The Hoosier Half Marathon recap

Monday, April 07, 2014



Well, kids, my 7th half marathon is done and on the books!

For having almost zero expectations going into this race, I finished way, way faster than I thought possible:

1:56:12

Last year, I completed the Hoosier Half Marathon in 1:54:44.

Not too shabby of a difference!

Especially when you consider I um, had to walk a few times.

Yes, ladies and gentleman, my 7th half marathon was the very first half marathon that I had to walk for a minute or so.

And you know what? It wasn't the end of the world.

I'll be honest: I didn't train well for this race at all. I experimented with too many different training methods, I was chained to my treadmill for most of the sub-zero winter, and I avoided running on hills like the plague.

Last year, I made it a point to run all of my long distance runs in a very hilly area, all the while telling myself, "This really sucks right now, but it will be worth it on race day." And it totally was! I ran the entire way and came incredibly close to getting my fastest half marathon time ever!

But this year?

My training method was more or less like, "I should really be running on hills. But I just don't want to."

And I paid for it.

It was the exact same route as last year, but those hills felt 10x worse than they did before. The muscles in my butt were howling at me (I'm actually sitting on a heating pad as I write this) and I had a horrible side cramp by mile 2 that was fueled by my erratic breathing from trying to huff it up the first giant hill.

I stuck it out for the first 9 miles (and was actually making amazingly fast time), but by hill #5,987, my thighs were giving out. I felt shaky and weak and figured I'd just cut my losses and walk for a minute.

The funny thing? I walked for about 2 or 3 minutes total during the entire race and still finished under 2 hours and only finished 1 minute and 28 seconds slower than I did the previous year when I ran the whole time.

And I think that's the only truth that kept me from having a complete meltdown over the fact that I had to walk.

Before the race sportin' some awesome bed head under that ear warmer.

After the race. Exhausted, but still lookin' fly. Heh.

In a way, walking during this half was a huge relief. I put massive amounts of pressure on myself to consistently improve at each half marathon and Saturday finally confirmed what I've been trying to fight for the past 4 years: It's not always possible. A less than perfect race will happen (though hopefully not that often!) and it shouldn't change how I feel about myself or negate what I've accomplished.

Now that I know what it feels like to painful, tiring half, I'm not as scared of it.

For awhile there, I felt like I didn't deserve my race medal at all because I saw so many people run those hills like champions and I just was not one of them. But then I remembered how much I love race medals.

At mile 11, I took my second short walking break and couldn't help but notice that people totally stop cheering for you when you stop running. A few groups of people fell eerily silent as I passed (That was good for morale guys, thanks). One woman cheering on the corner read my race bib and said, "Come on, Courtney! Try running!" I've never come so dangerously close to slapping a complete stranger in my life. I had to bite my tongue to keep from shouting, "It's really easy to give running advice when you're sitting in a folding chair on the sidewalk, isn't it!?"

But I'm way too nice for that. And talking took a lot of effort at the point.

Later I tried to wave back at a group of spectators, but I was too tired to open my hand all the way and I think I might have actually flashed them the gesture for white power.

I should also mention that the finish line is right at the top of a hill. That's right, after running 13 miles on a rough, up-and-down terrain, the folks at the Hoosier Half want to make sure that you really earned that medal by making the final stretch a literal uphill battle.

I'm dreading getting the race photos back because I probably look like death crossing the finish line. Having far too much pride to be seen struggling or walking during the last mile of the race, I gave it all I could to finish strong and by the time I approached the finishing chute, my vision went black and I came dangerously close to passing out.

That would have made for a lovely souvenir photo.

After finishing, I took my medal from a volunteer, found my husband and said, "I need food."


Clayton took me to breakfast at Cloverleaf and I devoured a Western omelet and an entire plate of biscuits n' gravy. Then we relaxed my already aching muscles by sitting in the hot tub at the YMCA. Is there a better way to unwind after a challenging race? (There is not.)

I also shotgunned half a stuffed-crust pizza later in the day. Post-race pig-outs are my favorite. 

That afternoon, Clayton helped me hang the race medal rack he bought me for Christmas, and I finally got to display my beauties for all the world to see in our freshly painted workout room. Jokes about admiring my rack ensued ...


So this wasn't the half marathon of my dreams. I can accept that and hopefully the memory of my having to walk will stop haunting me here in a few days. This is what I love to do and I'll have many, many more opportunities to have great races. I have every intentions of running well into my golden years and there are bound to be a few bumps in the road along the way. The important thing is that I never let it deter me.

May my love of the sport always be greater than my fears and anxieties. 







P.S. I can't wait until the Monumental Half in November.

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