Well, I survived the Evansville Half Marathon this year. I guess just being able to say that after the record-setting heat we had is a feat in itself. Although there were about 1,900 people registed for the event, only 1,626 runners finished. To say it was hot on race day would be an understatement. It was at least 75 degrees with high humidity at the start.
But let me start with what happened very first thing in the morning. I woke up promptly at 5:30 Sunday morning to prepare for the race. I had two-and-a-half pieces of cinnamon-sugar toast and a glass of orange juice for breakfast first thing since I wanted to make sure I had time to digest it. Normally, I would never eat before a race because it usually makes me sick. But I wanted to make sure I had plenty of energy to make it through the race. I also started drinking a combination of water and Gatorade so I was sure I would be hydrated; I’d been drinking water all week long and felt pretty confident about having enough fluids in me. Then I got dressed and fixed my hair and gathered everything I would need for the race. Tyler, mom, and dad (who got in the night before) got up and started getting ready so I waited for them and we left right on schedule at 6:45.
Surprisingly, I was very calm on the way to Reitz Hill for the start. I only got a little razzled when Tyler and my dad were cracking jokes about how I would end up regretting not packing an overnight bag for when I ended up in the hospital (hello, positive thoughts please!) but other than that, I was cool, calm and collected. Really, it was uncharacteristic of me because I usually freak out about anything I can’t control.
When we finally arrived at Reitz Hill, I got out and attached my number to my shorts and took off to warm up. I got back and stretched and then looked around for my parents and Tyler. Nowhere in sight. But I did see my friend Miles and I gave him a big hug (his dad was running the race). I couldn’t find a water station, and I had to eat one of my Gu packets which you’re supposed to take with water. I ate it anyway, thinking I could find Tyler so I could get into the car to get my water bottle. Made my final trip to the restroom and rubbed on some of the Aquaphor to my thighs. I also saw some of the people from church who had made signs to support me along the route. I felt bad that I couldn’t stay and talk to them long, but the runners had already been lined up for a while. As I made my way to the 8:00-minute pace mark, I found my mom who gave me the other Gu to replace the one I had eaten. I settled in next to my running friend Chuck and waited for the start. It was already so hot, and I knew it was going to be a tough race especially since I didn’t drink anything right before the race. I’ve never done well in heat for some reason. My body just doesn’t adapt.
Once the gun went off, we all had a slow start. We wound our way around the back of Reitz and I waved to my mom, dad and Tyler, knowing I’d see them in about 4 miles. The first part of the race was downhill, so I tried to lengthen my stride, but not overly so because I knew the dangers of going too fast at the start. It wasn’t too bad; I wasn’t going as fast as I could have, but not too slow either. But man, I was hot. The sun was shining and there was very little relief from it along the route. I was already getting chills, which I knew wasn’t a good sign, but I kept up the pace.
By the time I neared the McDonald’s at St. Joe, I heard some familiar voices call my name. I looked to the left and saw some more church members/friends: Rachel, Bill, and Cathy. That made me feel good, and I waved to them as I passed. Up ahead I could see my family. I motioned to my mom that I needed my water, but she had left it in the car (And there is a funny story that goes with this…apparently my mom panicked a bit and said a four-letter word that my dad and Tyler teased her about. Very unlike my mom, so like my husband and dad.) so Tyler let me have a sip of the Powerade he had just gotten from McDonald’s. I began to worry that even though I drank a bunch of water all week that it still wasn’t enough.
By the time I got to Garvin Park and Bosse Field, I was parched and getting tired. And that was only mile 6. I again saw Rachel, Bill and Cathy (I remember saying to them, “You guys are everywhere!”) and then once I made it through Bosse Field, my mom was waiting for me with some water. I made sure I drank plenty and walked some to give myself a little break.
Then it was onto Main Street, where I saw both trios as well as Matt, another church member. Matt asked how I felt and I managed to get out, “Not good at all.” I told my mom, dad and Tyler that I no longer cared about my 1:55 goal and I just wanted to finish. Although I had planned only to walk at the water stations, it was obvious I was going to be doing a lot more of it. And as I went under the Lloyd Expressway from Main to Vine Street, I had to walk. From then on out, I think I walked after every mile marker and then some.
Once I got back on Main Street at the walkway downtown, I seriously contemplated calling it a day. I saw my mother in law for the first time and also saw Miles again. My family was there, too, I knew the car would be nearby; I could easily just walk off the course and make my way home. But for some reason, I kept with it. My mom poured some water on me, and even though the coolness was a shock to my body, I knew I needed to cool off. About a mile past the walkway, Chuck started to make his way past me. His goal was to finish within two hours (he had run it in 1:51 last year but got injured from his marathon training) so I knew that I had really gone off my goal pace of 8:30 per mile. As much as I wanted to keep up with him, I couldn’t.
As we neared Akin Park, I could feel myself getting more and more fatigued. From that point on, the half marathon always feels like it stretches on forever. It felt that way last year, too. I remember that near mile 11 there were several people either on the side of the road with the First Aid personnel or lying in the middle of the road with First Aid personnel. I felt very fortunate that I wasn’t one of them, but knew that if I went too hard it would be me. And I didn’t want that. So even though my mind wanted me to go harder, my body wouldn’t have it. And I had to push aside my pride and just do what I could to finish.
I finally saw the end in sight as I neared the riverfront. This is where I had problems last year, so I knew that I had to pay attention to my body. Anything could still happen so I didn’t want to push it too hard even though I wanted so badly to just finish the race and rest. I could see the blow-up finish line in the distance, but it seemed so far away. And it was. I tried so hard just to keep running, but even that close, I still had to walk. As I finally got closer, I knew I could do it. I tried sprinting the last part as hard as I could, but I’m pretty sure I was only capable of a slow jog.
As I neared the finish line, I heard my family cheering me on above the noise of the crowd. My name was announced and I knew I was going to make it. My time was 2:04:45 and finished 400th overall and 19th in my age group. Not nearly as good as I wanted, but unlike so many that day, I can say I finished. I had a hard time standing up after I got done. I was so disoriented that I almost didn’t turn in my chips; I heard the volunteers saying they needed to get them, but at the time, I didn’t know they were talking to me. I made my way to the table where water, Gatorade, and fruit awaited me. I quickly opened up my Gatorade and drank as much of that as I could. I ate half of a banana and already was so full. People were coming up to talk to me and I know I seemed so rude, but I was having a hard time just keeping my eyes open and staying standing. I determined I will not do the Nashville Marathon and even swore off half marathons all together. About 15 minutes later, though, I was talking about running the half marathon again next year. How quickly I forget the pain. (Side note: Now I’m thinking about doing the Indy Half Marathon. I’ll have to decide soon since it quickly fills up.) I just don’t understand why my body gives out when I train so hard for it. I trained at 8:00-minute miles so I thought keeping up a pace of about 8:30 would be no problem. What am I doing wrong? I’m open to any suggestions.
We walked across the street to get out of the sun. I sat down and stretched, said goodbye to some of my supporters. It was so good to have people there cheering me on. I honestly don’t know if I would have made it without them. I took off my socks to reveal a nasty blister. But on the bright side, the Aquaphor did the job and I didn’t have ANY chafing (last year, it was so bad it scabbed). I was so tired and sore, all I wanted to do was go home and sleep. So I walked — barefoot no less – back to the car with Tyler and my parents so we could go home where a nice, long shower and warm bed awaited me.
Later that afternoon, we had my birthday dinner at my in-laws’ house with my parents. Chicken and steak kabobs, cole slaw, potato salad, baked beans, freshly baked bread, red velvet cake, and ice cream really hit the spot especially in a runner’s empty stomach. I got a lot of nice things from everyone, and Tyler even surprised me with a massage at Absolute Beauty on Monday in addition to the suit he had already bought me. It was very, very relaxing, and although it made me more sore the next day, it was totally worth it.
I apologize to everyone for the late update, but I don’t have Internet at home. Then I only had a half day at work on Tuesday to allow for travel time to Indy. I was in Indy doing training all day on Wednesday (which was my 25th birthday!). I didn’t get on the Internet when I was there either. But I guess it’s better late than never, right?