Baltimore Running Festival- Half Marathon report. The dirty details of my first major bonk.
I ran this race with my best friend of many years. Our goal was to go sub 1:40- it would be her second fastest time and a good time for me having cancelled my last long run and entire taper due to illness. We planned to go out easy and set ourselves up for negative splits if we have the energy. I really thought I had a near-PR somewhere in my legs.
When the race started at 9:45 I realized I hadn't eaten anything since my english muffin at 5am. Big mistake. I knew I would have to get as much food in on the course as possible or I wouldn't make it through the warm, windy conditions (perfect for dehydration and loss of salt).
Mile 1 was about 7:50, but we it is a huge race so we were moving around a lot of people. I had a side stitch but it only lasted a mile or so. The first half of the race seemed to be entirely uphill, although I am sure it wasn't the case.
Miles 2 and 3 we got it down to around 7:30 and I felt good at the pace.
Around Mile 4 I started to feel "feverish" is how I explained it to her. I just didn't feel well. Things crashed quickly after that.
At Mile 5 we couldn't get below 7:30 pace and I told her I had a huge bonk coming. The pace felt extremely hard.
It happened a little after Mile 6. I told her to leave me and it took a little convincing to do so. When she did I eased up a little and struggle to keep 8 minute pace. I stopped and walked through the next waterstop, and even walked about a minute extra. I grabbed water and gatorade and took them down.
I struggled through the hills and got to Mile 7 where they had gu. I walked through the stop and a little extra again and ate my gu. I got my legs back up to a shuffle and realized this may have been the worst I have ever felt during a race. My goal was just to keep one foot in front of the other and keep moving, not worrying about time. I was probably 8 minute pace but I don't know.
I shuffled to Mile 8. At this point I think I would have dropped out if I saw an opportunity. I definitely thought about it but didn't know my way back to the finish line area. I figured I should stay on the course where there is water and medical attention.
Somewhere around Mile 9 someone had candy corn. I took a handfull and thanked them graciously. I ate them slowly while pondering how I could possibly run 4 more miles.
Somewhere around this point I started really feeling it in my hips. This lasted through the end of the race. I think when everything else broke down I was using my hips to keep my legs turning over. At his point they were telling me they couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't believe it- I may not be able to finish the race. At any pace. I got nervous. I continued to put one painful leg in front of the other, eating as much food and drinking as much water as possible, and walking through the water stops. When I felt a burst of energy I would pick up the pace to 7:45 or so pace, but it never lasted long.
The next mile signs felt like blessings. I tried to gain inspiration from the marathoners around me. They were amazing. I tried to look at their mile signs and imagined I had run that far... because that is what it felt like! I reminded myself that a half marathon is nothing to scoff at. That the volunteers were there for us "halfers" too, and that we were also completing an honorable race.
At some point the 3:30 pace group passed me. It felt defeating and I tried to stay with them because I knew that would bring me in around 1:45. Somehow, hip pain and all, I managed to stay with them (mostly- at points I had to play catch up). I finished up at a decent pace for the last half mile or so with help from the crowd. I don't know my time but it was around 1:45. My slowest half since 2008; since I became an "experienced" distance runner.
I don't know what happened today. I know I did not pay enough attention to my nutrition, which was dumb. I think that I took my illness lightly but it paid a toll. I knew the illness took my training runs away, but I did not think it would factor into the race. Not sure if it did or if it was just not my day. I don't understand how two weeks ago I was doing sub-7s for the last 5 miles of a ten miler and feeling great about it.
I do know that this made me mentally stronger. I can't believe I finished. It also made me appreciate the good days where everything comes together. I was overdue a horrible day like this. I will get past it and run a good day and remember to be oh-so-thankful.
- my brother who used this as an "easy" training run for JFK and still ran a 3:40 marathon;
- my mom who ran her first half... go Jude!
- another best friend Natalie who finished her first full marathon on her 25th birthday... with strep throat
- my sister-in-law who covered 13.1 miles for the first time
- and the many other inspirational runners who I know or don't know. Also, those who kicked my butt. I have never been passed by so many people in my life. I WILL see you guys on the course again :)