Posted by: runawaynotes | November 4, 2012

Race Day: DRC Half Marathon 2012

I don’t know what went wrong today. I was not nervous going into this race. This was my fourth half marathon. Plus, I’ve done this mileage over and over again over the past couple of months. This should have been my “easy” race. All I had to do was maintain my target race pace of 9:55 for 13.1 miles – should be easy to do considering that I’m supposed to be maintaining this pace for twice the distance in just another month. Well, things didn’t go quite as planned.

I started the race with a 2:10 pace group (which was my goal time), and I was planning on sticking with them for the entire race and doing even splits. At first I was trailing behind them, but then I got a little bit ahead and kicked up my pace just a little faster to about 9:45. The first half of the race was pretty smooth. We were staying in the shade for the most part, and the course was very familiar since I have been running those streets every Saturday for the last few months. My momentum came to a screeching halt at mile 6. All of the sudden, I got this stabbing pain in my abdomen. It started in my left side and then spread across my entire upper abs, just under my ribcage. Now, I’ve had to deal with a stitch during a race before. Usually, I can slow down just a bit and breathe through it, and I’m fine after about half a mile. No such luck today. The pain kept getting stronger and stronger, like someone had stabbed me with a knife and was now twisting it deeper under my ribcage. Every time I would try to inhale deeply, my abdominal muscles would seize up. Taking a drink of water made the pain worse. Eating jelly beans made the pain worse. It got so bad that I finally had to stop.

I hate stopping in the middle of the race. Once you get to the point where your muscles are warmed up and your joints are loose, it feels good to keep moving, and any interruption in that movement feels jarring. Well, I didn’t have a choice this time. I just couldn’t breathe from the pain, and the only way to make it go away was to stop. After a couple of minutes of walking the pain subsided a bit. Usually, once it goes away, it’s gone for good. So, I tried to pick up my pace again. I lasted about another mile, and then the pain came back full force. Every time my pace would get under 10:00, the stabbing feeling would force me to slow down again. I had to walk every single water stop after that point. I have completely lost sight of the 2:10 pace group. I felt like crying. Usually, I get really excited when I pass the 10 mile mark. It means I have “just” a 5K left. Today it meant that I “still” had 30+ minutes left to go. Half an hour is a long time when you are in pain. All kinds of crazy thoughts popped up in my head: “How can I do a full marathon when I’m struggling this much with a “simple” half?”, “There’s no way I can maintain this pace for another half an hour. How can I do it for another two and a half hours?”, “All I want to do right now is slow down and walk. Does that mean I just don’t have it in me to finish the full race?”

The last half a mile felt like it would never end. I finally crossed the finish line at 2:12:47. I didn’t meet my goal time, but it was still a PR for me (last year I did it in 2:14 something). I got my finisher medal (sparkly!) and had my picture taken, and then I slowly made my way to where my husband and our friends were waiting. I have never had such mixed feelings about a race before. On one hand, I finished it and it was a PR. On the other hand, I did not meet my goal time and I had absolutely no clue what my takeaway from this race was supposed to be. Does this mean I’m not ready for a marathon? Or does that mean that I need to slow down significantly and try to maintain an easier pace? It’s been several hours, and I’m still dealing with the same questions. I don’t know what went wrong, and I dont’ know what this means. I still have another month of training left. So, I guess all I can do is just stick to the plan, watch my diet, and work on strengthening my core muscles. I will probably adjust my goal time a little bit as well. I don’t see a point in doing a 9:50 minute mile for the first half of the race only to run out of steam and walk the entire second half. I guess this is my takeaway: to do what I can and hope for the best. And now I’m going to have some chocolate and stare at my new sparkly medal – because I have EARNED it!

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Responses

  1. It was a warm day, and mile 6 was just after you finished running up the Sperry hill. If your training has been going well, and you’ve never had this pain in your abdomen before, it’s probably just “one of those things” that happens during races that never happens in training. I would say try not to let it mess with your head. You’ll be ready for the marathon. Every run is different, and every race is different — but you still PR’d, and that’s awesome! Try not to over think it and trust in your training. Hopefully it will be cooler for the marathon, which will make a huge difference. CONGRATULATIONS on a tough race and still finishing with a PR!

    • Thank you! By the way, were you at the race yesterday. I swear I saw you after the Mockingbird ramp.

  2. Yes, that was me. I was on the Mockingbird bridge across from the dog park, making a lot of noise! I was waiting on a friend of my daughter’s to run with her in her first half. It was great to see so many DRC-ers out there!


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