It took me a while to write this post, and a little over two weeks later here we are. It’s time to recap on the Wallis Sands Half Marathon this year. I spend a lot of time reflecting back on races. It’s always incredible to think back to all of the tempo runs, the early mornings, and the Saturday mornings spent prepping for a long run ahead. And when you cross that finish line with a new personal record, well, that’s just icing on the cake! The week leading up to the half marathon was a bit of an emotional roller coaster. My mind raced and I tried to continue to tell myself, “Don’t try and PR. Just relax. You need to enjoy this race.” These thoughts seemed to be okay. I felt relieved. I even said those words out loud. But just as those thoughts seemed to ease my mind, I couldn’t help but google last year’s spring half marathon race results. My latest PR. Based off of my recent training runs, I felt good, but it was hard to wrap my mind around coming anywhere close to that. Then came the negativity. “You’ve been running so slow lately”. “You’re Achilles might act up again. Just think, what if your plantar fasciitis comes back after a few miles” The thoughts came rushing in and I couldn’t seem to fight them away.
Coming back from an injury, no matter how big or small, it’s hard to feel quite like yourself again. This half marathon would mark about 6 months since I initially stopped running due to my Achilles Tendonitis. On November 18th 2017 I came back from my 7 mile Newcastle loop run, and knew it was time to give running a break. Here, I was with many months of physical therapy under my belt and ready to toe the starting line once again.
I wish this was the part of the blog where I could share all of my advice on how to defeat pre-race jitters and share the secret formula for success. I’m not sure if I have any of those answers, but here’s what I got. Carbs. Carbs and time spent with family and loved ones. The night before the half marathon, we planned a night at a new pizza place in town. One of my friends who had ran the Philadelphia marathon with me in the past had invited his sister up to take on the Wallis Sands Half Marathon as well. Along with them, I just so happen to have a boyfriend and other supportive friends who were willing to indulge in some good old carbohydrates with us. I tried to keep my mind off the race the following morning, but the stress and anxiety seemed to come and go.
While I tossed and turned a bit that night, luckily I was still able to get some sleep. When the morning came, I seemed to hold on to the “I can’t wait until this is over” mentality. However, I also felt my mind entering another place. A place where I was excited to run, excited to compete. I often find myself forgetting just how exciting that really is. If you think about the entire population of people in the world who run races, those who actually do it to compete for a monetary cash prize or professionally are few and far between. But how cool to think that an “average joe” like myself gets to spend a few hours running through the roads not far from where I live with strangers lining the sides and cheering me on the whole time. You may never experience paparazzi in your life, but for the time spent on the course, you see photographers hoping to get a shot. The volunteers at the water stops. Those people are the true superstars. Sacrificing their weekend mornings so that tired sweaty runners can sustain themselves with cool gatorade and water. As a runner getting ready to run the Wallis Sands Half Marathon, I needed to remind myself that I should be nothing other than grateful. Grateful for all of the spectators, photographers, volunteers, fellow runners, and that I had been blessed with a body to be able to get me through those 13.1 miles. No matter what happens out there. You are competing. Sure, it could be with other runners, but it seems like the results we truly care about are racing against ourself and trying to see how hard we can really push ourselves. It’s hard not to get an insane adrenaline rush!
Here’s the text message I sent to my family right after the race. No Achilles pain. I couldn’t believe it! After the race I met up with my boyfriend and some other friends and congratulated those who also ran. Getting through this running injury has taught me so much. It has taught me to take better care of myself, to always stretch, to always warm up and cool down properly, but it also taught me to take every challenge in life head on and to never back down. You’ll never grow by staying in your comfort zone, by having a life where everything goes exactly according to plan. It’s how we react and bounce back from those challenges. Don’t focus on how quickly and aggressively in life that you are beat down, it’s how much are able to push so that you can once again get back up.