Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Are you there Samantha? It's me, your body.

I read a lot of Runner's World, and while we're all on board with pushing ourselves, the regular advice also always says "listen to your body". This is where I could consistently use a reminder. A few months ago I had a friend ask me if I'd ever done a winter half marathon in Michigan and whether I thought it would be too cold in February. This inquiry included a link to the inaugural Portage Winter Blast Half Marathon. I registered on the spot.

I am rabidly anti treadmill, and yet this year the ice/snow situation in Lansing has led to several long runs on the treadmill. I felt utterly unprepared for my 11th half marathon, but that didn't stop me from running it. We left our house at 6:30 in the morning and headed to Portage, Michigan, a Kalamazoo suburb about an hour and 15 minutes from home.

When we arrived in Portage it was 2 degrees. TWO DEGREES. It was frigid. I was rethinking my decision to run this race, but I refused to back down. I jumped into the half without looking back. It took about a mile for me to be able to feel my hands, and my the two mile mark I'd settled into a nice rhythm. 

Pre-race. Freezing.
The race was quiet. We ran through a quiet suburb and then onto the Portage Bikeway, a trail system that serves the community. For such a small race there were a number of spectators, and there were a ton of volunteers. It was extremely well organized. While there isn't really a downtown in Portage, the trail system is very impressive. I've done a number of races on paved trail systems including those in Lansing, Portland, MI and part of the race in Knoxville, Tennessee. Portage may have the best trial system I've seen.

About halfway through I felt a tightness in my IT band. I couldn't tell if it was the cold or actual IT band pain. I slowed down for a few miles and felt a little better, so I kept going. Around mile 11.5 I realized nope, it was actual IT band. All along I knew that it was indeed IT band, and I didn't want to listen to my body. 

Just before the halfway point.
The last few miles were extremely rough. I'd slowed down significantly, and my IT band was screaming. My body was starting to get cold, and if I'm being honest I was pretty much over the whole thing. Usually I have some energy left at the end, and instead of sprinting I was focusing on just finishing.  My goal was 2:15, and I finished in 2:15:32. Not even close to my PR, but considering my training challenges I am not unhappy about that result.

I'm smiling through the pain.
The next day I was sore. Not just a little sore, but the most sore I've ever been after a half. My entire body hurts, but I know I did something big. My IT band...well, it's in a bad way. I knew around mile 7 that it was hurting, and I ignored it. It's laughing at me today. Lesson learned - listen to my body. Maybe I'll do it next time.
Yes, that is my frozen hair.


  1.'re nuts. The only person I know that goes 100MPH all day every day. Just like dad when he was in his 30's.

  2. You know why I'm always going 100MPH? Might as well. Can't dance.

  3. Congrats on your half!! Those conditions are not easy to run in!
    I hope you take a looot of rest and hopefully things are OK with your IT band!

  4. Thanks! I've taken a few days off. It's starting to feel better. Let's see what happens when I run again. :)