I am over a week late with this but we’ll deal. This half-marathon was painful but I got through it and accomplished my sixth half marathon.
The Night Before
After getting home from the Frederick Gazette Twilight 5K, the first installment of the Frederick Running Festival’s Nutjob Challenge, I gobbled down some pasta, took a hot shower, and laid my outfit out for the next day. I tried to ignore the nerves that my IT band behind my right knee was already acting up for the 5K’s that day, and cursed myself for signing up for these races, then cursed myself for being too stubborn to sit anything out. But I did feel like if I could just roll out the cramping behind my knee I would be fine. So I spent some time with my foam roller, tried to will the hot water in the shower to uncoil my tight muscles, and headed to bed.
I did a lot better about waking up on time for this race than I had for Nike Women’s. It was reason #1 this race, though painful, went better than Nike Women’s. I gave myself time to freshen up and wake up, time to actually have my bagel and peanut butter, and time to actually double-check my bag. I didn’t have anything I needed to check since I could drive straight up to the start line to park and leave everything but the key to my car in my trunk.
It was jammed trying to get into the Frederick Fairgrounds but I finally got parking and made it to the starting area. I had a choice to make: visit First Aid to see if they could do anything (BioFreeze? Heating pad? Anything?) about my already screaming knotted knee muscle or go pee. I chose First Aid. They had nothing really ready yet and the best they could offer me was to Ace Bandage my knee to provide some structure, and we covered it with my capri legging to keep it in place. I thought all would be well as I walked to the corral, feeling hardly any pain with that compression happening.
The National Anthem was sung, and we were off. I kept my hoodie on for the first mile as it was rather chilly, but chucked it right after the first mile marker. I was definitely taking it really easy, aiming to keep my pace around 11 minutes per mile. With my body lately I have had no PR’s in sight whatsoever, just finishing the race I signed up for and earning the medal, so I hung at a very comfortable pace.
The first casualty came when my phone, as I took a swig of my water, flew out of my pocket and crash landed – which was fine for the phone but it took my earbuds with them. They were the cheapest I could get at Target the night before and you get what you pay for – the buds busted and the only thing holding the cap over the wires was my ear itself. It worked fine for about 8 miles.
I decided to run with RunKeeper instead of Endomondo and went with 15:2 run:walk intervals. My knee felt fine and my lungs are in plenty good shape to do 15 minute run intervals at that comfortable 11-ish minute pace. Around mile 4 I really hit my stride.
The thing I loved most about this race was the fact that it was NOT IN DC. Oh don’t get me wrong, running Army Ten Miler was a blast, and RNR USA too, and then by Cherry Blossom it was just kind of like yay DC, but by Nike Women’s I was SO. SICK. of the Ohio Drive and Constitution Ave and Hains Point. Running through the Frederick neighborhoods provided sweet scenery of people probably just waking up for a beautiful Sunday morning. It was sunny out, but not too warm.
This was my favorite stretch of the course:
The middle miles of the race wind their way around Frederick High School and this gorgeous park, on either side of it. My knee was feeling strong, my ankle felt like there’d never been a problem with it ever, the air felt wonderful, and I felt like I could run forever.
Around 8 miles though were when things started to fall apart. I cheerily stopped to get my water bottle filled up but as I did so, I pulled my earbud out to thank the kid volunteering, and when I picked it up to put it back in, it was completely wrecked. It was better than 5 more miles on no music whatsoever but definitely only having music in one ear caused me to lose some momentum.
It was also around this time my feet started to SCREAM. I’m not sure if it was psychosomatic at the anxiety of losing half my music, or if it was just that my feet are out of pounding the pavement practice, but they were SCREAMING. My walk breaks became a bit longer but now was when I realized that walking hurt my knee muscle more than running did.
I was torn: running meant no knee pain and a TON of foot pain, while walking meant mitigating the foot pain quite a bit but dealing with limping through the knee pain.
I stopped on the sidewalk to try and stretch out my feet and was in so much pain my face was searing through my gritted teeth. A very nice girl in a blue tank top shouted her support to me when she saw me in pain, saying, “You got this! You can get through it! You can do it!” as she ran by and I am forever grateful to her. A traffic cop asked me if I was okay as I limped past him and I said something like “Yeah… just… foot… sole… sole foot…” I couldn’t put into words that the soles of my feet were protesting like crazy with every step.
By mile 10 I decided I would never run again.
By mile 10.5 I decided I just wanted to get things over with and get to my daddy who was waiting for me at the finish line, so I dealt with the pain in my feet and just ran as much as I could at as easy a pace I could on my feet. With every screaming step I winced and prayed to God that my pain was somehow easing someone else’s pain in some sort of transference. As soon as I prayed that my feet hurt even more and I was like “okay, cool, thanks God, maybe not SO much though.”
When I rounded the corner to come into the final last .2 miles of the race, my dad was waiting with his Papa Bear smile at mile 12.9. I’d kept it together til then through all the pain, but as soon as I saw him I ran out of the way of the route to throw myself into his arms and cry, “I hurt, Daddy, I hurt.” He said, “I know honey, but you’re doing so good! Just walk to the finish, it’s right there!”
I didn’t have the capacity to explain to him that walking hurt more so I trucked along.
I crossed the finish line looking like a screaming hot mess and bypassed the official finish line photo with the medals to go straight to the porta-potties I’d bypassed the whole race. I was sorely disappointed in the Nutjob Challenge medal and wished I hadn’t bothered to sign up for it – there was no extra t-shirt for doing the Challenge, and the medal for Nutjob looked like a 5th grader designed it in Paint.
I limped to find my dad in the reunion area and just sort of half-cried into his shoulder for a few minutes. I was happy I hadn’t quit, but I was so frustrated that the last time I hadn’t had screaming pain during a half-marathon was the Disney Princess Half, before my ankle sprain. I know I signed up for too many races too far ahead of time that it’s my fault I chose to run these races without properly “easing back in” starting with low weekly mileage, and my body is punishing me as a result, but I am so impatient for running to be enjoyable again.
If nothing else, though, whereas Nike Women’s had been dreadful every step of the way, Frederick was great for the first 8 miles. I really did have that “I love this, I love running” flying feeling I am addicted to, especially from miles 4-8, running through that park and the neighborhoods. And I think a lot of it had to do with wrapping my knee up, foam rolling during the previous week, and maybe even getting back to yoga the previous week too.
Plus, the half marathon race medal itself was on POINT.
Seriously, Corrigan Sports, for as awful as the Nutjob Challenge medal was, I have to say I adore this medal. Well done.
Daddy took me to breakfast after the race at Bob Evans and I SLAMMED some pancakes, scrambled eggs, home fries, and French toast like nobody’s business. It physically hurt to take any steps, but boy have I never been happier to see a plate of food in front of me – at least, not since the last half marathon. 😉
All in all I would definitely recommend the Frederick Half Marathon but I don’t think the extra money for the 5K just for the Nutjob Challenge distinction is worth it unless you really just want to do some extra running and get an extra 5K t-shirt. I think I would have felt a lot better during the 13.1 if I hadn’t done the 3.1 (okay, the 6.2 including Run for the Bay) the day before.
Finish time: 2:37:08
F 25-29: 325/401
This week I’m doing some light running, but primarily foam rolling, light strength/cross-training, and heating pads. And getting inserts for my shoes.
Because the Brooklyn Half Marathon is 5 days away, and as a certified Nutjob, I’m not sitting it out.