Recovery: After a long, hard run

Yesterday was race day – half marathon for me and a full marathon for many of my beloved friends. It was a tough day. It had its bright moments. It also brought many tears. We had trained for months for this day.

Wakeup

I quickly and easily awoke for the 4:30 am alarm. I was excited! Race day was here. After a weeks of anxiety, fear, and doubts, I woke up confident and feeling good. I went about my preparations. There was NO DOUBT in my mind that I would beat 2 hours.

The startline

I felt good. We ALL felt good. The race director led a short, but powerful, time of silence in honor of the recent events in Boston. Knowing my tendency to start out running too fast, I started with the 2:20 pace group. I would rather run too slow mile 1 than too fast. My first mile was about 9:30. The second, 8:45. I had to pull in the reigns. I found my pace at about 9:45 and I felt good. I knew I could maintain this for several miles, if not to the finish. I had trained for this!

Along mile 4, I passed a woman with medics – she was convulsing on the ground. As I was beginning to feel strange and off, something inside me said, slow down. That was a frightening sight. It was not long after this that I had no energy, no drive, and I just wanted to be done.

By mile 6, I had made the decision to walk/run. I considered quitting. I was not going to win, I was not going to achieve my goal time, there was no reason to push it and risk injury or illness. Knowing that my Chix were running twice as far as I was pushed me to at least finish.

At mile 9, I sent a text to the Chix waiting for me at the end – I was 30 minutes behind my goal and they should go find our Chix doing the full before it was too late. Jane replied, “No Chix left behind!”

The finishline

I finished! I just wanted it done! I did not know what my time was and I did not care. I was more concerned with how my eight Chix were doing – four of them en route to Boston qualification. I grabbed my water, chocolate milk, and fruit and connected with my Chix. We hopped on the road bikes and were off to find the runners. This is when I learned that I was not the only one who had struggled.

Team support  941425_10200732482747321_1589908574_n

Two of our Chix had pulled out – saving their physical bodies for another race and a Boston qualification. One pulled back significantly. One Chix pushed through – dug deep. She gave it her all. We biked the route backwards. We found her along mile 23. Hot. Exhausted. Struggling. It was a hard sight (also knowing in our hearts that we wanted to see 4 strong runners at this point). Two Chix stayed with her, and we continued to go and find the others – we had 5 other chicks out there. We passed a lot of runners – some looked strong. Others shuffled, determined to finish despite the circumstances. A part of me was worried that the others had pulled off – we went quite a distance without seeing any of our Chix. We wanted to find the girls we knew were alone!

Did she need water? A sane mind to tell her it would be okay to stop?

Kami was running strong – we checked in, she was fine. Next, slow and steady Captain Carol looked good. It felt like forever before we saw our next Chix. I was worried. We were about to get to the path along the river – NO bikes on the path. We would have to wait for them to come to us at this point.

We waited.

JILL!! I was elated. She looked good. we were SO relieved that our Chix were running smart! Each had been listening to her body – walking when needed – and getting one step at a time closer to the finishline. We knew the others were at least in company on their journey – so we made the decision to ride back. I needed more water and fuel myself. And I had peace of mind knowing my Chix were safe and running smart.

Not all was bad

We did have a Chix PR!!!!! Cheri killed the half marathon. She felted good. She did it! And I am so proud to be able to call her friend!

AND, we finished. We did something that most individuals do not even consider doing. And we overcame obstacles! We conquered our own minds and spirits.

The aftermath

My heart hurt. Was I disappointed in my run? Yes, but that was not my concern. I had finished. Some of my Chix had made the INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT decision to pull out of the race. I am indescribably proud of their smarts and their courage. My heart ached, knowing how hard this must have been.

Following the race I had a 5-hour drive from Green Bay to Minnesota. I drove in silence. I was recapping the day’s events. I was praying for my Chix. Everyone’s hearts and physical recovery. Stacy’s health and well-being. V and Em’s hearts, souls, and physical bodies. The spirits of the Chix I had yet to hear from. I cried. It was a hard day. Hard decisions were made by all.

And I contemplated whether I will be trying that again. (No decision was made!)

The bottomline

I am truly proud of every one of my Chix who participated in yesterday’s marathon events. Each made THE BEST decision for her. She made tough decisions. We each had big goals for the day – and most of them were left to the wayside.

If you are reading this, my Fit Chix with Quick Stix – know that I am indescribably PROUD of each and every one of you. You were ALL body smart – in situations when it would be ‘easy’ to push through the pain. You were wise. And inspiring. I love you ladies.

I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize… Philippians 3:13

26.2 Bible verses for running & racing

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The week before a half marathon (or marathon)

I am three days away from my third half marathon. The first one, I trained diligently. The second, I barely trained and essentially ignored nutritional training, with the excuse of being too stressed. I was disappointed in my results, and have set forth to smash both race times. This year, I have trained, making my runs a priority (and even lightening my leg strength days a tad). My nutrition and hydration have been adapted to the change in demands I have been placing on my body.

I do not feel ready.

I will be running 13.1 miles on Sunday and I am freaking out. The good news? This is perfectly normal.

The taper

For those who do not know about training for an endurance run, any solid training plan will require reduced mileage in the weeks prior to a race. After spending 8-20 weeks of progressively increasing mileage, you begin to cut miles. This allows your body to recover and recoup for the big race.

It does not do a whole lot of favors for the mind.

I have not been running far enough.

The weather

Many of my friends (aka Fit Chix with Quick Stix) are running the full marathon this weekend. In our conversations, it is obvious that many of us are experiencing weakened confidence. We are all unsure. The weather has changed drastically in the last few weeks here in the Midwest – from snow less than two weeks ago to 80 degrees and sunny today. Most of our training was completed in 0-60 degree weather. Feeling the exhaustion of the HOTTER – but much shorter – runs, has left many of us insecure and pessimistic. I am sitting here, bloated from my attempt to hydrate, and I am worried.

What if I overheat?

I am praying for 60 degrees and rain on race day. I do not like heat. I would prefer to use water stations to hydrate, rather than to use them to pour over my head and cool off. Sure, I could stop at each station and do both – but that would slow me down and I am on a time crunch.

Mind over matter

Endurance events require a great deal of mental strength. The physical training is easy – in comparison. The hard part of training? The days and hours leading up to a long run, “Ok, I am going to go out and run 10 miles….” Anticipatory thoughts do not necessarily require us to believe that we can do it – they require us to want to.

You have to WANT to.

Many individuals joke that all marathoners are crazy. Crazy is a word many individuals use to describe determined, dedicated, motivated, and ambitious individuals. Do marathoners maintain or obtain a unique mental state and mind set? Yes, marathoners are mental athletes (by the way, ALL true athletes are mental athletes). You find a way to clear your mind of everything else and you simply run.

Vicarious experience

At this stage, my confidence must be drawn from vicarious experience. I have successfully completely two half marathons. I am in better physical condition and am running faster than I have for either of them – I KNOW I can do this. Several weeks ago I ran a strong 11 miles and had energy to spare – I KNOW I can do this.

I know, therefore I can.

The hardest part for me, along with the taper, is the overall resting. I am done lifting until after the race. I am determined to meet my challenging goal and I need to ensure I am rested. Just as my Sunday long run took a toll on my April 1 assessment workout, I do not want my workouts to impact my long run. THE long run.

The bottomline

The final week(s) prior to any endurance race is difficult. It can be a challenge to keep your head in the game, not allowing your confidence to waiver.

Mentally – I KNOW I can. Physically – I KNOW I can. Therefore, I CAN.

Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. ~Hebrews 12:1