It’s been over a month since the race, and I haven’t provided any sort of wrap-up commentary for the arguably climactic end to this journey. Not intentionally, mind you, but…well, it’s hard to explain.
13.1 miles! It’s a fantastic thought, and a pretty big deal, all things considered. The rush of accomplishment after your first endurance event whips through you so fast, and then…it leaves you barren. I’d say that since June 21st, I’ve been suffering from what I’ve deemed “post-race depression.” I can’t recreate the high I felt at the finish line, although I still seek it. And I haven’t been able to lace up my shoes and go for a run nor go to the gym since. I don’t even have the desire to do it. Something in me has been deflated, exhausted, depleted. I’m not sure what, but the days following the race have been ones that I never could’ve predicted, and never would’ve anticipated.
One day after the event, I wrote this in my journal:
June 22, 2008
Thank goodness my first half-marathon is behind me. I, at this point, have no desire to do that or anything similar ever again. I ran non-stop for two hours and forty minutes [note: my official time said something closer to 2:50, though]. I was terrified that if I stopped, my IT band wouldn’t let me start again. So every aid station was a drive-thru, and every urge to walk was something I had to fight. Especially on hills, when every single person seemed to be walking. I simply could not do a marathon with such a persistent, unpredictable injury. But truly, without that injury, maybe I could.
The half was more or less a miserable experience, though. After running for two hours straight, I was really losing my willpower. Really really. I couldn’t seem to put my mind anywhere that made it comfortable to keep running. But I knew that stopping might kill my chances of a successful finish, so I ran uncomfortably.
What a test. Considering how much I’ve gone through since I started training in February ([being let go], moving to San Francisco, IT band injury, [redacted], being unemployed, [redacted], getting a kidney stone, for starters), I don’t think it was particularly what I needed. My will is and has been tested in so many ways ever since 2008 started. Perhaps it wasn’t the best time for me and an endurance event. So, while I suppose I am indeed proud, I’ve got a lot more on my plate than self-aggrandizement right now.
Not the victorious attitude you expected, eh?
I have a different perspective on things now. But that was my most immediately documented reaction.
It’s hard to provide a truer post-race wrap-up than that. Especially when my memory of the event itself is quite piecemeal. I guess bullet points serve the purpose best, in these circumstances:
- The excitement and build-up to the firing of the starter gun was amazing. Simply amazing. Such a huge mass of people, singing and jumping, then splashing through the puddles in the streets of Anchorage. It was an indescribable feeling.
- Around Mile 4 or 5, I caught up to a former TNT teammate from Houston. I told her what mile we were on, and she said, “Really? I’m running really slow then!” and took off. I saw her intermittently throughout the race. She finished less than a second before me. We actually have photos where we’re both in the same frame.
- Running through the woods after Mile 6 was gorgeous and frustrating, all at once. I felt like a magical forest creature bounding through the lush trees, hippity, hippity hopping, I’m free, I’m free! But not having any sort of proper trail to speak of was killer on the positioning of my body. With every step, I landed differently. It was hard to get a rhythm going at that point.
- I wasn’t going to wear my water belt, but what a foolish move that would’ve been. Sometimes, those water stations can’t come soon enough. And having water on you is an absolute godsend.
- Especially for all the Advil I took during the race. To prevent the IT band from rearing its ugly, painful head, of course. I took four throughout the course of the journey – two at the very beginning, and two about halfway through. I didn’t have enough room in the little pocket on my water belt (I carried my camera there), so I stuck the tube of Advil in my sports bra. Thank goodness for large breasts.
- And then, curse those large breasts! I had no idea that the underside of my breast (the right one, in particular) would rub against my body so severely that it’d create a raw open wound! What a surprise to get in the shower after the race, soap up, and then squeal in agony!
- One of the foods handed to us at the refreshment stations was oranges. I ate the orange and scraped the white rind with my teeth, just like my mom does. That kept me strangely calm and centered; a bit of normalcy in a chaotic situation.
- People are incredibly friendly along the race trail. I met a lawyer, a woman who used to live in San Francisco but moved to Dallas “for love,” and someone from Detroit. It helps pass the time (and ease the strain) to be able to have panted conversations in the forest.
- I didn’t listen to my iPod the entire time. Isn’t that amazing? Not even once. It stayed anchored to my jersey with the headphones nearly wrapping themselves around my neck for the entire race.
- Around Mile 11, I thought I had had it. I felt like I was running in a haze, and I had to physically pull myself forward. And that was when both the sun and the beautiful view of the bay began. I couldn’t enjoy any of it. All I wanted was to finish.
- At this point, I promised that if I could just make it through this race, I would go back to practicing Islam. Looks like I’ve got a promise to Allah to keep!
- After the race, I took my first official ice bath. Sure, I’d used bags of ice to bring down the swelling before (while eating bagels and watching TV in the living room), but this was immersion. Wow. It actually felt wonderful.
- I never want to experience the days after the race ever again. Whatever I can do in the future to avoid it, I will. Oh, the pain, the PAIN! The complete inability to walk normally. For at least a week! Oh, I don’t want to relive that. Ever.
Quite the emotional rollercoaster indeed. I didn’t want to sugar coat any of it, because there’s no reason to do that. And although it may sound like it, it wasn’t a negative overall experience, by any means. It was simply the running of an entire gamut of emotions – fear, gratitude, exhaustion, excitement, elation, depression – all in the course of one day and the weeks immediately following. For certain, I had a lot going on during the past few months – personally and professionally – and I think the half-marathon fell smack dab in the middle of the eye of the storm. But that’s what we call “living,” no?
I’m glad I did it, I’m glad my first endurance event is behind me, and I’m glad I am healthy enough to plan for future excursions. Such as the San Antonio Rock ‘n Roll Half-Marathon in November!