We made it. 13.1 miles!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I laughed, I cried (apparently races bring out all sorts of emotions in me), but in the end Bobby and I crossed the finish line and can officially call ourselves North Shore Half Marathoners!
We were up bright and early – 5:00 a.m. to be exact – to get ready. After my usual pre-race breakfast of peanut butter and jelly toast and Bobby’s bowl of oatmeal, we lathered up on sunscreen and hopped in the car for the 45-minute drive to Highland Park. Once there, we hung around in the car for a bit (always good to be early, but the wait makes me nervous!) and then made our way to the starting line around 7:15.
I had on my IT band compression wrap, Spibelt, Garmin and iPod and felt ready to go. Before we knew it, we were lining up in the C corral for our 7:35 start time. And then…we were off!
The first quarter mile we dealt with some easily fixable problems. My Spibelt was way too loose and kept bumping my iPod so that the music went off (very strange). It was frustrating, yes, but we were still going all out as I passed the belt onto Bobby to wear – the first of many reasons why he was my hero through all of this. Once I was free from the bouncy belt and it was secure around Bobby instead, we continued our quick pace and finished the first mile in 8:48.
I was THRILLED. We were shooting for 9:00/mile in order to meet our sub-two hour race goal and we met it and then some. Still feeling good, we finished the second, third and fourth miles in 8:29, 8:31 and 8:58 respectively.
At this point, my IT band compression wrap was no longer my friend. Thanks to the sunscreen I applied before putting it on, it was slipping down my knee no matter how tight I fastened it. By mile three, I decided that there was no way it would help if it wasn’t even in the right spot, so I took it off and held it for the rest of the race.
I don’t know whether it was the loss of the wrap or the fact that it was moving around so much, but after mile five (8:53), the pain came on faster and more intensely than it ever has before. Being the stubborn person that I am, I was determined to push through, but after the pain shot all the way up my leg, I cried uncle and we slowed to a walk. The rest of mile six was a hodgepodge of walking and futile running. We ended up finishing it in 11:01.
But mile seven was the worst.
As I continued my attempts to run through the pain in hopes that it would magically disappear, I suddenly became overwhelmed by the fact that we still had not reached the halfway mark and would likely not reach our goal. Bobby was really worried that I was pushing myself too hard – which I was – and suggested that we quit. No injury is worth it just to make a goal time. I agreed with him, but the thought of quitting made me break down. We pulled over to the side and I had my “emotional moment” under a neighborhood tree.
Our conversation went something like this:
- Me: I can’t quit. I’ve been training for three months. I feel great except for this darn knee. (Yeah, we all know that I did not actually say darn, but this is a family friendly blog.)
- Bobby: It’s not quitting – it’s just taking care of yourself and making sure you don’t get hurt.
- Me: What would I tell people? I would be so embarrassed to say I couldn’t finish after talking about it for so long.
- Bobby: Nobody is going to judge you for taking care of yourself.
He’s a smart guy, isn’t he? Thank goodness for Bobby. Ultimately, my stubbornness forced a compromise and we decided to stay in the race so long as I walked. I kept my promise, and we ended up finishing mile seven in 15:49.
As we continued walking, I was relieved to find that my IT band pain was virtually nonexistent, even at a fast clip. (Side note: I’d be curious to hear from anyone who knows why this would be – does it have something to do with the stride? I felt as though I was “pounding the pavement” just as hard when walking, and yet as soon as I attempted any sort of jog formation, the pain would return. So strange. I would love to be enlightened if you know the answer.)
During mile eight, there was a steep hill. As I attempted to climb it at my “fast walk” pace, I found myself breaking into a slow jog and – again, inexplicably – that it did not hurt. Not sure if it’s easier on the knee to run uphill? There is nothing about this race that made sense to me.
We reached mile nine with a combination of walking and what I’ve decided should be called “trotting” – not exactly jogging or running, per se, but my own style of “trying to avoid pain at all costs” movement. By the way, it should be noted that Bobby could easily have finished this race on his own, but he was amazing and stuck with me through it all.
This pattern continued for the rest of the race and we wavered between 11:15-12:45/mile to cross the finish line at 2:23:49. Or so said my Garmin. As much as it was disappointing not to reach my goal, knowing I had done the best that I could given the circumstances made me feel proud.
The chip time shows us at one second faster – 2:23:48. Huge difference, I know. 😉
Overall, I couldn’t be happier that we pushed through. Bobby was my rock, and I am so grateful that he stayed calm and levelheaded (unlike some people…) throughout the entire race. I couldn’t have done it without him!
Another great motivator was seeing Lauren cheering for us at the finish line!
Thanks so much for coming, Lauren. It meant a lot to us to have you there and hear your cheers!
We debated going out for brunch but ultimately Bobby’s offer to prepare a delicious homemade feast won out. While I nursed my knee with ice, he prepared this egg and pancake goodness.
The scrambled eggs were topped with a bit of mozzarella and chili spices.
The pancakes were of the Ebleskiver variety, but made flat (just like yesterday). This was by far the best batch yet from The Pancake Man, and as we sat down to eat he asked if I noticed anything different. Not only were there blueberries, but there was also the subtle hint of banana in every bite. It made our post-race meal all the sweeter.
Now we are kicking back and watching some Euro 2012 soccer with a pair of Oberons.
As one of the signs on the course so perfectly put it, “Beer awaits us.”
The best medicine for knee pain, methinks. 😉
Thank you all for the amazing support and kind words. I couldn’t have done this without you, either!