2012 Battleship Half Marathon:
Those of you who read my last blog about my knee injuries are well aware of some of the challenges I faced during the training for this half marathon. In fact, a month ago I did not believe I would actually get to participate. Miraculously, my knees did start to feel better a few weeks ago. However, I tried to run only once in the last 10 weeks since my injury (it didn’t go well. Oh the pain!), and even gave up walking for the last month to encourage the healing process along. I switched my sign up time from runner to walker which gave me an extra hour to complete the 13.1 mile course. It felt like I was taking the easy way out, but the most important thing to me was not re-injuring myself. I NEED these knees! In the end, I made the right decisions. I was able to finish the race in 3 hours and 10 minutes. Although I am crazy sore today, my knees will be fine.
My clients Andrea and Shawn rode with me to the race. It was so awesome that they were willing to come a whole hour earlier to see me off at the start. I think we were all glad to get there early enough to find parking at the battleship, rather than parking downtown and taking the trolley. It was nice being together before the race; we were all at least a little nervous since this was our first half-marathon ever! The morning started out really cold, so we all had layers on. We found if difficult to decide what we should wear and carry with us. Ultimately, it got pretty warm and I was wishing that I hadn’t worn quite so many layers.
There were several highlights to the race. The most enjoyable part was the first 3 miles which I walked at about 4 miles per hour. Walking over the bridges and seeing the sun rise over downtown Wilmington was breathtaking. As I was walking through downtown, I could see the runners lining up at the start across the river. There were so many runners! After that, the scenery got a little boring and my knees felt fine, so I added in little bits of jogging. At this point my legs started killing me. First it was the hamstrings, then my calves and shins, then my hip flexors kicked in. This went on for the rest of the nine miles, but I knew it was muscular pain that I could push through. My knees would protest every so often, and when they did I slowed down.
I had forgotten how pretty Greenfeild lake is. I tried to look around and enjoy it as much as possible. This is where I saw the first and fastest runners start to pass the walkers. Half way around the lake and halfway through the course, the runners started wizzing by in droves. I was feeling my energy get low, so I pulled out my protein bar and felt a little silly having a snack in the middle of a race. 🙂 It was just what I needed to make it through that last half. Soon I was jogging more than walking. Once the river came back into view, I knew we were in the home stretch. A lot of the runners were starting to lose steam and walk at this point. I found a few inspirational people to keep up with here. Women who looked to be in their 60s and 70s who were amazingly fast walkers and others who appeared to be pushing themselves to the limit. My favorite was a young marine running/walking in his combat boots who never seemed to break a sweat.
As predicted, crossing over the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge is close to terrifying. Especially when your body just wants to collapse at mile 12. I think I was hallucinating because the bridge seemed to be swaying with every passing car. There was no way I was running on those grates. They were slippery and have tiny spikes. If you slip and fall on those, you will get cut badly! After that, the last mile of the race was pretty rough. I wanted to sprint to the finish like I usually do in a 5K or 10K, but I just didn’t have the energy and my legs were dead. Instead, I decided to end the race conservatively, knowing that I finished in plenty of time and feeling okay.
Next, I picked up my medal and found the water station and the only gluten free food available, a banana. I went back to see Shawn and Andrea cross the finish line. I’m so proud of them for coming so far! Both of them have only started running this year and already completing a half-marathon. I’m so glad I got to participate and see all three of us finish what we trained so hard for. It was a painful but gratifying experience and I’m sure I will be doing it again…one day. 😉