Yesterday marked a huge day in my marathon training. I not only ran my first half marathon - the Rockville Parks Half Marathon - but then tacked on an additional 7 miles from the ending point in Bethesda to Georgetown, in order to complete my first 20 mile run. It was definitely FAR from a walk in the park. The day was incredibly hot to begin with, AND we started out at 5 am to get to the race start at Rockville metro center.
The race itself began at a relatively cool temperature, but the humidity was oppressive and though we got out with a great speed at the beginning, the course was hilly and became less and less enjoyable as the sun rose higher and the woods cozied in all the humidity around us. I drank lots and lots of water, and felt OK until mile 10 when my knee began to hurt and I got the chills from dehydration. By the time everyone was making the last 2.5 miles towards the center of Bethesda, I passed a gentleman who was surrounded by paramedics. I’m guessing that heat definitely had an influence on his condition.
As for my first race since high school, I think I did pretty well. I managed to figure out the water stops (only splashed water all over my face the first two, and let myself walk the remaining few), and didn’t trip over any runners :o). I also think my time (still waiting for it) averaged out at 10 minutes per mile, which isn’t bad considering I knew I had to run an additional 7 miles afterwards.
When Kathy and I reached the finish line, we stumbled over to the water tent (which was pretty non-existent compared to all the fried eggs and pasta bowls they were handing out at 9 am) and grabbed half a banana to repair some of the lost sugars/electrolytes from the run.
To be honest, my knee was really killing me and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to make the remaining 7 mile run back to Washington, D.C. When I showed Kathy where it hurt, she explained that it was Iliotibial Band Syndrome - a common problem that runners have and symptoms that first reared their ugly heads last weekend during the run I affectionately call Hurricane 18. Some of the primary causes of it created a near perfect storm on Sunday - high humidity, long distances, lots of downhill running, and running at a pace faster than you normally would.
I did a few stretches, replenished my water supply, and made the decision to keep going. I realize that it may seem crazy to you that I did that, but getting in 20 miles now will make marathon day that much easier (if 26.2 miles is ever easy). I did promise myself that I would not run the 7 miles fast, and would go at a pace that wouldn’t aggravate the pain.
In the beginning it really wasn’t too bad - actually, I’d say until mile 5 it wasn’t bad. The run is almost entirely downhill and shady, and I got in the zone and took my time. However, when we reached the towpath along the canal, the heat was near 90 degrees and I began getting dehydrated again, feeling feverish, and spent every 5 seconds looking for mile marker 10.5 - which of course, never came! I think someone tore it down, so Kathy and I probably ran a bit longer than 20 miles.
We limped our way up the stairs onto M street just before the Key Bridge - and at that point, I mean really limped. I could barely pull myself up the stairs I was so stiff! Then we found an Exxon across the street that had very very cold water and bananas! Despite the fact that I felt like I was going to get sick, I ate a banana at Kathy’s suggestion, and slowly felt better - which was good, because it took about 20 minutes to find a taxi to take us back to Arlington. When we did, we both agreed it was the BEST TAXI RIDE ever.
Overall I’m in good spirits. A bit frustrated about the pain in my knee, but glad I have a few weeks to recover before the big event. I’m taking it easy, learning how to stretch the area, and loading up on advil. I’m also in complete awe that I’ve almost reached my fundraising goal. With additional donations received over the weekend (THANK YOU!) and some checks I’ve received, I’m estimating a number close to $850. Just $150 to go! If you haven’t donated yet, but would like to, I’d love your support! Thanks also to my amazing running partner, Kathy. I wouldn’t be able to do this without you!