food. I’ve never had a problem running within an hour of eating and I should have stuck with my original plan.
I wish I had seen this guy. It might have made me feel better if I had. Anyway, the biggest mistakes I made yesterday were not eating enough before the race, not bringing enough gels( I had two but needed three to four considering how energy depleted I was), obsessing over my time to the point where I nearly drove myself crazy. I found myself disappointed in my race performance so much so that I wasn’t having a good time.
There were high points; I really appreciated the wonderful residents in Indian Village who gave out beer and jelly beans and serenaded us.
Still, it wasn’t until there were three miles to go and I was completely out of gas that I admitted to myself that I wasn’t going to finish in the desired time. I had previously run two half marathons in 2:25.
It was like a switch getting turned off. That critical voice telling me I’d failed was shut down and I gave myself permission to relax. My goal then was just to finish the race. That’s when I looked around and smiled at people; the cops holding back cars, the other suffering runners. I started to appreciate the breeze from the Detroit River and the view from the waterfront east of GM headquarters.
I shortened my steps and was able to keep running comfortably without stopping. I even ran up that last hill, the one that is 500 feet from the finish line. The one that the event organizers put in just to torture the runners.
When I rounded the corner toward the finish line I saw my husband and three-year-old daughter. I gave my husband a hug and he whispered in my year, "finish strong."
And I thought, what? Do I have anything left? And I did. The announcer called my name after he said the name of someone else, someone who finished the marathon in six hours and 20 minutes. My only thought was, poor woman. She had to suffer for six hours and I only did 2:45.