Sunday, July 13, 2014

Why Is Running Getting More Difficult To Do? (Hobbler Half Marathon Recap)

Bib? Check. Historic timing chip? Check. Time to race!
    Yesterday I ran my 8th race (4 5k's and 4 half marathons). I was really looking forward to this half because it was down a canyon and I assumed it was going to be downhill. I really need to start taking elevation charts more seriously.
Waiting for my ride at
4:30 AM. I have strange
ideas of fun.
   The race was a 6:30 AM start (which probably wasn't early enough in the Utah July heat), so I had to be to the buses between 4:30 and 5:25 AM. Even though we stayed at a hotel close to the race, that still meant a 3:55 AM wake up call. I was very lucky to have a great husband that took Addison to get me a banana the night before so I could go to sleep by 9 PM and to have a good friend, Camille, who came to take me to the start line so said husband could get extra sleep with Addison.

Camille and I riding the bus to
the top.
   We were able to get on the buses by 5 and headed up to the top so we could do the pre-race porta-potty visit. The lines were long, but we got through in good time and found several of our running group friends to start the race with. I was a little worried that it was so warm already at the top of the canyon. I was just in my running tank and was more than comfortable. I knew it would be a hot race (it was supposed to be in the mid-90's) and slightly muggy from the rain the day before, but I was hoping it would be colder up the canyon. I hoped the warming temps would force me to run faster.
Kasie, Camille, Brook and I at the start.
   I came into the race hoping for a 2:45 or better finish time, and take at least 6 minutes off of my previous PR set on a flat-ish course. And since I had 2 more months of training under my belt, I felt it was doable. The race had pacers and Camille (who really is much faster than I) and I fell in with the 2:30 pacer (the slowest one of the race other than the sweeper) as we crossed the start line.  We started off at a really fast pace (for me anyway) because of the downhill start and I finished my first mile around a 10 minute mile pace, just ahead of the 2:30 pacers who were struggling to slow to the correct pace. Camille was able to really find her legs and I lost her soon after, so I stayed with the 2:30 pacers who had finally figured out the right running speed for a 2:30 finish. I stayed right by them for the first 3 miles, then within striking distance for the next mile. I knew I couldn't finish the race at the speed they were going, but knew if I kept them in sight, I would be able to get my 2:45 or better easy. At mile 4 I walked while I ate some Trader Joe's fig bar (the only thing other than Sport's Beans I can stomach while running) and quickly got back with-in sight of the 2:30 pacers.
   Things were going okay. It was getting hot and I had a couple of people ahead of me I also was secretly racing with, so I thought I would stay at a good pace to finish. Then I saw the mile 6 bathrooms and knew I better make a pit stop. I was worried about trying to catch back up, but I also know that if you have to go potty at all during a race, you go the first chance you get or there may not be another porta-potty.
   I rejoined the race and noticed just how hot it was getting for the first time. We left the road we were running on and started on a trail that climbed up beside the road. I knew there was a hill or two in this area based on the elevation chart, and had planned to walk quickly up the hill and down the other side. However, I was not planning on what turned out to be almost 3 miles of hills and an other mile of rolling roads. During this rough stretch there was also a lack of mile markers and water stations, so I was truly thankful for the water I was carrying.
   The heat was getting to me. I am the worst runner ever in some respects. I hate hills and try not to train on them, but I have a knack for finding races that are hilly courses. I always cuss myself out for not running more hills in training and swear I will never run a hilly course again only to find myself on one the next race I run. I was running alone and hot and getting a migraine and then I started burping and dry heaving. I fell in with 2 girls running/walking together and we were joined by another one before the mile 9 watering station. We bonded over our annoyance that the course wasn't marked with mile markers and enough watering stations in the heat. You can always make a friend at any race you run.
   Mile 9 ended the hilly trail portion and we again were running in the streets. We ran through the towns of Mapleton and Springville, where the finish-line was waiting us. By mile 10 and after 4 miles of hills, I had had it with the race. My tummy hurt. It was hot, really hot. I had a headache. I just wanted to be done. I looked at the time and realized if I wanted to finish in my goal time, I would have to run 10 minute miles. This was no longer the downhill portion I had at the first and my legs were not going to do it, so I walked along, my new friends getting ahead of me on their next running stint.
   Then the best thing that could have happened to me other than the finish-line being moved closer, I was passed by a fast walker. Channeling my inner Leslie Sansone, I let me feet catch the beat of my music and I started walking. I regularly run in place/ walk to her walking videos and knew that I could fast walk 3 miles just fine, even in the horrible heat. So I walked and thought about what Leslie would tell me if she were there. That carried me through mile 10 and even helped my pass all my new friends. The original lady that passed me fast walking had much longer legs than mine and she stayed ahead of me, but I chased after her. Mile 11 was pretty good also. There were a couple of downhill portions that I ran and then kept to my fast walking pace. Mile 12 came and I knew I would be out of my misery soon.
   But sometimes, things don't go as planned. Obviously. Right after the mile marker, Isabel's song happened.
     I keep this song on my playlist because I like being reminded of why I do this in the first place. I cried the first time I heard it on my playing list, but usually the song brings me strength and I like to think it is Isabel letting me know she is there.  However, in my hot/tired/and hormonal state (yeah, hormonal. This race had the perfect storm), I feel apart. I was bawling and couldn't keep my crap together. I even was asked by an officer who was helping us through an intersection if I was going to make it. I almost said no. Almost.
   I started really questioning my choices. Why do I run? Why isn't this getting any easier? Why is everyone around me getting so much faster and I am not improving at all? Why does my body kill my children and hold me back in running? I also figured out my pace and realized I was walking FASTER than I had ran/walked miles 6-10. I started spiraling. How am I going to run a marathon if I can't even finish a half in under 3 hours reliably? I was weeping all the tears I have been bottling up for a really long time. All of my self hate came pouring out, and I was still very much in public. Finally, I was able to contain myself and ran into Kasie and friends probably less than 1/4 a mile from the finish-line. They gave me the hope I needed to run to the finish.
Finishing without Addison.
   At some point during the race I had decided that I wanted to finish with Addison. By the time I got to her though, she refused to come with me and had a tantrum at me picking her up. Bewildered, I crossed the line with the clock at 3:03-something. My official time was 3:01:51. I might have been sub-3 if I didn't stop to try and get Addison. By the time Mark found me I started crying again and was so mad at myself. Why can't I be faster? How much training do I have to do to start seeing results? Why is it so much easier for everyone else?
It wasn't the finishing time I wanted, but they still
gave me a medal anyway.
   In my haze, we didn't take a medal picture of me at the race. I did, however, get a massage before we headed back to the hotel to shower and head home. It wasn't until we were home I realized I forgot to get the post race pictures I wanted so we took one of me at home. Eh, it happens.
  I still don't know how to feel about the race. I REALLY am mad about my performance and, for the first time ever, feel a lot of self hate and doubt about my running future. I have been running for 2 years. I should be seeing better gains than I am. Why is everything so much harder for me than it is for everyone else around me in this sport? That is how it feels right now. I am the only one I know that struggles to get healthy babies here and isn't a good runner and can't lose weight without having to starve myself while training. I really am struggling. The only thing that could top this whole experience off is my husband signing us up for our marathon today. Talk about the cherry on top.  I guess I better figure all this out before September.  


  1. Oh Jill please don't beat your sweet self up too much. Last year at this time my finish time was over three hours and even before my best time wasn't that great. The hardest thing for me was believing that I can be fast. You have an amazing body that cradled Isabel the whole time she was here, it brought Addison here, and it brought you 13.1 miles on Saturday. <3

  2. Thank you! I didn't even realize had all these self doubts about my running abilities until recently. Maybe marathon training are bringing them out? I worry that am so slow I will be swept off the course. And the more I worry, the worse my performances are becoming. It is a vicious cycle.


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