Respecting the Distance: More/Fitness Half Marathon

In one of my first long-distance races, the letter in the program from the race’s previous winner talked about respecting the distance.

(I can’t remember whether it was the male winner or the female winner, but for the sake of this story, I’m going to go with female.)

She had won a large race the year before, yet she said that she approached each race and distance with an equal amount of respect. A 5K was as important to her as a 10-miler.

It’s something I never forgot, but have failed to internalize at times.

After a great season of marathon training last fall, I got a little cocky. I thought I could do anything. And when my training’s been on point, I have been able to accomplish quite a lot.

To be honest, a PR probably wouldn’t have been possible today anyway with my training. I’ve trained as well as I have the energy for, but that’s definitely not near the full potential I’ve had when I’ve had more time. I said I wanted it, but I didn’t really want it with every bit of me like I did my NYC Marathon time last year.

This morning, I woke up at 6 with plans to leave by 7:05 to pick up Leticia. I woke up excited…and I also woke up with my period. (Sorry to all three dudes reading this.) I’ve never had it during a race before, and I hoped it wouldn’t affect me too much.

I got dressed and walked Bailey and noticed a thick sheet of pollen coating the windshields of the cars in my neighborhood.

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Leticia and I split a cab up to Central Park, and I did something uncharacteristic: I checked a bag. I never do this, because I’m always convinced there’s going to be a really long line to drop it off or pick it up after the race, and I can usually just suck up whatever temperature. But rain was forecast for this morning, and I thought I might want some dry clothes afterwards.

I checked my bag, put on my bib and headed off for my corral. I hastily scrawled the times it would have taken to hit 1:55 on my arm and then started getting antsy for the race to start. I was standing there and out of nowhere realized I’d forgotten to put my d-tag timing chip on my shoe, and it was in my bag in baggage check. Baggage check was at least a 5 minute walk away, and the race was starting in less than 10 minutes.

Oh well, I thought. Even at this point, I thought PR-ing was dubious. Either way, the prospect of running to get my dtag and potentially starting in the last coral sounded less appealing than no official time.

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Obligatory crowded corral shot.

I started the race and wanted to keep around a 9:00 pace and then pick it up later. However, cramps started kicking in during the first mile, my legs were tight and so were my lungs from the pollen annihilating them. I was fighting hard to keep even a 9:30 pace at this point. It’s fine, I told myself. You just need a mile or two to warm up.

At this point, I was surrounded by a lot of much slower runners. I was pissed and convinced half of them had lied about or completely overestimated their racing ability to get into a faster corral.

Mile 2: Still tight, still fighting to keep sub-9:30. I started thinking about DNF-ing at this point. My time and race completion already wouldn’t count. I wouldn’t push myself to potential injury, and I could curl up in a ball and sleep off the cramps and allergy headache.

Mile 3: I somehow managed to take it back to a 8:50 pace, and thought that I’d finally found my stride.

Mile 4: I started hitting the hills, and my legs just couldn’t take it. They felt stronger at mile 24 of the marathon than they did at this point. I started thinking really seriously about DNF-ing at this point and formulating my plan. Okay, I’ll just run to baggage check, pick up my stuff and peace out. Around mile 4.5, I took a Gu and hoped and prayed that some sugar and caffeine in my body would help things.

Mile 5-6: The caffeine and sugar were starting to help, and I started to feel a bit better.

Mile 6: We were at the south end of Central Park, and the crowds were a little thicker. This is also my favorite part of the park (usually because it’s where I finish/end), so my spirits picked up a bit, but I was still wondering how the hell I could run 7.1 more miles. I eventually ran past someone who was yelling “you’re almost halfway there!” and I realized I still had it in me. Today was not the day I’d admit (total) defeat. I’d finish this damn thing. I picked up the pace a bit, and thought I might even still have a PR, or at least a sub-2 time in me.

Miles 7-9: I realized that any visions of PR-ing were totally delusional (oh! It also started getting much warmer here, which was not awesome) and tried really hard to banish all thoughts of time and just finish this damn thing.

Mile 10: THANK THE LORD. i have never been so happy to see the number 10 on a large blue sign.

Mile 11: I was at 1:45 at this point, and I started doing some math. Could I do the last 2.1 in 15 minutes? If I had been running at a good speed all race and then was about to negative split the crap out of this race, MAYBE. No way in hell was that happening today.

Mile 12: I couldn’t even pick it up for this last mile. My legs felt like I’d been running all day.


Mile 13.1: Uphill? WTF. I was wearing my marathon outfit, which I’d put on for good luck, and a few people yelled my name at this point. Finally, with something like 50 yards to go, I sprinted the hell out of the race to cross the finish line.

I need a massage and a mini-break from running before I start training for my next challenges: Reach the Beach and the triathlon I have in June.

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Thank god for good friends who helped me forget about my crappy race. And a huge congrats to Laura on the left’s first half, and to Laura on the right’s mom’s first half!

At least it didn’t rain?

Thanks again to Fitness for hooking me up with a free entry!

32 comments on “Respecting the Distance: More/Fitness Half Marathon

  1. Laura

    MASSAGE! You totally deserve it. Good job sticking with it today – it was so much warmer than expected out there. And thanks for not minding waiting forever for brunch 🙂

  2. Kristin Miller

    This race should be a huge mental boost. You’ve fought through realizing the race wasn’t tracking you, mother nature in more ways than one, and the mental battle to give up! You can go anything! I’ve learned to respect the distance as well. It’s a tough lesson but a lifelong one.

  3. Ash bear

    I’m sure a masseuse at Equinox would love to straddle the stress out of you just like Tim did for Em yesterday! Boo for bad races but you know I’ve been there before! Youll rock RTB a month from now!!!

  4. mom

    I can’t imagine even leaving the apartment feeling they way
    you did. You accomplished finishing the race, and did
    it with great respect.
    Give yourself the credit you so rightly deserve, you always
    give it your best, and the best will come back to YOU!!!

    Know I’m always there in every race even though you can’t see me.

    Love You

  5. dorry

    um, good for you for getting out there & running 13.1 miles this morning! they can’t all be PRs. I would have started crying if I woke up on race day to my period. :/

  6. Harold

    Like you said respect the distance and add to that the weather. We are not acclimated to running in heat yet and it takes a pretty big toll on the body! I guess I am that 4th guy, you didn’t know about ;-). Doesn’t bother me been in house with wife, 2 stepdaughters and 2 daughters, just part of life and it does affect how you run – at least it always did my wife.

  7. Katie @ Katie Moves

    I had a duathlon 2 weeks ago with a very similar experience…and I just thought what the hell- just keep running and finish- I do not even care about the pace i’m at. I did and I was so glad to be done. Props to your for finishing- you’ll get the next one 🙂

  8. Mike

    With all that adversity you still finished the race and you should be proud of that. Just use this race as motivation for the next one. that to really motivate you for your next race.

  9. Linda

    What is with this race season? I didn’t want to run the Scotland Run last week, but made myself do it (even considered a DNF, just because I wasn’t feeling it), and this morning I just stayed in bed. Good for you for doing it! Yay!!!!
    I have been thinking about what I am going to do until my fall marathon training starts. Of course my choices are chill out and do nothing or just do whatever or the exact opposite, which is train with purpose so that I can make an actual effort to improve my overall running paces and fitness before I start marathon training. I’ve decided on the latter. I may join a running club — I’m going to see if I can go to some training runs to check out different clubs (I need one that welcomes slower runners and have members that are around my pace who go to training runs — no point in being part of a run club, if it means I run by myself anyway). I am beginning to have running singlet envy…. I want to be part of a running club — very uncharacteristically social for me.

  10. Angela Lealaogata

    I have been wanting to run more, but it just isn’t my thing. About 4 years ago I really started watching what I ate lost 65 lbs gained about 15 back in the last year and now I want to get back on the horse and thought I might try to run a couple races this summer but can’t get in the mood 🙂 how do you get in the mood to run? And what type of running shoes do you like I think I need new ones mine are probably 5-10 years old 🙂 no judging. Anyway I just found your blog love it. Just started my own a couple months ago and really enjoy it.

  11. Megan

    Good job on pushing through! I know how horrible cramps can be (mine showed up this morning) – and I can’t imagine running through them sometimes! Respecting the distance is so true. Each time you run it – there are different conditions of many kinds, each run is unique!

  12. Jess

    I think I might have just blew it off the moment I realized I didn’t have my d-tag on. You however choose the better option! So proud of you for pushing through.

    At mile 11 I had almost the exact amount of time left to shoot for a pr, but also knew it just wasn’t my plan for yesterday.

  13. Angela


    *I am training for my second half and I remember seeing mile 10 and never being so happy 🙂 I then cried almost all of mile 11 to 12 because it was the worst mile of my life! lol hoping for more successs come my race in may!!!

    Way to go you deserve that massage!

  14. Courtney

    Theodora, I’m a longtime reader and hollered your name like an absolute crazy person around 6, right at the SE corner of the park – you looked awesome to me!

    Way to push through, even when you weren’t feeling 100%. I think that sometimes, those races can be even more rewarding because you had the grit to tough it out when you weren’t feeling your best.

    Fantastic job and congrats!

  15. Heather Montgomery

    I know how disappointing that is. My half yesterday was total crap. Its so frustrating! At least you did it, and like me hopefully you learned something to make the next one better! Keep up the good work!

  16. Jess

    I’m sorry this half was kind of crappy for you! There’s nothing worse than a shitty race where all you want to do is stop running after mile two. That was Philly for me last year.

    Also, I’m amazed that you’ve never had your period while racing after all the races you’ve done. Seriously, that’s just impressive hahaha.

  17. BaileyA

    Way to go! You finished the half marathon, which is WAY more than most people can say! And if I could rationalize getting a massage after every long distance race, I’d run one a month!

  18. Megan @ Run Like a Grl

    New reader here, just came across your blog 🙂 I volunteered at the More Expo and thought it was a great event… all those motivated, happy, strong women really inspired me! Love your race review. I know its a tough course (2 loops of the park. What?!) and it seems like you did great! Congrats!

  19. Megan (The Runner's Kitchen)

    Feeling like you don’t want to (or can’t) continue running during a race is the worst. I’ve been there! But good for you for sticking it out. I think there are days for PRs and there are days that test our mental strength and endurance. Both are equally important. Hope you got that massage and are recovering well!

  20. Caitlin

    You are badass for sticking out a tough race – it happens to everyone, and the mental game is so. damn. hard. Two loops of Central Park is never fun. Congrats on being awesome. 🙂


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