A few months ago I started training for the Run ForThe Health of It Half Marathon. I ran my best time official time ever at 1:56:xx. This past Saturday I Ran For The Health Of It.
I went to bed Friday night in the middle of a thunder storm. The rain was coming down as though it wanted to pound everything back into the ground. I was afraid as I laid there in bed. I was afraid that if it was still raining this deep soaking, pounding rain in the morning that I would not want to run 13.1 miles.
At the same time, I laid in bed full of excitement. I visualized the route and where the water breaks would be. I visualized where I wanted to take pictures to capture proof that I was there and had actually gone 13.1 miles. As a tactical move, I put on my sports bra and favorite tech t-shirt to sleep in. I was already half dressed for the half the next day. The full water bottles and hammer gels were all snug inside my bag resting up for the very important job they would have to do the next day.
As I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep, I said a little prayer for better weather in the morning. I felt petty asking for nice weather in the morning when others, like my son who was fighting a serious eye infection, obviously needed my prayers more but it came out none the less.
I woke up before my alarm clock sometime shortly after 6:00 am. I wasn’t really worried about the time. The half marathon was just a ten minute drive down the road from my house. If I slept until 7:00 am, I could still make the 7:15 am start time (because I was already half dressed!) But, what really got me out the door was that there was NO RAIN! Weather forecasters had predicted rain all day. Looks like I had to live up to my end of the bargain by running 13.1 miles post haste. I grabbed a towel for after the race in case it started to rain later or in case I ran into mud.
I arrived in Symerton and found a parking spot near the starting line. I always get a smile reading the town sign of Symerton.
It was quite breezy and chilly when I got out of the car. I thought that if this half marathon didn’t get started soon that I might not want to run at all. I made my way over to the trail sign to get proof of where I was and what shoes I was wearing.
Following the wise words of Hammer nutrition, I gulped down my first gel five minutes before starting. Then I took a quick job up the trail to warm up my legs. I was very pleased to see that the trail was mostly dry. It is crushed limestone so I guess it drains well. I thought this would be an opportune time to try catching a picture of the VFFs running. Sorry, it’s a bit blurry. I’m not a professional.
After some stretching, it was time to line up at the start line. I made absolutely sure to have the stop watch ready to go on both my iphone and watch. (I just remembered to stop the iphone stopwatch. It was at 74:46:49.4) I wanted to be absolutely sure I knew how long it took me to run this half marathon.
The first mile felt good and I was no longer chilled from the wind, still it was a strong wind coming from the east. I finished the first mile in 9:28. That was a little slower pace than I wanted to be going so I sped up just enough to finish the next mile in 9:00. I was doing ok but I wasn’t sure about holding that pace for another 11 miles. Mile 2 or Mile Post 13 was the first turning point.
Right away after the turn I felt that strong prairie wind beating down on me. The wind was coming from the south and I was running southwest. This was a problem, at least when it came to my finishing time. Mile 3 was a 9:30ish mile. But, honestly, it didn’t bother me too much because I had wanted to go out that day and run strong. So, if it meant a slower time then so be it.
Shortly after finishing the 3rd mile, I realized that my stop at the water/fueling station was going to require a trip to the outhouse. I was comfortable with not quite making a PR but now I was going to be lucky to finish before my 2:03 finish time from the Chicago Half in 2007. I came up onto mile 4 and made my way to the outhouse. Lucky for me, for numerous reasons, I didn’t have to wait in line. I grabbed water and a gel and took off down the trail. Admittedly, the raspberry was a little hard to choke down but I’m not one to drink a lot on a run so the gel suits me better. I was sorry that I had not gone back to the bike store to get some more chocolate flavored gels though.
Miles 5 – 9.5 were pretty much a blur. I didn’t even pay attention to the watch. I have pictures of each mile marker but except for the number change they all look the same.
I’ve read other runner’s reports on their half marathon and marathon and wonder how in the world they remember so much detail. A long run like this for me is like stepping into a time space continuum. I know the minutes are going by but the minutes don’t seem as long as a regular minute. You know, like the kind of minutes you have at work… when you’re watching the clock. It’s the same feeling I have travelling in a car. I look back on the trip we took to Ohio a few weeks ago and can’t believe the drive actually took 2.4 times longer than our drive to the In-laws’.
Back to the half marathon, I do remember that at mile 6… or was it 7? No, I’m sure it was mile 6… I think… I decided to ditch my water bottle and drove back later to pick it up. I hid it in a spot just a few feet from a road crossing.
Another moment I can recall, I was thinking how nice the trail felt after the rain. It was softer than it had been the week before. Running in my VFFs lets me enjoy that running on moss feeling. On the other hand, it probably absorbed some of my energy making me slower. Well, at least, I enjoyed the moment.
Finally, I hit mile 9.5 (Mile Post 19.5) where the trail turned and headed back to the finish line. I took a picture here to prove that I was still wearing the VFFs.
This was one of those times when I could reach back to my younger years and apply my education. In fact, I was applying Newton’s 1st law, an object in motion stays in motion, an object at rest stays at rest. Because, as soon as I stopped to take that picture of my feet by lying down on the ground; I had a hard time getting up and going again. As long as my feet were turning over, I had no problem going. It crossed my mind to calculate the friction drag I was creating due to my now inability to lift my feet more than a couple of inches off the ground but I figured I had better save all my mental strength for remembering how to breathe. I’d say that my running form was terrible at this point but I don’t think I had a running form to speak of.
But with all that effort to build back up my inertia, it never once crossed my mind that I would not finish this half marathon. I had been given a rain free, mud free day. I had been given several hours of free time from the family. I had been given a half marathon.
The next 3.5 miles all melted together like a big fondue pot. The following things may have happened in this order or they may not have.
I like running on a trail. The Wauponsee Glacial Trail might be boring but at this point I would not have been paying attention to any scenery. What I needed was music. When I’m running on a road, I keep the volume level extremely low so that I can hear my footsteps. If I can hear my footsteps then I can hear an approaching car. When I’m on a trail, I have no worries about cars. I cranked up that music so loud that my brain went off dancing to The Veronicas and The Ting Tings and ignored the fatigue my legs were whining about.
A later problem was that I thought I had passed the 10 mile marker but hadn’t. So, I threw a mental hissy fit when I realized that I still had “only 3 miles to go” when I had been thinking that for the previous five minutes. I had also forgotten to pack my last gel. It was extremely obvious that I could have used one at every mile marker since the 9.5 mile. Still, I dragged on.
Out of habit I looked at my watch. I think it said 1:47 or so. I did a quick mental calculation and realized that I still had a half hour to go (even on a good day). I was way beyond finishing near my previous times. At this point, there was nothing I could do but finish the half.
Finally, I had passed the 12th mile and made my way back into Symerton. So close that I could see the finish line, nay, I could SMELL the finish line. Ok, it was just me that I smelled. Usually, I get a last 1/8 mile burst of energy that allows me to finish races with a mad sprint. There was none of that at the Wauponsee Glacial Trial half marathon. Amazingly, as I approached the last tenth of a mile, my ipod choose to play “Shout” by The Isley Brothers. With an exhausted body nearing the finish line, I let that song reach deep inside my soul and thanked the heavens. I raised my hands and shouted with every shout in the song. There was nobody at the finish line to shout for me so I shouted for myself. I think I even jumped over the finish line at 2 hours 17 minutes + or -. (After all that nonsense, I forgot to check the time) Here’s a look back at the finish line.
Now, you might be asking yourself why it looks so bare in all my pictures. Where’s the crowd? The timer? The finish line? My half marathon, The Borgess Run For The Health Of It half marathon, was Kalamazoo, MI while I was in Symerton, IL on the Wauponsee Glacial Trail. Because my son had just gotten out of the hospital, I did not think it was a good idea to drag him to Michigan or leave him behind in Illinois. So, I ran a half marathon distance just for the health of it. I was mighty lucky to be able to run the full distance. With Mik being in the hospital the weekend before, I had only run two miles over the previous two weeks. My longest LSD had been only 10 miles about four weeks previous. I was very satisfied to have been able to go run for the health of it. All 13.1 miles completed in my VFFs.
I got home a little later than anticipated but my husband said he was proud of me. My kids just wanted to know where the heck I’d been.