Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Long Branch NJ half marathon race report: Five years of VICTORY!

I'm so happy right now.

It's two days after running my five year anniversary of running the NJ Long Branch half marathon. This was the half marathon that started me on my running journey. What a changed person I am because of that first race.

I will tell you that this year was a great race for me.

It wasn't my fastest. Nor my most trained for but it was such an amazing day.

I went out there with the intent of just enjoying it. The last few years have been tough. I've battled cramping and pain in the later miles of my halves so I guess I've let the negative thoughts really seep in.

Getting ready to run with a few friends :) 

A few weeks ago I found myself already worrying and kvetching about pain and cramps and through talking to my friend Angela and also a little self reflection, realized that I was losing the mental battle big time. And I've been losing it for the last few years. I had no chance of ever enjoying a decent race again if I couldn't take control back on that front. I made up my mind to no longer hate but embrace. Pain was going to come. I had no choice in that but I had a choice in how I could react to it. Previously I had been 'crying' about it and letting it defeat me but now I made a new choice. I chose to embrace it, to welcome it, to say to myself, "this pain will make me stronger" and smile at it. If pain is inevitable then I have to do something about it.  I could let it crumble me and continue to limit me or I could mentally raise my threshold for pain. That simple. 

Yes and when the pain started to come I smiled and welcomed it.  I took it as a sign of getting stronger and more accomplished rather than weakness. 

And because I did that, this was a great race. Instead of hobbling those last few miles I smiled during those miles and let the pain propel me. I knew that I would make it through. I believed again - where  in the last few years I doubted and feared. And it wasn't that painful. I was sore and tight - as most would be after running 13 miles. But I wasn't going to die and I reminded myself that it's normal to feel like that! If it was easy and totally comfortable everyone would do it! It's what makes running these things special - it's why you can proudly take that medal and feel victorious at the finish line. 

What doesn't kill you...

I also didn't over-hydrate. I think that trying to "fix" the pain led me to drink too much water in the days leading up to the race in years past - I think that this over hydration did harm by throwing off my electrolytes so I drank moderately (a touch more than I usually would but nothing crazy.) I think that helped too.

So race day was great. It started brisk but was generally perfect temps throughout the race (sunny and low 50's). I was running with my friend Kerry who is generally super speedy but was slowing it down. She has a half Ironman in June and is recovering from an injury. her slower pace matches the pace I wanted to do this race so it was perfect. We ran mostly, but per the advice of her coach,  walked  through every water station and walked a few times when her injury was acting up, we even stopped to take pics and use the potty. My time on Nike was 11:38 (2:37 half) pace and I'm very happy about that (it pauses when stopped). That was our 'moving' time. Our official time was 12:07  per mile 2:42 / but with all the walking, pic taking and the potty break - I'm good. Especially considering last year's race was long at 3 hours!

Kerry and I pre-race 

I ran my race Sunday. 

And in bigger news - On a whim, I signed up for the FULL marathon next year while at the expo. And I'm excited. I know that 26.2 is going to be tough training both physically and mentally for me but I'm ready to bring it on... 


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