Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Grand Rapids Half Marathon

Six months ago, fresh off the emotional high of the Boston Marathon, I ambitiously set a goal of qualifying for another Boston at the Grand Rapids Marathon in October.

Life had other plans, as it often does.

From a dreadfully hot and humid summer that sapped me of willpower at every turn to the fateful hamstring injury in August, this was not a season to remember. I struggled, I fought, I complained, I bitched, moaned, and basically gave up.

It was the giving up that hung on my spirit more than anything. Once upon a time I went after my goals with fire in my heart and I flung myself headlong into any endeavor, gritting my teeth and powering through the long and lonely miles. That winter season of training for Cleveland, was anything as difficult as that, really? And here I was whining about running when it was insufferably hot. What about all those awful mornings when I slid out the door into a dark, frozen world and ran 6 or 7 miles? Where was that version of me when I needed her most?

Skulking around in the shadows, just beyond my field of vision...so close, yet so far away.

When I finally backed away from the full marathon, it was a huge relief. I knew that even with the spotty training I had cobbled together since mid-August I could run a half marathon. The conditioning and overall fitness I had spent the past three years building up would be enough to carry me the 13.1 miles I needed. It was going to be hard but I would survive.

So it was I found myself huddled in the crowd at the start of the Grand Rapids race on Sunday, October 17. My dad and the Engineer were by my side and somewhere in the crowd were Spike and the Redhead and three more of my running buddies (Lorenda, Larry, and Amanda). We were in this together. 13.1 miles, I had run that distance a score of times. What's 13 miles? I could do that in my sleep. Except...my sleep had lasted two months. It was time to wake up and run.

Temperature: about 45 degrees. The sun was rising and it was calm and clear. I was wearing my trusty running skirt and my special Chelsea Market shirt. I felt relaxed and ready. I was covered in Body Glide and I had a freshly charged Garmy. Bring it.

The race itself was rather uneventful. We weaved around the streets of Grand Rapids, crossing the river, winding through downtown, past riverfront and warehouses and grassy meadows. I maintained a nice, easy 9:00-9:15 pace. I stopped for a bathroom break around mile 8.5, without which I probably would have broken 2 hours, but that's okay. Around mile 10 fatigue settled in and I knew the last three miles were going to require some pushing. I hadn't run this far in a long time. Like, two months. I told you my training had gone off the rails. Gone off the rails? It was a trainwreck. A pileup.

Miles 11 and 12 slid by and before I knew it I made the last turn with about a half mile to go. I could see the finish line banner in the distance. I was almost done. So close. I was tired. I was ready for it to be over.

Onward, I told myself. You're almost done. This doesn't hurt as badly as the last half mile at Cleveland, and you're not trying to qualify for Boston, so just glide on down there nice and easy, no need to sprint (remember the hamstring debacle!), just keep it slow and steady...

I crossed the finish line and it was done. My sixth half marathon, and my second slowest at 2:05:28. I fought for that 2:05, however. I don't have anything to be ashamed of.

Late last week I met up with the Redhead for lunch as we are wont to do seeing as how we work half a mile from each other. We were unable to connect on race day to my great sadness, but that meant that last Friday we were able to get our run nerd on in fine form, including matching race shirts and medals!

Don't mind us, we're just a couple of weird runner chicks...

I can't fully relax, however, because come December 11 I will be running a marathon. A full one this time. I'm not letting this one slip away. Thunder Road is waiting. Charlotte, here I come. 

For the record, my hamstring didn't give me a single twinge for the entire race. Not a quiver, not a clench, nothing. That, my friends, is the biggest triumph of all. 



Carolina John said...

Glad you made it through the race with no troubles! You turned in a great time and should be proud. <3

Suzana said...

Glad to hear there was no pain! That's great!

I'm really raelly curious if you beat that guy at the finish line? It looks so close!!

Ironman By Thirty said...

Great job! Way to push through until the end.

Love the geeky runner picture with the Redhead! Way to rock your race shirts and medals! :)

Sun Runner said...

@Suzanad: Me and that guy ran the entire race together. We finished with the exact same time. ;)

Payam Eric Nili said...

"I felt relaxed and ready. I was covered in Body Glide and I had a freshly charged Garmy. Bring it."

What a great line...I can totally relate.

Jen Feeny said...

I think we should officially file away the summer of 2010 and focus on Cleveland 2011. :) Congrats on a well run race and I love our runnerdness! :) (Which reminds me I totally forgot to post our pic!) See you at lunch!

Anonymous said...

Well it's relieving to hear the hammy kept her mouth shut for your half marathon.

Honestly, I don't think you should call yourself a quitter. You didn't give up. Like you said, life took you somewhere other than towards another BQ marathon. That is so not a big deal.

Most of all, Sarah, I want to tell you that the woman who slipped out into the cold dark winter morning to train for a marathon--she is still within you, gathering strength for when you really need her.

On second thought, I think she is here with me, in New York City, helping me out for a little while! I'll send her back in January. Promise.