Well, I did it. I finished my first half marathon. I didn’t do it without some serious issues though, which is something you just got to roll with…better yet, learn from…
I particularly like that the photo above is out of focus, because quite frankly…that’s about how I felt before the race. I woke up with a bit of a sore throat, nothing too bothersome. I sat down at the table to have breakfast with the family and that’s where I knew something wasn’t right. I had to force down two pancakes. Now I typically put down 4 of my amazing home made cakes but for some reason my body just didn’t feel like taking in the food.
Oh well, I got a race to get to and I’ve ran over 10 miles before with low food intake, I’d just down my energy juice and have a GU at the ready. So I filled my Ultimate Direction bottle up with my favorite FRS flavor and hit the road!
I felt pretty good lining up in the starting coral. I chatted up a couple runner’s about the weather to see if I should go long or short sleeved and they mentioned there were 30mph wind gusts poised to come head on the entire run…great, long sleeve it is. The race had a bit of a disorganized feel to it and the tip of that iceberg was the late start…I hate late starts, you’re already anticipating the race then you have to wait 20 minutes more, ugh. Eventually we took off!
The start of the race is hokey, you have to do this double loop through the park before it finally breaks out onto the streets of Danbury, Redding, and Bethel. I was watching my Garmin 305 diligently to ensure my pacing was on to nail my sub-1:48 goal (was really sub-1:50 goal, but you gotta stretch it!). Through mile 3 I was right on target! The first four stacked up nicely, I was really doing it – 8:15, 7:59, 8:09, and 8:09…then
Things started to feel funny…not like the climbing rope in 5th grade gym class funny, but something sinister started to creep up from my feet to the very tips of the hair on my head.
My energy levels were plummeting like I’ve never experienced, I was getting waves of goose bumps flushing over my body from foot to scalp. I was hotter than hell, I felt dehydrated, I felt like I needed an I.V. drip of GU to just start feeling normal.
What can you do? Press on…and I did. My left foot fell asleep from mile 4 to 6. Not like, “oh hehe my foot’s asleep”, but like “holy shit, I have to stare at my foot every step I take because I can’t even tell if it’s on pavement!” Never had that happen like that before, it was surreal and agitating. Mile 6 and change is the first hill of the race. I found myself walking half of it. I was mentally battling myself trying to find some type of justification as to why my body was just shutting down on this of all days…
At the top of mile 6′s hill I had to down my GU. I had no choice. I was exhausted already. I knew in the race guide they said there was GU at mile 8 so I had one more coming. I kept pushing through. The hard part of the race was just ahead and every step I took felt like I was dragging myself like a corpse through this thing.
This lovely little race offers 600ft of vertical ascension and you get most of that from mile 8 to 10 in the form of a big ass hill. I reached the 8 mile water station and stopped. I grabbed the Gatorade kid and downed about 4 dixie cups of the green stuff. I then grabbed the GU kid, snagged 2 GU’s from him and proceeded to head up the hill while sucking them down. I took a quick glance at my watch. Holy shit! I was still on pace to finish at 1:48…not sure how but in the mass chaos going on within my head the primal competitive side of me kept me on pace.
It didn’t last long. At mile 9 my left calf muscle felt like it dislodged and was heading for my butt…Massive cramps. I wouldn’t ever really recover from this. I could run .25 to .50 from that point forward then would have to stop, (cry a little), stretch and start the wheels spinning for the next cycle. It became very un-fun.
I got through it. I managed to run the last .75. It’s amazing how you can hide the pain and cramps for that last little bit when you know there are thousands of eyes on you! This was me even looking somewhat put together at around mile 12-ish.
Within 30 minutes of finishing the race, I began shivering uncontrollably…I thought somehow I was starting to experience hypothermia. I told my wife to just grab the car and to get me out of there. I slept the drive home. I got home and could barely stand. I was up all night either fevering or sweating from the last fever breaking. I woke up in the a.m. and could barely breath through my mouth let alone swallow. My wife sent me to the doctor’s right away. “You’re full of strep” was what he said after gagging me on a throat swab. He said I had it the morning of the race and the race probably did just enough to accelerate everything to a speed that knocked me on my ass.
So…oh well. It happens. I finished in 1:54, and I’m still pretty damn proud of that time considering the hell that run put me through. As other runner’s will know, this can only mean one thing:
I need to find my next half to make it up!