I’ve always been a fan of running. But had let it go for the past few years. It wasn’t until I got into Berkeley that I picked up my once favorite pastime. Like many runners I found it an incredible stress-reliever. It provided the right amount of monotony to settle frazzled thoughts followed by mood pumping endorphins. It was essential in getting me through my first year at Cal.
Now… I’ve never been a competitive runner. I had never been on a track team or ran in a race. Running for me was a solitary experience.
As I started delving deeper into the world of fitness and nutrition, much of the literature I encountered recommended signing up for a race. Not only was it a good way to hold yourself accountable, it was a great way to track progress and set new goals. I am a big planner and constantly seeking new projects. For the last 6 months I had been doing 3 mile runs (semi-consistently) 3 times a week.Training for a Half-Marathon seemed like a reasonable goal. So in March of this year I started my training program. The greatest thing was increasing my mileage and time week by week. There’s no greater reward than actually being able to see your progress.
The Dreaded Achilles: I had a bit of a set back 3 weeks before the race. I’m not really sure what happened, but during one of my longer runs (specifically at mile 8), my achilles tendon started to ache. I’m the type of runner that is overly cautious. I would rather stop when something feels wrong than risk an injury that might put on the sidelines. At this point, not being able to run was not an option. I reached mile 9 and everything seemed fine just a little more tender than usual. It wasn’t until later that evening that things turned for the worse. It hurt to put all my weight on my left leg, it was also painful to fully flex it in order to walk. Uh-oh!! This cannot be good! Luckily my bestie, who is also a massage therapist and has experience with athletes, was picking me up so I could spend a few days with her. As soon as we got to her place she started an icing treatment. We did this for two days. The best prescription at this point was simply to stay off my leg, let it heal. That said, I wasn’t able to run for a week!! So close to race day this made me incredibly nervous. I only had two weeks to ease back into running. Again, I was being cautious. I didn’t want to start right where I had left off with the fear of over extending myself. It was better to start slowly.
Race Day: Sunday June 5th, Alameda California. See Jane Run Women’s Half Marathon! I woke up at 5:15 am. I had a bowl of oatmeal packed with strawberries, blueberries, almonds and flax seeds. I almost inhaled my breakfast, I was so anxious. I paced my entire apartment, back and forth from the kitchen to the living room. My training had only taken me to 9 miles. The injury prevented me from completing my training program. I wasn’t sure that I could run 13 miles. My average time for the 9 miles was 1:22. My goal for the half-marathon was to make it in under 2 hours. I could do this!
Flying: The whole place was buzzing!! Crowds of women decked out in their gear brandishing their bib numbers proudly and I was one of them. I could hardly contain my excitement. I had heard people say that you’re carried through half your race on pure adrenaline. I hadn’t even stepped onto the track and I was already sprouting wings.
5 minutes before the Start Time they directed us to line up. Most of the other runners were grouped together chatting it up. But a few were buzzing with energy, I was one of them. I couldn’t contain myself I was literally jumping. The last two minutes of the wait seemed to drag forever….
FINALLY, we’re off! I started at a much faster pace than what I was used to, but I simply couldn’t hold myself back. I wanted to get further towards the front of the pack. I surged past 3 miles in 24 minutes. I normally hit a slow point around mile 4 before a high carries me through, I never felt the slow creep in. This was too much fun. Soon I hit 6 miles in 48 minutes. I kept glancing at my timer. This couldn’t be right. I had never been this fast in my training. But then again, I had never run with this much excitement or adrenaline coursing through me. I kept telling myself, if you’re going to do this, you must give it everything you have.
Mile 9: This was when I started to get nervous. I had been keeping an incredible pace, but what lay beyond this point was new territory. I had never run more than 9 miles. What if I suddenly blistered? Got a cramp? Or my knees buckled? What if I simply couldn’t go on? At mile 10 the area around my ribcage started to ache. I slowed my pace and concentrated on keeping a steady breathing rhythm. The ache vanished. Mile 11: still going strong and then suddenly, not. I had 1.5 miles left and something clicked off. I was exhausted. I felt like my energy had been completely depleted. There was an invisible hand holding kryptonite above me. I stopped running. I felt nauseous. I didn’t know where to direct my thoughts or how to continue. How do you start again? Another racer comes up on my left side, and as she passes me she smiles and says, “Come on, we’re almost there!!”. That’s right! I’m almost there! I couldn’t stop now, not after making such great time up until now. I had to make it under 2 hours. I had to keep going.
A little further and there was a water station. I gulped down the cup of water and like magic I regained some of my energy, although it morphed into anger. I had heard that anger is sometimes used by the mind as a coping mechanism for pain, but had never experienced it until now. Boy, was I fuming!! I was less than a mile from the finish line, and I couldn’t see it!! It made me furious! The last bit of the race wound through a tree filled park, away from the shoreline we had previously been on. Where is it?? Finally it appears! I push through one last burst of energy and sprint past the finish line. My time….1:51:46!!! (average pace per mile 8:32)
I couldn’t believe it! I beat my intended time by several minutes!!! I was depleted, thirsty, and dripping with sweat. But I had finished!
Now the motto for all See Jane Run races is “I run for chocolate and champagne”. Two of my favorite things, so this race couldn’t be more fitting. I soon ditched the bottle of water in exchange for some booze.
This was definitely one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had. You truly learn so much about yourself when you push your mind and body to an extreme. Knowing what you’re capable of only makes you stronger.
I cannot wait to start training for my next race… cheers!