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Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it’s all about.

The above quote, by PattiSue Plumer (U.S. Olympian) is the perfect quote to summarize my half marathon this past weekend. As you know, I wasn’t feeling great about this race, and was mostly worried about trying to finish. I knew I loved the course, and I set a huge PR on the course during the 2012 race. The night before the race I foam rolled and paced around my hotel room listening to my race day playlist to try to get my head into the game. It worked, and I finally got really excited about running! I got into bed around 11 and fell asleep a bit after 12:30. I woke up around 5:15 and started my day with my traditional 10 oz orange juice, Luna Bar, and banana. Something new I did this morning- I also took a salt packet along with some coconut water for extra sodium and electrolytes. I wanted to avoid 6 miles of leg cramps like I had during my last half. 

Just the same as last year, the Indiana Convention Center was open to runners, so we got to warm up, wait, and go to the bathroom indoors! It wasn’t as cold as last year, and the starting line temperature was 42 (feels like 35), so I wore a long sleeve shirt, skirt, and compression sleeves. As it turned out, I would’ve been fine in a t-shirt, and ended up getting a little uncomfortable with long sleeves. Oh well. At 8 am we started, and right after 8:06 I crossed the starting line (it’s so nice to not walk for 17 or 18 minutes like you have to at the Mini Marathon).

This race doesn’t have starting corrals, and you just get to line up with whatever pace seems appropriate. This leads to so much less weaving, and I love that. I did my standard 3:1 (run: walk) Galloway Method throughout the race, and still love racing that way. Here’s a recap mile by mile:

Mile 0-1: The challenge here is always to not go out too fast. My first mile was a 10:26 pace, which I knew I couldn’t maintain, but also meant that I was really holding myself back! Right before mile 1 we ran past Lucas Oil Stadium where the Colts play (and the Superbowl was held in 2012).

Mile 1-2: Nothing really notable happened this mile, except I started to regret my clothing choice. I was feeling really really good here, and I thought this might actually be a pretty good running day for me.

IMG_5527The Momument in Monument Cicle

Mile 2-3: I love this mile because right at the end of it, we run into Monument Circle! My parents were standing in the circle, so it was great to see them! I remember screaming out to them “I didn’t go out to fast! I’m pacing well!” and with a smile and a wave I was out of the circle and hitting mile 3.

IMG_5529Zipping through the cicle at mile 2.8!

Mile 3-4: This mile just felt really good. We ran past a few jazz players this mile, and that added some fun.

Mile 4-5: YIKES! IT bands suddenly, and out of the blue, started to ache. This was the mile I first had to stop and stretch last year, so I decided to stretch out my IT bands here. I hoped I wasn’t going to have to stop every 6 or 7 minutes like some training runs, and tried to brush off my concern. It worked. I also had 3 margarita flavored shot bloks this mile (this flavor has 2x the sodium!).

Mile 5-6: This is the mile that we really entered into the neighborhoods, and I always love this part. People are out cheering on their porches and yards, and it gives a very homey feel to the race. I loved this mile.

Mile 6-7: When I hit the 10k mats I was shocked to see the time at 1:10. I was feeling absolutely fantastic, and was running with a huge smile on my face. Last year I had to stop to stretch my IT bands along here, but this time I felt great and kept on running!

Mile 7-8: During this mile I had 2 or 3 CranRazz Shot Bloks along with some water (they ran out of gatorade at this stop). I was feeling fantastic and still holding a pace that would’ve led to a PR!

Mile 8-9: Still feeling absolutely fantastic. Right here I started to think about what a perfect day for running it was. The weather was fantastic, the crowds were supportive, and I was feeling strong and mentally in the game. I still hadn’t turned on music, and was enjoying being in the moment!

Mile 9-10: Oh no- a few slight left calf cramps. Nothing major. I pulled to the side and stretched it out for a few seconds and kept going. I did panic for a few seconds, but pulled it together and kept plowing forward.

Mile 10-11: Took 2 more margarita shot bloks here, and was thankful that I hadn’t hit the wall. I felt so bad at this point during my half in May, and I was feeling very thankful that felt so good. I had a few more calf cramps this mile, but again, nothing that I couldn’t handle. Still on pace for a PR!

Mile 11-12: After running a really solid and strong first 11 miles, things started to fall apart. The thing is, I still felt fantastic, but my legs really started to cramp badly here. Occasionally my leg would cramp bad enough that I would have to stop to walk for a bit, and I tripped a few times as I started to become a little less unsteady on my feet. I was SO SO happy to be wearing my compression sleeves (from Bio Skin!!), as these definitely help the cramps to pass quickly.

Mile 12-13: I texted my mom right at mile 12 and said the following: “Just hitting mile 12- horrid cramps. Going slow. Good running day”. I was feeling frustrated with my cramps but also recognized that this was a fantastic race day nonetheless. Suddenly, both of my legs seized up at once, and I lurched forward. My legs cramped so tightly that my toes tucked under my foot and I couldn’t move. AT ALL. It freaked me out majorly. I was stuck in the middle of the road, standing, unable to take a step. I stood there for a few minutes slowly stretching my legs out, and again was so so thankful that I was wearing compression sleeves. From here on out I mostly was speed walking. I’d run for 20-40 seconds at a time, but then would start to cramp up and would walk quickly. My parents were waiting right at 13 for me, and it was great to see them.

IMG_5532_2Despite the leg cramps, I’m still having fun!

Mile 13-13.1: I know there was a huge crowd there, but I was mostly concerned with staying calm and trying to avoid cramps. What was most frustrating is that I still felt fantastic and had lots of energy inside of me, but couldn’t do anything about it because of the cramps.

FINISH TIME: 2:36:39. So, I was just under 5 minutes off my PR from last year. Until mile 11, I was set to set a new PR, and with the cramps I just lost it. Standing there in the middle of the road at mile 12, I realized that I had lost it. In that moment, I decided that the success of the race wasn’t going to be the time that I had. The success would be if I kept my head in the game, stayed strong, fought as hard as I could, and finished the race. I was reminded of this quote:  “Sometimes your “PR” has nothing to do with time, but what you conquer inside.”

IMG_5523FINISHED!

Yes, I’m disappointed I didn’t PR, but I’m SO so proud of the race that I ran. I had an amazing 11 miles, and even though the last 2 miles fell apart, I am very proud of how I did in the race. I felt good, I felt strong, and I had a great time. That’s what is most important to me. Besides, this was my 2nd fastest Half marathon, and I have to be proud of that as well 🙂

IMG_5524About 5 minutes after crossing the finish line, I started to shiver uncontrollably – I’m so thankful for these space blankets 🙂

And I love the medal! It has a tiny etched finish line with the Capital behind it on the medal. I got this mug too to commemorate my favorite race course; it has the monument on it!

IMG_5531

Somewhere between mile 9 and 10 I got pretty chocked up again. Like every other half, I pause to remember the fact that with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, I shouldn’t be able to run half marathons at all. Yes, I’m not a fast runner, but I never will be due to POTS. But, I’m a fighter, and have pushed myself to overcome so much in the almost 10 years since I first got POTS. No matter what happens on the race clock, I’m so thankful that I am able to start and finish races, because it’s something I never thought, given my diagnosis, that I’d be able to do. I am thankful. 

Now on to recovery from the half marathon and surviving the post race blues.

For other race recaps, check out my race recaps page.

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