What's My Number?

By Carissa

I ran the Helvetia Half Marathon earlier this month because I felt compelled to race again.  I knew my time would be a far cry from my personal best.  It wasn’t about time.  It was about accepting where I was in my fitness.  Giving myself a "number" or finishing time I might not want to see.

The last time I raced was the Bridge of the Goddess Half Marathon in September 2014.  The race felt horrible.  I knew I struggled with fatigue through my training so I felt uncertain going into race day.  Out on the course I stopped multiple times to walk because I felt dizzy.  I swore to not run another half marathon until I figured out what was going on with my health.  

Over the next several months I had doctors appointments, consulted other runners and medical professionals and waited out some bad fatigue.  In January I started taking daily iron supplements.  Over the next few months the fatigue got better.  By April I started to feel like a slower version of my former self: someone who could dream about tackling longer distances.  That’s when I started to get the itch to train.

I used Hal Higdon’s Advanced and Intermediate Half Marathon plans as a guide to create my training plan.  It worked with my current level of fitness and incorporated two hours a week of weight training (something I’ve added to my routine over the last year.)  I approached my weekly pace run with goals that focused on effort not pace.  It felt good to listen to my body instead of being tied to a watch pace.  Long runs were also tied to effort and not paces.  If I was running slow I gave myself a pat on the back for extra “time on my feet.”

On race day I had no time goal.  I wanted to start off conservative and keep my effort even.  The first few miles were 7:44, 7:45, 7:53.  Those times were perfect.  I expected to be able to pick it up later in the course barring the hills I would have to climb.  Around mile 6 I started to feel tired.  I knew the biggest hills were in front of me.  I also knew this was around the time I wanted to take a Gu. 

Around mile 8 I thought through my race plan.  I knew the second half of the race was when people who go out too fast fall apart.  I am usually that person.  I also knew that I was okay maintaining my pace but I didn’t feel like I should or could run any harder.  I decided to focus on passing other female runners.  The first two were hard.  I prayed to God that he would give me the strength and speed to pass them.  They had been in the distance since early in the race and maintaining their lead over me.  After I passed them I kept my focus and passed several more women.  I knew I wouldn’t finish with an exciting race time so I diverted my focus to my finishing place.  

I crossed the finish with a time of 1:40:36.  I was the 13th woman to finish and 2nd in my age division.  Those placings sound pretty good but here’s what 1:40:36 is to me: I haven’t seen 1:4x since May 2011.  When I ran Helvetia in 2011 I broke 1:40 with a 1:39:59.  Even my last half marathon (the one I mentioned earlier that was a wreck) was 1:39:10.  

And yet…even though the part of me who loves numbers and paces and PRs hates that 1:40:36 I feel absolutely, perfectly at peace with it.  I knew I needed to be brave and humble.  I needed to put myself out there and see what I could do. Today.  June 2015.  Even if it was going to give me a number I didn’t like.

My body feels good.  I don’t take that for granted in this season.  Speed can come later.  For now being able to train and run long is enough.

...And the post race burger and beer was pretty awesome.

Mile Splits:
1- 7:44     2- 7:45     3- 7:53     4- 7:24     5- 7:37     6- 8:04     7- 7:54
8- 7:36     9- 7:41     10- 7:33     11- 7:32     12- 7:36     13- 7:25     .14- 6:07pace

Totals according to my Garmin watch
Time: 1:40:36     Distance: 13.14     Pace: 7:39

1 comment:

  1. I am so proud of you, both for being willing to race and know you'll be slower than before AND for killing that race. Your splits were so impressive. Love you.