I ran Hartford on 10/10 and felt good when I woke up the next day. My training partner and friend, Kathy, asked if I would run the Runner’s World Half with her. In the midst of my runner’s high, I signed up. Besides, she found a code for 20% off, so how could I resist? Now that it’s over, I can honestly say I’m glad I did it and I realized that this is a half marathon that needs to be on my schedule every single year. I love the course. I run most of the course regularly. Why would I not sign up for this race? Oh right – because of the marathon I ran just a week before. Oh, I should have listened to my gut and not my runner’s high. Ahhh, but I still don’t regret running it!
As the week wore on, I was tired from the marathon. I slept a lot. I ate a lot – and not the good, feed your body great nutrients to recover kinds of things. I wish I could tell you everything I ate last week, but it would probably gross me out (or, more likely it would make me hungry again). I did everything you should do after a marathon, except the part where I went and signed up for a half marathon the following weekend. I ran for the first time on Tuesday, and it felt good.
In fact, all of my runs felt good last week but there was one common theme: my calves were sore. Both of them. I wasn’t worried – I just ran countless high mileage weeks on tired legs. It also didn’t help that every single run last week was supposed to be recovery paced, and they were too fast. I knew it was too fast. I just felt so good, and it just felt good to be able to go run without looking too closely at my watch. And it would have been fine, if I would have just not added in an effing half marathon!
Fast forward to Saturday, when I went to watch the 5K and 10K and go to the expo with my friend Cassie. We ran our shakeout run way too fast (7:33 pace) but we were jetting around the course to spectate and see friends, so it was more like “can we make it to the 5 mile mark of the 10K before the leaders get there” instead of an honest shakeout. I still felt good though. My calves were sore, but nothing alarming. I know I posted this already, but I think it’s too funny:
Sunday morning came entirely too quickly. Since I live about 4 miles from the start, I slept until 6 and left my house a little before 7. I was so relaxed about it: stopping at Wawa for a bagel on the way, casually looking for parking and keeping warm in my car. It was freezing (literally, it was 32 degrees) so though I was wearing shorts and a tank to race, I had throw away clothing on over top. I headed to gear check. Even though I live close, I knew I wanted to hang at the finish line because Runner’s World sure does know how to throw a post race party.
I easily found Hollie and the rest of my local running crew and headed tot he starting line. I ditched my throw away clothes and started to get excited. I had been nervous since I was afraid I didn’t have enough recovery from the marathon, but now I was excited. After the national anthem and hugging my friends, we were off.
Kathy wanted to go sub-1:30 and knew I just did that recently and wanted me to try to keep that pace. She was going to try to hang with me. We were a little fast on the first mile, but nothing crazy. I knew one thing. I felt GOOD. Like way too good for having run a race the previous weekend. As we headed over the Fahey Bridge and to west Bethlehem, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
This was the section of the course that I knew was the hilliest but I was unfamiliar with it. They’d changed the course since I ran it in 2013. There are some good climbs here – but honestly, I finally had that unstoppable feeling. I was consistently in the 6:45-50 range and I felt comfortable. My breathing felt controlled.
Kathy had slowed her pace a little and I was running with Hollie through this point. We would chat every so often, and we passed another local runner, Lauren C. Lauren is super speedy and had won the 5K and took something like 3rd or 4th in the 10K the day before, so I knew it was likely I’d see her again. I was running whatever felt comfortable at this point and having a blast. Around mile 3, we began to descend a hill and I felt my left calf tighten a little. Just a cramp, I thought to myself. We hit north Bethlehem again and started to head toward the monster climb at mile 5 and I felt it worsen. I laid off the pace, and Hollie passed me. I wanted to follow her so badly! I felt so good, but my calf was not so happy with my decision to run this race. I kept her in might sights in hope that my calf would decide to loosen up. We crested the monster hill and headed towards one of my favorite parts of the course.
Illicks Mill Road is my favorite part of the course, but it’s also home to one of the hilliest segments. As we cruised down the road, I’d hoped to use the downhill segment to open up my stride and catch Hollie. I could still see her, but every time I started to push the pace I’d feel my calf more. I was getting frustrated but I reminded myself: you were not supposed to be here at all, and you just ran a freaking marathon a week ago. Cool it, use this is a marathon paced training run and enjoy running an awesome course in your hometown. My pep talk worked because though I wasn’t moving as fast as I wanted to, I was having fun and I felt strong. By mile 10 my pace had settled into the 7 minute range and I was comfortable. Lauren C. came cruising by me looking super strong – so impressive and inspiring! She just smoked both races the day before and she was on her way to a third awesome finish. My calf was cranky, but by this point we were on Washington Street and I love that neighborhood. I couldn’t be angry even if I tried.
We hit north Bethlehem again (my other favorite segment) and did a loop to get us back to the Fahey bridge. I started to look around on the bridge to see if Kathy was near so we could finish the race together. I knew I wasn’t going to PR and I would rather enjoy the rest of the race with my friend. Also, I knew her PR was 1:31ish, so I knew we could possibly break that and get her a PR. She was close, so I slowed down enough that we were running together. I felt good enough that I could two-step her, so I stayed just a little ahead of her to keep her chasing me to push her. If I lost sight of her shadow, I would look back and point to the empty space next to me to push her more.
Finally, we reached our last hill on 3rd street, about a half mile from the finish. I pushed as hard as I could up that hill, and as we descended towards the finish I looked at her and said, “Hang in there, you’re going to PR!!!” We were flying down the final stretch, and I continued to two step her until about the last 50 yards, where I fell into step with her, grabbed her hand, and crossed the finish line. It was 1:30:59 (her time was 1:31:00, I think based on when we crossed the start) and she PR’d by 34 seconds! She took 2nd in the master’s division, and I took 2nd in my age group. Even with my calf crankiness, it was my favorite race finish to date.
Post race, I was limping badly and had a tough time walking. I found Hollie (who kicked ASS with a 1:28!) for a post race photo:
Finally, I changed into my warm, clean clothing, got my award ( a Runner’s World pint glass!) and a much awaited beer with great friends…
And then THIS happened…Deena Kastor!!!
As for my calf…it’s a work in progress. I spent the rest of the day after the race on the couch icing, taking ibuprofen and resting. I slept with it in my night splint that I used for my plantar fasciitis. I’ve run slowly since the race and I am hoping for the best. More on that in my weekly workout post next week! The Runner’s World Festival makes a great addition to any fall race schedule. For me, it’s a great, local bunch of races and I will have it on my schedule next year again – only this time, I won’t run a marathon a week before!