Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Oh Yeah, I Ran a Half Marathon on Sunday

I am finally sitting down to write my recap of the half marathon that I ran with my husband, whom I call The Captain, this past Sunday morning.

I decided to divide this story into 3 separate parts - simply:
  • Before
  • During
  • After

We started training for this race on January 1st.  I had a very experienced coach and distance runner help me with the training schedule - 19 weeks in all, with our race being at the end of the 19th week.  The longest run we did in training was 11 miles and that was at the end of week 16.  We had another planned for the end of week 17 but we were feeling a bit run-down at that point so only did 8 miles that weekend and then began a 2 week taper.

On Saturday night before the race we set the alarm to ring at 5:30 a.m. and hit the hay at about 10 p.m.  I was really tired and fell asleep almost immediately.

I woke up at 4:26 and tried to lay as quiet as I could in case The Captain was still sleeping, and finally at about 5:25 I let him know I was awake and we got up.

I had laid out our clothing and mostly prepared our breakfast the night before, along with our water/nuun bottles and a snack for afterward.  I had no idea what to expect at the race conclusion so wanted to have something we would want to eat.

We shared a water with nuun, ate our breakfasts, got dressed, and were out of the house by 6:05 a.m.

It was a beautiful sunny and cool morning.  I decided to start out with my light jacket in case it was breezy along the waterfront. I knew I could comfortably run with it tied around my waist when I wanted to take it off.

We arrived at the race site, and found a parking space a few steps away from the finish line.  We strapped on our water/fuel belts and headed to start line, a couple of blocks up the street... wandered around a bit to warm up our legs, chatted to a few other racers and got ready for the 7 a.m. EARLY start. The official race start would be at 8 a.m.

The starter warned everyone that there would be no official times for anyone who completed the race in less than 2-1/2 hours.  If we would finish sooner than that, he told us we needed to wait till the official 8 a.m. start.  He gave out small course maps to anyone that wanted them but told us the volunteers would be out to give directions.

And he also told us he thought the elite runners would pass us at around the 8 km mark.  I would guess there were about 200 early starters... perhaps a few less.

He counted us down and off we went.


It was such a neat feeling to be running with so many other people around.  And I fought the urge to try to keep up with them as so many passed us.  I made a point of telling myself to just try to maintain a comfortable pace and ignore the people going by.

Because it was a Canadian race, the distance markers were in kilometers instead of miles.  I looked at my watch at the 1 km mark and we had only been running for 6 minutes. I knew I would never keep up that pace and told The Captain that I needed to slow down a bit.

At the 3 km mark we had a drink from our water bottles and I took my jacket off and tied it around my waist.

It was eerie to hear so many pounding feet running down the streets of this quiet beautiful old neighborhood.  No one was out on the street but us and the volunteers... all in bright yellow tee shirts.  They would stand in the middle of the street at every intersection to make sure we didn't go the wrong way and to warn/turn away the odd approaching vehicle.

A couple of blocks later there was the first water station and we both had a few sips from a small paper cup.  It was neat to see how the volunteers stood with cups in their hands, arms outstretched, and I remember making eye contact with a girl and telling her I would take her water... I drank it as I ran and was quite pleased with how easy it seemed.  It seems to me that was the only station where the only choice was water.

We ran around a few more residential street corners and finally came to the waterfront at about km 5.  I told The Captain it would be just a 9 mile run up and back and it was in the bag... and he laughed.

There was another water station at km 6 and there was also Gatorade... which I took by mistake.  I did drink a few sips of it but was worried that I shouldn't drink it because I hadn't trained with it so I set the cup down on the curb and we kept going.

At some point we each ate a Gu gel.

There was another water/Gatorade station at about the 9th km and also washrooms. I took more water. We ran up a hill and away from the waterfront at that point and through another old stately neighborhood.  There were more people out by this time, on the street and in their yards... clapping and cheering, which was pretty neat.

At the 10th km I checked my watch and we had been running for about 72 or minutes.  I was really pleased with that time and I was feeling pretty good.

Then we passed over a timing mat at km 11.  I was surprised as I hadn't realized that would happen.

Official 1st half time was 1:20:30

At km 12 there was another water/Gatorade station and young guys giving out Gu packets.  I took water and I also took one Gu and The Captain ended up with 3... we shared one and just about then we saw the first 2 men who had started at 8 a.m. running toward us. There was a car in front and then a couple of guys on bicycles clearing the way for them. 

It seemed like only a few minutes later that they had made the turn and were lapping us from behind!

A few mintutes later a couple more of the lead men lapped us and finally the first woman, who was running with a couple more men. 

About then we got back to the waterfront and the Olympic Mountains in WA state across the Strait looked close enough to reach out and touch... so beautiful and the sun was brilliant and warm.

I took a couple of cups of water at the 14 km station and then we did walk a bit up a hill before the golf course... at about km 16.  I remember telling The Captain that we had now gone 10 miles and I checked my watch again.  We had been running about 2 hours at that point and I thought that we might be able to finish in 2:45 easily if we could run that last 5 km in 45 minutes.

It started to get harder after that point.  I was pretty happy for the downhill through the golf course and smiled when I saw the 17km sign because I had noticed it when heading up that hill on the first part and wondering how I would be feeling when I came back to it...  then we had another uphill and we did a bit more walking.

At the top of the hill there were 3 people in the middle of the road - 2 women and a man, dressed like sheep and they had a huge sign that said 'Hugs here if you want one'.  It was so cute and really gave me a lift.

I was happy to see my favorite little beachfront and then we turned back into the neighborhood we had started in and I heard one spectator saying that there was only 2 and a half kilometers to go.  My calves were starting to cramp a bit and I finished my water/nuun then.

I was running so slow that The Captain was walking alongside me but I just couldn't go any faster for more than a few seconds at a time... then I would slow again.

When I saw the 19 km sign I was overcome with surge of emotion. I could feel tears well and my throat close and then I shook it off and we carried on. 

Then the hill... the last 1-1/2 km was all uphill to the finish.   I walked for a bit and so many people streamed past us and that spurred me on to run a bit more and as we approached the top of the hill, The Captain pointed out the finish line which was decorated with a huge blue archway.... we ran towards it and held hands in a victory cheer as we crossed... I remember a huge twinge in my right calf and for a fleeting moment being afraid it was going to seize up and I would fall... but it didn't happen and I was so excited when I heard them announce our names as we crossed and the announcer saying 'and they ran every step of it side by side'.

And then someone was putting a beautiful silver colored medal around my neck and I was grinning from ear to ear.

Offficial 2nd half time was 1:32:07

Official Total time was 2:52:36


We walked a short way to the car, drank a bottle of water each while we stretched.  Then we put on dry socks and shoes and shared some coconut water with fruit juice.  We each took a banana out of our bags to munch on the way to the food tent.

Just as we arrived there, a young woman handed us each a bottle of water and my right calf seized up.  It hurt so bad and I couldn't straighten my leg.  I tried to relax hoping that would help, but it didn't so The Captain helped me hobble across the street to the physiotherapy station and a lovely young therapist started to give me some aid.

I continued to drink water while she asked me a few questions and suggested that I likely needed some salt so The Captain got me a bag of potato chips to munch on while Fawn started massaging my left foot, which had started to cramp worse than my right calf at that point.  

My left leg was quite swollen around the ankle and she asked if that had happened prior and I said yes that it does happen off and on and asked if I had ever had an ultrasound and I replied that I had not.  She massaged my foot and leg and stretched the hamstring and then the whole leg cramped.  It was horrible and I sat up like a shot... and she was said she thought she should get the doctor.

A couple of minutes later a nice young doc arrived and shook my hand.. he asked me lots of questions about the training, and the swelling and took my pulse which was a bit high and my blood pressure which was normal and looked in my mouth.  He said I was dehydrated and likely needed salt and that I should probably have an ultrasound on the leg cause there may be blood vessel blockage. 

He said that if it had never happened before he would be taking me to emergency to see if there was a clot but because it was not new that there was no danger, but that I should have it checked.  I thanked him and he left.  By then the cramping had all let up for the most part so I told Fawn I didn't think I should be taking her table as perhaps someone else might need it more... so she told me I should go home, keep drinking, keep eating salty things and take an ice bath.

All righty... we walked back across the street to the food tent where I was finally able to see the assortment of goodies that were there.  There was water, orange juice, apple juice, coffee, and electrolyte drink,  bananas, apples, burritos/wraps, chips of all kinds, pretzels, cookies, and popsicles.

We took a few things and I got some coffee and we went and sat down on a nice bench and relaxed and munched a bit.  The Captain also went to the car and got a couple of bagels with peanut butter that we had brought along.  I really wasn't feeling great at this point so I only ate chips.  I had drank so much water and so much electrolyte drink and eaten a banana and some chips in such a short amount of time that my stomach was rebelling.

Things were quieting down and I wanted to go home... so we got in the car and drove around the corner and I had to get out.  My thighs were cramping at that point so we walked a bit, drank yet more water, used the race portable washrooms and stretched some more. 

I decided to get in the car and just bear it... I set the seat back down so I could sorta stretch out and keep my legs as straight as possible and tried to zone out for the 15 minute drive back to the house.  When we got inside I undressed and ran some cold water in the tub.  Determined to do the cold bath horror, I stood in it, and splashed the cold water over my legs and hips for about 10 minutes.

Then I got dressed and put on my Tommie Copper gear and told The Captain I needed a nap. Fawn, the physiotherapist, had told me I should keep moving around but I was just so tired.  After being in bed for about 15 minutes, I started to cramp up again, so I got up and had a steaming hot bath with epsom salts.

At this point is was only about 1 pm.  I got dressed and really spent the next 4 hours just milling around the house... I would stretch a bit, wander a bit, drink some more water, more nuun, eat more chips and sit for no more than 5 or 6 minutes at a time.  I also took some Ibuprofen and I am sure my stomach has never hated me more! All this fluid and salt and I just kept it coming, a bit at a time.

I told The Captain that was the worst I have ever felt.. and I told him that at some point I knew I was going to feel better and forget how awful I felt at that moment, and suggest that I could run another half marathon... and that when that happened he was to renind me of that moment and never let me do it.

I called my older sister and talked to her for a few minutes because I had promised I would, but I couldn't bear to turn on the computer... I was so tired and just wanted to lay down... I stood at the kitchen counter, bent over with my head in my hands and almost fell asleep standing up!

At about 6 p.m. I drank a couple of glasses of chocolate milk and was starting to feel almost human.  And at about 7 p.m. I sat down with The Captain and watched some tv for a couple of hours, getting up every 10 or 15 minutes just to make sure I still could.

Finally about 9:30 I thought I might be able to go to bed... and got up about 15 minutes later, to wander a bit, drink some dill pickle juice,  and then came back to bed and at last, to sleep.

I got up 4 times to use the washroom and drank more water each time.  I was able to go back to sleep immediately and never did have a cramp during the night.

Monday morning when I got up and hobbled out to the dining room on my stiff legs, I found my laptop turned on, my race bib sitting laying on the keyboard, my I RUN 13.1 sign leaned against the monitor, with my race medal draped over it all... what a Sweetheart!  I should have taken a picture.

It brought a lovely smile to my face and I have been feeling better and stronger every hour since.

I am so happy that my husband didn't suffer at all after the race.  I know that he could have run it so much faster than me, but his goal was to run and finish with me, and he did.  He was so encouraging and so positive and has hardly stopped telling me how proud he is of me to have stuck with the training and got it done.

And I guess I really have inherited my Father's poor circulation system and will be off to see my GP next week to see about setting up that ultrasound for my left leg.

I am so thankful for all of the great advice and encouragement and support that I have received from so many of my blogging friends - I cannot express how much it has meant to me and how grateful I am for all of the cheering and good wishes that have come my way.  Such a generous outpouring of goodwill - just incredible and I know it helped get me through those last 2 km that were so hard.

Thank YOU

 I am not sure why but I have looked at the web site a couple of times now and have seen the official time at 2:52:36 and also at 2:52:37 - why would it change?


  1. First off - YOU DID IT!!!! Yay! Congratulations.

    2nd - I am sorry about the discomfort and the cramping. I hope you get to the dr and get it checked out!

  2. You did it Elle! Congratulations! I loved reading your recap. Sorry you had such a hard time after the race with cramping and not feeling good. I nearly heat stroked after my first half and swore I would never do that again, but I did :)

    Great job finishing under three hours and yay for the captain for taking such good care of you and finishing with you. What a great man!

  3. Congrats on your first half marathon!!!!

  4. GREAT JOB!!!! I am so happy for you and proud of you...way to go!!!!

  5. Congratulations on your first half!
    I hope you get your leg pains squared away soon. :)

  6. Great job!!!! I love the display left on your computer. The Captain is a keeper :-)

    So sorry you were in so much pain after the race. Great job recovering properly. I hope you're feeling better now.

    Congrats!!! Your first half marathon!!! You're awesome!!!

  7. Congrats congrats! Cramping sure can be painful :( but way to go on a great race!

  8. I am soooooooooooooooooooooooo proud of you!!!!!!!!! What a great experience and a super great memory :) thanks for sharing!

  9. Congrats! What a great race you ran! You stuck to your plan which is so important! I am so sorry about the cramping. I'm sure your doctor will give you advice, but as you continue to run logner distances, you may want to look into salt caps or even taking in drinks with high sodium during a run (I know people who drink pickle juice!). I hope that you concentrate on this huge accomplishment and remember the race with joy! Well done!

  10. Congratulations!! This is very exciting to read! I just registered for my first half {and only completed my first 5K two weeks ago}!! I loooove that pretty sign that was waiting for you, by the way!

    Now that I just bought Nuun yesterday, I feel like I keep hearing about it--do you think it helps you a lot? I've only drank it sitting here in my living room since my run is planned for tomorrow. I like the taste, so that helps, and if it works that'd be even better! Again, congrats!

  11. Great job Elle! You did it! Sorry about the cramping etc., glad there was someone there to help:) I am amazed at how well you can remember the details. I am so bad at remembering the details of my races. I guess I just need to pay better attention:) SO proud of you:)

  12. Awesome job!! I knew you would do great! How do you feel now? You are a half marathoner! Woo hoo! (are you ready to sign up for another!?) I am sorry you had problems at the end; that really is a bummer. Hopefully when you go to the doctor you will figure out what it is so you can avoid it next time!

  13. Congrats Elle! You did an amazing job pushing through and finishing. I'm sorry you felt so bad afterward and I hope the leg swelling is nothing serious. If you do decide to do another half, I think you'll find that your body will handle it better and recover faster as well. Bodies have a way of adapting and rising to the challenges we give them. Rest up and be very proud!

  14. Elle. This was quite possibly the best recap I have ever read. I have tears right now. Everything about it was absolutely perfect and beautifully written. I have honestly been looking forward to your first half marathon as much as i was looking forward to my brother's first. i have had so much joy following your training and your journey to the finish line of this first half. it has warmed my heart and just given me a new appreciation for running in my own life. I am so incredibly proud of you and excited for you and happy for you. A day and journey of great moments Elle...that will be remembered forever:) Glad to hear you are feeling much better now and thinking of you as you head to get things checked out soon. Congrats on an amazing accomplishment! I can't thank you enough for being willing to share your journey:)

  15. Congratulations Elle! It sounds like the race was a success for both of you! So sorry to hear about your pain afterwards. Sounds like you did everything right - have you gone to the doctor since?

  16. Congratulations Elle! It sounds like the race was a success for both of you! So sorry to hear about your pain afterwards. Sounds like you did everything right - have you gone to the doctor since?

  17. That's fantastic Elle! You did exactly what you set out to do :) Sorry to hear that the recovery hasn't exactly gone to plan though. Enjoy having a bit of a break and relax (and smile at the medal!).

  18. Amazing, congrats to you! I'm so sorry you had some pain afterward... I hope you recovery quickly and get it figured out. As Marcia said, rest up and be proud!!

  19. Congrats Elle! It sounds like you really enjoyed the day out there and how special that you got to run with your husband! Hopefully your swelling isn't anything to worry about and you'll be back to normal asap.

  20. Super job! Kudos on running such a great, strong race,

    I really hope the swelling and leg pain goes away and NEVER come back. GO AWAY! Cheers to a speedy recovery and many miles in your future, even if they aren't all at once.

  21. Oh Elle! I am so proud of you!! Congratulations - you are a half marathoner!!!!!!!!!!! I loved this recap - every second! Your finish time is FANTASTIC, my friend (and I don't know why it would change, either). Sub 3 hours for your first half - amazing!! You and The Captain are so awesome and I know this is a special memory you will never forget - pass on my Congratulations to him too!!

    I am so sorry you experienced such discomfort too. I was about to say it sounded like dehydration too, but you were so careful drinking! It may have just been a "bad" day for your body. I am glad you sought out medical attention at the race, too many people are embarrassed to do that! My body definitely reacted the worst to my first half marathon. I felt like I had the flu. The ones since than have been A LOT easier on me. I hope your GP can figure out what is wrong and if it is circulation issues help take care of that. I'm thinking of you and please keep us all updated!!

    Make sure you take some time off to rest and recover!! You don't need to run anytime soon, my friend!

    Again, words cannot express how happy and proud I am. You are amazing, and I am so thankful for our friendship. Please tell me that even if you don't have another half in your future, that Eat Run Sail will NOT go away!?

    Rest, eat and enjoy! That medal is so awesome - and it is VERY WELL DESERVED!!!!!!1

  22. Congrats on your half!!!!! Sorry about all the cramping but I am sure your body will adjust if you decide to do another.

  23. You did it!!!! So proud of you :D Well done Elle, that surge of emotion is such a rush!! I love that feeling! I was anxiously waiting to read your recap because running your first half marathon is epic. It sounds like you really took it all in and enjoyed every single moment :D Beyond happy for you!

  24. Elle, I know you are still feeling the effects of your race today. i hope you have been able to get rest and lots or relaxation in because you are so amazing for finishing your first half. Congrats to the Cap for his run. How wonderful for you both to share the experience.

  25. Congratulations, Elle! that is so awesome, I am feeling your excited high from reading this! sorry you had some discomfort - it happens to the best of us.

    as I recall most of my races, you should still be smiling and feeling that high at this point - enjoy!

  26. you did awesome and what an adorable little city to run in! so proud of you!

  27. Elle!! That is so awesome!!!!!!! Be proud!!!!!!!1

  28. Congratulations!!!! Sorry I am only getting to this now, but what an amazing race! Sorry about the leg, that just sounds awful - hope you are feeling better and glad it wasn't a clot :) I love the I run 13.1 sign!

  29. Congratulations Elle! You guys are such an inspiration whether you realize it or not. I really hope the leg is nothing serious. That is definitely a time to be proud of! You are one fast lady!

  30. Oh this is so wonderful (well, except for the cramping part). Congratulations to both of you. I am so glad the race went well and I totally know that feeling of getting choked up and tears. I get it every time I run a half marathon and I love it because that means each race is still feeling special. Anyhow, congrats again. I have enjoyed getting to know you through your training and appreciate your support as well. So whens the next one? :o)


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