Yesterday I ran the second race in the CA Running Series: The Pleasanton Half Marathon. (The first race I ran in this series was the Nor Cal Half Marathon.) Still suffering from a mysterious, unidentified foot injury (AKA - I should see a doctor but I haven't) the night before the race I was completely undecided as to which distance I'd choose: the half marathon or the 5K fun run. Although I'd registered for the half, the race instructions indicated I had the option to change the distance at bib pick-up in the morning. I don't train often, but I do typically run at least 1 half marathon per month, so I decided to go to sleep and worry about the race when I got there.
There were a few things I was certain of before I went to bed: regardless of the race distance I would not be using GU, I would not be wearing KT Tape and I would dedicate the run to three special individuals via #run3rd dedications.
Having reached a point in my journey as a runner where I've achieved all the goals I set for myself - I am getting bored. My running lacks purpose. Knowing that I can run an entire race dedicated others sounded like the right thing to do. So I created a few glitter #run3rd badges, got my breakfast ready and went to bed.
In the morning I loaded up on 2 mini bagels, energybits & coffee. My
standard race day breakfast. What I DIDN'T do was pack GU. In fact the
only other food I took with me was a small sample size bag of organic
gummy bears - just in case I needed a boost. Ever since I added energybits to my diet last November, I have really been questioning everything else I put into my body while running long distances. I don't think I need anything else but water - so with that thought in mind - I started the drive up to Pleasanton.
When I arrived to the race site, I picked-up my bib and decided on the half marathon distance. I thought I'd take it slow to avoid injuring my foot any further, but run without the 2 things I felt I had become unnecessarily dependent upon: KT Tape and GU. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE KT Tape. A lot. I've been known to wear jeans for days at a time after a race just to be able to keep my KT Tape on and hidden from the workplace. But I had to put myself through this race without the support because I was afraid that maybe I was overusing the tape and not really in need of it for my knees.
I placed my stickers on my bib and walked to the start line.
Off I went. I started off slow, slower than usual given everything about this run was an experiment. Would I be able to run 13.1 miles without knee support? Would I survive my first ever half marathon with out GU?
Would I survive this boring course?
The race began at a park then took us through a residential neighborhood and eventually led us out onto a trail. These trails are a mix of gravel, dirt and pavement - very slippery when wet. There isn't any on-course entertainment and not many people cheering. In fact, you often find there are local walkers (with dogs), people on bikes, joggers, etc. that tend to be on the course as well. However, there are water & electrolyte stations set-up here and there and they are well-staffed by great, friendly volunteers. If the gravel, other users on the trails and lack of entertainment don't bother you - this a great race to PR. It's very flat.
I ran this race much better than expected. The pain in my foot was constant, but I could deal with it. I was moving right along, using the Galloway walk/run, tweeting #run3rd dedications and zoning out to music when I suddenly realized I was on my way to a PR!
Until my knee started to hurt. A lot. I completely had to change how I was running to push through the pain. Eventually I was limping. At that point I realized that KT Tape was not an unnecessary crutch I'd become dependent on, it was a necessary and effective tool to help me push through - pain free. I took a long walk break and decided today would not be a PR day.
Experiment 1 out of 2 was a failure.
What about the 2nd part of the experiment? Except for water & half a nuun tablet, I had run without taking in any other nutrition. In fact, I had completely forgotten about the Yummy Earth Organic Gummy Bears in my fuel belt. I wasn't hungry or tired, or in any need of more caffeine. I was right! I could eliminate other unnatural sources of nutrition from a long run and still perform well.
Experiment 2 out of 2 was a success! I did eventually eat my yummy gummy bears, but moving forward I've decided to carry only raisin, my favorites, Newman's Own Organic Raisins.
I finished in 2:55 with a pace of 13:23. Not a PR by any means, but a really successful run in terms of what I learned about nutrition, my body - and most of all - being able to dedicate the miles to others. Thank you all who supported me and tweeted along with me during this race!
I went back to the car, took a "runner's shower" in the back seat (a term I made up myself, thank you very much!), changed my clothes and got ready to take on a super long, busy day ahead. But first, one last picture with all my new bling! The Pleasanton Half Marathon Medal, the Nor Cal Half Marathon Medal and the 2013 CA Running Series bonus medal for running both in the same calendar year.