You know how sometimes you race and it is a magical experience in which you effortlessly run far faster than any recent work-out indicated was feasible? Yesterday was not that day. Yesterday had more of the feel of opening a credit card bill, knowing I owe a lot and the balance being every bit as bad as I feared or stepping on the scale after the Christmas holidays knowing I way over-indulged, hoping that my metabolism magically sped up and took care of it all but knowing it is going to be bad, and it is.
Yesterday was a 1:38:41 half marathon raced all out. That is a Whopping 18 minutes slower than 4 years ago, 11 minutes slower than even last year. 18 minutes! I can shower, dress, make our lunches, load up the kids and be off to work in 18 minutes. That is a mind boggling chunk of time. But it was not really a shock to run that time, it kind of makes sense given the larger context and I find myself strangely happy for having run it. Also happy that I am happy about it (if that makes any sense). Both happy AND happy to be happy. It's like I am channeling the seven dwarves over here
It was a bit of an unusual race in that it was logistically tacked onto an ironman and half ironman so the start time of the marathon was 5.30 pm and start of the half marathon was 7 pm which personally suits me much better than dreadful morning races. It also meant that there was a lot of comraderie on the course. The course itself was a 5.275 km loop run 4 X for the half marathoners. The start/finish was on a track which, by the end of my race, was under the lights. Personally I love loop courses and I love running on the track at night so two points in my favour. There were no km markers on the course which I found irritating especially after paying an entry fee that was so exorbitant I am embarrassed to write it here. There were only about 70 people in the half marathon but btwn all the other events going on concurrently, it didn't matter - there was always someone else to chase.
I went out in 1:32:30 pace for the first loop which I knew was probably optimistic but I was hoping not by too much. At 3 km I passed a woman who I would eventually beat by 10 minutes which I mention only because of what happened next. I passed her and she immediately threw in a huge surge. So, I ignored her, continued running at my pace and about a minute later I caught her again and slowly started to pass. Surge. Again. Repeat same sequence. The third time I caught back up to her she threw a surge and an elbow! Seriously at the 4 km mark of a tiny, community half marathon with absolutely NOTHING in the way of prizes. Throughout all of this, she was breathing HARD, like middle distance hard and we still had 17 km to go. This time I lost my temper and said "you are being so stupid." (Am not at my most active while self-propelling at more than 13 kph.) She was wearing headphones so who knows if she heard. This time I dropped it to about 4/km which I hoped I could hold for a minute without wrecking my own race and lost her for good. From then on I entertained myself by seeing how much I had built up my lead on her on every lap and was pleased to see that with every lap I put 2-3 minutes on her. I wished I hadn't lost my temper but it was irritating.
Anyway things were okay until about 12 km and then the body just started falling apart. Aerobically I was fine. Injury wise I was fine (hallelujah!!!) but quite simply my body just hasn't run many kilometres lately and it was not ready to deal with 21 consecutive kilometres. My hip flexors were so tight, I thought they were going to just walk off my legs in protest. It felt like my hamstrings were going to peel off the back of my legs. My quads ... Oh the quads! I could feel every single insertion point. I have definitely felt far better at the end of most of the marathons I have run. In other words, it felt like I was running a half marathon on about 40-60 km of running per week and no long runs at all. I told myself to just get to an hour and 5 minutes of running (arbitrary time) and then I could have a (45 second) walking break as a reward. I could tell by timing someone I had been running with that I only lost 20 seconds by doing this so I essentially repeated this every 10-12 minutes until I finally got to finish under the lights at the track.
So, no longer injured (yay), asthma under control (yay), very out of shape especially muscular endurance (booooo) but this can be fixed (yay) and surely I can only get faster from here???
And yes, I did beat the crazy surging lady ... Actually I won which was kind of fun also though I would take a faster time over a win any day.