Clearwater Half Marathon

Posted: January 22, 2012 in races

Ah where to start.  After finishing the Clearwater Half Marathon, my 5th half marathon, I felt so many emotions. Pride, for one, for pushing through the physically hardest race I’ve ever done.  On the other hand I felt disappointment and embarrassment about how slow my race was.

Slowest half = my hardest half.

I originally wanted to call this post, “How to NOT PR a race“. Here’s why…
How to not PR a race: 
1. Pick a race labeled the “toughest half marathon in Florida”. 4 long, high bridge climbs.

2. Sprain your ankle 24 days before the race.
3. Spend 3 days on crutches and only manage only a 2,3, and 5 mile run before your half.
4. Run your first 4 miles faster than you’ve trained.

Add those 4 things together and at mile 5 things get ugly.  Chills, goosebumps, inability to feel hands….and a burning desire to quit set in.
But let’s start at the beginning…

I set out to PR this race.  I plotted out a training plan that included long runs, tempo runs, and repeat 800’s.  I had high hopes.  My ankle injury derailed me, however I still had hope for a good run.

On race day, Kyle’s sister, Kelsey, and I woke up at 515am.  We wanted plenty of time to eat, use the bathroom, and warm up before the 705 start.

Am I an elite runner or a jet plane?

I had a whole wheat bagel with PB, coffee, and a banana for breakfast.  I had 2 power bar pre-workout bites and some honey.
I felt like I had to go to the bathroom right before the race, so I got in line….a very long line.  I didn’t want to have to go on the course so I waited…for 20 minutes!! That’s crazy!
I made it to the start with 1 minute to go and was off!

Miles 1-4 felt great.  I had good speed and my ankle wasn’t bothering me.  I kept speed up the first bridge and made time going down.

Mile 1- 8:54
Mile 2- 8:20
Mile 3- 8:52
Mile 4- 10:13
I knew that I was going too fast.  I kept trying to “slow down” but I’d find myself at 8:45 pace again.  I needed to maintain 9:09 to reach my goal. I know the dangers of going out too fast, but I did it anyway. And I paid for it.
I came to the second bridge climb and gave myself a walk break going up it then I ran the way down.
I slowed to get Gatorade at an aid station around 4.5 and when I tried to run again I instantly felt awful. I couldn’t breath, I had chills, and I honestly couldn’t feel my hands.  It was so weird.  It felt like they were asleep.
Mile 5- 10:03
Mile 6- 11:10
I let myself walk for a minute or so to try and recover.  I started running again and I was “gassed”. I agreed with myself that I would run at a slower pace and allow myself a walk break every 1/2 mile. 
It didn’t help.  By mile 6 I felt horrible. I was exhausted and not even halfway done.  I seriously thought about quitting. I didn’t know how I could go farther then I had already run feeling this bad.  I could blame it on my ankle or on my lack of training….I could quit.
Mile 7 – 10:52

Yeah right? Quit! I’m not a quitter.  If I quit I couldn’t enjoy my post race cheat meals!
I couldn’t imagine having to tell all those cheering for me that I didn’t finish. Sure I could’ve said that my ankle hurt, but it didn’t.  My body just wasn’t prepared for what I was asking it to do.
I pressed on.  I had no strategy.  I’d run a little then walk.  I don’t know which one was harder. It all hurt. 
Kelsey passed me on her way back. She was close to mile 9 and I was just past 7.  I screamed to her to tell Kyle that things were going bad and I was going to be much later then anticipated.

Kelsey finishing – 1:35

At this point I was just so so so mad at myself.  My brain wasn’t remembering that I hadn’t run this far in a month because I was injured.  All I could think was that here I was, “failing to do what I set out to.” I was crawling along and being passed left and right and I simply couldn’t go any faster.
Mile 8 – 11:42
Around mile 9.4 I turned my Garmin off.  I didn’t want to see just how ugly things were getting.  In hindsight this was another bad idea.  I think if I knew my overall time I could’ve structured a run/walk plan and tried to finish better.
I barely made it across the third bridge.  I was walking at an 18 min pace.  Are you kidding me? My hands were on top of my head and I was just a zombie.

At mile 10 I passed our hotel.  Again I had a burning desire to quit.  I could go inside, get a key, lie in bed and cry.  Oh how I wanted to. I couldn’t fathom how slow I was going and how long it was going to take me to finish.  It was depressing.
Somehow I trudged on.  I’d walk, I’d run, and I kept beating myself up mentally.
My first 4 miles took 36 minutes…my last 4 took over an hour!!!
Somehow I managed over the final bridge and finished.  I don’t even want to tell you but it was in 2:25.  The slowest half marathon I’ve ever run.
I saw Kyle and the beautiful/hilarious poster he made me and I just broke down in tears. I was covered in goosebumps, dizzy, and defeated.

Isn’t Kyle a good poster maker?
My great cheerleader!

Kyle’s sister, Kelsey, also said this was the hardest race she’s ever done physically and mentally.  She finished in 1:35 and took second in her age group.

Our posters!

The moral of this story? I don’t know that yet.  
I don’t have some glaring revelation about how this race will make me stronger or how I can run faster.  But I didn’t quit.  I finished.  When every part of me wanted to stop and cry.  I finished.

What wisdom I can offer you is this: 
Don’t try to PR on a clearly difficult race AND don’t start too fast. Oh – and finish!

Love and a snails pace,
Carissa & Kyle

  1. XLMIC says:

    That is such a rough go of things! I am so sorry 😦 You learned so much from the experience, it sounds like…so there's that 🙂 Here's to next time…when you WILL crush that time goal 🙂

  2. Whew! I have yet to have one of those…but I know I will. Don't we all? Way to get it done girl!!

  3. I am SO impressed that you pushed through and finished. That took so much strength! I know it wasn't the PR you had hoped for, but congrats on finishing!

  4. BamaBelle says:

    Congratulations! Even though everything inside you was screaming for you to quit, you didn't! You finished and can now say you completed a VERY difficult HALF-MARATHON….yeah, if you ask me, THAT IS a big deal! Good job 🙂

  5. That's one of my fav quotes. Congrats on finishing…cuz you could have quit and you wanted to, but something in you said keep going. If it was french fries or ice cream or whatever you love to eat afterwards, so be it, but I'll think of it as a deep internal motivation instead 😉 Thanks for the inpsiration! I've been injured for 2 weeks now and have a half in 2 more…I am on the fence about whether or not to do it! It depends on if I'm feeling injury free or not, but I think I can leave my ego out and just do it. No PR for me…but that's okay!

  6. I had to repin that quote! You didn't give up and you earned your medal and cheat meals! And hey, it's all relative. Your slowest half is still much faster than my only half, which was 2:49 (and I was happy with that, LOL). Way to go for sticking it out. I'm a local too, and know that those Clearwater bridges are no joke. Still on the fence about the Iron Girl Half just for that reason. Great recap, even though I know it's not what you would have liked to have written.

  7. Caitlin says:

    Congrats on not quitting and finishing another half! Most people still can't say they have done what you have done so great job. And be proud of those fast miles in the beginning – even if a half wasn't the time or place to be running them!

  8. MeganNicole says:

    So proud of you!!!! Moral of the story, is that you didn't give up and if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish ANYTHING!!! XXOO

  9. Karla says:

    Congrats on finishing!! Hey I did about the same thing a couple weeks ago – didn't in the 2 weeks before and did a half marathon. It was completely flat and took me 2:25. I would have not turned the garmin off to do some timed run/walk to make things pass faster. It does help. Also, not sure if you trained with gatorade, but it sounded like things went south after that water stop.. Sounds like you were dehydrated. You'll get it next time!

  10. That was your character building race/run, and you did it! Good for you. We all take the gamble every time we race. It can always go either way even with the training. A finish is a finish and you have the hardware to prove it! Congrats!

  11. Heather says:

    Wow, congrats on the finish! It takes a strong person to not quit in a situation like that!

  12. I could feel your pain in this post. Congratulations on finishing!!

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