Two Sundays ago I ran my ninth half marathon (when did the number get so HIGH?), The Wild Half in Wildwood NJ. You may remember that I was supposed to run this race LAST year, but my friend Irene, well she got in the way.
So we took a storm check and agreed to meet up and run in Wildwood this year. And a few of the other Peacocks, including Charrissa and Derek, of Expedition Everest Fame and Mama Gail agreed to join us at the Casa de Nono. I was pretty excited about the weekend, the race and the fun, but then at the last minute, something happened to make it even better! My friends Robyn and Scott, who were in the path of Hurricane Isaac on the Gulf Coast, decided to come up to New Jersey at the last minute to join us. Bring on the full Team Peacock gathering!!
Robyn and Scott have also been helping me (A LOT) with my Marine Corps Marathon training, so I was excited to have a chance to discuss how things were going with them. I haven’t talked about it here, but after a superb running month in July, August has been a month of pain (literally). I understand from talking to Robyn and Scott that this is pretty normal with a first marathon cycle, so I’m trying not to stress out too much!
After a lovely day together on Saturday–full of expo-ing and eating–we all settled in early on Saturday night after some quality Fox and the Hound viewing time. Yes, a bunch of adults watched an 80s animated movie–but we’re all big disney fans, so what did you expect? So we head to bed at about 9.30, only to be awoken about an hour and a half later by the worst thunderstorms I have ever experienced. Line after line of them, literally for hours. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The whole house was shaking from the lightning and the wind, not to mention the pounding rain on the metal roof. It was intense.
And as you might expect, it meant seriously interupted sleep. Like, maybe three hours of continous sleep. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this on the blog, but I DO NOT function well in a sleep deprived state. At all. So when my alarm went off at the relatively luxuriously late time of 6am, it felt like some kind of sick joke. But I got up, got ready with my teammates, and we all walked to the start together. The ease with which we got to the start reminds me how much I like these medium sized races. No long lines for the bathroom, no shoving in the corrals. This race did have a pretty crowded start which seemed to take a long time to thin out, mostly because we were on the Boardwalk for the first two miles.
I took off with Derek and Scott, who had agreed to run with me to help me pace towards something close to a 2 hour half marathon, which has been a long time goal of mine. Unfortunately, from the very start I knew it was going to be difficult to hold the pace in the low 9 minute mile range I would need to hit 2 hours. I was having a hard time finding my focus becuase of my lack of sleep, and the humidity was oppressive. Shortly into the race I spotted Kandi. It was nice to see her in real life–we knew each other in college, and we’ve reconnected via our blogs. We ran together for a bit and then she pulled ahead at a water stop that I had opted to walk through. We leapfrogged for a bit and it was good to see her, even if we didn’t talk much! No energy!
About mile 5 we had cleared the two causeway bridges on the out portion of the out and back course and we were approaching a water stop. I took my first gel, and immediately told Derek that I wasn’t sure the gel had been a good idea, since it wasn’t sitting well. I tried having water to see if maybe the gel was just “sticking” since it was so hot, but it didn’t help. We caught back up with Scott, who was holding pace, but I soon started to feel bad. Really bad. Like, I need a port o pot right now bad. Around mile 8 I ducked off the course to make my first ever pit stop during the race. That didn’t really help the situation any, so for the last 5 miles we did a sort of run/walk. We would run (very slowly) until I got a stomach cramp that made me want to roll into a ball and die and then we would walk until it passed. Luckily for me, my Garmin also started to freak out (I think from the humdidity) at around the same time, so I have no idea how slowly I was actually moving those last couple of miles, but I think it was pretty slow–close to or even above an 11 minutes mile pace.
Finally, we were in the home stretch. With about a mile and a half left, Robyn (who had run an AWESOME race) jumped in and ran with me. I am so grateful that she distracted me, because we were running right by Noel’s house at that point, and the temptation to stop was high! After what seemed like an age, I made the final hairpin turn onto the promenade and then veered right onto the sand. And I finished–in 2.16.48. Yep, that would be my second slowest half marathon time ever. After a summer of hard training, GI issues help me to one of my worst race performances ever.
I could lie and say that I was okay with the result when it happened. But that is just that, a lie. The fact that it took me over a week to write a full race recap should indicate how upset I was about this performance. I was really upset with my effort, and worried that I wasn’t going to be strong enough to finish the Marine Corps Marathon. My Peacock teammates were all great, assuring me that I had just had a bad day. But I just couldn’t shake the feeling that this race exposed me as being a weak runner–a REALLY weak one. I just wanted to stop running. But luckily, that wasn’t an option. Noel and I were scheduled to fly to California for the Disneyland Half Marathon, which was the following Sunday, and I had to complete that race to get my coast to coast medal.
So I did my best to put the race out of my mind for the rest of Sunday, enjoy the time with my friends (and the pie that I made for everyone to eat as part of our post race celebration), and try to convince myself that I wasn’t failing as a runner. Oh yeah, and get home in one piece that night so I could get ready to fly to California on Wednesday!