Tuesday, April 24, 2012

USA Half Marathon

It seems like my new race plan is to do a race a month with absolutely no training in between.  Recently I ran the USA half marathon (formerly National before Rock n Roll took it over this year).  I think I have run about five times since 2012 started - not something I'm proud of, but healing has been slower than I hoped or dreamed.  I registered for this race probably around September of last year because it was a great price and because I wanted to keep myself running in 2012 despite the Challenge being over.  I obviously didn't know I'd get a concussion back then though, so as the race got closer, I didn't know what to do.  Their race registration was non-transferrable, so either I ran or I threw the money away. 

As it drew closer, Kristen thought about running but found it was sold out.  Then she found something online that you could enter to win an entry into the race, so she entered and asked me to enter as well so she had a better chance of winning.  Well, what are the odds, I won (she later won too as someone didn't want their prize - crazy!)  So she ended up with a registration to a sold out race and we were ready to go slow and just get ourselves back out there.  If you're not a runner you may not get it, but there's something about the thrill of a race that you just can't get any other way.  And as someone who misses that, there's nothing like "feeling normal" again by getting out and feeling the craziness of 24,000 people around you and pumped to run.
 When will I learn to look normal while running???

The day was very smooth.  Kristen stayed over at our apartment, and Adam drove us over to the start.  There was pretty much no traffic, we parked easily, and then hung out in the Armory for a bit getting ready to start.  Porta potty lines were slow but everything was good, so we headed to our corral.  I think I read that there were 26 or 27 corrals - it was a HUGE race!  Somehow I managed to see my friend Kyle near the start who was running the marathon, which is shocking given the huge crowd.  8 AM rolled around, the national anthem was sung, and corral one was off!  We started in six I believe, which was a pretty good place (though a little too fast given the pace we ran, but not enough that we were in the way of others). 

0.1 miles in I was wondering why I though this was a good idea.  My legs felt so stiff!  I literally hadn't run once since VIFL 14k, which was over a month earlier!  Oh well, I was there and I was going to give it a try.  We made it about four miles before taking a quick walk break, and though I really wasn't feeling great, I also wasn't racing, so there wasn't pressure.  The goal was to finish - walk or run - and I was going to do that.

We had a good time, and were able to talk and laugh some throughout despite our exhaustion.  The rolling hills in this race never seem like a lot on the course map but always feel worse when you're running. The fans were awesome, and the signs were hilarious.  My personal favorites said something about "you're running faster than metro", because DC residents have a very love/hate (more hate) relationship with the metro.  There was a sign with a proposal (I doubt it was real, but who knows), lots of signs for puppies at the finish (my second favorite sign), signs about green beer at the finish, etc.  They gave me a boost when I needed it!  Luckily, this year there were mile markers, the course was not overly crowded, and overall I thought it was really fun.  I know some people don't love Rock n Roll races, but I've always loved them and find them to be my best courses.

We finished in 2:07:50, over 22 minutes slower than my time last year for this race.  Was it disappointing?  For a split second, I thought yes.  And then it dawned on me - I think I might be more proud of this race than last year's race (despite it being a PR then).  Getting back from the concussion for me and starting to get running after Kristen's knee surgery have both been tough battles.  We've both had our frustrations and ups and downs, and though our time is nothing impressive, our determination to get back out there is what makes us both proud.  I think I feel ready to begin training for my half marathon in June (another one I registered for before the concussion).  And through it all, Kristen and I had a great time together and then spent the rest of the weekend enjoying the gorgeous weather, being incredible sore, and seeing the gorgeous cherry blossoms.  Life is good, right??

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