So I ran the Monster Dash half marathon on Saturday.
I know, I know. I didn’t really tell that many people that I was going to run a half marathon (although I did mention it here after I signed up), mostly because I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to go through with it. I had a couple false starts this summer with saying I was going to do a half marathon before signing up for it, and then chickening out and not signing up for it because “I wasn’t ready yet.” Well, let me tell you, nothing gets your butt in gear to be ready like actually being signed up for the race! Lesson learned.
Of course, a couple weeks ago I was nervous I might still not go through with it because I kinda injured my knee. I think it’s something to do with my IT band because that’s what Dr. Google says, but I haven’t actually seen a real doctor, so I’m not sure yet. Needless to say, I was in a lot of pain. I bought a CEP compression knee sleeve, but I still had only a couple good, pain-free runs that were pretty short, but most runs still hurt. Although not as much as that initial run, so that was good.
On Friday, I went to the expo and met a chiropractor. I gave him the run down of my problem, he felt my knee and the IT band, I winced and grimaced and he basically said that he thought it was either the IT band or the actual knee cap having some issues with tracking. Basically that it’s out of alignment due to a muscle imbalance — tight muscles on the outside, weak muscles on the inside. And guess where all my knots are! On the outside! It definitely made sense. He recommend the RockTape kinesio tape, which I always thought was kind of gimmicky, but he offered to put some around my knee based on what he thought might help. I figured, what the heck? If it works, awesome, and if it doesn’t work, well, I won’t really be out anything because I’m likely going to be in pain if I don’t do anything.
You guys. It was amazing. I had ZERO knee pain the entire 13.36 miles (because no one runs the exact distance of a race, I mean, come on). I did have some pain in my left arch, but I think that’s probably because to run quickly, I have to mid foot strike and my arch isn’t flexible enough. If I heel strike, then I’m not as fast even if it’s comfortable. Sigh.
The morning of the race, I woke up with a lower end of normal blood sugar. Nothing terrible, but not really where I wanted it. I had a piece of gluten-free toast (more on that another day) with some chocolate peanut butter, and some coffee. When we arrive in St. Paul at the start, my blood sugar hasn’t budged. Ugh. So I chug a juice and head for the port-a-potty line. Except it’s really long and I’m nervous about missing the start, so I skip it and head over to the corral. Side note: I totally had time to pee. Ugh. Whatever.
I started out toward the back of the corral because I knew I was going to be pretty slow. Most of my recent runs had still been between a 13:30/mile and a 14:30/mile (that was mostly in the summer, I’ve been getting faster as the weather is cooling). And that’s just my average pace. I actually run faster (about a 11:30/mile), I just don’t have very good endurance so I take walk breaks. That’s what slows my pace down.
Anyway, the entire race was Halloween themed, of course, so it was super fun looking at all the fun costumes. I was focused on just running so I was wearing normal running clothes: my tried-and-true Nike capris, a Nike t-shirt, Moving Comfort bra, Brooks Adrenalines and Feetures socks. Gold standard stuff.
Sidenote: I wasn’t too happy with my choice of shoes. I have been wearing New Balance 1260s for the last year or so, and I was pretty convinced I had enough mileage on them. But with my knee acting up, I got suspicious, and I think I must have worn them more than I was tracking, because the tread is pretty much gone in my mid foot! No wonder it hurt so much. But I didn’t have enough time (or money) to buy and break in another pair of shoes, so I used my Brooks Adrenalines from last year even though I don’t find them as comfortable.
I finally take off running and keep up a good pace for about two and a half miles. I spot a line of port-a-potties and make a beeline for it. I’m back in actual in like 30 seconds because there was no line. I keep on grooving, feeling really good. Then I heard a familiar buzzing sound. It was my insulin pump. My insulin delivery has stopped. Now, this has happened before and I had prepared for it to happen, but my method of backup ended up not working so I quickly called Erik and he was able to meet me at our designated meeting spot halfway. You see, I wasn’t planning on carrying my glucose meter with me during the race but I knew I would need to test, so we had planned to meet quickly at one of the water stops.
Of course, the diabetes drama didn’t end there. Right after the pod failed, I ended up with a low blood sugar. It was a little early for fueling, I was at mile 3 and was planning on having HoneyStinger at Mile 4. But I figured it was close enough so I took one then and kept on rolling. I really didn’t feel low at all I kept up a good pace throughout all of that.
Erik was able to get home and back with a new insulin pod, but didn’t have time to drive and park at the meeting spot. In fact, I had just past him when he called me. I wasn’t too far away and I was walking because my Dexcom told me I was still low, so I was eating another HoneyStinger. Erik sprinted to catch up with me! We pulled over, I did a pod change and a blood sugar check (I was not low, either, Dexcom was a liar, proving why I wanted to test during the run) and then I was on my way.
Diabetes didn’t bother me the rest of the run, which is good because I still had plenty to deal with. I was under the impression the race was downhill… it wasn’t! In fact, other than a fairly steep decline around Mile 5, there were plenty — plenty! – of hills throughout the second half the course, which is exactly when you don’t want them. The last two miles of the race were really boring too. Hardly anything to look at, so that was pretty painful. Although I wasn’t really in any pain I could feel my pace dropping, especially since I was heel striking to compensate for my arch pain. Finally I decided to get back up onto my midfoot and I immediately noticed a huge difference.
I took another HoneyStinger at Mile 10, but took water at every water stop since I wasn’t carry a water bottle with me. The last mile was a killer. I tried to run more of that, but I definitely was starting to feel more and more burned out, having trouble sustaining the energy. I continued my 2:1 run / walk plan through the whole race, although after Mile 10 I definitely wanted to do a lot more walking! Mentally I had to just keep telling myself to run, and that any amount of running, no matter how slow, was still faster than walking.
When I could see (and hear) the finish line, I just ran. I just felt like I couldn’t walk with the finish line in sight. As I got closer, I saw Erik, who waved and cheered, and I waved back. Getting over the finish line was super hard because I suddenly had this wave of nausea come over me, and I was so happy to be done.
My final time? 3:05:34. The first half of the race projected me at a sub-3 hour half marathon, but I think between the diabetes mishap and the hills, there just wasn’t any way I could make up that lost time. If it had been more of a down hill or flatter race, I might have been able to make up for those lost minutes, but I just didn’t have it in me this time.
I definitely learned a lot about racing, about training (uh, do more of it), about my diabetes, and just about what I’m capable of.
Although I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t make it under 3 hours, I’m still happy that I finished, which is the most important thing when running your first race!
But there is one number I’m very, very happy to see:
I’m back in Onederland baby!!