Started from the Bottom: A Half-Marathon Tale
After four loooooong months of training, I finally completed the La Jolla Half Marathon this morning!! I feel awesome to say the least. Though everything has been building up to this day, it really isn’t the race itself that makes me feel accomplished. More than actually completing the race, the fact that made the decision to embark upon this journey back in December and stuck with it — despite being sick of running, despite having some terrible runs, despite having to get up early for group runs on Saturdays. After I ran over 13 miles for the first time during my training, my motivation started to wane. I figured that since I knew that I could do the distance, there wasn’t really a need to do an official race. I talked to a few people about it and they told me that I was copping out (which I was) so I continued training even though I was really not into it. A couple of weeks ago, I found out that the person with whom I was originally supposed to drive down to San Diego and run with couldn’t make it and I quickly started settling into, what I thought was, the reality of not being able to see this thing through. I was trying not to be too bummed about it but looking back, it would have really sucked to have trained for so long (according to RunKeeper, I logged 394 miles training for this race!) and not have been able to have the culminating moment.
As for the race itself, it was an awesome experience. La Jolla is ABSOLUTELY gorgeous. Such a perfect place to run a race like this. I was a little worried about the weather initially because I hate being cold while running but it turned about to be perfect with temperatures in the high 50s/low 60s with the sun peaking out shortly after the start. The traffic was a little crazy getting there so I didn’t have too much time to prepare before the race started which, I think was ultimately a good thing. Less time to psych myself out. I spent most of my time before the start waiting in line for the Port-O-Potties, which are hands down my least favorite thing about my race experience….or about any experience that I’ve ever had that involves them.
I started out running way faster than I probably should of at a pace of about 8:09 per mile. I usually average between an 8:45-9:30/mile for runs over 10 miles so I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t be able to sustain this for the whole race (and I was right) but it felt good in that moment and I just wanted to live in it a little. Though my playlist was on shuffle, it knew me well enough to start off with some throwbacks from Queen Bey so, that could have also accounted for my over-zealousness at the outset. 😉
The first 4 miles seemed to fly by, probably because I knew that the big uphill climb would be around miles 5-6. Coming up to mile five, I could see the incline up ahead and it was, admittedly, a little daunting. I was rather distracted, however, by the gorgeous ocean waves crashing up again the sides of the cove and I forgot to get nervous. It was kind of breathtaking. The hill itself was also breathtaking, in a different, less romantic way. Lots of panting. Lots of squeezing of the glutes. A twenty second break here and there and before I knew it, I had reached, what at the time felt like, the Promise Land, despite still have the majority of the race ahead of me. 😛
There was a fair amount of hillage even after the big uphill but nothing Elysian Park hadn’t prepared me for. I was pleasantly surprised with how well my body performed on the inclines. Was definitely grateful for my East LA training grounds. I was able to pick up my speed a bit for miles 9-11 but then we hit some steep downhill and my body got a big angry. I tend to unevenly distribute pressure to the right side of my body so I started cramping in my right rib cage and shoulders. I fought through a lot of it but eventually had to pull over to the side and stretch it out for a bit. It honestly didn’t help that much but at least it allowed me to mentally reset enough to get through the last couple of miles. There was an uphill thrown in for the first half of the twelfth mile which was rude, to say that least. I was tired and peeved and ended up having to take a couple of 20 second breaks, which was annoying because I knew the finish line was so close. I eventually got it together though and after clumsily running down some cobblestone at the end of the mile (why there was cobblestone, I don’t know), I was able to finish strong with a time of 1:55:53 or 8:39/mile. According to my RunKeeper, this is the fastest that I’ve ever run this distance so, I can’t be mad. Literally, as I ran through the finish line, “Started From the Bottom” by Drake starting playing though my headphones (hence this post title). Dancing was in order.
All and all it was an awesome experience. It was extremely trying at moments, both during my training and the actual race, but the challenges are ultimately what makes it feel so great to have accomplished this. There was moments in the race where I could feel myself getting stressed out both mentally and physically. Looking out at the amazing scenery, I realized that stress was the last thing that I needed to feel. How amazing is it that I have the time, resources, and physical ability to participate in something like this? Rather than feeling stressed, I thought it would be more appropriate to feel grateful for the opportunity and the ability. Shifting my mindset made all the difference.
So after it was all said and done, all I wanted to do was to scarf down some carbs and take a nap. The carbs definitely happened, the nap, unfortunately didn’t. Because I have less than two weeks left in LA before I leave for the summer, I reallly need to kick it into high gear on my final projects. I thought it would be practical of me to get some things outs of the way (i.e. grocery shopping, food prep for the week) so that I wouldn’t have to try to squeeze these things in during the week. After a trip to Trader Joes, making some baba ganoush (!!!), and some paleo cheeze-its, I’m wiped and ready to officially turn down. Twas an awesome day indeed. I could definitely see myself doing another race in the future though I’m in no hurry to sign up. haha Excited to get back to some of the workouts that I’ve missed (like spinning!) and to get some intense interval training in at Enrgi when I’m home in Chicago in a couple of weeks. 🙂