Anyway, my younger brother, Nathan, drove over to my house this morning so we could head down to Sandusky, Ohio for the Santa Hustle Half-Marathon. Sandusky is about 90 minutes away, and the race was being held at Cedar Point, a huge amusement park (which is closed for the season). The weather was supposed to be great for running--43 degrees and overcast. I wasn't really sure what to wear, though. The race requested that we wear the shirts they give us for registration, which is a Dri-Fit hoodie. We hadn't picked up our packets, so I wasn't sure if the hoodie would be too warm or not. I just ended up bringing a smorgasbord of options to change into if needed.
The drive was uneventful. When we got there, we parked and then went to pick up our packets. I love the shirts we got! Lately, I've been requesting a men's small shirt, because I like the fit of them better than women's shirts (I have no boobs to speak of, and an undefined waist). I'm really glad I did that, because I was told that the women's shirts ran two sizes too small this year, and there were a lot of upset women about it. The men's shirt was a little big, but I like sweatshirts to fit loosely. Nathan and I changed into our "uniform" for the race, and ended up deciding to wear the race shirts, even though we'd probably get too hot.
As much as I wanted to be festive, I just couldn't get on board with wearing the hat and beard during the race. The hat was really tight and the beard was uncomfortable, so I just stuck with the shirt.
After we changed, we headed over to the porta potties. There weren't any lines, so we were in and out really quickly. We were going to head back to the car, when a blog reader recognized me! (I wasn't wearing the beard at that time, haha). Her name is Sarah, and she was going to be running the 5K. We stopped and chatted for a few minutes, and then Nathan and I went back to the car to wait. (Hi Sarah! I meant to ask you to email me the picture of us, if you could? It was great to meet you!) The race started at 9:00, and it was only around 8:00, so we had a long time to wait. Finally, at 8:35, we went to use the porta potties one more time, and found that the lines were crazy long.
We figured 20 minutes would be enough time, but when we finally got to the front of the line, my watch said 8:59:32. Cutting it close! When I got out of the porta potty, I didn't see Nathan, and wasn't sure if he went to the starting line or was still in the porta potty. I called his cell, and there was no answer. The announcer was counting down to the start of the race, so I just booked it over to the starting line, and as soon as I moved my way into the corral, the race started. As I got closer to the line, I noticed the big start/finish line balloon was falling down, and it cut us off from crossing the line. We were told to stop and wait until they fixed it.
Nathan called me then, and I didn't see him, but he said he was in the back, and he'd try to catch up with me once we got moving. About three minutes after the official start of the race, they let us go through. I started running, and my foot felt totally fine--no issues at all! I decided to try and run a 9:30 pace, but if I had problems with my foot, I'd just run very easy.
I kept hoping to hear Nathan, but it wasn't until nearly a mile in that I saw him pass me. I called out to him, and he said he didn't recognize me, because everyone looks alike with the same shirts on. I ran with him for a couple of minutes, and then told him he should try to place in his age group. He was feeling good, and wanted to try for sub-1:40, so I told him I'd buy him a beer if he placed ;) He ran ahead, and then I just tried to enjoy the sights.
The first three miles was through the inside of the park, and it was awesome to see all the roller coasters as I ran. I tried to get some pictures, but the pictures don't really do it justice (also, I was running, so they're a little blurry):
|That yellow roller coaster in the background is the Top Thrill Dragster. |
I'm almost as scared of that as I am of the thought of skydiving.
It goes from 0 to 120 mph in just 4 seconds!
Once we got out of the park, we ran to Soak City, which is Cedar Point's water park. We also ran around a campground. I liked this part of the race, because it was almost like a big maze--there were so many turns that everyone was going different directions, so I spent most of the time looking for Nathan, who I knew was ahead of me. You can see my path in red below:
My pace was great--average pace of 9:30 as I hit the 10K mark. However, I noticed that the mile markers were showing the course as really short. When I would reach a mile marker, my Garmin would read consistently 0.10-0.15 less than that mile. That's happened before at races, but it usually evens it self out at the end, so I wasn't worried about it.
When I hit mile 6.5, I started to feel a little pressure on the side of my foot. Ordinarily, I would've just ignored it, but I was worried about it, so that's all I could focus on. I decided the race wasn't worth pushing myself through injury, so I slowed my pace way down. When I got to mile 7, it was a long, straight, out-and-back until mile 12.
Running along the side of the road made me feel a little more pressure on my foot. The road was terrible, with a big slope and a lot of potholes. It was the sloped asphalt that was making me feel uncomfortable. I still wasn't in pain, but I knew that something was going on with my foot.
The out-and-back part felt like forever! I saw the first place person run past, and then I started watching for Nathan, which was a nice distraction. I was even counting people, to see how far back he was--he was number 102 to run past me. When I saw him, I thought, "Oh, please let the turnaround be just ahead!" but I kept running and running, and it felt like it was never going to end. I saw a sign that looked like it was pretty much made for my eyes to see:
Finally, I turned around at about mile 9.5, and then started running back. The change in direction was nice, because I wasn't on the very edge of the road anymore, and I had a tailwind. When I reached mile 11.5, it was like a switch just turned on the pain in my foot. And not only my foot, but the side of my leg and even my IT band. I wasn't sure what to do--I was a mile and a half from the finish, but the only way back was to actually finish (there weren't any shortcuts).
I took a short walk break, which helped a little, but then as I ran, it kept building up. Ironically, I saw this sign as I was taking a walk break--hahaha!
I reached the park at mile 12, and took a quick picture of the roller coaster skyline.
As I ran/walked/hobbled through the parking lot, I realized that there was no possible way that the course would be 13.1 miles. When I reached the finisher's chute, my Garmin was reading nearly a half-mile short. My official finish time is 2:07:59, but my Garmin read 12.77 miles, so I don't even really count that as my time. But at that point, I didn't care at all about my time! I was regretting running a half so soon after my foot issue.
When I got my medal, it was just the medal--no neck-ribbon attached. I was told that they ran out of the medals with ribbons.
It's a really nice medal, and I emailed the race to see if they'll send me a ribbon for it. Nathan's had a ribbon--he finished in 1:39:59! That was his goal time; but like me, he doesn't really count it, because the course was short. (He finished 71 overall, so he passed a bunch of people after I saw him at place 102).
My foot was absolutely killing me by that point, so we walked (slowly) to the car for the long drive home. We took a different route, which was about two hours, but a nicer drive. When Nathan left, and I thanked him for going with me, he said, "Yeah, that was fun!... ish". Hahaha! That's exactly what races are: fun...ish ;)
When I got home, I decided that I really need to take a break from running and let my foot heal properly. I'm going to take the rest of the year off, even if I'm feeling better. I'll start slowly again in January, but if my foot feels at all sore or tender, I'll give it some more time. Now that I'm home, and I've been resting it all day, it's not bothering me very much; but I would rather just play it safe and make sure it gets better. I think it's a good idea to take a week or two completely off every year anyways; usually, I've done it after my marathons, but since I didn't run a marathon this year, I haven't really taken a break. I think it'll be good for me (although mentally, I may go a little crazy...) ;)
Don't forget, tomorrow is Motivational Monday! If you have a photo of a health/fitness accomplishment that you're proud of this week, you can email it to me at Katie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com, subject "Motivational Monday", along with a short description, and I may include it on tomorrow's MM post.