2017 Germantown Half Marathon
For the past couple of years, my friend and Oiselle teammate Cecilia (MommiesRun) has unsuccessfully attempted to lure me to a race in her local area that she loves; the Germantown Half Marathon is run along a route she knows well and, she says, "it's a great course for a PR."
That phrase of hers helped me get over my initial shock/fear/dismay when I looked at the course map; after a few years of ugly weather during Little Rock Marathon weekend (one of which she suffered through, on my watch), I decided to forego the festivities, save up my energy for the following weekend, and take her up on the offer to race in Tennessee.
In addition to a fun, new race experience, this also gave me an excuse to visit her eight-year-old twins, the Ls; they are book-loving balls of energy and I rarely get enough of them during one trip.
Before I go much further, let me back up for a moment. On the Tuesday prior to race day, there were some pretty severe thunderstorms rolling through Little Rock; I decided, on that day, that I would do an easy run on the treadmill, throwing in a few strides/pickups in the middle. This is my normal routine, in lieu of any speed work, during race week.
I do a fairly decent job maintaining good form on the treadmill for easy-paced, comfortable running; with a little speed, I have a tendency to overstride on the 'mill and I noticed that my form felt a little irregular during this run.
The next day was a rest day and then, on Thursday, I ran a few easy-paced miles; my left hamstring felt a little tighter than usual, a tad uncomfortable, but I didn't think much of it. On Friday, same type of run and a little more tightness; a little tight, but no pain.
Saturday morning, I did some extra Jasyoga (Comprehensive Hip and Hamstring Reset, which usually fixes all of my problems); my hamstring felt sorted and I was feeling much better about the situation. I got in my car and drove to Cecilia's, stopping to get out and stretch, walk around, etc., at the halfway mark.
I had a wonderful evening with Cecilia, her husband, and the girls; we always have such a great time together and they take such good care of me! Cecilia and I turned in fairly early, since we'd be losing an hour to Daylight Saving Time (which I like to refer to as Daylight Stealing Time, since I lose daylight in the early morning and sleep), and made predictions on whether it would actually snow overnight.
It did snow, just a little, and it was pretty cold on Sunday morning; nevertheless, we bundled up and headed over to the start of the race to meet up with some other Oiselle teammates and get ready to rumble!
Cecilia had been struggling with her own muscle-related issues earlier in the week, but was ready to take a chance on the day; after getting a look at the course the day before, I was feeling ready, too.
Wouldn't you know, that hamstring tightened up on me within the first mile; since I wasn't in any pain, I figured that it would loosen up as I went along and I didn't want to forfeit, mentally, any chance for success so early in the race. Either it loosened up or I checked out; I was having a great day and felt comfortable with the pace, even as I pushed it a little more in the second half. I began to realize that Cecilia was right and that I could have a PR day.
And then, just past the 10 mile mark, something happened. It's a tough sensation to describe; I usually say that it felt like my hamstring just gave out. Immediately following that moment, I felt a clinching tightness and then discomfort; I just remember thinking, "oh, shit; this is not good." I tried to keep going, but my pace slowed even at the same level of effort. By mile 11, I was stopped in someone's yard (we were in a residential area), trying to stretch, walk, whatever; after that, a pace of 10:45 was full speed.
I felt very disappointed, hobbling along as everyone passed me by, and wondered how Cecilia was doing; I wanted to keep pushing, but I didn't want to cause more harm. I wanted to stop and cry, but I was mad enough to keep fighting; I also didn't want to walk the next two miles by myself, I just wanted to be done.
After crossing the finish line, I received a text message from another of our teammates to let me know that Cecilia was nearing the finish and would definitely have a PR day; that turned the situation right around. Gingerly, I made my way back to the finish so that I could cheer her in and take some pictures. I hope I was a better cheerleader than photographer.
My excitement over Cecilia's success and that of other teammates, plus the thought of our impending brunch, kept me from feeling too sorry for myself; overall, it was a great day and I'm looking forward to getting back there for some redemption next year!
Not ever having experienced a hamstring problem before, I took a few days off from activity and then sought the advice of my physical therapist; it looks to be a mild hamstring strain, especially since most of the pain has subsided, and after some treatment in his office (Graston for the win!) I'm feeling much better. Here's hoping I'll be ready to go for the next race on my schedule, The Tenacious Ten (10 miles), on April 22.