Last month I ran a half marathon. It was kind of a big deal because it was my first half in eight years. And that’s kind of a bigger deal because while I’ve always been a recreational runner, there were several years in which I became an avid racer. I trained for and ran a full marathon along with a few halves every year from 2002-2006.
The Entenmann’s Half Marathon in Bayshore, NY is one of my favorite races of all time because it’s small, it’s flat and it’s scenic. In 2003 I set a course personal record of 1:41. A couple of months before that, I ran a half PR of 1:36 in hilly Central Park.
But in 2006, without much training at all, I ran the Bayshore half with an all-time worst record of 2:08. I remember running that race so well and how I completely bottomed out after 8 or 9 miles. Like a slug, I literally dragged my butt to the finish. I’m not knocking the time, it’s respectable for most people, but a finish of 2+ hours was not respectable for me. Not only had I not trained properly, but my body was in disrepair. So many consecutive years of training and running had taken its toll on me. My piriformis muscle was a constant pain my ass (literally,) and my plantars fasciitis was inflamed because of the pressure caused by excess fluid in my heel.
After the half that year, I pretty much gave up on racing. I continued to run, but nothing over a 10K. Once I accepted that my relationship with running long is one that required a lot of time and a strong commitment, it became easier for me to let go. I had entered into a serious, romantic relationship during that time, and it was difficult to balance the two. So I focused on my relationship with my now husband and stopped training.
It’s been eight years and I now have two small children. After the birth of my second, I had a burning desire to get back to doing halves. It’s a distance that doesn’t wreck you physically and it’s much easier to manage time-wise.
At first, I think I decided to train for the half purely for motivational reasons — just to get my butt out of bed and to shed the last of my baby weight. However as the spring and summer months rolled around, it became an impending reality. I had to decide if I was going to commit to the Bayshore half in October or not. As I trained throughout the summer it became something more tangible — something I knew I could achieve. And so I committed.
While out to dinner with friends over the summer, I mentioned I was training for the Bayshore Half. The next thing I knew, three others were joining me. We trained separately but kept up with each others progress on a private Facebook group.
To train for the half I’d run 4 mile tempo runs at least two or three times per week in Brooklyn. And on weekends I’d run long while out at my parents’ house on Long Island. I logged several 8-11 mile runs leading up to race day.
On race day I had so many cards stacked against me. Not only was there a torrential rainstorm to contend with, but the winds were blazing, which was only compounded by the fact that the course is along the Great South Bay. It was the second day of my period, which is usually no picnic, and I showed up at the start without my iPod shuffle — something I had trained all year long with.
The storm: It was brutal. If it wasn’t for my three friends who were also running it, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t have gotten out of bed that morning. While there was some serious groveling going on in the car on the way there, we held each other accountable and showed up to the start smiling and cracking jokes.
Aunt Flo: It sucked. Let’s just leave it at that.
No music: It also sucked. I was alone in my thoughts for 13.1 MILES!!!!
Despite running in pouring rain at times, and through flooded rain and sea water up to our ankles at miles 3, 8 and 10, I finished in under 2 hours. I can’t help but think that if there was no wind, my shoes weren’t waterlogged and I had tunes to help push me along, I could have shaved 2-3 minutes off my time. Maybe next year.
And because the race is sponsored by Entenmann’s, we refueled with some post-race doughnuts. We deserved them! Nom-nom.
And after we changed out of our wet, soppy clothes, we made good on our post-race free drink at Fatfish Bistro. The race wouldn’t have been complete without a hard earned beer (or two, or three!)