As people were gearing up to run their races St. Paddy's weekend, the distances were really starting to look daunting. The week they were all doing their "dress rehearsal" the coaches were giving us plastic medals at the finish line. I figured I wasn't supposed to get one since I was "just" running 6 miles, not 13 or 20. Then, I started thinking that really I wasn't doing that much in comparison to the people running a full marathon. I'd gotten through my first ever 10 mile run without great incidence, so again, I started thinking I was "only" running a half.
St. Paddy's weekend as my teammates were running races, I went to training to run 12 miles. Don't get me wrong, every mile I'd run to that point had been work, but my body decided to show me just what only a half marathon could be like.
It's obvious that running will take a toll on your legs and feet, but you may not realize how much your core -- mid-section from shoulders to hips -- works when you run. About mile 8, I found out. First my chest and abs were a little tight, so I stretched and moved around to loosen back up.
Mile 9. Achy legs at this point is pretty normal, but I started noticing my hips getting sore, too.
Mile 9.5. I start huffing and chuffing because my diaphram has just about had it.
Mile 10. I'm having trouble keeping my posture because my abs have officially told me to kiss off.
Mile 10.5. I see my coaches at the final turn. I've never been so happy to see two people ever. I'm breathing like a woman in labor. I'm pretty sure my coaches can tell I'm about done because Mike decides to run my last mile and a half with me. I don't speak. Every step is excruciating because my hips are so inflamed.
Mile 11. Mike is talking to me, being reassuring me and telling me I'm doing great. I have the urge to hit Mike.
Mile 11.5. Jim passes us on his bike heading back to the parking lot. I consider knocking him over and stealing his bike. I can see the finish line, and I'm literally chanting like the Little Engine that Could. I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.
And I did. I apologized for thinking about hitting Mike or stealing Jim's bike. They laugh at me. Once I got home, I crawled out of the car and into the house. I was starting to get cold, so I took a very long, very hot shower, the whole time praying I'd be able to walk later. I managed to get my shirt on barely, but I could only get one leg in my pants. The other wouldn't bend enough. Thankfully, my husband was able to stop laughing at the sight of me long enough to put my sweats on me.
For the rest of the afternoon, I iced my hips, took ibuprophen and ate everything I could get my husband to bring to me. The next morning, my physical therapist worked me over trying to make sure my hip pain was only soft tissue, not bursitis or some other injury. When she was sure it was, I did muscle stem and heat. I'd shuffled into her office, and I was up to waddling on the way out.
It took a full 3 days for me to start feeling somewhat normal again. I was still sore, but manageably so, and I had a whole new perspective on the words "only" and "just." I have to give myself more credit. I'm doing a half marathon, and that's a pretty big deal regardless of what anyone else does.