Half marathon #1 of #12months12halfs has been completed! Weeeee!
I usually don’t enjoy flying long distances during the holidays (who does?) so instead of flying home to Los Angeles to see my mom around Hanukkah, I usually wait until after the new year to fly across the country. I’m beginning to think this planning is flawed, especially since my new job gives me the week between Christmas and New Years as a vacation, so it makes less sense to take more time after that break. We’ll have to rethink that for the next holiday season!
Anyways, I flew out to Los Angeles on Wednesday night. Boston has been extra snowy/cold/wet/icy/foggy so I missed out on running Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday morning I went for a 5 mile run around my old neighborhood. It was a much different run, considering I went out only in a t-shirt and leggings. I also stumbled upon a set where they were filming the tv show The Goldbergs. Oh, Los Angeles. (I then saw two other sets throughout the rest of the day).
On Friday, my mom and I drove out to Riverside where we checked out the Riverside Art Museum, picked up my race packet at Sports Authority, checked into the hotel, and grabbed dinner at a great organic Italian restaurant in Riverside. After dinner, we did a drive-by of the race route. Even though it was dark out, I could tell that it was fairly flat and very seriously surrounded by orange groves.
The next morning we woke up nice and early and headed to the race starting point (after a quick stop for some much needed coffee for my super supportive mama!). I ate most of a Cliff bar pre-race (but then hit what tasted like a rancid nut and decided to not eat the rest) and drank almost a full bottle of water. After parking, we walked around, I stretched, I peed a couple times, I ate a pre-race Gu, and then we were off!
We ran straight down a street for a couple blocks before making a couple right turns to head back the way we came and towards the California Citrus State Heritage Park. My mom and I had found a good spot where she’d be able to see me run by twice. As I ran by the designated spot (at around mile 3ish), I found her walking towards the spot. I beat her there! Luckily she was close enough that I could yell and wave (and I could hear her yell and see her wave back). After another block, we turned left through the gates of the park. At first we were just running around the paved roads of the park, but then we hit the trails. It was beautiful. Being surrounded by orange groves and the excitement of running on trails almost made me (almost) not realize we were tackling some serious hills. I tried to take some pictures to show off how nice the scenery was:
My Nike+ was off distance-wise, so I wasn’t totally sure how I was doing pace-wise. Based on overall time, I was hitting the first 5 or 6 miles at around a 9:30 pace, but by around mile 8 or 9 I started to slow down. The last few miles were definitely tough, but there were some highlights, like running past some horses, getting an orange slice from a guy cheering on the runners, and getting text messages from friends and family – including a text from my sister telling me she was accepted into graduate school! Even though I had to walk a little bit in the last couple miles, I was able to finish in 2:10:05 – an overall 9:56 pace. I was two minutes over my previous/best half marathon time, but still under a 10:00 pace. Overall, I’m pleased with it!
BUT, the worst was yet to come. After the race, I stretched. I foam-rolled. I drank a couple bottles of coconut water. My mom and I went out to brunch where I had a delicious meal that had carbs and protein and salt. I wore compression socks. I took it easy for the rest of the day. But later that day, I started to get a headache. When I woke up the next day, the headache had blown up and it felt like it had taken over my whole head. I generally avoid taking painkillers because I don’t like masking pain when I should be trying to figure out where its coming from and treat it, but this was a special exception. I walked into the kitchen clutching my right eye and the right side of my head. I took a couple advils, did a few stretches, and got back into bed. When I woke up an hour or so later, the headache had subsided a little bit so that I could at least function like a human. The headache remained for the rest of Sunday, and into Monday a little. UGH.
I’ve done some researching, and the headache is most likely related to not getting the right nutrients or having shitty posture while I run. I did a 4 mile run on Tuesday and felt fine. I did a 7 mile run on Thursday, and the headache came back. I was able to get a massage during my lunch break on Friday, and she explained that my neck/shoulders were in pain because they were super scrunched. She also explained why I get lower back pain and how those muscles are totally devoted to the acts of walking and running. It was suggested that I start icing my lower back after runs and start sleeping with a pillow under my knees to straighten my back at night and relieve some of the pressure on my lower back (yay?). I also want to get in touch with a nutritionist to make sure I’m giving my body everything it needs. I think that I’m drinking enough water, but that I’m losing my salt too fast so I’m going to try drinking water with Nuun to get a little more sodium in my system.
Considering I woke up sore this morning and it was freezing rain/snowing outside, I decided to take another rest day. Tomorrow, I’ll be running a total of 14 miles over 3 separate runs to prepare my body for Ragnar. Fingers crossed that it’s not icy outside tomorrow!