Yesterday was the longest group run for the half marathoners and, I'm not sure if there was just something in the air, but it seemed to be a truly terrible one for almost everyone on the paths!
20K was on the schedule and we were all pretty enthusiastic when we headed out. I think I was about 3K into the run when I started cramping really bad and slowed down ALOT. Before long, I couldn't see the group in front of me and I was settling in to finish the remaining 17K on my own. Luckily, at around the 8K mark, my mentor came back to run with me and slogged out the rest of the distance. At around 14K, we were to the point where we were running for 4 mins and walking for 5 and our coach was hunting us down to make sure we were ok. She fed me some extra electrolytes to help with the cramping and we got back to Eau Claire after about 2:40:58.
It was funny, the things that were bugging me on that run. At one point, it was a chunk of my hair that was slapping against my ear. Then, the shirt around my waist was crooked and I couldn't get it feeling comfortable. My fuel belt nearly went into the river a few times because I couldn't get it sitting right. You get the idea…it was a bunch of piddly little things that made up a truly horrible experience.
But, with every truly terrible run, there are lessons to be learned. and I definitely learned a lot. First, I learned to respect the distance. I've been beating myself up for only signing up for a half marathon. I was even starting to feel like I was copping out and not giving myself enough credit that I could finish the longer distance. But after yesterday's run, I KNOW that I made the right choice in choosing the half. I am just not ready to tackle the full 26.2 miles. And that's perfectly ok.
The second thing I learned was to respect my body enough to fuel it properly. Friday night, I was in such a hurry to collect the bottles for my bottle drive that I failed to eat a proper, carb-filled dinner. As a result, my body didn't have anything in the tank when I was starting. Sure, I had my normal breakfast bagel and peanut butter…but it just wasn't enough. So, now I've learned THAT lesson the hard way. I won't make the same mistake again.
The third thing I learned was the power of a team. We have a really great team, but yesterday proved we are a strong one. The fact that Kim came back for me when I didn't really expect it was fantastic. It meant I had someone to commiserate with along the miles. Even though it was the longest it had ever taken her to run 20K - she didn't complain. She was there to help me do it. And when we got back to Eau Claire, the rest of the team was there to cheer and cry with and hug and hash out what went wrong. And it wasn't long before we were all putting a positive spin on the bad training run. In 2 weeks in San Francisco, we know it will be a good one because of all we learned yesterday. You've got to have at least ONE bad run…it's just good when it isn't on race day!