An “expensive long walk” was my original thought for this year’s Mississauga Half Marathon. I didn’t have much training and have never ran over 14.4 km in my life. Ever since my shin issues a few months ago, I never quite regained my motivation to run, especially with cycling in high season right now. My last run was almost 3 weeks ago for less than 7km.
Pre-Race Ride (38.71km)
As my desperate attempt to prepare for the race, I rode the route the day before on my bike. It was a fantastic cycling route on Mississauga Rd – scenic and winding. The route got even more fantastic once I reached the Waterfront Trail with its gorgeous view overlooking Lake Ontario, but I can’t say the same for riding. I was afraid of running anyone over, resorting to riding ultra slow and clipping out most of the time. People were less predictable than cars with their zigzagging and bell ringing meant nothing to them. Perhaps they were too absorbed with the scenery? Can’t blame them. I even stopped for a few minutes waiting for a little girl on her bike to stop rolling backwards on a hill, refusing to listen to her mom who kept telling her to walk her bike up.
The night before the race, I realized no fuel would be offered at rest stops for the Half’s. Uh-oh, I had no gels in my cabinets. I better squish my poor energy bars into the gel loops for safe measures ….
Race Day – Half Marathon (May 5, 2013)
I wasn’t nervous on race day. I couldn’t set a target time without a baseline, no goals except finish uninjured. Cycling plans are on the line! It was also my 1st time wearing a loaded fuel belt! I knew my place at the start line (as far back as possible) and didn’t dare stand any closer to the front.
Out of the starting gates, I quickly spotted the 2:15 pace bunny. I passed her within minutes which boosted my confidence. Maybe I can finish this without crawling! I found a pace I could maintain and kept it. No point hurrying now with over 20km left. Just focus on myself, stop watching people around me. The fuel belt was a nuisance. It kept sliding to the side and my forearm kept rubbing against it.
The 2:15 bunny was on my heels the entire race. Every time the spectators cheered “It’s the bunny!!“, I would pick up the pace. Suddenly, my original “no goal” race had a purpose – Beat the bunny. Even though she was behind me the whole time, it was her who pushed me to keep my pace. For that, I thank her. Alternating leg pains came & went; luckily, each would eventually subside. The spectators and entertainment along the route were amazing. I never slowed down to walk or stopped at any rest stops, for fear of losing my momentum.
Real cursing started at 16.5km when I barely had energy to lift my legs up a curb. This was followed by right rib pains at 21km, and ending with the worst photo op ever when I stopped & walked right before the mats for no apparent reason other than sheer tiredness.
What I learned from this race was I didn’t need fuel. My breakfast was enough to carry me to the finish line and water was all I needed. If there’s a next time, I will definitely lighten up my waist luggage.
Post-Race Ride (36.32km)
A few hours after the Half Marathon, I went for a ride to test out a theory discovered by a fellow blogger. The theory holds that to cure stiff and tired running legs, go for an easy ride at high cadence (or in his case, ride hard). A theory with cycling involved? That sparked my interest! The push off was painful, but once in motion, I could feel my thighs loosening up. Eventually, my running pains disappeared and were replaced by another pain – foot cramps. That signaled my return home. My legs were fantastic post-ride. Too bad it was short-lived as they stiffened up after sitting down for a few hours. This theory is nonetheless a nice temporary solution. If only I can spin my legs all day …..
Will I ever do a Half again? Before this Half, the answer is a NO. After the race, I kind of enjoyed it. The only problem is my lack of drive to run such a distance on my own for training. It will be another “go for it” race. I’ll have to think about this a bit more. For now, cycling is calling my name!! No running events until next year!