Long story short. I did it. I did it against all the odds. I did it when the temperature was 4 degree Celsius/39 degree F with chilling winds going at a speed of 20/30 miles per hour in exactly opposite direction I was running in. And to everyone’s surprise, I was in shorts and a T-shirt. You are right, it was a crazy thing to do!
After delivering a satisfactory performance in Des Moines marathon on October 19, I was expecting a really good performance today, in HillyBilly half marathon. I knew the weather is going to be difficult, especially for a person who has spent his 29 years in country where temperatures rarely drop below 10. Well, in most parts of the country.
So I was at the start line along with other runners at 8am. Due to some logistic issues the start was delayed by 20 minutes. 20 long minutes. All of us were literally shivering while standing in that cold weather.
Finally gun went off and I started, pretty good as I had expected. I wanted my body to get warmed up as early as possible. I didn’t realise what speed I was running at until my Garmin beeped at 1km. I was going too fast. But was feeling good so thought it is going to be my day! Unfortunately, that wasn’t supposed to be the case. Suddenly at 3.5km I started feeling some pain in my right shin. I’ve been having some minor issues with right shin for last one week. But the pain never seemed to be concerning as it used to subside after couple of kilometres. But today, it was different. More intense and more nagging.
I slowed down to allow the pain to go but it did not have any such plans. I realised I’m going to have an unwanted company today. At around 5-6km, I slowed significantly and finally started walking as I could not bear the pain. Everyone had started passing me by now. And the kind of competitive person I am, I wasn’t happy with it at all. But did I have any option?
I thought, if it is going to pain I might well as run with a pain than walk with it. Not a sensible thing to do! But just had that intuition that I could do it. So I started running slowly and continued till 9km. At 9km mark, I realised that I wasn’t feeling the pain any more. May be because my leg and mind were numb. Numb, because of all the negative thoughts I was having. So with numb foot and mind, I started picking up pace slowly and felt that it was making me feel better. I crossed 10.5k (mid point of the race) at 1:00:something. I was happy with what I had achieved with aching shin. Considering my previous performances and respecting logic, I was supposed to take more than an hour for the second half. But something struck me. I thought why not try going for the kill than eventually getting killed anyways.
And that helped! I picked up the pace I was supposed to run with initially.
And pain? What pain? I did not bother to think about it, forget feeling it. Kilometres after kilometres passed and I was cruising. Suddenly realised that I was couple of kms away from the finish line. This is where wind got really strong and was not helping at all. But did I care? No, I did not. Continued cruising till I finished. And boy, I completed my second half in 56 minutes! So overall timing of 1:56:20. Second best performance so far.
Was I happy? I don’t know. I know one thing, I came out of that marathon as a stronger person than I was before. And that is precisely I love running for! It makes you stronger!
Every race and every run teach you something by throwing unexpected challenges in a brutal possible manner. It is totally up to you how you want to take the challenge.
Because ultimately- Either you run the race or the race will run you down!