Life, Run

6 in 6 take 2?

In the fall, I set a goal of doing a half marathon each month for six months.  It all started with the Halloween Half.  I signed up for that one just to have something on the calendar and figured it would be a fun one.  It really wasn’t fun, but I was reminded of how I like a challenge and it just so happened there was one scheduled each month for the next five months, so why not?  I didn’t get to achieve that goal, but that was out of my control.  Things went down like this:

10/26/19 –  #1 – Halloween – Didn’t plan well, didn’t go great, but it inspired me to set the goal of doing 6 in 6 so that was good.   Blogged the details so won’t rehash them here.  I still made it in under 3 hours at 2:55.

11/30/19 – #2 – Orange Theory – This one made me nervous due to the time cut off.  I actually had one of my best races ever just being grateful to be able to run it.  Blogged that too.  I got a great time with 2:47.

11/08/19 – #3 – Rotary Club – I started to think that maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.  This one was literally a week after the last one and I pushed hard on that last one!  Race morning was awful!  I felt lousy, barely ate and got there almost right before the race started.  I ended up seeing my buddies from Special Compass, which was a nice bonus.  I had lots of negative thoughts try to seep in, but I did really well putting them off.  I continued to try to remember to be grateful.  It was painful, but I was able to pull out a 2:40 – my all time best!

01/26/20 – #4 – Publix A1A – This was a beautiful race and well organized.  This one was interesting because the start is at a different place than the end.  We ended up parking at the start area and taking the provided buses back to the car from the finish.  I’m not the biggest fan of Fort Lauderdale, but there’s something awesome about running while watching the sun rise  over the ocean.  I really enjoyed running this one and plan to do it again next year.  Once again, beat my record at 2:39!  Here’s where I got a little cocky.  Could I get a personal best every time?  Maybe.

02/09/20 – #5 – Miami – Maybe not.  This was a horrible race!  I don’t ever want to do it again!  There were more people than at the Disney races and it was not well organized.  I stood in the corral for over an hour waiting to start.  I had to pee so bad I couldn’t even keep a descent pace.  Finally, a little over a mile in, I got to use the restroom.  I’ll refrain from details, but let’s just say this race had so many people that they could not keep up with any kind of bathroom maintenance whatsoever.   I almost stepped right into something a human left behind in the entrance of a port o let.  I obviously had to find another, but even the cleanest was the most disgusting I had seen.  Thank goodness for my TinkleBell!  (Google it if you don’t know.  Best invention for women for races, concerts and hiking!) By the time my group got to the water stations, the floor was covered with cups and people were slipping all over the place.  It was not a great experience.  I was so over it, I admit to not trying very hard.  Time was 2:55.  I won’t be getting a personal best each time.

03/29/20 – #6 – Sunrise – This was the one I was looking forward to the most.  Right in my home town, smaller sized race and a great venue at Markham Park.  I planned to push harder than I had in any other race.  I wanted 2:30 and I was going to get it, or pass out trying!  Unfortunately it was cancelled.  I was really bummed and just so disappointed that I had come this far and had the last one pulled out from under me.  Then I put my big girl britches on, and reminded myself there are bigger problems in the world.

I got notification that, all things going well, they are considering hosting it in September.  That got me thinking….  Do I want to take a second shot at this?  If I started with Sunrise in September, I’d have to do Halloween again, and Orange Theory, and Rotary, and Publix.  I’d have to find an alternative in February, because even for a stellar goal I won’t do Miami again.  Hmmm….  maybe, just maybe the 6 in 6 will happen after all. I mean, I liked being only half crazy for a while.


Half Crazy

As I mentioned in my post about the Halloween Half Marathon, I signed up for another. I officially decided that my goal is to complete a half marathon each month over the course of at least six months.  Right about now, you might be asking why the heck I would do such a thing.  I don’t blame you.  I may ask myself that very question during the course of this endeavor, but we shall see!  I really just felt like I needed something to work towards, something that would force me to push myself. 

My second one was the Orange Theory Half Marathon.  I was nervous the night before the race.  I was worried about the timing restriction.  The race required that the first 7 miles be done at a maximum of 13 minutes per mile.  That was a few seconds faster than I averaged at the last one, and I was hurting at that one.  At the same time, I was really excited for this one.  I tried my best to do everything right.  Even though it wasn’t a lot of time since the last one, I trained every single day.  I practiced eating before my long runs, and tried to make sure I stayed hydrated.  I was as prepared as I could be.  I won’t say I was supremely confident, but I felt pretty good about it.

A few days before the race, I was listening to my coach’s podcast.  His podcast partner Mike, mentioned a friend of his that was super excited to be training for his first half marathon.  He mentioned how he got into running later in his life and wasn’t fast but had just done some 5ks and a 10 miler recently.  He found joy in running.  I thought how he was a lot like me and listened on eager to hear the story.  Just then he mentioned that the unthinkable happened.  His friend fell off a ladder that was about two stories high.  He landed on his side, shattering his hip and doing damage to his spine.  Here he was getting ready to run his first half marathon one minute, and praying he would one day walk again the next. 

I don’t know why, but it just hit me.  I found myself in tears just thinking about this person and the strength it would take to just keep moving forward in life.  I don’t know if he has a family, but I thought about the impact his injury would have on everyone around him.  I have heard so many similar stories having worked with others like him, but his story just resonated with me for some reason.

I reached out to Mike and asked his friend’s name.  I also let him know that for whatever they are worth, my thoughts and prayers were for his friend.  I told him that if it was ok with him, I’d like to put his friend’s name on the inside of my bib and take him with me on this half.  Mike loved the idea.   On the back of my bib I wrote: For John and for being thankful. 

The morning of the race could not have gone better.  I woke up on time, I felt nervous but calm at the same time.  I had my coffee, my food and got ready.  We left on time, and found adequate parking when we arrived.  I was stoked.  We made our way towards the start line and I got in the very long line for the bathroom.  I waited and waited, not sure exactly how far from the actual start line we were.  It was about 5 minutes to start and there were still about 8 women in front of me.  I couldn’t wait any longer.  We headed for the start, which turned out to be two seconds from where we were.  Dang.  I could have waited and gone.  Oh well.

I have the worst bladder, so I was terrified that it was going to be a while before I could go.  Thankfully a little over a mile and a half in, I spotted someone coming out of a golf club building.  I took a quick detour and finally felt relief.   With that out of the way, I was able to focus on trying to keep pace.

I guess every runner has different preferences as to what they listen to when they run.  Some listen to music or podcasts.  Others don’t listen to anything at all and prefer to be with their own thoughts.  For training runs, I either listen to a podcast or listen to nothing.  For most races, I have always listened to music.  I have playlists with upbeat tunes to get me moving.  I wasn’t sure what I would listen to for this one.  In the Halloween half, the music annoyed me.  I decided  I would listen to my favorite book, The Obstacle is the Way.  I wasn’t sure how that would work out, but it ended up working great.  I could just tune it out when I went into deep thought, or I could listen to some amazing stoic philosophies and stories that made complaining about a run, silly.

For the first time in a long time, I had a great time during a race.  I was surprised at how the miles seemed to just pass by.  The course was awesome and the weather was perfect.  I had no major aches or pains by the time I approached the bridge and the turn around which had to be done in the time cutoff that I feared so much.  I planned to walk the bridge if needed, but didn’t have to.  Part of me was almost thinking I programmed my watch wrong, and maybe I was not going as quickly as I thought because there were so many people ahead of me.  I later realized that the not so fast people (me included) could not always make 3 hour cutoff and they probably didn’t attend.  I’m usually middle of the pack but this time I was almost concerned I’d be last! 

Once I knew I made the cutoff,  I thought to myself that I could slow down some.  But, then that little angel (or devil) of my coach popped onto my shoulder and said “what if you didn’t?”  So, I continued to push.  I began to struggle a bit around mile 10 and then I just reminded myself that the aches and pains would be over soon.  I thought of John off and on throughout the race.  I never thought things like “poor John” even though I do feel for him.  I tried to not use the thought of him in that way.  Instead, I thought things like “I am grateful for being able to do this.  I hope one day soon John will be able to run his half.”

I’ve never completed a race with so much gratitude in my heart and on my mind.  I was thrilled to cross the finish line 12 mins better than my best time!   I now had October and November in the bag.  The December race was literally around the corner. The following weekend.  Why did I do this again?