I wasn’t sure how to begin this recap. I spent 16 weeks training for Saturday, and a whole year counting down for the day to arrive. But after just 6 miles, my whole race fell apart, and it was as though all of that training was for nothing.
The week leading up to Medina wasn’t a normal week for me. My legs were still tired from Cleveland, I had the brilliant idea of starting a run streak during taper, I experimented with morning runs, and I ran hard 400s the Tuesday before a Saturday race. That right there was enough to know I was in for a troublesome race.
Saturday morning I woke up at 5, got ready and ate some breakfast before heading down to the square. I took a moment to reflect on my training, read last year’s recap, and think of those who helped along the way with Team JDRF. I wasn’t nervous, I was ready to run, I was excited to run what I had spent the last 112 days training for.
I found great parking in a near empty lot right off the square with about 5 port-a-pottys just about to myself. I made a quick stop, headed up to the square and made sure to take in the moment before taking my place in line. I saw many familiar faces of MCRR and we all wished each other good luck. I hopped in between the 2:00 and 2:10 pace groups, put in one ear bud and was ready to go.
The calm before the race
We were off and I quickly got myself up next to the 2:00 pacers. I knew the first three miles would be the easiest and I wanted to take advantage of them. I tried to keep my pace as comfortable as possible, but I also didn’t want to pass the pacers. A lot of people were going out quickly and there was no clear group of people sticking with us yet.
We made our way away from the square and out towards some of the housing developments. It was all so familiar after running the course runs I was able to focus more on my breathing than running. We passed a few groups cheering and so far the temperature wasn’t too bad. Our pace was a little quick, but I knew we’d slow down once we made it to the first hill.
Mile 1- 8:47
Out of the developments, we made our way on Reagan. With the rolling hills, I tried to use the momentum from the downhill to push myself up, and not focus on how much effort I was using. I was still keeping a steady pace with the pacers, and while others spent time talking and joking around, I kept my silence and focused on the run.
We made our way on Granger and I looked forward to a bit of shade. It was starting to warm up a bit, but not too much where I was uncomfortable yet. About 3.5 miles in we turned towards Lake Medina, and I mentally prepared myself for the small hill up towards the lake. My pace was still quick, and definitely a lot quicker than I had normally run around the lake. I tried to keep my focus and let the pacers lead me through instead of worrying about the run. The slight breeze over the lake helped to keep us cool and the views were gorgeous. I easily could have stayed there for an hour to sit back and relax.
Halfway through the lake, we made our way back down on the grass and out to the parking lot. I knew that the giant hill was coming and told myself not to worry, just take it a step at a time.
As I made my way up on the hill I started to fade back from the pacers. I wasn’t too concerned because this hill was tough. I tried to take advantage of the slight downhill afterward, but it wasn’t quite enough to get me back on their pace. I was ok with that, I wasn’t trying to break 2 today. So I kept a bit behind them and tried not to let the gap get too large. I could feel my body start to get a little tight from the hill and the slight inclines that followed, but knew that around the 10k mark I’d had a bit of relief.
I kept going, keeping the pacers slightly in front of me, every so calmly keeping an eye on my pace. I had been drinking sips of water after every mile, but it was around this point that I realized I had never taken my sport bean at mile 4. Now feeling a little tired, it made sense. I hurried up and fueled, hoping I’d feel better shortly.
Leaving the development, we started on Smith. Having run these roads so many times last year, I knew the route like the back of my hand and that I’d be in for some decent shade within the next mile. But right before mile 7, I stopped to stretch. My hips were getting tight and I knew I had some more inclines that would need somewhat of fresh legs to tackle.
As I stood back up, a gentleman passing me asked if I felt ok. I was getting hot and tired, slightly faint, but overall, I didn’t feel horrible, just not myself. But I suppose I looked worse than I felt. I continued on my way and ran down the biggest decline of the race. We were in full sun now, and for the first time in a long time, I walked the water stop.
I started to run again, but I was starting to struggle. I slowed down a bit, hoping that maybe going out too quick was catching up with me. I knew these next few miles would be tough. Every time I ran the course, I mentally blocked myself from running as well as I could. Knowing we were over half way done, I started to countdown the miles, hoping they’d go by quick.
We made our way towards Sturbridge and I finally reached a breaking point. I started to walk. My legs were screaming and I was so tired that I just didn’t want to go any further. So I stretched and decided I’d run a half mile, then walk a tenth of mile, just until my body felt back to normal.
Still counting down the miles, I continued my plan of walking/running. I walked the water stops as well, trying to soak up as much hydration as I could. There were many times that I wanted to text Darren and tell him I was done, to come pick me up on the course, but I thought of Team JDRF, and I knew I’d do whatever I could to cross that finish line.
Once I hit the 10 mile mark, I knew I had a 5k left, a very long 5k. The temperature was getting hotter and I was getting warmer. I took a sport bean hoping it would help, and starting drink water about every quarter mile. I continued my walk/jog, disappointed in myself that I had to walk, but I couldn’t keep up enough energy to run.
Knowing I had saved time in the first 6 miles, I knew I wasn’t too far behind where I wanted to end up. But just as I was trying to do math, the 2:10 pace group showed up next to me. I stayed with them until I found a port-a-potty. I stood in line for a good 3-4 minutes, second guessing if I really needed to use it. I was in and out as quick as I could, but I know that it added time onto my race.
Mile 10-14:52 (Bathroom stop)
With two miles to go, I knew I was falling way behind any goal time. I started questioning myself, only two weeks ago I was running a sub 2 half, and now I’d be lucky if I made it in under 2:20. I also started to feel sick, and started to worry if I’d spend the last part of my run throwing up again.
Turning on Oak to West Park, I was on roads I hadn’t run much, and they seemed to go on forever. I was getting closer and I could feel that every time I ran my pace was good, but I just couldn’t hold it without being in pain. By this point, everything hurt. My feet and legs were toast and I wondered how I’d ran those first six miles so perfectly.
The last mile was tough. I started to become anxious knowing I was getting so close. I made my way down the bricks and thought of last year, how happy I was finishing with Melissa, and this year, how I was letting my personal cheering section down.
As I approached the square I started to feel sick again, this time from nerves. I tried to pick up my speed but it didn’t help, instead I ended up on the side of the course coughing and gagging. A gentleman asked if I was ok, and helped me get back on course.
I moved as slow as I could with tears in my eyes. My race that I spent so much time and miles training for was finally over.
After I finished, I grabbed my medal and met up with Darren, his cousin and my mom. The first thing I did was apologize. I felt so bad they came out to watch me, and I failed, miserably. We took some time for me to stretch, listen to awards and then walked the Farmers Market. I finally felt a little better, but I was still struggling with the heat.
This race was definitely a tale of two halves. The first half was amazing and I was running exactly where I wanted to be. But the second half, I fell apart. I know I have no one to blame but myself, and I’m still disappointed in how I ran the second part of the course. But know that I’ve had time to dwell on it, I know it was a combination of things that really led to my destruction. My legs were toast and my feet were sore as can be. I pushed my legs too hard in the week before, and my shoes were on their last miles. Even though I carried water, the heat and my lack of properly fueling led me to wear down way to early.
Half Marathon #16, by far my favorite medal
The course, the support, the volunteers, everything else was amazing. I absolutely love this race and I know it will be in my race schedule for years to come. And although I had a bad race, I know so many who had amazing races. Everything I did wrong was all on me, and sometimes we just have bad races. Not every race will be perfect, so I need to let go, move on, and prepare myself for the next one.
AG 25-29: 31/69
*Registration is already open for the 2015 Medina Half Marathon. With the current cost at just $45, I’d definitely recommend signing up for it now. I’ll see you out there!