This fall has been crazy. Actually August through mid October= crazy. Stress, sick, not feeling good, not sleeping (at all). Some disasters happening, some miracles happening, good grief. Living life.
I didn’t go on a getaway this past year, and I realized this spring that was just not smart. I go too hard and need to exhale, then inhale. And sometimes it takes a CUT to be away from the usual, routines, making (semi)dinners, barely juggling the balls…. And a bit of sunshine on the shoulders doesn’t hurt. So I decided to do Amelia Island Half marathon- get away for a weekend in October and pray that there were no tropical storms in Florida. Luckily, I made it by 2 weeks and was on the opposite coast!
I typically END my training season at the end of August. (or when I was younger and more resilient in mid September!!) So, this year was new to have an October race, and I was reminded why I do not like to do races in the fall. Allergies just KNOCK me out and literally run me over. I have been taking allergy medicine, but… still…. It isn’t me being lazy, I literally feel many/most days like I am carrying 4 tons on my back (and my eyelids). It is not conducive to giving my all, and it gets frustrating and then I make up stories and think, maybe I’m depressed. Instead, I just simply have allergies.
ANYWAY: I did my best and had great training going through the season…. Until 2 weeks before race day. I had a week where I was sick- everyone in my house was getting sick, and I got some version of it, or maybe a light version but was so fighting it. Had severe allergies where I had 3 days of literally no voice- just raspy air coming out, felt horrible…. Which then I think was the possible cause of an ear infection the WEEK OF RACE. I lost hearing in one ear for 4 days, had to go on antibiotics, had a headache so severe one middle of the night that I thought I was going to have a stroke. So…. Going into the half, I thought, well, I’ll either feel not fully trained, or maybe I can use this as a little experiment and see if maybe this type of taper of being COMPLETELY OFF MY LEGS works well for me?!! I honestly though that maybe I could get lucky with it because on a normal week, I am usually on my legs for 12 hours, some of that being myself training, so by the end of the day and week my legs are just bottomed out. I kept positive and was just looking forward to getting away. But at the same time, I had MAJOR GUILT and feelings of selfishness. Like, who am I? who do I think I am just up and taking care of myself. Serious feelings of me being selfish.
Ok, that went away honestly within 1.2 nanoseconds of arriving in Florida. The sunshine on my shoulders was SO WARM, I could go on and on about the literal heavenly feeling of being able to FINALLY RELAX, but I’ll keep this about the race. I’ll just say that I Haven’t even been able to relax in months, and it was noticeable to me that I was just at ease and calm. I literally was like a freaking clown walking around with a smile. I was just happy at birds, at dogs jumping in the waves of the ocean, of floating in the ocean myself! Of every little thing! So thankful.
Back to race, here we go: race morning, I have 2 miles to get to start, so I walk the first mile just warming up legs and drinking coffee. Found a construction bin to dump my coffee cup in and do an easy jog the rest of the way (have backpack on). Feels easy and good to get into a jog. I do my bag check, watch the sunrise, then do some pickups along the straight of the start. This was my first ZOOMA race- all (except a few) women, many beginners, and it is just free to do your own thing- your own pace- many walkers, all just fun, women getting together (there was a yoga on the beach and walk the day before). Very NICE. So, they called “under 2 hour runners line up at the front”… so 2 hours isn’t like extraordinarily fast, but there were like 10 of us that went up there! My goal was 1:42- this would qualify me for NYC marathon, which I keep not getting into via the lottery. My training had me really RIGHT ON THE VERGE OF THIS… until 2 weeks ago at least… but again, who knows- we show up and arrive with that electric feeling at the start line- no one knowing what their body has in store for them that day. Here we are. Nothing more, nothing less. (I love saying that). Anyway, so race STARTS. There were like 5 women blasting off ahead of me and I’m in no rush and trying to not be stupid first mile, but also trying to not be slow the first mile. This is a flat area, so I knew it wouldn’t be like running in reston. First mile: effort feels like I am 7.5/10- running strong, but not hard. 7:20. I didn’t really want to be that fast first mile, but I knew the effort felt right. I wanted to def. not go any faster than that the 2nd mile as my mental plan was first 4 just start solid strong and smart. So, 2nd mile we went through some neighborhoods which were lined with beautiful trees. I made sure to look around a little and enjoy the neighborhoods and explore, and be relaxed but hold my pace. Felt 7.5 effort. 7:13. 3rd mile we go through the town and I’m trying to look around a little- we have some brick crosswalks to run over which I hate, all I need is to have a little ankle turn, but I’m watching and careful, it is starting to get pretty humid in the sun. We go by the water by the intercoastal and it’s beautiful with lots of boats and I hadn’t seen this area. Then there is a railroad crossing so again I’m trying to be careful with my foot placement somewhat. Feel steady. 7:26. Good – wanted to be trying to clock in some steady 7:30’s so this was closer. 4th mile same thing, really felt like I was easing in here, with it almost feeling more comfortable now that it wasn’t the initial miles and I felt on top of what I was doing 7:28. We then come to a turn, I almost couldn’t see it because the sun was in my eyes and I decided to not wear sunglasses for this race (literally I’m not sure exactly why- I wear sunglasses in EVERY race… but was trying to only pack one pair), so anyway, I was kind of irritated here because I couldn’t quite tell if there was a sign with an arrow and the volunteers were just standing there having a conversation with themselves. So, I turn and whaattttt???????? It goes onto a grassy/muddy/dirt packed trail…. And I’m like I had NO IDEA we weren’t on roads the whole time? I’m thinking, ok, maybe this is just like 1 min to connect us to another road? Because this was not mentioned. (and I had emailed the race director earlier in the week to ask for a current map course because online the only thing I could keep getting was the 2016 version of the course and I wasn’t sure if it had changed). Anyway….. So, there weren’t many women at the front and I could just see someone up in front of me….. We come to a T intersection and there isn’t really a marker?????? She had stopped and was kind of shuffling around going, what direction??!! Then we saw people coming BACK- so we were like ok THIS WAY! Well, at the same time I’m thinking… WE ARE IN FLORIDA AND THERE IS A CREEK BESIDES US AND NOT A LOT OF places to ZIGZAG if some chomper alligator comes out of there. I’m not thrilled. AT ALL. I like roads. I am not highly adventurous. I’ll push myself to my max, but I do not like to risk being eaten and consumed by a reptile. ALSO: I had a major debate within my head for like 2 weeks before the race as to which of my current run shoes- I have altras which are more minimalist/ light and fast. OR my heavier saucony run shoes which are definitely nearing the end of their mileage life.. (possibly PAST)…. But after I weighed it back and forth, I thought, it’s a race- go aggressive, wear the altras.. I would NOT have worn altras had I known we would be not on roads the entire time!!! ANYWAY.
Needless to say we were on these trails (NEAR ALLIGATORS NO DOUBT) for around 3 miles. We saw the girls coming the other way and one of them made a wrong turn onto the WRONG SIDE OF THE CREEK- the first place woman yelled at her to let her know…. So me and the girl in front of me knew that we had to keep our eyes open. We couldn’t see anyone in front of us at one point and we came to a wide clearing. There had been an arrow to go left at the beginning but at the other side were two options and NEITHER were marked. Ugh. I was like please don’t make me do extra miles on this trail. Luckily we went the correct way, although we honestly didn’t KNOW this until like a mile further when we went back onto the main road. Never been so happy to see asphalt and houses and decreased chance of reptiles.
Mile 5:7:34, mile 6: 7:55, mile 7: 8:14. I knew I had been slowing down, definitely due to trails and also the start of my legs and CALVES feeling like they were getting tight. I was already taking in some stingers/water from the flask I carried.
Once we were on the roads again I knew I really wanted to find a bathroom. (not wanted. Needed). I WAS FAST. But still took me maybe 30 seconds. Mile 8: 8:30. At this point I knew that mile split wasn’t the direction I wanted to go, but I actually thought maybe I’d start feeling better after taking maybe 30 seconds in the bathroom.
We were supposed to be entering Fort Clinch State Park, and I was waiting to see a sign, but we were just on a regular road. I felt like maybe I actually HADN’T looked at the race map? But I knew I studied it. Anyway, I didn’t know where the park was going to begin now, and we go up and over this big bridge over a marine- very pretty but I really started to DECLINE around this time- not knowing where we were, if I was in the correct race since this didn’t seem to be the map I had looked at?! And just LEGS LEGS LEGS! I knew I was slowing. It was also in this mile that we began to pass the walkers for the 12 K course. So, I love that they have an event for walkers, but I really was not loving that there would be groups of like 5-6 women spread out across the road, so I was now trying to weave in and out of walkers, and I wish that there had been an “inside lane” haha… for faster runners. (see how my attitude was going now? Started getting irritable here?) Mile 9 8:03.
Finally we entered the park – we have 3 miles left and I’m thinking I am declining, although now writing this down, I see that I really wasn’t that far off still. Yes, I had some splits in the wrong direction, but I was really holding my effort strong despite my legs being dead. Mile 10 8:22.
With 2 miles left, this was my hardest mile- physically and mentally. I was frustrated and felt like crap and OH MY GOSH I WANTED TO WALK. I did. I wanted to walk. It took everything of me to not walk. I said to myself, YOU WILL NOT WALK. Walking NEVER GOT SOMEONE THROUGH IT FASTER. And I wanted to get done, even if it wasn’t my goal time. Mile 11: 8:36
Mile 12: more just honestly suffering. Breathing fine. Was hot and humid, but I was fine. This was all legs. All legs. Killing me. Like 9.9/10 done. I think I ran this mile with my arms. Mile 12: 8:46. Ughhhh… so I was officially out/ no way to get my goal time, BUT it wasn’t terrible and I thought ONE MILE GO GO GO. So, I did, I tried my best. I actually felt BETTER on this last mile but it wasn’t really reflected in the time too much with 8:39 but it was literally ALL I COULD MUSTER. (I actually wonder if that mile was off because I was definitely picking up the pace, either way) I FINISHED AND THE OCEAN WAS RIGHT THERE AND I literally got my bag, ran to change into swimsuit and jogged down to the beach (yes, I was able to jog a little here- soft sand on my feet) and I just ran into the waves….. All is good.
I am more committed now than before to get this time. Shamrock ½ marathon in March 2023- I’m going to make this my goal. Moving on. 100% happy I did Amelia ½. I love seeing new places, meeting new people, being in the environment that is all about finding and pushing limits. (1:45:23)