Other than my distinct lack of blog activity, there have been other changes this year. I’m sure earlier in the year I bemoaned the fact that I was not running as frequently or as many miles this year, so that’s another difference; I’ve also recently started a new job – a big difference that’s causing me to have to work out a new running schedule.
But, this blog post isn’t about those differences. It’s about a very specific change between last year and this year. A difference in my performance in the Newport Liberty Half Marathon.
Admittedly I wasn’t expecting to be as fast as last year, when this race fell in with marathon training and I managed a PR of 1:30:58. As I already mentioned, my training has been erratic and inconsistent all summer, but not bad enough that I didn’t think I could run the half in the sub 1:40 range – there had been a few runs at that sort of distance. An early Monday morning run last week left me with a calf muscle tighter than I ever thought possible (and I always have tight calf muscles). This had me rushing for an emergency massage on Thursday night thanks to a fellow club member who rearranged his own appointment so I could take his slot.
I felt fine by race morning but still planned to take it relatively easy from the start to see how things went, and although I didn’t start as slow as I had planned, things felt very good despite the high humidity. I ran a fairly consistent first 7 miles, taking on water a few times due to the humidity and taking on Shot Bloks too. Miles 8 and 9 felt a little tougher and I did slow down a little – these miles are through Liberty State Park heading back along the boardwalk area mainly. It’s always a tough section, last year it was tougher because of the wind, but even without that you can see where you need to run and it never seems to get closer.
It was at some point during that 9th mile that I felt that my legs were not going to be able to keep me going. I stopped and walked through the water stop before carrying on, but then as I got into mile 10, the stopping and walking became a more frequent occurrence – my legs had nothing left to give me (as you can see from the mile splits below).
I wasn’t entirely sure I could finish the race as I came to the 10 mile clock and I debated whether I should just stop. The conversation I was having with myself ended with me saying to myself “no, you need to finish, there needs to be a record of this you can look back on”, so I carried on, alternately walking and running. There were a couple of people in a similar position which I don’t recall seeing before and we’d pass each other now and then.
Here are two pictures of me at around the 12 mile mark explaining to other RVRR members why I wasn’t running, clearly resigned to my fate as I forced out a smile (they probably made me laugh – I can’t recall what was said).
As I struggled on I shouted encouragement to all those who passed me – I wasn’t worn out, it was just my legs that failed me, so that was easy to do. Someone was nice enough to come up to after the finish line and thank me for cheering them on.
As I turned the corner towards the finish line I started to feel that problem calf muscle spasm and I hobbled over the finish line to get plenty of water, bananas, juice and anything else I thought would help. I made the mistake of lying down at one point and it was then that my calf muscle cramped up so badly that it was tugging on muscles all up and down my legs. Eventually I got it to calm by stretching it until I was able to stand up again and just tried to keep it moving for a while. That helped but I’m still suffering a day later – this is way worse than after the marathon last year; when I did that everyone warned me that I wouldn’t be able to walk down stairs the next day but that never happened after the marathon, yet somehow it has happened to me today.
I fared well compared to some others, with a few people being attended to but the medical personnel, so I can’t complain too much. Time for another massage I think.