I’ve postponed writing this recap until I was able to review my race with my coach and feel comfortable about my training plans going forward. This past Saturday was definitely a learning experience for me. I went into the Lake Sammamish Half Marathon feeling strong, confident, and excited to be back in the middle of the racing atmosphere. I created a playlist on my phone for the exact amount of time I hoped to run the race in, laid out my clothes and gear the night before, and bought extras of my favorite GU to fuel me throughout the race. I had slept 8-9 hours a night throughout the entire week and thought I had been fueling well every day. Even though I thought everything was aligned for the perfect race, I quickly learned that some days you have it, and other days you just don’t.
But let’s back up a bit and walk through the race.
I arrived in Redmond right around 6:30AM fueled up and ready to go. Although there was only an hour before the race officially began, the parking lot was still fairly empty and Bart and I were able to get a good spot and walk around the starting line area for a bit before finding a table to sit and stretch at.
I did about half a mile as a warm-up/shake-out run and felt ready to go aside from a little bit of pain I’d been fighting off in my left calf. After chatting a bit more with Bart to get rid of my pre-race jitters and stretching out, it was time to line up at the starting line. I found the 1:40 pacer and stood right behind him, determined to keep up with the guy who was going to help me reach my PR goal.
As soon as the gun shot off, I plugged in my earbuds and started to cruise. I felt like I was holding a steady, quick pace and passed quite a few people at the start. The first two miles were a breeze and I was shocked when I looked down at my Garmin and saw I was holding 7:10 pace. I had jumped in front of my 1:40 pacer buddy and although I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold 7:10 pace for the entire half, I thought it would be good to get in the fast miles early so if I tapered off at the end, I could still PR and not have to worry as much.
Note to self: NEVER underestimate the game plan you’ve set with your coach. We had decided I should take out the first 3 miles at 7:55 pace to conserve energy for the later miles that would be harder. For some reason, the excitement and energy of the racing scene overtook my common sense and this plan went out the window.
I thoroughly regretted this decision around mile 5. I had held a steady pace with the 1:40 pacer, but then started to realize I wouldn’t be able to stick with him for the entire run. My legs started killing me and my head started to pound. I slowly started to take my foot off the gas and coast in to mile 6, but started to feel dizzy and extremely fatigued. I’d run 15 miles just two weeks earlier without any taper and had felt fine–why was my body shutting down like this??
I took my GU halfway through the 6th mile with a cup of water and started to feel nauseous. I was only halfway through the race and already felt like I had been hit by a bus.
Miles 7-11 were probably the hardest miles I’ve ever done. I ended up walking through each of the water stations and felt like my legs could give at any moment. By mile 10, I debated calling Bart to pick me up because I couldn’t see straight anymore and thought I was going to collapse. The miles ticked by slower than any I had ran before and with each passing step, I felt my body give out a little more. But I was determined to finish, regardless of what time I would get.
By mile 12, I told myself I just needed to keep going and ignore the pain. The finish line slowly got closer and closer. After passing the 13 mile mark, I dug deep and just let my legs overtake my body. I crossed the finish line and collapsed into the arms of one of the ladies passing out medals.
1:49:28. Under 1:50, but not even close to my PR of 1:41:18.
I spent the next hour in the med tent and the rest of the weekend laying in bed, dizzy and nauseous. My body had went into shock from being so dehydrated and sodium depleted. I was told that it was impressive I even crossed the finish line in one piece. The hours following the race were brutal. I had no appetite and when I tried to refuel, I felt even more nauseous and dizzy. It wasn’t until 5PM Saturday evening that I was able to eat a substantial meal and feel decent enough to walk around.
Needless to say, the race was a disaster. Over the next few days, I began to question myself. Was I capable of being the runner I strived to be? Was a marathon a realistic goal at this point in my life? What was I getting myself into?
After spending a few days thinking and talking to Bart, my coach, and my parents, I decided I needed to listen to my body. Although I know I’m capable of running a marathon in May, I knew in my heart that I was rushing into a race that’s incredibly taxing on my body. Life’s a marathon (pun intended!), so there’s no need to rush into things that I can do much better if I give myself more time to prepare.
I’m still excited to officially become a marathoner one day and have my eyes set on making it to Boston eventually, but I want to put in the right miles before I get to that moment. I figure it’ll make the victory even sweeter !:) In the meantime, I’ll be training for and running a few more half marathons throughout the summer. This May, I’ve switched over to participate in the Vancouver half marathon instead of the full and hope to finally get a PR or at least run a race that’s less painful and gives me a lot more confidence going into the summer.
Even though the race didn’t go as planned, I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I’m clearly not meant for a marathon right now, but think that with more time to train, practice fueling, and perfect my form, my first marathon will be an even better experience than I’ve been anticipating. And for the next few months, that just means I’ll get even hungrier to run the full 26.2!
Now it’s time I head back to my foam roller… 🙂