Friday, June 01, 2012

Finishing That Run Was Tough, Emotional, Challenging and Motivating

In the last post, I wrote about preparing for Glass City Half Marathon and in this post I would like to update on how it went for me.  Quick answer: It was awesome.  When I was training for it I wasn't sure whether I will be able to do it or not, so I didn't registered for Half Marathon.  I wanted to see whether I could meet my training goals or not and then register.  Well I waited too long to register so Half Marathon was closed for registration and I had to settle for a 5K for Toledo.  But on the same day I registered for Capital City Half Marathon which was held in Columbus, Ohio on May 5th, 2012.

When I started training it was winter and very cold outside so I was running on a treadmill and always kept running on a it until 5k.  But there are no treadmills when you go outside so nothing can match training on ground.  The 5k acted just like a training battle ground for my half.  Which is what everyone does but I figured it out later.  I found that I was running faster on ground than I was running on a treadmill.  Also I found that I could have forced myself little bit more while training.  Anyways 5K went very nice as expected.  My take is even if you are trained for half the distance of your race, I think you can finish the race by the number of people running with you on race day and people cheering for you. Note: Not applicable for mile run greater than 13.1 and please do appropriate training for that.

After 4 months of training finally the big day came and I was there standing among some 13,000 people in red and some white T-shirts all excited.  It was a no-excuse weather for a half marathon and one couldn't have asked for any better than that.  There were about 18 to 19 DJs and some local bands performing along the course of  13.1 mile to keep you on track motivated.  Now something about the race.  I started slower than I usually run and there were lots of people walking so I didn't mind slowing down.  Initially you would think how can one finish 13.1 mile walking but it turns out that you can do it just in time if you walk at an average speed of 3.6 to 4.0 mph.

I want to tell you before you make any assumptions that I am a very slow runner and I never wanted to break the record.  I just wanted to finish the race that day.  Until mile 6 everything was fine and great, I was happy and full of enthusiasm but in the middle of mile 6 a slow pain started in my left leg knee.  And it only got worse from there.  And from 6.0 to 13.1 it was just PAIN.  So why pain? No I am not getting older.  Aah! I remember why.  Earlier in my life about in year 1999, I had an accident in which I broke my fibia and tibula bones of my left leg.  Who knew those years were called teenage years for a reason.  So my amazing orthopedic doctor decided to fix it with a steel rod and leave it there for 2 years so that those lonely bones could heal on their own except two years later I would broke them again.  The steel rod ran from knee making its way to the ankle.  The doctor finally got it out after 3 years or so.  Thanks Doc. Anyways that incident still bothers me and I can tell you that things down there are not the same any more.

At mile 9, I was in sheer pain and the irony was that it was paining so much that I could run but not walk and it would pain more walking then running.  Yes men do cry.  I don't know why but I was getting emotional having mixed feelings of my pain, my run, training I had done before, the people around me and lots of things (lets not get into those).  Anyways I felt terrible about the feeling of quitting even before I started the race so after this pain thingy I am reassessing my situation from my legs' point of view.  But anyways I decided to give it a shot and go all the way through.  The pain went bad at mile 10.5 and I stopped running and started to walk.  And then slowly but I was able to finish the race with mixed feelings.  Some people who were walking were able to finish faster than me and at the end I don't care about it.

But if you want to experience something in life then give it a shot.  Try running a 5k and then 13.1 mile.  Don't focus on speed, just focus on finishing it first and then go for consistency and then speed.  Can you beat that sound speed?  I am just kidding. You will see some best motivating people on the way whom you don't know.  Especially kids carrying posters and cheering you.  And in this quest you will make some good friends and learn a thing or two about yourself and people around you.  I know one thing that if I can finish it with pain then you can surely do it.  Give it a try!!.

My key takeaways are as follows:

  1. All of a sudden don't start running a half marathon.  Start training well in advance like 10 to 14 weeks before.
  2. Wear proper clothes while training and during the run.
  3. Buy the best shoes you can afford and try them out before you buy.  And until you run with them you won't easily come to know whether they are good or not.  At least for me it is true.
  4. Start training with a friend. It will be a lot easier.  You can join one of the training groups in your area if you don't find a friend easily.
  5. Stay hydrated during the race and while training.  Especially while training because if you are going out you have to carry something to drink.  
  6. Doing training and during the race it is important to finish it without hurting yourself.  If you feel something is bad or unusual, then please consult a doctor.  The only thing I am concerned about is hurting myself.  
  7. Eat and be careful about what you eat before the race. It matters even what you ate last night.  If you ate something not so nice but nice but not nice like Pizza then good luck with running early morning.  When I eat pizza then it lives in my stomach for like two days without paying rent.  So don't eat heavy food late nights.  
  8. Be careful of the weather.  This guy can give you unexpected trouble and can surprise you when you least expected it.  If you are not able to figure out a bad weather then in the race look for signs like people falling down.  That's clear sign of: "You need to drink more water or quit the race."  Take care of yourself.
  9. Do it because you want to and you will enjoy it. Don't do it because of some motivational ego bursts going on within you.  
  10. Don't try to break that record after reading this or seeing someone update their status on Facebook.  Think about long term and do it consistently.  
Best of luck if you are running one.