Running is a metaphor for life. I believe deep down that that’s what keeps me going.
You will heal. I will help.
Yesterday was the San Francisco Hot Chocolate 15K. It was my first race of 2017, first race “back,” and well, sort of a 15K, but not even close.
I recently shared all my big running goals for 2017.
What I didn’t share is that I have been fairly sick since November 10, so heading into all these lofty goals has been super scary for me to imagine getting through much less with a halfway desirable pace.
No, I’m not sick with SIBO, Colitis or anything like that. In fact, as they are concerned, I have been feeling fantastic!
But I got a cold on November 10, and it morphed into a sinus infection. I got antibiotics in Minnesota, and they sort of worked. Once we returned home to California, Ceci got the flu, and then I think I picked up on some version of it plus the sinus stuff returned. I had to get another round of antibiotics late last week, and the doctor said that if it didn’t start subsiding soon, we should run some further tests since it’s been a really long time of illness for me (and up until now, I haven’t taken antibiotics for illness like this in a few years).
I spent the weekend drinking a ton of water and did zero activity until the race. I felt better almost overnight.
Once the race hit yesterday, and I was freely running, I stumbled upon so many ah-ha moments around health, running, and life. And here they are.
The rain never lasts, and after the rain always comes the rainbow.
Upwards and onwards.
Question: If you’re reading this, and you’re a competitive runner, what do you think have been the things that have helped improve your speed most?
p.s. I might be getting “old,” but for all the battles that made up yesterday, 51st out of 531 females aged 30 – 34 made me very happy. And I still have another year in that age group!
For that last .25 miles, I sprinted about a 7 minute per mile pace. I was facing a clock which said 2:02. I knew I started the race about 3 minutes in, so if there was any way I might have a 2:00 finish, I needed to book it.
The problem with that was that when I crossed the finish line, there was carpet and a magnetic strip “lump” (where our time was recorded). I slowed way down, but in the process tripped and subsequently fell directly on the finish line and on my knees. I ripped a hole in my brand new pants and got a little banged up. It hurt and naturally I was super embarrassed, but I was so excited, proud and happy so I quickly got up, laughed and enjoyed the moment.
This was a race I dreaded for several weeks. I put myself on a last-minute 5-week half marathon training program. I had more hiccups during this training schedule than ever before. Yet somehow, when race day came, I was free of all fears, pain and agony.
Race day began at 3am. I woke up, made coffee and sipped on the java plus coconut milk plus raw honey and nibbled on a banana while keeping super still and quiet – and perusing Pinterest, pinning things like this in anticipation of our little (a new pre-race routine for me I think!)
We left the house at 4:30am, and we arrived in San Francisco at 6am. The race started at 6:30am, and from 6-6:22am, I waited in line for a porta potty break. Thank God I was able to make it in time!
My friend Karen and I headed to the starting line. We were near the beginning, with those who anticipated an 8-8:59 minute/mile pace.
If you’ve never done the Nike Women’s, it’s hard to explain, but there is so much energy and emotion. I can never help but feel happily overwhelmed and grateful to be there with 30,000 other people who are ready to take on the same streets. (For me, this race is far more than the little blue box at the end….but that sure does help the finish line 🙂 )
Beyonce’s “Run the World” was blasting. It took me straight across the starting line.
I ran, peacefully, with Karen for the first 6 miles. I smelled the sourdough bread on Fisherman’s Wharf around mile 2.5. At mile 3, there was a short, but steep hill. Around this point, my long-sleeved shirt came off. I was hot, but definitely not tired.
I did this same race back in 2009, and I remembered an awful hill from mile 6-7. I did not remember that those awful hills failed to subside until about mile 9. Hill climb after hill climb all I could think was, “Is it over yet?”
Lesson learned: no matter how short of a training program I do, if I do hard, hilly courses, I must work in several hill runs.
Around mile 10-ish is when I flew by the Cliff House (on top of hill), and I knew that that would be the last hill I’d run. It was foggy, dull and icky, but yet so beautiful.
With 3 miles left, my body felt a little sore, yet it was nothing like any of my prior runs. I swear I had a running angel next to me. I kept looking down at my Polar and it kept on telling me, “7:30 – 8:34 min./mile pace.” (p.s. THANK YOU Polar for the amazing motivation all run long. I’m even more excited for the device moving forward!)
I knew at mile 11 that I would never be able to finish in a time like I had in 2009, but I also knew that if I could just run fast and stay focused, I might hit a 2 hour finish.
I gave it my very best right up until the sprint at the end and my grand finale “fall.” (I don’t have rights to the photos, so I could not put them on my blog, but I have the pictures to prove it. Just click HERE and then my last name, “Hoffman” and Bib Number, “1613.”)
I have no shame.
If there is one thing I’ve learned from this training, race, and life in general, it’s that I WILL fall, I DO fall, but it’s the way in which I get back up that proves my character.
Turns out, it was worth it. My chip time was that 2-hour finish. I placed 302nd out of 3,543 in my age group and somehow managed to do this all fairly pain-free (and again, on only a 5-week training program).
When the race was over, we headed for a beautiful brunch in Tiburon at Sam’s Cafe with friends.
On our way back, as we crossed over the Golden Gate Bridge, I felt these real and raw emotions of, “it’s over and I don’t want it to be.”
My body began to ache later that day, night and the following day.
But all throughout Monday, I thought about those feelings near the bridge.
I hate running.
I love running.
I hate it so much that I’m not willing to give it up.
Running is such a blessed metaphor for life, and I think it’s that core idea which makes me never want to leave it.
We hate a lot of things. We hate a lot of “processes” that take us from start to finish. There are bumps, lumps, pains and agonies in all facets of life.
Where we endure the most, we typically gain the most. We come out on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge with that feeling like, “it’s over but I don’t want it to be.”
It’s strange. It’s chaotic. It makes no sense.
So is life, and so has been my life for the past few years.
I’m ready to release my body from the stresses that long-distance running puts on it for awhile. (My sports doctor told me yesterday that I can still do sprints and run up to 3-ish miles while I “heal.” <–sweet!)
(NOTE: Does anyone know of a great – mostly flat – half marathon course in May/June-ish?)
But I’m NOT ready to throw it all in forever.
I’ll never be ready to throw in my running shoes.
In fact, I’ll never be ready to give up on anything that makes me feel something.
p.s. Even though you parked 4 miles away (which made my distance over 16 miles for the day), I still love you, adore you and appreciate you. More than you know….
Every battlefield has triumphs, defeats and includes a high level of teamwork. My 3rd 1/2 marathon was no different. It was my 1/2 marathon battlefield of sorts.
Making excuses was not part of my game plan. I made a commitment to run this 1/2, knowing that it would take all the positive mental energy I could find.
This is where my battlefield begins.
I didn’t eat much prior to the race. In all honesty, I only ate 2 bananas, coffee, grilled chicken and a small portion of white rice leading up to the race. Keep in mind that the race didn’t begin until 5:30 pm and having Colitis, I was nervous that if I ate much more than that, I’d have a lot of digestive problems. Still, I felt great before the race. I stood at the starting line not hungry at all, only freezing and emotional – anticipating what was about to come.
I put myself back in Corral 13 for this 1/2 marathon. Last year I was in 5. This would hopefully see me through to at least a 2:00 finish. As the race began, I was feeling great. I had 2 knees “assistants” to hold up my left knee. My pace was strong, I was confident and Eric Church’s, “Creepin'” has me soaring!
Around mile 3 or 4, I felt the first sting down my left knee. I knew that the faster I ran, the less it hurt, so I kept moving and put it out of my mind. Once mile 6-7 hit, the pains were even stronger. My tailbone began radiating pains throughout my entire left side. And so my mind had to tell my body, “You’re halfway there.” From miles 7-10, I never focused on the mileage signs to the side of the road. I didn’t want to know; I just needed to focus.
Right around mile 10 (which is where my leg maxed out before), I began to really breakdown. I spent the mile “counting” as I always do when I need a major distraction. (I count everything from days to calories to workouts to work numbers; anything that interests me numerically. And ps. It works! I do not count sheep, steps or other unimportant things to me. I encourage you to try it if you never have.)
The pain took over my counting right around mile 11. At that point, I was essentially gimping and limping, but somehow still running. No, I’m sorry –> NOT somehow. Two things happened at that point mentally:
Miles 11-13.1 were truly a complete accomplishment for me. I’m not sure I’ve ever had to be so mentally prepared in all my life. Truth be told, I almost collapsed as I crossed the line because my feet were cramped and “stuck,” and the left side of my body completely gave out. I had a 10-15 minute out-of-body experience.
My 3rd 1/2 marathon was a battlefield.
I battled with my body physically and mentally.
My body taught me even more about teamwork. The right side carried the left side through.
My body was a site of defeat. It yelled, screamed and hated on me, and it became defeated by further injury.
My body was a pillar for triumph. I crossed the finish line.
I said that I would cross the finish line if I had to “limp, walk or crawl” to get there. I put myself in Corral 13, hoping to complete in 2:00 hours.
Not only did I run the entire race, but I beat my “injured-time” goal.
A battlefield is a scary place. Stepping off the battlefield and walking away mentally and physically stronger than when you arrived is a victory. And we should never take these life lessons for granted. And for that, despite the pain and hassle of the unorganized race in general, it was worth it – each and every single moment of 1:57:19.
Question: Did you run this race? Thoughts?
I did it! All 13.1 miles, with no stopping and a truly phenomenal game face on! It was just like Brett Michael’s sang at the end of the race, “Something to Believe In.”
This is my “official” Rock ‘n Roll 1/2 Marathon Las Vegas Recap.
Click HERE to save this post for later.
I began getting fairly nervous the night before, as we had walked a lot and my feet, legs, and lower back were extremely achy. My plantar fasciitis was throbbing, but my husband gave me a fantastic foot massage and I fell asleep.
I woke up at 5 am on race day. I went to the hotel lobby to grab some Starbucks. Ew. They were closed, so I had to settle for McDonalds Coffee (surprisingly not bad). I didn’t have any bananas on hand and due to all the bloat going into the day, I thought it would be best for me to just drink a little coffee, water and endure the run.
We headed out to Mandalay Bay around 6:15 am. Calm, quite and perfect.
As we were walking there, I started to get nervous and excited. It’s the most bizarre feeling and the only other time I’ve had it is when I did my 1st 1/2 marathon. I’m scared. Nervous. I want to cry because I’m scared and nervous. But then I’m so happy and excited and proud. So then I want to cry because of that. It’s a whole mishmash of feelings all bottled into one, ready to explode at the starting line.
I headed to my Corral (#5). I got into my “zone.” And by “zone,” naturally I just mean a positive frame of mind. The national anthem sounded, I looked up on the big screen to watch. It was CHER! Yes, the Cher! By this time I definitely have goosebumps and I’m ready! Shortly after the anthem ended, I was off, since I was so far towards the beginning.
Mile 1 – 5 I was cruising! I thought I might finish in 1:40 at that pace. I was calm as can be, passing people left and right. I had amazing energy, and I truly had no idea how I was able to do it. There were people cheering everywhere. Great rock bands, local cheerleaders, spectators – thousands! I told myself after mile 5 that come mile 6.5, I would pick up the pace even more and remain around a 7:30 for the rest of the race.
But then around Mile 7-ish, my body breakdown began. And by the time I got to Mile 8, I was sure I’d have to slow to a 10 min/mile pace. I was horrified! My energy was there. I was not tired, but my quads, hams, feet, left lower back and hip flexors were tightening up and making me miserable. My body just naturally slowed down. And then my mind played tricks on me for a second saying, “It’s okay, slow down.”
Around Mile 9 I told myself, “No it’s not okay. There are only 4 miles left. And you’re done.” At this point in “the game” it’s mostly mental. You either get your mind right or you’ll probably be overtaken. Fortunately for me, I kept telling myself many, many things. And each time I said something positive or thought of something/someone positive, miraculously I ran faster. This struggle between pain and positive thinking continued on to the 20K mark.
By the time I hit 20K, I truly just wanted to be done. But good news then is less than 1 mile to go! So I hauled. And as soon as I turned the corner and saw the final small stretch and huge Las Vegas Banner waving over the finish line, I sprinted. There was a man right next to me and I just told myself, “You must beat him.” And I did!
Upon crossing the finish line, I was definitely dizzy and thirsty so I took my sweet time walking out to grab bananas and water. I just enjoyed the moment, even though I felt less than great! Ryan met me, and I was so happy to have someone there supporting me! I was cold, so he gave me my sweatshirt/coat.
I had 5+ lbs of extra bloat with me that day, and I had not “truly” trained for a month. And so yesterday when I got my final results, I could not be more proud!
Ryan & I enjoyed the rest of the day and night. We had a great lunch (grilled salmon salad), then grabbed a frozen yogurt, headed to our room and relaxed by watching “The Town.” When that was over, we gambled awhile and went to dinner at the Toby Keith Bar (salmon + wild rice + veggies + corn tortillas and salsa). We watched the Vegas Rodeo live on TV. I had to have this mason-jar drink!
The day ended by meeting up with the most adorable Amy Burford I know:) We went to the Jake Owen concert and had a great time!
I was reminded again that finishing a 1/2 Marathon, Marathon, Ironman or anything else that’s physically enduring is NOT about the race itself but instead about making a commitment, having dedication, setting goals and following through. And these are the basic principles I strive for daily in my life. It is not my goal to do another one in the near future because I am looking to heal my body, work on the “food” side and engage in other, new and exciting goals (more on these coming soon)!
Surely there will come the time when I’ll be back….and I’m looking to make the Rock ‘n Roll Series a part of that!
ps. Thank YOU – again – Ryan for coming with me, dealing with me (!) and supporting me. You are my #1 Fan always in life and love:) YOU give me something to believe in.
I did it – all 13.1 Miles! Not only did I do it, but my first half marathon success story rocks.