Monday, March 23, 2015

Every Step a Victory

Yesterday I ran my 15th half marathon. But it was only my second one since the congestive heart failure diagnosis. I reached the start line with tons of questions and super nervous about the race. I just never know on any given day what my body is going to give me. I'm learning to listen to my body and it is making a huge difference in my running and training.

The race went surprisingly well - actually I'm just as surprised today! I just felt so good. Now I will admit I had some chest discomfort along the way. But I slowed down and let my body get a feel for what was going on each time. I never felt like I couldn't catch my breath, any more than normal for beating down 13.1 miles. But my head went a hundred miles an hour all along the course.

I didn't push it from the start and tried to find a comfortable pace that felt like I wasn't trying to do too much. The first couple of miles I forced myself to take walk breaks since that's how I've been training and I know if you do too much too soon you'll run out of steam at the end. So I kept reminding myself to take it easy but I kept feeling really good. Before I knew it I had knocked out 5 miles. Even though I didn't sprint them and I wasn't going super fast - they felt like they passed really fast. Then I looked up and was to the halfway mark. That's always a good place to be emotionally because after that each step leaves more behind you than before you. Halfway seems to boost me mentally like I can actually "get ahead" from there.

Next thing I knew I hit mile 8. It felt like I was going fast - they miles were not dragging by and I wasn't feeling the need to walk although I continued to walk periodically. Mile 8 is significant for a couple of reasons. One was I met the 3 hour pacers at the first part of mile 8. But I chose not to try and pass them. I thought, "great, if I hold up maybe I can stay with them and finish in 3 hours." But I was okay even if that didn't happen. I was trying to mentally prepare myself for the bottom to fall out somewhere along the way. But soon - I passed the 3 hour pacers and never looked back.

Mile 8 also brought a horrible hunger with it. I was nervous because I was afraid I'd hit the wall and have to crawl the last 5 miles. So the next officer I saw, I jokingly asked if he had a candy bar. He laughed and said he didn't. He didn't have pretzels or beer either! lol  So I come up on another officer and asked him jokingly if he had a candy bar. He reached in his pocket and pulled out a Snickers! I asked if I could have it as I was taking it out of his hand. I heard the runners behind me yell, "Score!". It's honestly what got me through the rest of the race. Although I would not suggest this kind of race nutrition, hey, it worked this time!

I was still running (for me) at mile 10. That simply amazed me because I'm usually really dragging by then. I was hurting some but I was still going and feeling pretty good overall. Then 11 and 12 came. By the time I saw the mile 12 marker I got really excited because I was still running, and still feeling good other than general muscle fatigue that is easy to deal with. Then I started laughing. Not out loud - just to myself. And I imagined that I was saying "ha!" with each step. I had overcome this thing for the day and I was winning. Every step of this half was a victory - every step of every race I am able to do is a victory. Every step of every training run/walk is now a victory. Victorious steps I may need to recall on the rougher days that might come.

By the time I saw the finish line I was overcome with emotion. I had beat CHF one more time.It didn't control me. It didn't make me stop - I ran with it - not from it. I looked up at the clock and saw it was 2:53 something... I had beat 3 hours. That was my original goal when I ran my first half and my PR is 2:42. Once I fell ill last year I couldn't get back under 3 hours and I was okay with that. I really am okay with just finishing - but this was sweet! I took that huge, heavy medal and exited the area and promptly fell over on the fence and cried like a baby. What a rush of emotions.. At least for this half - I won.

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