Here we are again. Me, apologizing for not writing sooner. You, holding it over my head and making me feel like a complete slacker. Well, ok. So only 50% of that scenario is actually the way it is. With that being said, I’m sorry for taking so long to get this post up. Still love me? Good.
Today is Snowpocolypse 2014 in Charleston. Jim Cantore is out kneeing students in the jewels and the weather is frightful. So what better way to enjoy the freeze than to sit down with a cup o’ hot chocolate and a keyboard… Let’s get to talking about this race I did almost two weeks ago…
The Charleston Half Marathon was the culmination of my triathlon off-season training. During the off-season I spent most of my workout time running and swimming. My coach introduced me to a run training schedule that I had not been used to before, but that any of you that are regular runners will recognize. Namely I was doing a speed workout, a tempo workout, and a long run every week.
For those of you who, like me, are heavier runners, you may already know that running is tough on us. There is a greater chance for injury when running the bigger you are.
For the most part I stayed healthy through the off-season. For the most part.
The Tuesday before the race I was doing some relatively easy sprint work when during the 3rd of 4 intervals I felt a “pop” in my hamstring. I was devastated because I knew that I was pushing too hard on the intervals and that this stupidity might cost me all of my training. I really thought I would not be able to do the race.
I hobbled home.
When I got home, I realized that I was not as hurt as I initially thought. I knew that there had been a very defined pop followed by a quick sharp pain, but then I realized that the pain was really dull and deep and felt more like a bruise. I called Coach Anne and told her what was going on. She gave me instructions and told me not to worry yet.
To get to the point quicker, I took it very easy for the rest of the week and Ibuprofen and ice were my friends. I woke up Friday morning feeling better, but not 100%. I made the decision that even at 80%, I wanted to race.
I headed Downtown to pick up my race packet and that sealed the deal. When I have my number, the race is real.
I slept well Friday night and woke up early on Saturday itching to go. My hammy was still sore, but not so sore that I thought I couldn’t run. I met up with my teammates (My buddies Pearce and Jason from Chucktown Triathletes and myself all have the same coach…) and we headed Downtown for the start line.
Did I mention that it was one of the coldest and windiest mornings in Charleston?
We arrived on site, snapped a couple of pics for our coach and all of our adoring fans [sic] (that is what you put when you’re lying, right?) we all headed to our respective pace group areas and got ready to race.
I lined up with the 2:30 pace group thinking that a 2:30 half mary was right about where I saw myself finishing. Before I knew it, the count down had commenced and I found myself being herded to the starting line. I passed the gate, started my watch, got my tunes set and settled in.
It was way freaking cold and way freaking windy by the way. Did I mention that?
The course was awesome. If you have never been to Charleston, what better way than to see it by foot. At a quick pace. With 5,000 other people. But seriously, I love Charleston and it felt so nice being in my element.
I got out in front of the 2:30 pace group pretty early. Maybe it is because I have no idea what I am doing. And by “maybe”, I mean totally. My first five miles were completely uneventful meaning that I had no issues and I felt great. It WAS cold and it WAS windy, but I didn’t really seem to notice any negative affects until the wind started howling right in my face around mile 5.5. I don’t know if it actually picked up at that point or if I just noticed it. Somewhere around that time, the 2:30 pace group passed me. I felt a bit defeated by that but then I realized that their pace was much quicker than what was necessary to finish at 2:30. Once again, my ignorance probably got in my way (even though I found out later the the 2:30 group actually finished in 2:25.) I noticed that my legs were starting to feel heavy around that time and I could feel a bit of pressure on my hamstring that worried me. I adjusted my gait to ease the hammy some. My pace slowed by about a minute a mile and I started having a few head games. I kept on pushing though.
Somewhere around between mile 7 and 8 my stomach started growling. I felt well hydrated, but I knew that if my stomach was growling, that I had neglected by nutrition. I grabbed a banana at one of the aid stations between mile 8-9 and kept on pushing.
I made it to mile 9 before I had to peel off and walk. My legs were feeling like lead. My hammy, while not hurting greatly, was playing games with my head. And I was having a few VERY mild dizzy spells. I also started to get EXTREMELY emotional. I am not exactly sure what happened, but I started thinking about the finish and the news that I was hit with the last time I had run this distance. I tried to shake it off, but it was there. I decided to transfer the sadness into determination to make my loved ones proud. I kept pushing.
I walked for a few minutes and then started to run again. I realized quickly that I could not seem to get my pace up even after stopping to walk for a bit. I started to feel a little defeated. But I kept pushing.
Around mile 11 I got passed by the marathon leader (long story short the marathon had split off from the half around mile 10ish. That basically meant that this fast joker was going to finish the marathon before I finished the half. That could be another mind fornicator, but seriously, this guy was smokin fast and probably half my weight. Good for him.
I got to mile 11 and started having those thoughts about, “Can I finish this? It’s only 2 more miles…Anyone can run 2 miles…” But I was struggling mentally with knowing that I was not going to meet my goal time. But I kept pushing.
For the next bit I took a short walk break on the quarter miles and then ran. I hated that I could not run the entire way, but I was not going to be defeated with a DNF. I kept pushing.
I got to within a half mile of the finish and I found some deep buried strength. Jason came back out on the course and yelled some encouragement at me and then I could see the finish line. I saw my wife and kids there and I felt like crying. I stripped off my jacket to show my bib and my amazing Batman running shirt and there it was. I crossed the finish line in full stride.
My parents were just on the other side of the finish line. It was the first race that they have been able to make it to. I got my medal and it was all done and over. I was very close to crying, because if you haven’t figured it out yet, I am an emotional basket case. But I was able to stave it off. My kids and wife caught up and hugged on me. My parents hugged on me. And then I very nearly passed out. Luckily Jason seemed to have notice that I was wavering and went and got me a Coke and a muffin. I mowed down and felt better immediately. But I was spent. 13 miles is no joke youngins.
My previous 13.1 time (during the Try Charleston 70.3) was 3:02:01. I rolled into the finish line here at 2:45:25. Almost a 17 minute PR over the distance. I was still disappointed though. I felt like there was circumstances out of my control and a few within my control that led me to not finish where I wanted to.
But regardless…I finished.
I really enjoyed this race. I think that the organizers do an incredible job and I would suggest you giving it a look the next time it rolls around. I might be biased, but I happen to think that Charleston is the cat’s pajamas.
For those who might be interested, here are the splits from my Garmin (I’m not proud, but hey, I’m also very proud)…
Love you guys. Thank you for your support. Let’s go race sometime.