How NOT to Run a Half-Marathon

I spend Friday night putting the final touches on my playlist for my first half-marathon this season. I was excited ~ this was my 10th half-marathon in 3 years, and I’d been running great lately, so I was ready to hit a new PR. Dear Hubby was at the game (I passed, not drinking at a college football game is torture – I did it for two seasons while pregnant, so thanks, but no), I took the kids out for dinner at our favorite local joint. I was worried about eating something too greasy-heavy-fatty-proteiny-carby, so I stuck with the fish sandwich, rice, and broccoli. It was going to be a good run.

The first sign that this wasn’t going to happen came at 3:00 a.m. My son, Lane, came into our room with Mr. Froggy and assumed his normal position wedged between me and the hubster. The natural reaction to having sleep interrupted, of course, is the immediate need to pee. So I hopped out of bed, briefly lamented that I had to get up in 90 minutes anyway, and trotted off to the potty. That’s when the first rumble happened. I was about 3 steps away from the commode when I realized I needed to do more than pee…..immediately and violently.

I emerged from the bathroom 45 minutes later, sweating. I had spent that time taking care of business, cursing the universe in several languages, and tearing the room apart to find any remaining salves and ointments to soothe my raw, and quite empty…ahem….back parts.I crawled back and bed, snuggled with the Mr. Froggy and prayed that event was over.

45 minutes later the alarm went off — and I trotted back to the loo. NOT. HAPPY. At 4:48 a.m. I update my Facebook status:

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 3.55.05 PM

Apparently, my stomach does not take kindly to threats. I managed to keep down a banana, half a bagel, and some warm Gatorade. I stared at my cup of coffee, which I made but was unable to stomach, and for the first time ever I had this thought: I do not want to run this race today. Quickly, the Suck-it-Up-Buttercup part of my brain kicked in and I put on my shoes. This was the first in the Florida Storm Series of races, and if you complete all 5 in a given year, you get this BIG ASS MEDAL. I wasn’t going to miss this one and be out the chase for the whole year. (And yes, I do have a problem with not not-finishing things. See Ph.D. diploma in garage as Exhibit A.)

I drove to the start, tried to stomach a little more Gatorade, saw some friends, and optimistically headed to the 2:30 pace group. That is my personal record, and based on the times I’ve been running over the last 2 months, should have been relatively easy to nail. Except not today.

I managed to keep up with the pace group for the first 5 miles, then I just had to let it go. My thoughts quickly faded from “nail a PR”, to “just finish”, to “Dear God, just stay healthy.”

About mile 6 I actually did see a sign that said “Run now, poop later.” I was too exhausted to even get my phone out to take a photo, because all I was thinking was “yeah, if only it was that easy.”  I saw my 2:30 pace group at the turn-around, they seemed about 10 minutes ahead of me. I just couldn’t do any more. I slogged on through the next 7 miles. By the time I hit mile 12 I was walking, I didn’t even attempt to run. When the 2:45 pace group sailed by me, it was emotionally debilitating. I lowered my hat, hiding my face from every race photographer at the end of the course. I ran only when I could see the chute for the finish line — and there were lots of people watching me (see Exhibit A, above.) I crossed the line, took my medal, crawled over the curb and did something I have never done at a race: I cried. Hard.

I couldn’t even wait in line for a water or a banana. I couldn’t move. Dear Hubby and the kids were there trying to cheer me up, not really knowing what was wrong with Mommy. I just told them I wanted to go home. No banana. DH offered me a standard post-race beer. I declined. That’s when he knew there was really something wrong. I would post a picture from the finish, but I didn’t even take one.

We all made it home, I slept most of the day. For the first time, my legs were so cramped that I used ice and then took an epsom salt bath. I managed to keep down a Coke and some Saltines for dinner.

On the bright side, I finished, added to my medal collection, I should show major improvement at the next race, and am on my way to the big Category 5 Medal. (I admit, that half of you reading this will think I’m insane, but rest assured the other half is thinking ‘…what? only 5 races…’) I also lost 7 pounds. Of course, the downside is I haven’t eaten in 2 days, and I had to go by a new tube of Boudreaux’s Butt Paste.

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