Week 9 of marathon training came to a close, with a planned distance of 6 miles. “Only 6”. Previously, I had signed up for runDisney’s Infinity Gauntlet Challenge which consisted of a 10K on Saturday and a Half Marathon on Sunday. I had registered before I knew my training schedule, but knew I could make this work.
First the preparation: Given the mileage from last weekend of 20, I decided it was better to work on stretching and core throughout the week and do a single slow 30 minute run.
And the fun preparation – the outfits. For the Captain America 10K, I planned a Marvel tank with the Avengers on the front, and a red sparkle light skirt with shorts or tights underneath. Because it was cold, I invested in some Sparkle Athletic red sleeves, which we will see again come holiday run time. For the Avengers Half Marathon, I had long decided I was to be the Hulk. Run Angry, Sweat Green tank from Raw Threads, and the Purple Haze Sparkle Skirt (with built in shorts). I’m not Avengers saavy. I know less than nothing. But I do know that my running came from a place of needing to release stress, so the Hulk was a perfect fit.
Next the running plan: Since this was a 6 mile week, I decided I would run the 10K and walk the half marathon. Had an opportunity to see Jeff Galloway at expo and check in with my training, and get feedback. I told him my plan and he confirmed that was the smart move. Now to stick with it and hold myself back, or so I thought.
The Yin: Captain America 10K…..
Saturday morning wake up was rough – super early and super cold. It was less than 50 degrees. And while I’d rather be cold than hot, this was colder than my training temperatures and I had limited clothing options. I swapped out my shorts for tights under the red skirt. I bought sleeves at the expo. Overall, I was doing pretty well. In the corral waiting I started to stiffen up from the morning stretch. I stretched some more. I was standing in corral D with my friends, but ended up moving up to C where I belonged because it was too cold for me to wait any longer than needed.
Corral C took off and so did I. I started to run and felt my watch vibrate at the 1 minute interval. But I was still cold so decided to run until I was warmer. As I kept moving, I felt better and better. I ran the first mile. Walked through the water stop. Ran the second mile. Decided to see if I could run a 5K straight. I ended up running the entire race minus the 3 water stops, one steep uphill, and a two minute breathing break in mile 5 – I wanted to run across the finish. My finish time was under an 11:30 minute mile pace, and was very consistent throughout the race. VICTORY! I now have a proof of time to replace my half that just expired. And I discovered my fitness level has improved greatly – more than I ever dreamed. It was a Personal Best for a certified course (my best was only two minutes faster but not certified).
On my 10K high, I hit the parks with my friends, and did a few rides and ate before heading off to a meet-up of “Firsties” who were in town.
The Yang: Avengers Half Marathon….
Woke up and just was not “feeling it”. If it wasn’t for the medal and the challenge medal, I might have just stayed in bed. It was colder than Saturday morning, and I was running in a skirt. Thanks to one of my runDisney running friends, I had scored a pair of green arm warmers, a borrowed pair of purple compression leg sleeves, and a thrift store sweater for the start. I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t warm up since I was planning to walk in full. I just kept telling myself, 3 and half hours. That’s it. You can survive that and warm up in that time. I ate my normal protein bar and drank some electrolyte water and headed to the corrals.
I met up with my friends in the corral who I had planned to walk with. When we finally started I was still wearing the sweater. I decided not to ditch it until I warmed up. Just before start, I had a wave of hot flash and chills and felt my stomach turn. Wasn’t sure if I was about to get sick or what, but planned to make a stop at first bathroom. By the time we got there, I was feeling better and was okay. Also, every water stop I drank a few ounces and then immediately had to stop. By mile 4, I was hungry. I hadn’t brought food, only fuel as this was a walk and I had eaten. It’s strange how walking I get hungry, but running I can survive on gels alone. By mile 7 I started having severe stomach pain. Was ready to quit. I was not fond of the course, and not an Avengers fan. My friends had me pull off the course to a medic. By that point, I had so much pain I was in tears. I’ve never wanted to quit so badly and never have been a quitter. The medics had no medication on them, and I did not feel like I needed a doctor at that point, and realized maybe it was acid reflux. All I really wanted was Tums or Pepcid AC or something along those lines before determining what to do. They pointed to the medical tent which was just up the hill past the fuel station. There I got some calcium carbonate, water, gel, and a bathroom stop. Twenty minutes later it all started to subside and I felt better. By the next medical tent I still had some residual effects, but got more calcium carbonate to be safe, and was fine the rest of the race.
To this point we were tracking our time. My watch showed we were walking about a 16 minute mile. But with all the stops we had one mile take 23 minutes. Completely off pace, and grateful I had the padding I had earned by being in an earlier corral. I just stayed to the side out of the other runners’ way.
When we hit Disney property and passed the sweep point, I was so happy that I screamed out, “Yes, safe from the Balloon Ladies!”. All the spectators laughed – they knew what I meant. My friends also had some issues – one wasn’t trained properly due to work demands, and the other was having shin issues. We all stuck together and focused on each other – it kept us from feeling our own pain. They say running is an individual sport, but Sunday, it was a team sport for me.
The three of us finished – arm in arm the last mile – running the last 0.1 arms up holding hands under the finish line. A Hulk(ette) surrounded by two Captain America sisters. To them, I am grateful.
The time for me was a Personal Worst. But the finish, meant so much more because of the struggle.
“Accept your dark side, understanding it will help you to move with the light. Knowing both sides of our souls, helps us all to move forward in life and to understand that, perfection doesn’t exist.”
The lesson was in the struggle. First, I am grateful for this struggle. I am grateful because if this happens when I am alone in January, I know how to manage it. The walk, while not for training, ended up being training for the mental component of distance running.
Lesson 1: Do no leave home without any medication you might need. Now this sounds fairly common sense. But I don’t generally run with pain relievers or antacids or anything other than glide. From now on, Tums will me in my running belt. Why not? I mean, I don’t leave without my inhaler, right?
Lesson 2: Don’t wait to figure out what’s going wrong. Had I really thought about it and gotten antacids at the first medical tent when I felt hungry and saw the warning signs, I’d not have struggled as much.
Lesson 3: Don’t get inside your own head. This lesson I learn and relearn week after week. It’s hard not to think negatively when something hurts, but focus on something else. For me, it was helping my friend with shin pain by teaching her how to lessen it when running downhill by using other muscles. She probably didn’t need the lesson, but it was a good distraction.
Lesson 4: Continue to build relationships in your community. Those on the course with you will support you if you need it. Another lady from our Facebook groups was struggling – we saw her in mile 12 standing waiting for someone. We made sure she didn’t need help to finish. No runner left behind! That was Sunday’s motto.
Thank you, Kim and Joyce. You were true Superheroes to me on Sunday.
Next up……7 miles on Saturday. Gotta run!