Yesterday, I completed my 19th half marathon. This was my fourth attempt at the Buckeye Half and my third completion. Last year, I was miserable with my asthma and dropped half way (it is a double loop course).
I arrived at the race site around 7:30, which was my goal. There was no need to pick up my packet (as I had grabbed it Sat and was already loving on my new hoodie) so parking wasn’t a logistical nightmare.
It seemed I had everything I would need or want for the race except for a minor detail…Garmin wouldn’t turn on! To my absolute horror no matter how many times I pushed the “power” button, the screen remained a cold and silent grey. It occurred to me electronics are moody and as I stayed over at a friend’s the night before, I was charging my Garmin at their house. Naturally I couldn’t log into their computer so I just unplugged and left. Brilliant. I’m happy to report today I plugged Garmin into its home system and everything is operational. At the time I wasn’t too worried though, I figured “that’s what pace groups are for anyway”.
I lubed myself up to high heaven knowing it would be humid. And with enough time to spare hit the port-o-lets and joined everyone at the starting line. During the VERY slow job down there it hit me exactly the level of humidity I would be dealing with for the next few hours.
Pace groups ended at 2:10, so I settled in right behind their mass and the people looking around as if they’ve never seen a race before. I noticed Viper @ The Booze Hounds Inc. Running Team, but there wasn’t time to say “Hi”. I was glad I noticed him though, because I knew he had the same time goal as me and since I was now sans pacer and sans Garmin I could use him as a marker.
Miles 0 -1: I chatted with Shelby and a new friend Jennifer who was running her first half! Very exciting! Soon enough it was time to take off and I tried to settle into a rhythm. I knew the course well and could count off landmarks along the way. Stomach felt uneasy.
Mile 1 – 3: Rhythm slowly draining, watch 2:10 move more and more into the distance. Turned on my Ipod and tried to enjoy the journey. Stomach slightly settled, but not 100%.
Mile 3 – 6: Shortly after 3 Viper caught up to me and we chatted for a bit. Despite his pace being “slow” for him, it was on target for me and it was a big moment in my running career to be able to pace with someone I admired so much in the running community. Around this point I was feeling bad, talking to him and passing people really put me back in the game. As I neared the end of the first loop I started to feel out of body and sick. I slowed down A LOT and he took off, I watched his yellow top crest the hill and disappear. Good Bye 2:15…am I too sick to finish THIS YEAR TOO?
Mile 6 – 9: I was sweating faster than I could wipe, but my face was ice cold. My stomach was feeling even worse and if I ran at all I wanted to double over and kept burping. Shelby passed just before I ended the loop and told me I was on pace and to keep going. I see the clock 1:10 and decide not to drop. However I don’t run at all during these few miles. Jennifer passes me early in the second loop and is having a good first race. I keep smiling. People start to pass me and say “Some humidity, huh?”
Mile 9 – 11. A meet a woman (OK I didn’t get her name so did I meet her?) who encourages me to try running again. I do, and I find myself running from 9-10. When I slow down for a road crossing I think the only reason I don’t fall forward are my CEP’s. Just after 10 and the water stop a passing car sends dust into my face. As I start to cough I quickly bend over the side of the road and get sick in the grass. My eyes tear up because getting sick is very embarrassing to me. What’s worse? I don’t have water and the previous stop is too far back. I spend 2 miles with the taste of chemicals in my mouth and follow up with a few tiny “pit stops” over the next mile.
Mile 11 – 13.1. My “new friend” passes me again, I tell her I got sick, she tells me that’s OK it’s your body adjusting. This blows my mind. I know lots of people puke while running. I’ve now done it twice and I know LOTS of people were doing it out there on that very day, but that doesn’t make it “normal”. Sweat? Normal. Tears? Normal. Puke? A sign something is off. I finally get some water and start to feel better. On the home stretch I keep reminding myself “It’s about an active lifestyle, not an elite performance”. I remind myself I am capable of a 2:17 race. I remind myself I need to be healthy enough to do the RnR next weekend. And I mostly remind myself that I didn’t give up.
I cross the finish line in what looked like 3:02:xx or 3:03:xx, and was presented with a medal. First year they’ve done medals!
A few friends were still there and we chatted a quick moment. I ran into even more friends walking to my car. No one laughed at me. No one asked why I sucked. No one babied me knowing it was a “bad race”. Everyone congratulated me. They spoke to me like they cared about me outside of numbers. And they complimented my new haircut.
Not a personal worst, obviously not a personal best, but really one of the top races where I felt like a runner and not just a bib number. This was nice because I will probably stop racing this route after this year. It’s been a fun few years, but roads tear up my IT band and it’s a boring course to be truthful (for me). I wasn’t designed for Ohio humidity!I’m glad I did it though and I’m proud of every other runner who was out there with me. And proud of all my friends who did the Inaugural Moebius Green, Monster Trail 50K on Saturday or the Cleveland West Road Runners Inter-club Challenge 10K on Sunday. Or anyone else who was out there living it up this weekend!