Don’t go out too fast!
It’s been so beautiful this fall in New Hampshire that I almost forgot what winter was like. Well, the Kingdom Challenge Half Marathon on Saturday gave me a good reminder with blowing headwinds, temperatures in the low 30’s and tiny sparkly snowflakes (yes, those are really snowflakes!) whipping through the air. Not exactly perfect weather for a half marathon but its the wicked Ne Hampshire weather that makes us so tough! I was not quite ready to fully dress for winter and I am a runner who’s thermostat is always turned up to high so I decided to forgo the long spandex and run in my Skirt Sports with some striped neon colored tall Under Armour socks. I think some people thought I was nuts but there is nothing worse than beginning a race only to realize ten minutes in that you are beginning to boil.
On the road again.
I haven’t done any road races this fall until the Kingdom Challenge Half Marathon so I’d forgotten how fast it feels to be on the road. I was ready to get back on the road to give it a go in this point to point half marathon from Lyndonville, VT to St. Johnsbury VT. I definitely went out faster than I should have and was quickly reminded of this around 4-5 miles into the course when I felt my blood sugar beginning to tank. It is so hard not to get caught up in the excitement of racing–nerves take over, your pulse in racing, your breathing fast, your legs feel fresh! I needed my first Ignite Naturals Reload Energy Gel at this point to help get a boost of energy. I was thankful that the course had changed from asphalt at this point to dirt roads. My legs were not enjoying the cold hard asphalt. As the road turned to dirt the hills began, rolling at first passing through scenic Vermont countryside. I worked on settling my pace waiting for the giant hill looming at around mile 7. The spectators and volunteers at the race were awesome cheering the runners on despite the frigid weather. I just love hearty New Englanders!
Grind the hill.
At mile 7 there was a transition for relay runners. At the hand off the second runners in the relay hit the road with fresh legs and energy. I was envious and focused on imagining that there energy was mine. At mile 7 we hit the big hill, which appeared to go up into the sky. I was grateful for a homemade sign on the course which read, “Grind the Hill.” This became my mantra. I got down to hard work using sheer grit and determination to carry me to the top of the hill. I was thankful at the turn for the relief of going back down again and the sign reading, “highest elevation of the course.”
I am strong.
YES! The rest of the course greeted me with familiarity as I had run it many times before with my friend and training partner Bridget. I allowed my legs to take over on the down hills. I have learned to be relaxed on the downhills and to let gravity do some of the work. I focused on my form trying not to let fatigue take over. I worked to used my upper body and my strong core and to keep my strides long. Even though the big hills were over there were still a few more rolling hills to tackle. I took another Reload Energy Gel hoping to keep my energy up to the end of the course. My hamstrings, quads, and calves were beginning to feel tight from the extended effort and the cold. I pushed on and it was tough but I wanted a strong finish.
I can do this!
Finally, I came down the last hill back through a neighborhood and around the corner with the school and the finish line nearing. I was thankful to be heading into the finish area. I crossed the line in 1:46.59, one minute off my best time for the course and good for 5th out of 21 in my age group. Overall I am pleased with this finish. It is not a PR but I worked hard for it and have been struggling a lot with running this fall. I am thankful that my peroneal tendonitis did not effect me during the race. This was a positive race experience. It was about running strong and not giving up. I felt physically depleted when I crossed the finish line but emotionally renewed.
We lose ourselves in the things we love, we find ourselves there too.
I am going to take a break from racing for a little bit (at least until my Boston Marathon Training begins in January). I am going to focus on getting mentally and physically strong again. If you are a regular reader of my blog you know I have been struggling these past six months. I am working on getting myself back to a stronger happier me. I am looking forward to some cross training–spinning, swimming, and hopefully if the snow falls early I’ll be hitting the cross country ski trails on my nordic skis. I am looking forward to taking it “easy” for a little while. need to learn to be “gentler” on myself. Sometimes it is ok to not push so hard. I am healing myself in other ways too. I am getting to bed earlier. I am surrounding my self with positivity wherever possible. I am talking with a counselor who is helping me through the PTSD that began after running Boston last spring. This will be an emotional journey leading up to the Boston Marathon 2014 and I need to be prepared. I am on a journey of healing and getting back to where I want to be. As the Boston Marathon approaches I will be sharing my training journey and my emotionally journey with you and hope you will share your stories with me too. We are strong together.
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