I knew that running the Soaring Eagle Boy Scout Half Marathon yesterday wasn’t going to be easy. With very little training, I knew I was going to struggle. This was the 6th half marathon that I have run since April 2011 and I was excited to get at it. I arrived at the race early to pick up my packet. The tech tee is a nice army green and it looks like it’ll be comfortable for future training runs.
I started the morning full of hope. I wore my most comfortable running tank, a great Under Armour number. Then I chose my orange BICband to represent Bowling Green State University, my alma matter, whose colors are orange and brown. Go Falcons!
This is the 5th running of the race and they had their largest field ever at over 500 runners in the two races; the half marathon and the 5k.
The first 8 miles of this race are all on country roads and country roads in Bowling Green, Ohio means crops. The two main crops you’ll see in northwest Ohio are corn and soybeans.
I started out doing pretty well in the race. I was running at a slow and steady pace and the sky was overcast so the sun wasn’t blaring down making the 90% humidity any worse than it already was.
As always, I was finding new running buddies to match pace with and it was working really well. New this year was a half marathon walking only option. This was for those who were walking the entire race, not running a single step. I was in the running half meaning, I would run at least one step of the race. I don’t think there were more than 20ish walkers in the race, but it is a great option to open up the race.
Here is my first running buddy, Ann. Ann is 78 years old. Seriously. Then I realized that she is a running bad ass and that I had no way to keep up with her, so I gave her up. God speed, Ann. Up ahead there is a small huddle of people you’ll see. There is a woman who fell on this gravel road, she was scraped and scratched. She is also almost 90 years old. An ambulance and a fire truck passed me when I was just past her and I heard at the end of the race that she was doing okay.
So I needed a new running buddy. I found Denise, on the left. Denise was signed up for the walking only half and had never walked this far at once, ever. This girl could MOVE. She was speed walking faster than I was running. Totally impressive. The man next to her was taking his sons place in the race (something I don’t like that he did, but it’s his sons time, not mine). He was around 60 years old and doesn’t run. At all. This man was booking it and holding a great pace.
Then, it happened between mile 4 and 5. The pain started. I expect pain from my 5-surgery knee at all times. I am used to pain in that knee. I can handle pain in that knee. This pain was in my good knee. It was a stabbing constant pain that happened every time I bent my leg to walk or run.
At mile 6 I noticed that I was about 16 minutes off of my normal pace. I had a very slow mile of walking due to the extreme pain, so I expected it and hoped that I could make it up during the next 7 miles.
At that point I realized that quite a few of the walking only half marathoners had passed me since I was hobbling at such a slow pace. I was unsure if anyone was behind me at all. I KNOW that it is okay to be the last person to finish a race. I KNOW that it has nothing to do with how much I love running or what kind of a runner I am. I KNOW these things. But it still made me really upset. I KNOW I am better than this. I also KNOW I needed to take care of my knee first and foremost. By this time I was limping and over-compensating with my other knee, which is actually my bad knee. So now I was feeling pain in both of my knees. Awesome.
I had a huge breakdown at this point. Every time I saw a volunteer or police officer stopping traffic or a water stop full of boy scouts volunteering I contemplated telling them I was quitting and waiting for someone to pick me up. I had tears streaming down my face from the pain and from the fear of a DNF for half marathon #6. I know I shouldn’t have worried about the DNF and should have worried more about my pain, but I was feeling shallow and selfish. I wanted that medal to hang on my medal rack. I wanted the feeling of accomplishment.
When I hit mile 8 the neighborhood’s started, no more boring country roads! This brought on new scenery and also the sun, unfortunately.
My pain was unbearable when I ran at this point, so it was walking only from mile 8-13. I could run, but I would have to stop suddenly because of the stabbing pain running through my knee. I had more tears and more thoughts of quitting.
The scenery of the second half of the race is really pretty. I went to college in this town remember, so all of this brings back some amazing memories from college and from working in the area during that time.
The last mile of the race is run on the Wood County Fairgrounds and it is mostly run around their large track. Little known redneck fact: this is the home of the National Tractor Pull. It is exactly what it sounds like…pulling stuff. With tractors. Not regular tractors, but totally suped up tractors with engines you can hear over 8 miles away. Pretty hard core really.
The last half mile is around the gravel track and I knew I wanted to run into the finish line, if for nothing else, to get a race picture of me running. Know what? I did run that last .1 mile BUT the race photographer was NOT there! I am actually upset about this. I really wanted a race photo. Okay, I may have missed it, but I am 99% sure that I didn’t see anyone with a camera at all. So that took the wind out of my sails at the end of the race. Even though it took me 45 minutes longer than my normal half marathon time and it caused me a lot of pain with every step for around 9 miles, it was worth it. I got the silly medal and a nice pilsner glass to commemorate the worst race I have ever run. This was the most emotionally, physically and mentally taxing race I have ever run.
My ride home was full of mixed feelings. I was so proud of myself, but so upset with what happened.
Will I race again? Of course. Will I always remember this race and how hard it was in so many ways? Of course.
After getting home and icing and stretching the hell out of my legs, focusing on my knees, I was feeling better. I knew my legs would be angry with me, that was a given since this was the longest mileage I had put on my legs since my 5th knee surgery last October. It scared me, but I made it. I am still in pain and I am still icing and stretching. My legs are getting stiff pretty easily so I am getting up and moving more than normal.
Tell me about your worst race.
Would you have finished the race and limped it out like I did, or would you take the DNF?