Sunday, June 12, 2016

Relentless Forward Motion




So....another weekend, another half marathon.

This was my second half marathon in the past eight days, and this one was also run with a wonky foot...but under much different conditions (weather and otherwise).

Shirts from previous Grinnell Games events
This was my third time running the Grinnell Games Half Marathon. Having run it  in 2012 (ugh...terrible weather, major bonk, not fully recovered from a prior weekend's 20K) and also in 2014 (ugh...no bonking, but almost equally terrible weather conditions), so I knew what I was getting into. Going into this race, I knew it would not be about PR'ing (although I only needed a sub-2:10 to make that happen at this event).

It isn't every race where I get the bib with the distance number!
This is also my home town, and the course goes right by my driveway, so I run this route routinely. The course was changed this year, though, incorporating a few more "gentle rolling hills" on a different road (as well as a longer stretch on a previous road). And let's not forget my right heel! I had pretty much stayed out of my running shoes (except for #nevermisaMonday) and had been giving my heel a lot of TLC. It was still feeling "off," but much better than it had been a week prior.

We had some hot, humid weather late in the week, and it was forecasted to remain throughout the weekend. Initially, I wasn't pleased to hear about the weather, but I quickly remembered I had run in those (almost) exact conditions in my two previous Grinnell Games 13.1's (2014 RECAP) , so it would be familiar territory (in more ways than one).

Imagine my surprise to wake up around 4:00AM Saturday morning to some major thunder, lightning, and heavy rain. Say WHAT????

A lot can happen in six hours. The shot on the left was from Friday afternoon (and had not changed prior to 11:00PM when I went to bed), the other is from early Saturday morning.

It was still dark and cloudy, with some intermittent rain, when I got out of bed. I had my ritual oatmeal and chai latte' and did a few things on the computer...and kept checking the weather tracker. The race began downtown, which is just under a mile from my house. I had planned to walk, but had my husband drop me off since I wasn't sure about the weather.

Pre-race...about to line up at the starting line
I met up with Barb and a few other local friends, and all of us were in a state of confusion as to what would happen on the race course. It appeared the rain was done, but the air was horrendously humid. Race time was 8:00, and we'd be done around 10:00 or shortly after), so hopefully we'd avoid a lot of the sun (and potentially even more heat).

Although my heel was feeling good (NOTgreat, but indeed better), I could feel it for most of the first few miles. That's pretty typical for me...it almost always takes me a few miles to loosen up and  get into a groove...so I tried to stay calm and not let the "heel wonkiness" get in my head.

The course is actually a 6.5-mile loop around town (and we run it twice). I have mixed feelings about such courses, no matter the distance. It's kind of nice to run the first lap and see what's out there so the second lap doesn't present any surprises. The downside? You've already seen the rolling hills...and know which ones are more of a challenge, you felt where the SW wind was the strongest, and you remember where the long stretches of boredom happened.

There's a stretch just after the 2-mile mark (approximate 8.5-mile mark on the second loop) where the route turns, heading south...straight into the wind. We don't get a lot of wind out of the south in Iowa, but when we do it's usually a really hot, heavy wind. The wind we had on Saturday was pretty strong, but it was a cool wind. It actually felt refreshing, but it was a bear to run against. It also was more of a SW wind, so it felt like it was in my face for several miles at a time.

So, anyways, it wasn't until about the 5th mile where I actually noticed the heel had changed from wonkiness (with each step) to more of a dull ache (which I could probably handle for the mere eight remaining miles). Glass-half-full, I pressed onward. Relentless. Forward. Motion.

The new road added to the route made its appearance near the 4.5 mile mark (and 11 mile mark). It was almost an entire mile (headed east), with rolling hills through a residential area. Hills can be challenge, no doubt. The steep hills have that tough incline, but are over and done pretty quickly. But the rolling hills have their own breed of tough...they tend to be longer and there's not much of a break in between them. That said, I actually don't mind hills (much). Fighting gravity is not usually easy, but it does help your body become stronger. It also gives some muscle groups a break as you change from incline to decline (or transition back to a flat surface).

I need to do some playing and adjusting with my watch, because (again) the display only showed my pacing info (and not the current "running" time). Based on my mile splits, I made it around the first loop in about 1:03. I knew I wasn't going my fastest, but given the humid conditions and the state of my foot, I was doing alright. It also occurred to me, even though I wasn't trying for it, a PR would be a mute point because the route was different (again, glass-half-full).

As I approached our driveway on the second loop (which was approximately the 7.5-mile mark), my daughter had a gel packet waiting for me (that's actually a nice perk when your house is on the route...I didn't need to carry anything!). I have been avoiding gels for fuel, but I had used one at Dam to Dam (a week prior), and it had worked alright for the race itself (although my tummy wasn't too happy a few hours later).

A short ways later, my husband was set up on the street corner, with music. He'd been there on the first lap, too. I paused briefly to high-5 him and he got my picture.

Next was the long stretch with a couple hills (on a county road, headed east, with a side wind). Then that turn (near the 8.5-mile mark), headed due south...into the wind). I could tell my pace had really slowed down, but I felt fine. Relentless. Forward. Motion.

No matter how tough of a race I'm having, or how miserable I may be feeling (due to weather, discomfort, fatigue, etc.), I always try to make light of the situation. Being uptight and ticked-off does not get me to the finish line any faster and only makes the experience more difficult. Every time I approached a water stand, or saw spectators along the road, I said, "The highest bidder gets to take my spot and finish the race for me!" Most people laughed, so I then told them that I hadn't had any takers yet. Yes, I do what I gotta do.

What really surprised me (and I didn't realize this until after I had finished) is that I never had the urge to walk. Of course, I walked through the water stations (and a few steps after), but that was it. I could feel my calves getting a little strained in the last 3-4 miles, so I just tried to step with caution. I'm pretty sure my gait was still somewhat altered (due to the heel stuff), so I knew I had to just keep as steady of a pace as possible to not confuse my muscles. Relentless. Forward. Motion.

It was about halfway through the final mile when I heard my watch beep. I looked down at it, and it said, "Save? Resume? Delete?" What the WHAT??? I hit resume, and it beeped (again) signaling that it had resumed (or so I thought).  I made it through that last mile with (what I felt was) a decent pace, and was pleasantly surprised to see my husband had brought the golf cart down (with the music) and was there right before the finish line.

What a difference five miles makes (at 7.5 miles and then at mile 13) #stillsmiling
My official time was 2:15:16. My watch showed a similar time... but remember that little glip about halfway through the final mile? Apparently I lost some mileage in between the watch beeping and my "resuming" it. It showed that I ran 12.23 miles (and not 13.1). Adding up all my splits, and subtracting that from the finish time gives me a 12:13 split for the final 1.1 mile of the race...but I'm pretty sure I ran it faster than that. So, I'm not sure what's up. Maybe my watch stopped at the 12-mile mark and I heard it beep (but thought it was just the mile split) and then it beeped again as a reminder(??). Who knows? I finished the race, and I'm good with that. Even though this was one of my slower half marathons, it was another finish line...and I fought the weather, the hills, and some steady aches (and pains) to get there.

Mile 1--8:41     Mile 7--10:16
Mile 2--9:14     Mile 8--11:48 (stopped for gel, water, etc.)
Mile 3--9:53     Mile 9--10:41
Mile 4--9:48     Mile 10--11:09
Mile 5--10:00   Mile 11--11:04
Mile 6--10:11   Mile 12--10:33
                         Mile 13--???

That's a wrap! Another half marathon in the books!
No doubt, this was one of my tougher races (half marathons and otherwise). The temps weren't too unbearable, but the humidity really made it difficult to breathe. The sun eventually poked through the clouds around the 8-mile mark, and that definitely raised the temps. Although my heel felt strange for most of the first half of the race, it didn't feel too bad after that...at least it didn't feel any worse. I don't have any races until the 4th of July, so I'll be (somewhat) on the down-low this next week at least.

Another race done with my friend, Barb
I kept things pretty low-maintenance this past week as well, and I stayed off my foot as much as possible. My race performance was more important than logging any excess weekly miles and causing further injury.

Some highlights:

In keeping with my #nevermissaMonday, I pedaled my bike to the lake and did an easy (slow) mile on the trail. I may have also done some planking and declined push-ups with the picnic table...

No shame
An extended lunch hour afforded me the time for a bike ride. I rode out on the bike path, about seven total miles. It's a hilly path, and there was a fierce side wind.... in other words, there was NO coasting and constant pedaling.

Yikes! That was hot!
The planking continues...and Max is the best accountability partner.


I have taken the push-ups outside a few times. Ouch! The dry grass hurts!


And, lastly, I saw my pics from Dam to Dam...and I was pleasantly surprised to actually have a few to consider buying...

Thumbs UP!!




So, how was your week? Ever sacrificed weekly mileage to give your body a bit more TLC prior to a race? Have you ever done a double-looped course for a race? Race pics...yay or nay?

I'm linking with the wonder women  Holly from  HoHo Runs and Tricia from MissSippiPiddlin for the Weekly Wrap...head over and checkout all the great reads!!





46 comments:

  1. Congrats on running in those conditions... both weather and physical. Glad to read the heel wasn't too wonky. I don't like loop courses and tend to avoid them. Then again, if the course ran by my house, I would probably consider it !
    I would buy that race photo, it is a great shot !
    Have a great week and #keeponplanking.

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    1. yeah looped courses can be tough. I wish this route would have us running the second loop in the reverse direction, just to mix it up a little. The heel is acting pretty decent at the moment ;-)

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  2. Running is humidity is rough! Nice work. I absolutely love your interactions with the volunteers...you didn't get any bidders? Enjoy a little break before 4th of July, what distance is that? I generally can't tolerate more than a 5K in the summer heat and humidity and I'm amazed by those that can do it!

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    1. HA ha...NO bidders. I realize a lot of volunteers are not runners, and probably don't "get it." Why would anyone pay to run 13.1 miles on a hot & humid Saturday morning? I think we need to make it our mission to convince the nay-sayers that it actually IS fun!

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  3. Congratulations on another half marathon! And I am SO glad your heel is feeling better. You had a great finishing time, especially in yucky humidity! I'm moving now, but I used to have races very close to where I live, it's such a releif to be able to walk home when it's all over! I'm gonna miss that!

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    1. I agree, it's nice to have races close by. We don't have much in our town, other than this annual event, and I usually have a good 50-60 mile commute to most of my start lines.

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  4. Great job toughing through the pain and the humidity. I'm struggling with foot pain as well. And yes, you know I've taken time off for injury and it looks like I may need to return to the pool this week. Sigh. Good thing I'm not training for anything. RnR Chicago is still a maybe but I'm not signing up until it gets closer and my foot tells me it's ok.

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    1. Gosh, I sure hope you get some relief for your foot. My foot is feeling much better,but still is not optimal. I'm considering if I need to adjust my goals for the 12-hour Ultra. I still plan on doing the race, but I certainly will not be running the mileage I had hoped...and there will probably be a lot more walking (womp womp)

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  5. How cool that the race went right by your house and you got to see your family.
    I like your attitude. I take the same approach. Even if the weather is crappy or I have a bad race, it's not worth getting upset. Actually, i've been injured for several races yet I finished happy!

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    1. Absolutely! I'm not a sponsored athlete, so I refuse to get all uptight about the race day conditions (that I have NO control of anyways). I want the non-runners to see that it is fun despite the circumstances, and that not all runners have a RBF ;-)

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  6. Exercising in heat & humidity is just the worst. Kudos to you for staying on track. Max is totally adorbs.

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    1. Thanks! Instead of whining about the heat and humidity (where I have chosen to live), I try to make the best of it.

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  7. Congrats on finishing another race! It's great when races are close to home. I ran the Houston Marathon, which was close to home, and others. It makes it easier for my husband to watch for me. Declined push-ups? Been awhile since I've tried those. Thanks for the challenge... I hope I can do at least one!

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    1. Declined push-ups are a great challenge! I've done them with my feet on the bed...and that's a whole different level of tough in trying to keep your legs steady!

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  8. Fun how your race went by your house- that is cool! I hate stalking the weather right before the race, will is rain, did it stop raining- drives a person crazy! You are a tough cookie- kudos to getting it done! Keep planking- I love all the inspiration!

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    1. Weather-stalking IS such an annoying necessary evil. It's kind of a time-waster, too. Keep on planking!!

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  9. Congrats on another awesome finish! I love that you try to stay light hearted no matter what the circumstance. That is a great trait to have! I hope that heel stops giving you trouble!

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    1. Thanks! I respect that a lot of runners are constantly trying to PR and improve their performance...but I think we ALL need to lighten up and enjoy the journey!

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  10. Humidity is the worst for runners, but congrats on pushing through and having a great race. I avoid summer races because I struggle so much with heat and humidit. Fun that your race went by your house and you could pick up fuel along the way! I love seeing all your plank photos and it reminds me I need to incorporate those into my daily routine.

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    1. Thanks! It's nice having the route go by my house...but the temptation to stop for an air-conditioned potty break (on a REAL toilet) was tough to fight LOL

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  11. Wow, two in barely a week's time -- you are amazing and such an inspiration!!!

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    1. Ha HA...yes, two 13.1's in a week. Not necessarily the smartest move considering the state of my foot, but I adjusted my "taper" to give the heel some TLC and it all worked out.

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  12. you have the best attitude towards your races and your running. You sure do make it look easy. Congrats on your race!

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    1. Thank you! Running is a gift, and I really try to appreciate that and not take it for granted ;-)

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  13. Wow! Just reading all of this leaves me in awe! and exhausted! I love your pictures, too.

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    1. Thanks! The race was tough, but it felt great to finish. I'l always amazed (and humbled) at what I'm able to do. I'm very thankful ;-)

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  14. You go! You are rocking it, I am so inspired by you!

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    1. Thank you ;-) I'm not sure how much I was "rocking it," but I was persevering. Every finish line is a victory ;-)

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  15. Nice race! I love the difference in the pictures between 7.5 and 13! Running in humidity is my least favorite thing. Not only is it miserable it triggers my exercise induced asthma. There is a reason I live in the nice, dry desert! :-)

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    1. Humidity is tough, no doubt! The breathing was really difficult on Saturday, but I'm more of a run-by-feel and not a run-by-pace kind of gal.

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  16. Yay congratulations on another race and back to back too!
    I love the thumbs up picture from the Dam to Dam race yes it's going to be hard to decide which ones to get!
    I do hate double loop courses with a passion! Please oh please don't make me do the dam race twice no matter the distance! Thanks for you support Kim have a great week!

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    1. Double-loop courses have their advantages, but they are a tough (mental) challenge. I wish we could do the second loop in reverse...that would make it much more interesting.

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  17. I had the same issue in a recent race where it took a few miles for my body to adjust...fortunately I was good for the rest of the race. Nice job!

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    1. It almost always takes me a few miles to get in a groove...which is why I don't especially like 5K's. I just don't have that "right outta the gate" thing going for me ;-)

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  18. Humidity changes everything...just don't get me started on the subject. Great job on finishing another half. I hope that wonky heel will straighten out very soon. I love your headband in the Dam to Dam photos (good pics by the way!). The positive attitude is so important. I usually say I love every race...cause I do, even when they are tough as nails. Thanks for linking with us Kim.

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    1. Surprisingly, the wonky heel is behaving pretty well. I'm still gonna take it easy this week and give it a little more TLC before I resume my "normal" mileage. But....I have that Ultra in five weeks.... ;-)

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  19. Its always so frustrating when the Garmin loses signal/doesn't calculate time and distance correctly. If only technology would work correctly all of the time. Regardless, congrats on running another strong race!

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    1. I'm not much of a technology runner anyways....it's too easy to be dependent on it. I like knowing my "time" and I like reviewing my splits when I'm done...but I don't like having all that "crap" on my wrist distracting me from the actual race itself. Just not my thing LOL

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  20. Congrats on the half! I love that it is in your backyard...front yard...street lol how cool to have course support from home.
    I know that crazy heel pain and it sure will impact calf tightness, and hopefully with a little more rest it'll subside. I have rested a whole lot more than I ever wanted in training, especially this past year. The biking is great though :)
    I like your butterfly top, your race pics looks great!
    You know I have turned my arm and hit the stop button on my watch, it surprised me! I didn't realize I had hit the button until it beeped resume or save.

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    1. not sure what is up with my watch....I'm thinking it just "stopped" at the 12-mile mark. A lot of people said their Gramins showed a 13.23 distance (???), so there were several variables LOL My foot/heel is feeling so much better at the moment. I'm going to continue to ice/massage/roll and keep the miles at the minimum for a few more days....I'm paranoid!

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  21. Great job on your half marathon despite the tough weather conditions! I think your race photos from Dam to Dam look awesome. I've purchased race photos from my first half and both of my fulls. Most of the time my photos don't turn out good, but when they do I don't mind purchasing a few of my favorites.

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    1. I always try to smile and "pose" when I see a photographer (really, it must be boring sitting there for a couple hours, taking pics of runners who are ignoring them), but sometimes they catch me with a less-than-desirable facial expression or awkward foot/leg position.

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  22. This is exactly what I am feeling with my foot!! It hurts so bad when I start running until it has time to warm up. How long have you been dealing with PF? Mine is heel only, not arch.
    Congrats on the race! Way to power through, which is esp hard when there is a sign of bad weather. So not cool when Garmin acts up during a race... :)

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    1. This current episode has been a few weeks. I kind of felt it coming on, but it got real bad at the start of June. Mine hurts more when I walk than when I'm running because it's about an inch from the edge of my heel...so I feel it with every step. That said, it's feeling much better, so I'm playing it cool for another week or so...but continuing to ice/massage/roll/stretch. When my other heel acted up last summer, it was painful for the first couple weeks, then (with ice/massage/stretching, etc.) it was very manageable for the rest of the season.

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