I won’t bore you guys too much with the stuff I have/haven’t been doing re: my training plan. It’s been a little spotty the past few weeks, as my ankle injury from a moving mishap over Memorial Day weekend (yes, that long ago) has been flaring up.
I missed 2 significant long runs because my ankle was in such bad shape: a 12-miler and 16-miler. After going to a few doctors, it looks like I did actually do some damaged when my ankle was smashed by that piano. It seems as though I tore some smaller ligaments that healed funny, and now my ankle doesn’t have enough stability when I run. Luckily, taping up my foot really helps, and I have a few PT sessions set up to try and sort everything out. Because taping my foot has been so beneficial, my doctor is recommending some custom orthotics, which will hopefully be here in about 2 weeks. Not ideal, but better than a “no run” order!
For weeks 11 and 12 of training, I mostly stuck to the bike and elliptical with a few run/walks in there. Nothing worth writing home about. For week 13, I did a fair amount of walking but didn’t manage much gym time. Honestly, I was defeated and feeling pretty sorry for myself. Not a great thing when you’re trying to accomplish a goal that requires motivation and consistency.
Before all of that nonsense, I had registered for McKendree University’s Harvest Challenge “half” marathon (actual distance: 13.25, not the standard 13.1 miles). It fell on a weekend that my training plan called for 18 miles, and I thought it’d be nice to have some course support for a good chunk of that run. Plus the registration was less than $37, including Active.com service fees. After the issues with my ankle and significantly lighter training the past few weeks, I decided to just try and make it through the race and not tack on my extra miles. Turns out, that was a smart decision.
I had been dreading this “race” all week. Like I said, I was feeling defeated and I really didn’t know how/if I’d be able to make my way through it. It was weighing heavily on my mind and putting me in a terrible mood (sorry, everyone). We drove out to Lebanon, Ill., the night before and crashed at the Drury in O’Fallon (thanks, Dad!). I slept like a baby and woke up at 6 a.m. to get ready and eat breakfast. By the time we got to the university for packet pick-up around 7:15, it was 70ish degrees and 97% humidity. It only got worse from there.
This about sums it up.
The entire course was through farmland. Mostly corn fields. At one point, we ran past a place housing a bunch of thoroughbred horses, which was pretty cool.
The scenery for roughly 11 of the 13.25 miles of the race. Fields, fields, more fields, and no shade whatsoever.
This was a TOUGH race. Even if I’d had better training leading up to it, it would have been really difficult. Everyone I talked to was resigned to just trying to get through the thing. It was relentlessly muggy, and there wasn’t a single patch of shade to be found on the course between miles 1.5 and 12. Really, really tough. Not to mention, the elevation map looked like this:
OUCH. Think this looks bad? Imagine trying to run it at 80 degrees and 70% humidity.
I had decided that I wasn’t going to kill myself for this thing. My strategy was to make it through the first 3 miles, then walk for a bit and take some Honey Stingers (my favorite fuel so far). After that, I planned to run to each aid station, then walk for 0.1 to 0.25 of a mile. I mostly stuck to that, though I walked much more in the “hill country” of miles 8.5 to 10. Trying to run up those things was just a wasted effort at that point, they were so steep. It might not look like much to trail or mountain runners, but I don’t run a ton of hills like that on a regular basis! I tried to run halfway on the uphills, walk the rest, then run the downhills and flats. It worked out OK.
I don’t even know my official time, but my Garmin had me at 2:41ish for 13.35 miles. My ankle held up really well; it never hurt during the run. However, I ended up with some pretty good blisters on my feet from tape the doctor used to wrap up my feet. I hardly ever get blisters, but I could feel them developing from mile 9 onward.
Overall, dragging myself out to do this run did me a lot of good. It broke through my “woe is me” mentality and gave me a little confidence. Yeah, it was super slow. Yeah, I had to walk more that I ever have before. At the same time, my ankle was able to withstand the stress, and I don’t feel like I lost too much endurance with my lighter training the past couple of weeks. I also got to talk to some cool people and add another nice race shirt to my collection. Given the weather, I don’t feel too bad about the outcome.
It’s time to tackle week 14 with confidence and gusto!