I ran the Rock Canyon Half Marathon today. My husband, Stephen, loves this race and has run it several times. I, on the other hand, have not run Rock Canyon since 1999. I had nothing against the race. Rather, it was more a matter of us having to divide and conquer when the kids were younger. We both love to run but we each picked a couple of races each year and called it good.
I have only a handful of half-marathons under my belt. I honestly had no idea what kind of pace I would be running today. I knew that it would not be easy for me to run this race at a fast (for me) pace. I have been nursing some nagging injuries since I finished the Bear Chase 50 mile race back in September. Of course, there was also that little cancer thing that I dealt with this past year. Between my leg and my lungs, I cannot remember the last time I really was able to run “fast”.
In any event, Steve really wanted to run this half and wanted me to come along, too. I reluctantly allowed him to sign me up. I felt fairly ambivalent about running the half leading up to the race. Then, on Thursday, I woke up feeling sick with a sore throat, cough and overall fatigue. On Friday, my body was aching all over. I wondered if I should bother to go to the race at all, but I knew I would end up running somewhere, whether I went to the race or not. I figured I ought to at least give the half-marathon a shot.
We arrived at the race start by 8 am and proceeded to race number pick-up. One thing I like about this race is that it always draws a ton of people from the Springs. We milled around, chatting with other runners who we knew or recognized. I was pleasantly surprised to run into two of my former chemotherapy nurses. We caught up with them and snapped a couple of photos.
I did not think that it was a good sign that I was still not feeling well and that I was actually yawning while waiting for the race to start. Nevertheless, I said good-bye to Steve, and I lined up somewhere in the middle of the pack. As the gun went off, we walked and jogged across the start line. I quickly realized that I had lined up too far in the back. I had to struggle, bobbing and weaving around large groups of people. The first couple of miles are run on city streets and I was running somewhere around an 8:15 pace. It felt comfortable. But by mile two, my hamstring started to hurt badly. I knew this was not good, but there was nothing I could do about it. I just wanted to finish without doing too much damage.
So, I pushed on as best as I could, watching my per mile pace drop to 8:20, then 8:40s and eventually to just over a 9:00 pace. Worse than that was just how much literally every single step hurt. I lost focus. I forgot to drink and forgot about the gel I was going to eat mid-way through. Pain clouded all of my decision-making processes. I was getting passed by way too many people, but I was limping and there was no way I could give chase. With about two miles to go, I seriously wanted to cry. At this point, I just wanted not to have to walk.
As I approached mile 12, I happened to see a guy who I run into occasionally around town. He had finished and was out doing a cool down. He made a comment to the effect of, “Come on! You can do it!” I was at a really low moment. I was in a lot of pain. I was feeling miserable and on the verge of tears. All I could think to myself was, “Do you know what I have been through this past year?! Of COURSE I can do it!”
I had no idea what my finish time would be going into this race, but I definitely wanted to break 2 hours. I was starting to wonder if that was possible, but my ability to do math was now completely out the window. I crossed the finish line in 1:54. I was 5th in my age group of 33 women. I am not upset with my time or placing. I just wish I felt good while I was out there.
As I crossed the finish line, I saw Steve and Meghan waiting for me. Steve could tell I was hurting and it really was all I could do not to cry. I said a few bad words, and then announced the pity party was over. I was glad I went. I was glad I gave it my all. I was also really happy that I was able to celebrate my husband’s accomplishment with him. Steve finished in 1:34. I am so happy for him and super proud of him.
I also got to chat with my chemotherapy nurses at the finish line again. They both did awesome and it is fun to see them outside of the Cancer center!
After the race was over, I invested in a couple of headbands from Bolder Bands.
I am lucky that I never lost all of my hair when I went through chemo. I did, however, lose a lot of my hair. It is growing back in now and I am very happy about that fact. However, I am a little self-conscious about how crazy my hair looks when I put it in a pony tail. I have a full on shrub growing out of the top of my head and no amount of hair spray can keep it tame. It is the little things in life that make us feel good, and I am excited to have a way to try to make my hair look a little less bizarre while it grows back.
This will be our last race of 2014. The Rock Canyon half is a nice event. It is about as flat and as fast as a half-marathon can be in Colorado. Though I really struggled, I am happy that I ran today. I enjoyed the ride down and back with my husband. I loved seeing lots of familiar, friendly faces out on the course. I am glad that I was able to tough it out when I felt really miserable. I am really proud of my husband and am happy that I got to celebrate with him, even if I came in 20 minutes after he did! I have to get a handle on these lingering injuries. My immediate goal right now is to just feel good and healthy again.