Sunday, September 20, 2015

Beckley Half Marathon Walk/ Run

This past week I was getting really upset about the race that I had signed up for months ago. The bulging disc in my back was keeping me from running the whole thing and I found out there was no shorter distances. Only the half marathon and a full marathon. I thought I would have to drop completely. Blah!

But then I started thinking...there is a walk option...could I possibly walk the WHOLE half marathon? long would it take me?...would it hurt?....would I have the endurance to finish?

Then I thought, what the heck. I'm going to go for it! So I emailed the race director to make sure there were no time limits, since it could possibly take me over four hours to finish! He replied back that there wasn't a time limit and that did it for me. I was all in.

So Friday I went and picked up my packet. I skipped the spaghetti dinner to prepare some things for a small dinner party I was having the evening of the race.

I live barely a mile from the race start, so I didn't have to get up too early for the 8:00 AM start. I only had a small peanut butter and jelly sandwich that morning. It's all I could really stomach. I wish I had eaten a bit more because I got hungry out on the course, but hindsight you know.

My initial plan was to simply walk the whole thing. If I started hurting, I had my phone with me to call my boyfriend to come pick me. I took two Gu Gels with me and Gatorade chews to eat since I knew I would be out there a long time. It was a beautiful day. It started off cool. The sun was shining brightly so it did get warm, but it was a really nice day to be out there.

When the gun went off, my plan went out the window. Everyone started out running and I got caught up in the excitement of the course. So I started running out, very slowly. I wasn't being completely dumb. I knew running hard would hurt my back and endurance. I ran the first mile in about an 11.30 pace. Right after the one mile mark we hit a little hill. I figured that was a good place to start walking. So I did...for a while. I then started thinking towards running the downhill portions. And that's what I ended up doing. It worked out rather well actually. I ran a few flat portions, but mostly I walked.

I ended up walking with a girl that I went to high school for most of the race and she was also walking with intermittent running. I think hanging out with her really helped me not push it too far. Also talking with her really made the miles fly by (she had lost well over 100 pounds! Wow!). I took my first Gu around the 5 mile mark and had some Gatorade chews at around mile 9ish I think. There were plenty of water stops along the way since it was basically an out and back route, you had to go on the other side of the road at some points and there were some circles thrown in, but mainly it was out and back. Anyway, there were lots of water stations, but it would have been nice if they had some Gatorade or something. I think that may have helped me and I'm sure the marathoners could have used something like that when it got warmer out there.

 I started to really feel my legs around mile 11. My calves and hips were just getting sore. I wasn't used to power walking so much. It used much different muscles than I was used to using. Some points I had to run just so relieve the pain! I also felt some hot spots starting on the pad of my foot so I was afraid I was getting some bad blisters! Thankfully, it didn't turn into blisters. If I had to go further I would would have had some for sure. Around mile 11, I started picking up the pace to relieve my muscles a bit, so I lost my walking partner. I tried to just get to the finish line as quickly as possible. At one point I thought I might be able to make it right at 3 hours! But it wasn't going to happen. I got pretty close at 3 hours and 11 minutes! Well under four hours that's for sure! My pace was around 14.30 which I was really pleased with. That's really only 2 minutes and 20 seconds more a mile than most of my training that I had been doing. And since I hadn't really planned on running any of it and walked the majority of it, I was really happy.

I also didn't get passed by the marathoners. If I hadn't run any of it I would have, but I'm pretty happy that I didn't. The winner may have finished a mere five minutes behind me, but that is besides the point! Kudos to the marathoners though. The had to do the same course I did, but had to do it twice. That would be a feat of strength, physically and mentally. It's definitely a West Virginia course with hills. None of them were monstrous hills, there were just a lot of them. 

After the race. Don't be jealous of my blue counter tops!
And it turned out that I won an award! I had asked to be transferred to the walking category, but that didn't happen. Turned out that was fine since I did run some. It was also fine since no one else in my age category ran the race!! I knew it was small this year, but I had no idea it was that small! The girl I walked with, Jasmine, won the women's category for walkers. We were both thrilled!

I'm so so happy that I went for it! I would have felt rather blue if I hadn't given it a shot. My back feels just fine today, my calves and thighs are a little bit of a different story, haha. This gives me hope that I won't have to back out of the 10K on October 3rd and my 15K Trail race on October 10th. I have to get steroids shots in my back, but it might be a while before the doctors can get me. This gives me the confidence that I don't have to quit it all! I was even able to clean and cook dinner for my small party after the race yesterday! It was a good day, that is for sure.

Finisher's Certificate
By the way, it is also funny to me how this is by far my slowest half out of the three that I have done, yet I'm so excited about. I guess it's because I didn't think it was possible at all. I think I will have to remember this gratitude in the future when I get down on myself about my paces or how far I'm able to run.