From time to time, I come to terms with the realization that there are some activities that have either passed me by or seen their final curtain call on my life's stage... I'm thinking that my days of water skiing are in the rear view mirror. I no longer have the desire to put on a pair of roller skates (are you crazy?) I'm fairly certain now that I won't ever make it to the top of Half Dome, though it was once a bucket list item. Marathon? It's seems unlikely at this juncture. Half Marathon? Well hmmm - Yes. Yes, please!!!
I chose to start with a half marathon that is in my geographic backyard, and thus registered for the Big Sur Half Marathon. See my previous blog, Big Sur Half Marathon . This was in 2014. In the course of training, I injured my foot. I had a pretty bad case of plantar fasciitis that lasted 2 years. Since I paid the non-refundable registration fee, I decided to do part of the race, just to participate, but only went a few miles, so as to not increase the injury to my foot. Not being able to be a finisher was a disappointment for sure.
Starting Block of the Big Sur Half Marathon, Nov 2014
Earlier this year and with the heel healed, I began training again in earnest. I started out with 4.5 miles, and increased to 6 miles, then 7.5 miles and finally 9.5 miles on weekends. I did a couple of 11 milers. Big Sur Half Marathon (now officially known as Monterey Bay Half Marathon) is one of those marathons that sets a course time limit. All athletes must maintain a pace along the course to finish in 3.5 hours (16 minute mile), or they are scooped up at a strategic point and removed from the course. With a messed up meniscus, I no longer run. When I began this quest over 3 years ago, I wasn't even certain I could finish the course in the allotted time. My training this time around, brought me down to about a 13:30 minute mile walking pace. I knew I could maintain that pace for about 7 miles. I wasn't sure I could do it for the entire 13.1 miles, but was reasonably certain I could finish within the time limit. I set my sights on a 2:56 finish, or a 13:26 minute mile average. About 3 weeks prior to the race, I began to have hamstring issues. I decided it would be prudent to not push things, but rather just focus on finishing within the 3.5 hour time limit.
On race weekend, we stayed at the Salinas Monterey Courtyard. It's about a 20-25 minute drive from Monterey, however the rate was a sweet $118, compared to a $400+ rate at the Monterey Marriott. We arrived in the afternoon the day prior to race day. We went to the expo to pick up the race packet. While we were there, we strolled over to the Half Marathon information booth, which is run by the organization. There we met Kecia, the daughter of a very famous Insider. Kecia serves as a board member and is a marathoner herself. Kecia Boston Marathon I introduced myself. She picked up the phone and called her father. A little while later he arrived in the lobby. It was a race bonus for sure, having the opportunity to meet a fellow Insider that I have had the pleasure of conversing with online for many years now. We enjoyed a great face to face chat!
The next morning came early. I had worried that it would be cold, but the weather was fantastic. Perfect for a half marathon. I lined up in my corral and found my pace person. The plan was to stick with him for the duration of the race, to ensure a finish in my goal time of 2:56 (13:30 mile pace).
My Step-Mom (a many time half marathoner herself) and I at my starting corral
Before long, the race began with the elite runners up front. Slowly, each corral crossed the starting line. After about 20 minutes, my corral (next to the last) finally crossed the starting line, and I was off! I was nervous... this was it. Do or die, there is no try.
Looking pretty perky at the 1 mile mark, lol
I was a little concerned... my pace person had us moving at a 12 minute mile pace. This was not what I trained at... endurance was key. I didn't want to go too fast and burn out too soon. I kept my head together, refusing to panic. I settled into a "zone" and seemed to be fine. I could always slow down at some point, I told myself...
I did great up until about mile 10, maintaining an overall 13:20 minute mile pace. Then something happened. I became dizzy. Nausea set in. My muscles began to not want to cooperate. The dizziness became serious. I thought I might faint. The 11th mile took about 16 minutes. It only got worse. Not wanting to pass out on blacktop or concrete, my pace got even slower. The last 2 miles took about 20 minutes each. Yes, it was pretty bad. I had no idea what my time was, or if I would even complete the course in time to be an official finisher. I kept putting one foot in front of the other. Finally, the finish line came into focus.
Crossing the finish line felt great!
I finished in 3:09:50, with 20 minutes to spare. I was an official finisher. A half marathon under my belt!
It felt really good to finally be able to place this magnetic badge of honor on my car!
I am certain that the dizziness and nausea that I experienced were symptoms of heat exhaustion. In the beginning, I went a lot faster than the pace I trained at, which caused a lot more sweating and consequently, some dehydration. At home I always drank lots of water while training. While I drank at the hydration stations on the race course, it wasn't enough. I needed to drink more. Next time, I'll go at my own pace. I'll drink more. I expect I will feel better and those last couple of miles won't be as grueling.
My next race is the Carlsbad Half Marathon on January 14, 2018. Please wish me luck!
I had always wanted to do the Marine Corps Marathon in WDC, but never followed through on that dream. A few years ago, I discovered the Marine Corps Half Marathon ("Historic Half"), which takes place in Fredericksburg, VA each May. This is actually the real half marathon "bucket list" item for me. Now that I've conquered the Monterey Bay half marathon, the thought is that if I can successfully finish this next half marathon in Carlsbad (both of these half marathons being somewhat in my own backyard - well okay, at least in state, lol), then I will take the plunge and buy a plane ticket to Virginia for the Big Dream event next May. Registration for the Marine Corps "Historic Half" begins on January 17th, 2018, just 3 days after the Carlsbad race. Perfect timing!
Until then, thanks for coming along on the journey with me!