It’s been a while… Not really sure where to pick up so I guess the best place to start is with Little Rock. (Feel free to skip ahead to brighter days!) Missing the Little Rock Marathon was crushing. It’s been almost 7 weeks now and I’ve definitely moved on but the first few weeks were tough. I trained for months for this race and I really wanted that fourth win. (One for each of my kids.) Six days before the marathon my youngest son tested positive for the flu. A few days later my oldest daughter started running fever. I did my very best to stay healthy with the exception of moving out of the house for a few days. Maybe then I could have avoided it but when you are a mom you can just vacate your life. I focused on getting plenty of sleep, fluids and good nutrition and I thought I had made it. I went to the expo Friday and still felt good. I was ready to tackle 26.2.
March 2 & 3- Missing My Marathon
Saturday morning I felt off on my short shakeout run. I attributed it to nerves but I felt tired and worn out. Around 3:00 in the afternoon I started running a fever. (This was 17 hours before the race start time.) I dropped off Anna at her play practice and instead of driving home I felt the urge to drive over to Prime Care (our local urgent care clinic). I was so torn between wanting to race but knowing something was wrong with my body. When you are training you get to be so in tune with knowing when something is off. I knew I wasn’t feeling normal and I wasn’t sure if I could attempt to race under these circumstances. I didn’t even care about my finish time- I just wanted the win. But could I even run? I took a flu test which came back negative but I was still running a fever. (I really think I had the flu since I had all the symptoms and it lasted as long as it did.)
I started to feel worse that night and I went from wondering if I could finish 26 miles to wondering if I could even run 1 mile. Saturday night I decided to lay out all of my race gear in hopes that I would feel better Sunday morning. It honestly took me 30 minutes to lay out everything because I was so tired and drained. I knew if I could barely lay out my race attire the chance of racing in the morning was slim at best. How could this be happening now of all days of the year?!!!
I woke up Sunday morning feeling worse and I knew the drive to Little Rock would be pointless. I couldn’t make it around the block feeling this way. Any attempt to run would end up with me in the hospital and delay any racing this spring. I messaged my clients, the elite coordinator, and a few others and told them I wouldn’t be able to race. It was heartbreaking. My in-laws picked up the kids and took them to church. John got me breakfast and then we watched a few movies. The whole time I was thinking that I should be running. After the race was over I went on a social media break (Facebook, Instagram, even Strava) for a week. I felt awful for a week- 7 days of no running or exercise of any kind. But the hardest part was mental. Thinking about missing my goal race made me depressed. Up until this point the toughest missed race experience I ever had was missing the Boston Marathon in 2011 when I found out a week before the race that I had a stress fracture. I didn’t think anything would ever trump that but this did. I know I learned a lot from that experience in 2011 and it helped me put some things into perspective so maybe that’s what needed to happen with LRM. I don’t know. I definitely had to remind myself that it was out of my hands and there is some comfort in that.
It took a few weeks to regain my strength and some friends and family members suggested finding a replacement marathon but I didn’t want that. This training cycle took a lot out of me and my last two marathons left me feeling humbled and honestly a little intimidated by the distance. I decided that I don’t want to run a marathon until I feel prepared physically and mentally. I also think I need a break from this distance until the fall. As the weeks passed I started to feel better physically and emotionally. Life goes on and life is much bigger than any race.
March 23- Running in a College Track Meet
Three weeks after LRM I planned to run a local 5k. Later that same day Harding was having a home track meet so I considered running both. My fitness wasn’t really ready for one 5k let alone two so I knew I had to decide. After talking to a few college students and John I decided to go for it in the college meet. I could run in a local 5k any time but how many more opportunities would I have to run in a college track meet?
It’s very intimidating to be around so many young and fast runners. All I could think was that I was old enough to be their mom… But I love 5k’s and what better race to be my first one back after missing LRM that a Harding meet. The Harding runners were so sweet and even included me in their pre-race prayer at the starting line. This was actually my favorite part of the whole race experience that day. I think my last team race prayer was in 2001 so this meant a lot to me!
From the start I think I was in 5th place and after a lap moved to 4th. After a mile I moved up to 3rd and I held this position the rest of the race. My Garmin/ Strava splits are a little off since this was on a track but overall it went a lot better than I thought it would having come off marathon training and being sick. Splits: 5:48, 6:01, 6:02, 5:40 for last .1. Official time was 19:05 so splits were probably closer to 6+ avg. So glad I decided to try something different and get out of my comfort zone.
April 12 & 13- Doc Rock Half Marathon
I registered a few weeks ago to run the Doc Rock Half Marathon in Jonesboro, Arkansas. I ran this race once in 2014 and wasn’t sure if I would ever return. That experience was very humbling. I went into it thinking I could shoot for a sub 6:30 pace but was not prepared for the heat or the constant hills. Since I wasn’t running Boston this year and this race offers some prize money I thought I would go ahead and give it another shot. I have learned a lot since 2014 and I was much more prepared for the course.
I left with my friend Ann right after work on Friday and we made it to the expo just before it closed.
Then we had dinner and headed to my friend Leslie’s house who had offered to host us for the night. It was a very low key, relaxing night and exactly what I needed after a long week! Whenever I started to stress about the race I reminded myself that this was just a hard effort workout. My goal race is at the end of the month.
Saturday morning Ann and I warmed up and I did some strides before heading to the starting line. I forgot to bring a gel to the race but Ann had given me a fruit strip I planned to eat instead. I realized then that I’d left this in the car. I’ve only raced one half without a gel (and it went terrible) but I reminded myself this was a training run and surely they would have something along the course. (They did but they were offering gel around mile 10.5 or 11. Way too late so I just ran without it.)
Thanks to my experience in 2014 I started much more conservative this year. I knew the hills were going to keep coming and thankfully the weather was not an issue. (Temps in the mid 50’s and the rain held off.) From the beginning I was the first female and there were a few guys in front of me. I caught two of them but the first and second place male runners had a strong lead. I watched them battle it out for a few miles but then they pulled too far ahead for me to see them.
My friend Colin was close behind me and there were a few times I thought he might pass me. It definitely kept me motivated to not slack on the hills and I picked it up the last few miles. Overall my watch average went from 6:44 when I started to 6:38 by the end. Splits: 6:44, 643, 6:37, 6:44, 6:36, 6:41, 6:48, 6:38, 6:31, 6:37, 6:40, 6:27, 6:31, 5:53 (last.19). Ironically this was 1 second per mile faster than my average in 2014 when I felt terrible. Since I didn’t have a gel I tried to keep up with water and I did have some gatorade at one point.
Official Finish Time- 1:27:27
I didn’t want to cool-down at all- the hills had definitely taken a toll on me but I knew I needed it. I ended up running two very slow 11+ minute miles and then waited for the awards ceremony. Doc Rock has a very nice venue at ASU Jonesboro so I sat for a while and then walked around to the different vendor booths. This race is very organized and I’d definitely recommend it. Of course I would also recommend some hill training!
After the race the storm front moved in so I’m very thankful we were able to run without any weather issues or delays. Big thanks to Leslie for opening up her home to us. I had a great time in Jonesboro and with Ann. I’m feeling much more prepared for Russ Vegas now!