"Let's do a half marathon again this fall. Somewhere in town this time so that we don't have to drive for an hour or more. And maybe the kids and your parents could even watch us for once."
Enter the Brewers Half Marathon (I refuse to call it by it's real name of 'mini marathon' because it was 13.1 miles, nothing miniature about that!). Starts and stops at the baseball stadium, close to home, great time of year. SOLD.
So we trained for about 13 weeks again, which wasn't too bad coming off the half we did in the spring. Long weekend runs were fine, weekday runs were always a little hard to come by and usually achieved at 5 am. I admitted to Nate that I was getting kind of bored with running and ready for this race to be over, instead of being super excited for it like usual. After all, as our fifth half it's hardly a 'new' thing at this point and our last three halves have all been sub-two hours. I didn't really know if we could top that time and honestly, didn't care that much anymore. I had already proven to myself that I can still run as a 'mom of two' and it's just getting a bit monotonous.
Then the running gods heard me complaining about boredom and I was blessed with a sickness starting on Thursday night. During my last short run I started to feel kind of achey and sluggish. After we did our packet pick up that night, I felt honestly ill. Fever, aches, chills, a sore throat. I could not even eat custard with my family---the horror. And then some dizziness and general discontent that had me really worried about working on Friday AND doing the run on Saturday. Ibuprofen seemed to help a bit and so did a shower, so I tried to think positive.
(pics from packet pick up---kids loved the stadium!)
Friday morning I woke up and felt awful. I fought back a few tears (the first of many) as I carried CC downstairs (who has slept WONDERFULLY for the past two nights since I posted, hallelujah). I just couldn't believe I was still sick and achey and fatigued. I took a shower and popped some more Ibuprofen and prayed to God that I could get through part of my day. It's always such a hassle when I have to reschedule Friday patients---and once I got going and distracted, I was ok. I crashed on the couch at the end of the day instead of doing paperwork before I got the kids. And that night I still felt crummy although I pushed myself again and went to a friends' house for pizza that night. You know there is something really wrong with me when I can't eat a single bite of pizza and I turn down beer. SAD.
I went to bed at 8:30 on Friday night and was, again, near tears. I just KNEW I wouldn't be able to run the next day. There was just no way unless a small miracle happened. I couldn't even really stand up at this point and walking up our stairs had me winded. I had eaten next to nothing and had nowhere near the amount of water I need for a pre-race day.
When my alarm went off at 5 am on Saturday, I assessed the situation. My throat still hurt but I was not achey!!! I felt tired, of course, but the joint aches and dizziness seemed to be gone. So I scurried around and prepped my bib number, ate breakfast, and continued to pray. I told Nate that I didn't want to hold him back but I was going to run today---while still listening to my body. If I needed to jog slowly or even walk, I knew I had to do that. I still couldn't even believe I was going to attempt this given my state yesterday but I really did feel better. Not 100% but better. Nate said we would see how it went but we agreed we'd still like to run together.
My in-laws came to our house at 6am and both kids were still asleep (!!) so we gave them the run down on the double BOB and breakfast. They would plan to meet us at the finish line just to avoid the chaos of attempting a mid-race meet up spot. I was really giddy thinking about our spectators coming to cheer us on and hoped I wouldn't be barrel rolled by Nate at that point, just to get us to the finish line.
Before we arrived at the start line I had one 'episode' in a port-a-potty that was rather traumatizing. 'Oh man, I hope I'm not still sick...or getting the kids' stomach bug from last week.' Probably just nerves. And I began to pump myself up for 13.1 miles---since I hadn't really been focused on this race until right now, not knowing if I would even be capable of trying the night before.
They played some old-school techno music that reminded me of my Spain semester (Darude Sandstorm, anyone?) and I started to get really excited. I still didn't want to worry about time at all and was just hoping that I could keep up with Nate and not slow him down. After a few selfies, we were off!
By mile 2, I started to mentally freak out a bit. 'One mile at a time, just chill out, your body is fine and can do this.'
By mile 3, I told myself 'just another 10 mile run like last weekend.' And I decided that I wanted to
Hills. There were so many EFFING hills even though the course was supposed to be 'very flat.' HA. No. The hilliest I've run, I think. Nate was chatting to me most of the time and as fellow PTs, you know our favorite past time in a running race is to analyze the gait pattern of those in front of us. Right? (Nerd alert)
At mile 6, Nate took a gel and the thought totally disgusted me and made me feel nauseated. I ate the last few gummy energy snack things I had in my fanny pack instead and took a little longer at the water stop this time. I saw the 10k sign and marveled at the idea of being totally finished running right now. The thought sounded like heaven. This is also when I declared that I was taking a mega-nap today, no matter what.
At mile 7, I was struggling. Nate forced me to take his remaining Strawberry-Kiwi gel. Totally nasty but he promised it would help. I didn't feel 'sick' but was just so tired. No energy. No reserves. I was just pushing my body on an empty tank and it was not happy. I told Nate he could definitely go up ahead of me and he said, 'I'll stick with you.' Love that man. We chugged along.
Miles 8-10 are a blur. I know I saw an older runner sitting down at an aid station getting his blood pressure checked, looking really out of sorts. 'Oh, God. Don't let that be me next!' I wanted to see my babies for a little pick me up and told Nate as much. I started thinking about how if my body can birth those two beautiful beings (during labors when I also thought I was going to die) it could surely run just three more miles. Comparing labor to running will never get old for me.
Shortly after mile 10, Nate asked me, 'Do you think we could push it to make sub-two?' My first reaction was 'Hell no, just go without me, I'm about to croak,' but then he said, 'It's not that far off. Only a little faster.' And somehow I picked up the pace just a bit but still didn't believe in my heart we could come in that fast. I hadn't looked at our pace at all this race but it felt like running in quick sand, so I was a little baffled when Nate thought we could even attempt a sub-two again.
Hills. More hills. More mental anguish. 'As soon as we see the kids, I will let Nate go on without me. I want to see them together so they aren't confused. But then that's it. Mommy is done running and will walk a bit.' All of my thoughts centered around when I would allow myself to walk. But of course, we didn't see them until mile 12. After another big hill and as we were passing another runner being evaluated by the medical team (scary).
I first spotted Lois sitting on a curb, then Truman standing next to her. Tony was standing and holding CC and everyone was looking so freaking adorable. I yelled to them and waved, Truman saw us and jumped up moving to the BOB. Then he pulled out this sign---it looked like a giant white board or something. It turned out to be a white tupperware lid for a storage bin spray painted by some of my left over pink 'birthday' paint. Genius, Tony! It said 'Julia Nate' and on the back, as T flipped it over, 'C and T love you'. OMG. Seriously. Truman was so stinking proud of the sign---I couldn't get the image of him running to get it and show it to us out of my mind. All four of them looked happy to see us and proud---well, CC looked really confused but the others were excited.
Next we started doing a lap around the stadium parking lot. SO CLOSE now. As we finished that lap we saw our crew again---Truman with his beloved sign, and this time CC might have even seen us. Nate's parents were cheering and taking pictures. I nearly forgot about how horrible I felt and even got a little burst of energy for a second. We ran into the actual stadium now and did a lap around the field as tons of spectators sat in the stands. They were filming the runners coming in on the jumbo-tron and I just kept thinking about how running on this dirt was dangerous for wobbly legs like mine. Nate seemed to be sprinting at this point and I was right on his heels.
Then we saw mile marker 13. Thank. The. Lord. A tenth of a mile. This is when Nate sprinted even harder and kept looking at his watch so I knew we were close to the two hour mark. I did not care. I sprinted as much as I could because I wanted to be finished as badly as Nate. But I had no more energy and did the best I could, so I was totally fine when he got ahead of me by a few seconds at the very end. I would put money on the fact that the last 0.1 was actually more like 0.25. For real. It was forever.
But that finish line? Glorious. The timer on top said 2:01:45 and I knew our start was about 1:45 after the gun. Oh man, it would be close. But who cares? It was over. Nate and I hugged and grabbed a ton of amazing post-race food (most of mine went to our kids) like cookies, bananas, chips, granola bars, chocolate milk, and water. We saw the crew again after the finish line and came around to the outside of the gate so we could really chat. Oh, Truman was so proud of us. It's almost too much.
Our spectators were amazing. Having the kids there at mile 12 was a god send. As was my husband. Although I wanted him to go ahead of me many times (starting at about mile 3, actually) I'm certain that if he had left me behind I would have finished about 30 minutes slower. He was my pacer and my rock and kept giving me pep talks at the end. Half marathons are so much fun. Always worth the training.
We got our final times later in the day. Nate: 1:59:57 and Julia 2:00:06. HA! So glad Nate got his sub-two and am actually really freaking satisfied with my time, too. I have no idea how I did it. In the spring Dizzy and I got 1:59 and Nate got 2:01 or something, so this was a warranted trade-off.
As we were sitting in the parking lot outside of the finish line I realized that my stomach hurt. 'We need to go,' I said. We started walking and I knew something was not right. After stopping very shortly to chat with Andrea, Lois and I took the kids to my car while the guys took Nate's car home. As soon as we got to my car I knew it was going to happen. I have not thrown up in YEARS and my god, it's the worst. I found a relatively private 'hot coals only' barrel and squatted down next to it. Immediately I felt a little better but still pretty rough. Lois asked if I was ok to drive and I don't think the kids even noticed. I somehow made it home alive and was ever-so-grateful that Lois was with me once we got home.
Because thus began my frequent trips to the bathroom. Not for more puke, thank goodness, but for another 'problem'. I think I have successfully emptied my body of all nutrients at this point and have basically just laid on the couch all.day.long. Aside from one glorious shower, a 10 minute stint outside with CC, and an over-zealous attempt at vacuuming, it's been a lazy freaking day.
At first I assumed I pushed my body too hard and my GI system was making me pay for the race. But now I think this is the stomach bug my kids had last week---starting with a fever, progressing to the gut. I'm telling myself that I'd still be laying on the couch if I chose not to run today so it's a good thing I did;) I'm really not that hard core or anything, or that much of a competitor that I ran while feeling pukey/stomach rumblings. Had that happened during the race, I think I would have waved the white towel. Somehow I was spared for those two hours....and am paying for it now. At least there was a gap in the sickness and I only felt like I was running with lead in my shoes. I can handle being tired a lot better than having an actual stomach bug, but having a fever is still the worst in my eyes. Those body aches make me want to cry every time!
So this was an experiment: can a body recover from a day of not eating much or drinking enough water to run a half the next day? Well, I finished the race in a surprisingly good time. But my body does hate me, possibly even without the 13.1 miles I put it through today.
I'd do it again in a heartbeat, though. As long as I only felt truly sick-sick before and after the run---not during. And I'd have to have my pacer with me, and those spectators. Yes, I'm sure we will do our sixth half someday. Today solidified my statement that I will NEVER do another full marathon as long as my children are small, though. No way. *That* seems insane to me right now;)
(typed from the couch, resting my weary legs and innards)