Thursday, December 6, 2012

CAM Half - Marathon

During the summer I received a text message from my friend Ryan about running the Rock 'n' Roll marathon with her in Las Vegas on December 2nd. I told her that I would consider running the half-marathon instead since the longest distance I'd ever run was three miles. Soon we recruited a few more of our friends to join us and had even set up an event page on Facebook where we could keep track of each other's training and discuss the dates and details of going to Vegas. Ryan found a Hal Higdon marathon training guide online and posted it to the Facebook event page wall where we could individually decide which route to take. I chose the Half-Marathon Novice 1 program and began the self-paced training guide in September. Chris initially said he wasn't going to run the half-marathon but he started training with me in the mornings anyway.

By November I had been running consistently per the Higdon guide and then I started to slack off on my midweek runs. Instead of running five miles like I was supposed to I usually ran three, and I rarely, if ever, did any cross training (swimming, walking, yoga, etc) in between the running days. Still I persisted on the long weekend runs, even buying an arm band to put my cell phone in so I wouldn't have to hold it for longer than six miles. I needed my phone to listen to music - namely the Daddy Yankee and Rihanna Pandora stations - which helped ease the monotony of the longer jogs. Ryan told me she did her practice runs without any music ever - just the sounds of her feet slapping the pavement and whatever nature she has around her in Philadelphia - which is very impressive.

A few weeks before the half-marathon I reluctantly told Ryan that I couldn't meet her in Vegas for the race because I felt guilty spending money traveling to Vegas without having a job. Plus Chris and I are spending the holidays with my family in Colombia so spare money was already being used for that purpose. Not wanting to let all the training go to waste I started researching half-marathons in San Diego but all the ones I found were scheduled for 2013 and required a payment to register. By this point Chris had committed to running the half-marathon, too, so we decided to just create our own to take place the day before the Vegas one. We chose a runner-friendly, carless route along the San Luis Rey river trail in Oceanside and practiced a couple of our long weekend runs there. Then Chris came up with a name for our half-marathon and made t-shirts for us to wear the day of: CAM Half-Marathon. CAM stands for (so easy to guess and no one even asked about it) Christopher Ana Maria. If you follow either of us on Instagram (and if you don't then you definitely should! Follow me here and Chris here) then you've already seen the shirts, but if not here they are in all their post-run glory.

In that picture we don't look as beat as we felt but trust that it was a difficult challenge to overcome. The weekend before I ran 9 miles and felt great afterwards, even had enough energy to argue with Chris in the car. Yet, after running the 13.2 miles that make a half-marathon I was completely exhausted  The last three miles of the run were torture and I must have looked like an extra in a post-apocalyptic zombie movie. But I ran the entire time, even if towards the end it looked more like a speed-walk.

I couldn't even drink water when I finished, all I wanted to do was lay down and stop moving. I remember that during the last mile or so all I could think about was running across the street to the soccer fields and rolling around the green grass like a dog. And pancakes, I thought a lot about pancakes.

Whatever gets you through the pain, right? I never made it to the soft green grass across the street, instead I laid down on the hard cement - cement that I had never appreciated for it's rigidity, coolness, and stillness. In all honesty, I didn't lay down on the grass because it was dewey and I didn't feel like getting wet. There's nothing sexier than smelly, sweaty, and wet gym clothes during brunch.

When I was finally able to peel myself off the sidewalk I stretched and hobbled to the car so we could get FOOD. I think most runners will agree that the best part of long-distance running are the meals you get to eat afterwards. Pancakes and an omelet? Yes, please! You don't serve beer in the mornings? That's okay, I'll just have a tall glass of orange juice.

I ate the pancakes first, by the way. Chris was excited about breakfast, too. I can't even remember the conversation that we had, we were simply happy to be sitting and eating.

Even though the run was hard and we had ended in pain by the end of the day we were feeling much better. The therapeutic Thai massages we had a few hours later really kickstarted the healing even though they were the most painful massages either of us had ever experienced. And that night we relaxed before a fire with wine in a beautiful house across the runway that was hosting a Christmas party, which helped, too. By the time we got home the half-marathon that morning seemed like a hazy, long-ago dream.

I'm proud of us; we set a goal and accomplished it. I never would have thought that I'd actually run more than three miles in my life. I always said that my sister's the runner and I'm the swimmer. Turns out we can do both (although she ran the full marathon a couple of years ago in Austin so she can do it better than me). Will I run a marathon next? Probably not. I'd like to actually compete in a real half-marathon with other people first and not just one of our own creation, although we will be doing the 2nd Annual Cam Half-Marathon next December if you feel like joining us!


Anonymous said...

The organizers are considering putting on a full CAM marathon next year. We should hear back from them shortly...

In any event, it was good to put a goal in place and accomplish it. Life's a bucket list and we're just deliberately checking off boxes as we go (hopefully).

Great write and great read.


Krista said...

I tried to follow the Hal Higdon plan but couldn't keep up with the weekday runs.

Awesome accomplishment and I love your sidewalk picture :)