Today was the Vernonia Half Marathon, the race I have been training for over the last 10 weeks! After such a magnificent run last weekend in Santa Barbara, CA, I was skeptical about experiencing an equally beautiful course this weekend, but Vernonia, OR did not disappoint.
My training for this run was better than my previous runs. I was consistent, mixed in a lot of cross training with p90x and Insanity, and didn’t let school, work, or the rain become an excuse to slack off. I also learned to recognize progress and not allow my perfectionism to get in the way of appreciating my hard working body.
As mentioned above, I got the opportunity to sneak in a training run in Santa Barbara while visiting my family there, and it really made me fall in love with running all over again. After 9 weeks of running about 4 times/week, it was starting to feel like a bit of a chore and some days, I wasn’t running simply because I wanted to. Do you ever feel like being tied to a schedule makes activities just a part of your ever-growing to-do list? That is what happened during training this time around. The run in Santa Barbara, however, gave me sweeping views of the ocean and mountains, a calm quiet atmosphere with the soothing sound of the ocean, and an adventure through the town where I met the love of my life. Nick and I met while attending college at UCSB and revisiting it with him is always filled with nostalgia. After the run, we did some push ups on the grass and got smoothies at a local favorite, Blenders in the Grass. The rest of the day was spent with my grandparents, mom and cousin. It was a centering and rejuvenating weekend, for sure.
The Vernonia Half Marathon did not have incredible views of the Pacific Ocean, but it provided a beautiful run along a paved path surrounded by green mossy trees and a lake. Unfortunately, I did not get many pictures of the course because I was concentrated on knocking out my best time for 13.1 miles!
I had set out to complete this half marathon in 2 hours or less and after the first 9 miles, Nick and I were definitely on track to do just that. However, a short time after passing mile marker
9, I was painfully reminded that I had obtained some pretty gnarly blisters last weekend while running in Santa Barbara and I had forgotten to put mole skin on those spots for this run. For some reason, I got blisters on the insole of each foot last weekend and, because they had healed quickly last week, I completely forgot about them! Although I had forgotten, my feet definitely did not and at the crucial part in the race, my insoles were on fire and each step was becoming increasingly painful. As usual for me, when one thing goes wrong I immediately start thinking the entire project is ruined and my mind went into self-doubting, quitter mode. The last 4 miles were a brutal combination of growing blisters and Debbie Downer thoughts, until Nick patiently walked with me, listened to my frustrations, and said, “This is just for fun and you are doing amazing.” He also reminded me not to push so hard that I can’t do another run and I started to feel better although I could feel the minutes ticking closer and closer to that 2 hour mark I had set for myself.
We ended up finishing in 2 hours and 11 minutes, which is by far the fastest I have run 13.1 miles. I completed the Columbia River Gorge Half Marathon in October 2012 in 2 hours and 24 minutes, and although this course was a lot less hilly, I am still so proud of those 13 minutes I shaved off my time! Looking at my splits, I am also stoked about how the race started out and am ok with the abrupt slow-down at the end given the pain I was in. This was “just for fun” and I continue to learn things about long distance running to apply next time!
After the race, we met up with some friends who just completed a two day bicycling excursion for some beers (none for me, I had work this afternoon/evening!) and ridiculously huge burritos! I am now hobbling around work with bandaged blisters and a tight IT band, but am feeling accomplished and looking forward to my next fitness adventure: p90x 2! …and maybe another race 🙂