I know, I know, I am THE WORST blogger ever as it’s been over a month since I’ve posted. In my defense, life has been crazy/stressful/frustrating as of late and it is very difficult for me be creative/funny/insightful when I’m pissed at the whole world. More on that topic soon…
Well, all that negativity took me down and 3 days before the Oakland Running Festival’s half marathon, I got sick. Super sick. Head and chest cold, general malaise, constant fatigue and absolutely zero energy. All my training leading up to this half- my tenth- had been successful. I had been doing everything right, I’ve been eating well, added in 2 hours of strength training each week, rotated hill work with speed work, hit all of my long runs 30-60 seconds slower than race pace and had my mind completely and totally set on a PR.
Until I got sick, that is.
I’ve learned over and over from my TNT coaches not to let ego overrule good judgement, I therefore knew that running with a chest cold wouldn’t be the smartest thing to do but, of course, I was going to do it anyway and anticipated that it would slow me down. And, of course, it did.
I felt so out of it that I couldn’t bare to even get to the expo on Saturday, so hubby- who was also running the Oakland half- went to the expo and gathered our bibs while I lay on the couch drinking green tea, napping, and feeling very sorry for myself.
Race morning came and I still felt pretty out of it. “Out of it” as in: no-way-I-want-to-run-a-half-marathon-today kind of out of it. Grrrrrrreat. Piled onto BART, arrived at 19th street in downtown Oakland and headed to the starting line.
The race started and I felt okay, running down Broadway yelling “HI!” and “GO YOU!” and “HEY COACH!” to all of my running buddies along the way. Running through the closed streets of the city I was born and raised is such a neat feeling for me- for all it’s negative press, I still hella love Oakland!
I hit mile 6 in an hour and thought, “Okay, maybe there’s hope for you yet!” but my head was draining, my throat started filling up with mucus, my chest struggled to keep up and it became very difficult to breathe. I can barely manage sucking down a Gu while running so managing a coughing attack and spitting the remnants on the side of the road while running became impossible. I had no choice but to stop altogether, several times, to cough and spit and catch my breath- oh well… what did I expect?
Like I said, I love Oakland but to be honest, miles 5-10 of the half course isn’t the most thrilling (save for the arch of fire pictured above)- you wind through West Oakland, an area of Oakland that used to be all railroads in the late 1800s, then became more of a shipyard area in the early and mid 1900s, and then after suffering much damage from the earthquake of 1989 it’s still being refurbished. It’s just not that pretty.
Shortly after mile 10, the course loops around Lake Merritt, one of my most favorite places to run! The familiarity kicked in and I tried my hardest to shave off some time in that final 5K by running those tangents I am so familiar with but my breathing was still pretty labored and the snot just kept flowing… this race also started at 9:15am so by mile 11 it was closing in on 70 degrees without any breeze whatsoever. I was really struggling but I pushed through and tried my hardest to pick up my speed.
Hit mile 12 and told myself to shake it but I as I looked at the time on my watch, I was pretty disappointed at that point so took it easy all the way towards the finish… as I rounded the final turn, that last tenth of a mile heads upward- it is the tiniest of inclines but because it’s right near the end of the race, it feels like a freaking huge killer hill! Luckily three of my running mentors were there to help inspire and motivate me up that hill to the finish line- my 2 boot camp trainers, Anna and Jennie, and then Coach Al. Jennie yelled at me, “GO LAURA GO!”, Anna ran with me for a bit telling me that I had this and “PUSH PUSH PUSH!”, then Coach Al appeared, saying, “YOU GOT THIS, DARLIN’!”
So, I ran my little heart (and head and chest) out!!!
And finally crossed the finish line in 2:23- not my best but not my worst so I guess I gotta be happy with that! (If you know me you know I’m NOT though- illness besides, that’s a FAR CRY from the 2:05 I was shooting for.)
When I finished the race, I actually felt great! Running a half marathon seems to be a fantastic decongestant- my head was clear and my voice was back to normal! Plus, my legs weren’t fatigued AT ALL. Not one bit. Felt like I hadn’t even ran! Found hubby and gave him big high fives as he PRed with a 2:00 finish time!!!! SO happy for and proud of him!!! (Although I really shouldn’t encourage him because this is MY hobby, darn it!)
I have another half in two weeks at Santa Cruz and everyone keeps telling me I ran Oakland the right way in order to do well on April 7th, so I am really hoping they are right! I’m trying not to be too bummed out about Oakland but racing as much as I have, I’ve learned that not every day can be perfect, not every race will get you a PR, and you can only give as much as you’ve got to give on any given day- running is so fickle like that.
So I’m still chasing that half PR… it will be mine some race soon… I just know it…