On October 12th, I ran my 2nd half marathon…and it. was. BAD! Just about everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. By the end, I had walked a total of 5 miles, and my husband, who had finished nearly an hour before me, was ready to send out a search party for me. Those five miles were the longest of my life, and I had plenty of time to reflect on what I had (or hadn’t) done to reach that point.
Training-wise, my weekly running totals were much lower than the first half-marathon training. I think after the first race, I was amazed at how well I did and thought that I didn’t need to train as hard to achieve the same result. Obviously, I was wrong! My eating habits and general activity could have been better as well. One thing I am proud of is that I tried adventure runs through a local running store (shoutout to RoadRunner Sports!), and met another woman who was signed-up for the same half-marathon and we became running buddies for our long runs. While it was definitely an adjustment to learn to run with someone, it also pushed me to run faster and longer than I would have on my own.
Injuries were new for me during training this time. I started having a pain on the ball of my foot (between the 3rd & 4th metatarsals, to be exact) about 2-3 weeks before the race. I wasn’t able to get into my doctor before the race, so I went shopping for insoles that had extra padding. These worked perfectly while running, however, the second I would stop to catch my breath, the pain was back and that would be the end of my run. Still trying to figure out what’s going on with that…
During the race, I started off very fast, and completed the first 5k in a record time (for me). The race was on a local trail and was very narrow, so it seemed like everyone was running faster than normal just to thin out the crowds. This is when having a running buddy was kind of tough, because my plan had been to keep up with her until at least mile 7-8 and then slowly jog the rest of the at my own pace. At the halfway point, however, I was having a hard time catching my breath (another new ailment) and developed an upset stomach (Gu backfired on me!), so I slowed to a walk. Bad decision! My foot pain immediately flared up and hip pain soon followed. I decided to give myself a landmark to walk to and then try a slow jog for as long as I could handle. Each time, I made it for about 15 seconds before my calf muscles would spasm painfully….and that cycle continued for about 5 miles until I decided to sprint limp the last 1/4 mile to the finish.
Crossing the finish line, I grimaced for the camera and held back tears. I had just completed my 2nd half marathon with a time 30 minutes longer than my first. It was devastating to do so much worse the 2nd time around. The more I think about it though, having my worst half marathon ever that day is kind of a blessing in disguise. I mean, it was my worst EVER, and just about everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. So that means (fingers crossed), things can only go up from here.
For my next half-marathon (and there will definitely be many more!), I will do more training runs each week and start training much earlier, and yoga, stretching, and strength exercises will be included each week in order to strengthen all those muscles/tendons, etc., that failed me during the race. My love for running races may have faltered slightly around miles 10-12, but I am now ready to get back out there and run my heart out!