After running 13.1 miles yesterday, I feel surprisingly comfortable today; I have no muscle soreness, no fatigue...it is weird, it's as though I didn't even run yesterday! Who knows what is going on with my body? I give up on trying to figure it all out.
As I mentioned briefly yesterday, the half-marathon went far better than I had thought it would. I don't actually remember the last time I did a long run (I know it was 18 miles and I know I was thirsty in spite of having my fuel belt on but I can't remember when it was exactly), and as I think I said, it had been a while since I had even run more than once or twice a week. My runs had gotten a point where they were depressing more than anything and I had definitely lost that loving feeling (toward running, anyway).
On Saturday, I made sure to pack my suitcase with everything I thought I might need: multiple pairs of shorts, t-shirts, capris in case it was colder than I was expecting it to be, a quarter-zip pull-over, two bottles of gatorade, sports bars, etc. At that point I headed downtown to catch the bus that was taking all the TNT to Long Branch, NJ. The bus ride was pretty short, not too too painful, and got us to NJ around 2 p.m. I checked into my hotel, and spent the afternoon resting and feeling half-worried, half-confident. I had to keep reminding myself that I was not just running a 5k or a 10k tomorrow, that I was going to be running 13.1 miles, which I had not done for a considerable amount of time, and which I was not sure I was capable of doing. I also had to do a fair bit of convincing myself that if I had to stop running or couldn't finish, that it was alright. I hate having to walk during races or even just training runs. I hate feeling like I have failed at something. My mom came up to NJ that evening and we had a pasta dinner that was overpriced but yummy. After she left, I went back into rest-mode, reading in bed and trying to answer my roommate's questions while still making it clear to her that I was not all that interested in chit-chat. It didn't work too well.
Sadly, I failed to sleep well. I know I slept a little bit, but it couldn't have been much. My roommate (I had no idea who she was prior to meeting her when she came in the room on Saturday afternoon) snored like an outboard motor most of the night. Not ideal. This didn't help my confidence--I'm supposed to run a half-marathon on very little sleep even though I haven't run more than 6 miles in weeks? Are you crazy?! I tried not to think negatively, and also tried to ignore how tired I was as I made my way to the starting line of the race.
The course itself was completely flat. You'd think this would be a good thing, but it was incredibly boring and tedious for my muscles. There were very slight inclines (on short bridges, for example) that were a welcome break from the flat but that didn't last long enough to really give the course any excitement. For the first four or so miles I felt fine but incredibly bored. I wondered if I was going to be able to make it through 13.1 miles of this. I was running slowly, trying to take it easy, not know how I would feel after passing the halfway mark.
Miraculously, after the halfway mark I seemed to get my second wind. Things all of a sudden felt easy. I was able to speed up a bit, feel comfortable with my stride, and enjoy myself a little bit more than I had during the beginning of the race. The boredom dissipated and although the course remained monotonous, I didn't mind so much. I remembered what it was about running that I liked--the motion, the movement, the fact that you are moving forward no matter what, accomplishing something with every step you take. My mind felt clear and my body felt strong. It had been a long time since I'd had that feeling, and I relished it. It carried me through the second half of the race and to the finish line.
My half-marathon PR is a 1:58 or so. Yesterday I ran a 2:11, but I think of it as a victory in spite of it's being thirteen minutes slower than my best time. Running those thirteen miles was like recharging my battery--I felt like I was finally a runner again.