You can't just sit on your ass for two weeks and expect to PR.
This was the thought that kept running through my head during the second half of the race today. But before we get to the grueling misery that was miles 8 through 13.1, let's back up and start this story where it began, two weeks ago.
Remember from my last post that I was just out of the hospital w/ a PICC line in my arm and running two kinds of IVs: Meropenem and Tobramycin. In addition, I was on Bactrim and Levaquin. All these medications will really tire you out. I decided that my best choice was to rest during this time until I got some energy back and try to eat more and gain some weight. As things turned out, I didn't start getting any real energy back until about this last Tuesday. (Though I did have a good time at the International Motorcycle Show, and a great meal after it last Saturday at the Hudson Yards Cafe, which is near the Javits. Scrumptious beef stew!) So. I was getting my energy back and had decided to go running with Michelle again. Remember, she and I ran on the boardwalk together. We'd been trying to get together for another run ever since. We made plans to meet Wednesday, then put it off 'til Thursday, thinking we'd meet in Central Park, put in 6 miles and pick up our bibs and shirts while we were at it. Well, Wednesday night, she suffered toe breaky. So Michelle's out. (M, I did pick up your bib and shirt and chip, turned your chip right back in, and picked up some Powergel for you. However, I am keeping your cocoa-roast almonds - that's what it cost you. I really love these things, you know.) I ended up doing about four miles that day and was really overdressed for the run. I thought perhaps I'd wear one layer less for the half marathon.
Friday, I did my last IV and the nurse pulled the PICC line. I'm free! But I'm also still on Zyvox and now, for the first time in my life, I'm on a moderate course of Prednisone, which I started taking Thursday night. By Friday night, I was breathing better than I have in a year or two. The Prednisone really gets the inflammation in my lungs under control, especially in the small airways. It's quite amazing. I won't be on the medicine long, but I hope the effect will last for awhile.
So this morning arrived - along with frigid weather. I checked nyrr's website from my iphone before I even got out of bed, hoping they'd decide to make it a "fun run" so I could skip it and still get credit. Well, they hadn't. Of course they hadn't - it's not like it had snowed or anything; it was just cold. Besides, I would have gone anyway. For the Grand Prix, I don't want credit for a half-marathon I didn't do! I want to EARN that special t-shirt!
I spent an hour getting ready, incuding nebulizing some albuterol. I dug up my salt tablets, power bars, and my all-too-precious CFC albuterol inhaler. I mixed up some Sustained Energy and loaded up my Fuel Belt, which I haven't used in a long time. I layered up, took some extra cotton shirts with me for after the race, girded my loins, and headed out the door. Wow. 14 degrees this morning. COLD. but...somehow, not THAT cold. The windchill reading was 9 degrees, but I wasn't really feeling that. I was OK. At the baggage corral, I opted to take off two layers so that I might not get overheated during the race. And though I was shivering with cold before we started, I was quite comfortable once we all got going.
The first 7.5 miles went pretty well, really. The back of the pack started off at a slow trot, about 11 minutes/mile and I was able to hold that pace very well for most of the first half. I did have to walk about 1/2 of Cat Hill the first time and much of the big hill in the northern half of the park, sometimes called Heartbreak Hill. After that hill, I had to stop for the john and stopped my watch for that - it was about a five minute wait! (So my official results reflect that time.) Then I only had two more short bits of walking on hills until I completed the whole first lap and was once again trudging up Cat Hill. Cat Hill was much harder this time and I walked more of it.
I'd made a very rookie mistake (besides not having run for two weeks): I'd brought salt pills, but forgot to take any. While I still had energy, my muscles began cramping and I began to struggle. My body wanted to move my bowels again, but there wasn't a john when I needed to go, so I held it 'til the end of the race. My lungs, however much boost I'd gotten in the first half of the race, were now at the mercy of the cold and my wheezing was very audible and I would run out of breath quickly. Due to the Prednisone, I think, I was able to catch my breath much quicker than in the last several months and I was breathing somewhat deeper, but it just wasn't enough. It did cross my mind, in some despair, that this may be the best I ever breathe again, at least in winter. :(
So, you can see from the chart how I initially had long stretches of continuous running, one of those stretches is two miles long, but then it breaks up badly in the second half of the race.
I managed a strong-ish finish, which is to say with about 2/10 of a mile to go, I was able to get up to a stiff, tottering trot and crossed the finish line in well under three hours. I admit that I had visions of NOT crossing the finish line in three hours today. There was so much stacked against me. But the good first half really saved me a lot of time and if you discount the five minute wait for the john, I did the race in about 2:41, or about a 12:20 pace. Far, far from my best, or even my average. But it got done, and that's one down, four to go. I am certain the Bronx Half will be better.
After the race, I changed into my dryer, warmer cotton shirts before heading out of the park. As I stripped my last sweat-soaked race t off, I got a compliment on my body. It was from an older gentlement, and it wasn't creepy. I smiled my thanks, put my cotton shirts on and walked over to Columbus Circle, where I went to chat with my friend who works at the New York Running Store and then bought some tuna from Whole Foods downstairs. The stairs...whoa, oh my god, the stairs. I was really feeling the second half of the race.
This was my 14th half-marathon and my 54th race. 3rd worst half-marathon time. I have one more piece of commentary on the events of today, but I'm rolling it into my next post, which will probably go up late Monday or sometime Tuesday. (My class starts tomorrow night and I have to finish my syllabus!)
Finally, speaking of the Bronx Half, I'll be running that one in memory of Nic Waitt, a friend of mine w/ CF who passed away last weekend from complications of CF. Breathe easy, Nic.