Tuesday, August 24, 2010

One step backward, two steps forward

I felt like I was on the road to nowhere for quite some time. But I'm ready to say that I found the road to somewhere and I'm quite liking it.

Starting in late May, I think every race I ran was a personal worst, or close to it. It was hot. I started logging more miles than ever before. I started cross training. I starting hitting the weights harder. Yet, I felt like I was moving backward. I felt slow, tired. I thought, maybe this is as good as I'll get. Yet somehow I found the strength to keep slugging through my training no matter how discouraged I felt. But I have to say, I didn't slug on my own. I had a lot of friends who helped me put things into perspective. I'm not going to call you out by name, you know who you are.

I had two goals to work toward. #1 - America's Finest City 1/2 Marathon in San Diego and #2 - Chicago Marathon.

My confidence started picking up as I started running some 18 and 20 miler training runs. Then, I head to the PNW before San Diego and had some amazing weather and amazing times. For the first time in my life, I ran a sub 7 mile.

Aug. 15 - America's Finest City 1/2 Marathon

I flew to San Diego to meet my running partner Bojana in hopes to run a 1:50:00 to get in a coral for Chicago. Well, I got an email that Friday that said it was the deadline to submit for a coral. Poop. Oh well. I'm gonna give it my all anyway to see what I can do. And I did.

This is a gorgeous course! Starting at the top of Cabrilo National Monument, the course takes you on a 5-mile downhill until you reach the marina/airport area and then through downtown and up to Balboa Park. And I do mean up. At mile 10, you start your climb. It freaking hurt too.

I knew there was a hill. Bojana and I drove the course before hand. She said, "I think this is going to be much worse than mile 12 Austin." I hated to admit it, but she was right. Ok, just give it your all. I'm not walking any step of that hill. I did that in Austin, not doing that here. I got this.

I pushed it really hard out the gate. Looked at my Garmin and knew I needed to slow it down when it said 6:50. I tried to keep it at 8:00, but soon realized that was too fast for me. So I tired to keep it around 8:10-8:15, about 10 seconds faster than my coach wanted me to run it. However, secretly I wanted to see if a 1:45 was possible.

I hit my first 10K at 51:03 -- that is a 10K PR by nearly 5 minutes. My pace started to slow a little bit, but I really didn't noticed it at the time. I was just having a good time out there.

Then mile 10. Holy hell! That is a mother of a hill. And it keeps going. My IT band was on fire. I hurt. This is hard. But I kept telling myself, pain is temporary. You got a 5K and it's over. That's nothing. You can run a 5K in your sleep. I figure I lost about 3:30 on that hill. My pace slowed down to a 10:00/mile. I'm ok with that.

Hill done. The finish line is in sight. The pain that was once in my quads and IT, I totally forgot about. Balboa Park never looked better. I hear someone call my name! It's Twitter buddy Rocketman, Jeff! He came to cheer Bojana and I on. So wonderful to be in this great city and hear someone cheering me on at the finish line!

There it was. 1:54:09. It wasn't 1:50:00, but it was a over 5-minute PR off my February 1/2 PR. And it felt really good.

I couldn't walk. My quads were on fire. My IT was on fire. I wanted to puke. For the first time after a race, I didn't have anything left in the tank. I ran this race the hardest I could. And I was beaming. All those months of waking up at 4 a.m., running in 90 degree heat, it paid off, right there in Balboa Park, one of my favorite places in the United States. All those bad races that I had were erased from my mind.

I needed this race to feel good about my running again. The hardest lesson to learn is that sometimes we take one step backward to take two steps forward. Stepping backward sucks. It really sucks. But it's all part of becoming a better athlete.


  1. I have tears! What an awesome post on an awesome race!

    I'm just starting out and I'm scared to death to run my 1st half marathon in two months, but I want to be where you are, so I gotta give it something or step aside. :)

    Thanks for sharing and inspiring me!!


  2. Thank you! Don't be scared! You will do great! I ran my 1st half marathon back in Nov. 2010, 8 halfs and a full later, I can attest to it being addictive. You'll learn a lot, you'll have a blast. Keep me updated as to how it goes! Very excited for you!

  3. I grew up in San Diego and this past year I was there during the Rock and Roll Marathon. My dad use to run cross country routes through Balboa Park and intervals at the Zoo. There is nothing like training and racing in San Diego. I'm glad that you had a great run. Come back and visit San Diego. Maybe bring your bike so you can roll the hill at mile 10 instead of feeling the pain of the run.

  4. I can't believe I missed this post!?! Strong work! I'm so proud of you and how far you've come. I'm running my third Half next Sunday (10/3) on virtually ZERO training. Maybe I'm an idiot, but I'm looking forward to it! I can't wait to follow you, read all about how you rock Chicago!

  5. Oh I will definitely be back for RnR San Diego! I love San Diego! Perhaps I'll do a tri there.

    Doug - You will rock that half, I know it!!!!