Good legs are such a funny thing: sometimes they show up when you least expect them, and sometimes you take them for granted, and they go missing. Although I had been planning on it for some time, I almost didn’t race the Tucson Half Marathon yesterday. After my bike crash at the half ironman the previous weekend, I had been a hot mess. Even after the initial couple days of crazy-soreness subsided, my body seemed to be working in overdrive, trying to heal—just doing bike and run workouts that normally would have been no big deal, my heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest. I was sleeping the days away and still tired, had a headache that wouldn’t go away, and had been making daily visits to super-chiro Dr. Eric at The Joint.
In short, it wasn’t looking good for a fast half marathon, which was my objective in entering this race. As my training partner Sam pointed out, I am usually more than willing to give any race a crack, however ill-prepared I may be, so the fact that I was considering not even starting this race that I’d already entered said something about the pathetic state that I was in. On Saturday, I had to make a decision, though, and Coach said I should just do the run, which in the worst case would be a long run with friends.
Thus the mental re-framing: yes, this was a race, but without my own expectations for running fast, it was just 13.1 miles of road between start and finish, and that I could do. I reconciled the worst-case scenario, which I figured would be me running 7:30/mile pace, feeling like my heartrate was 180, and hating my life for 1.5+ hours. In other words, nothing I hadn’t survived before. Many times. Suddenly it became, why not race—at least I might be able to accomplish a hard training session.
Disrobing—SMASH long-sleeve tee came in handy!
Then the good legs appeared—to my own surprise most of all. Honestly, I was running the first mile of the race and couldn’t feel my feet or my legs because it was so flippin’ cold. So I didn’t know what kind of legs I had. But when I looked at my watch near the end of that mile and saw 6:09/mile pace on the Garmin, I had a sneaking suspicion that good legs might just have snuck up on me.
I was running this pace and I wasn’t forcing anything –for non-speedster me, that usually means good legs. Of course there were a few more miles of wondering whether I was going to blow myself up running like this, but truly I felt great and the pace was coming much more easily than it usually does. After awhile, I trusted it, I trusted my legs, I smiled, and loved it!!
The second half of the Tucson Marathon course takes you straight towards a stunning view of the mountains against the early morning sky; it was just awesome. I was truly able to take it all in and appreciate so much the fact that my body was cooperating on this day. After a half marathon sufferfest the previous month and the half ironman debacle the weekend beforehand, I could appreciate a “good legs day” even more and reminded myself to enjoy every minute of this “good pain” because it was hard-earned.
I crossed the finish line in 1:25.00—or painful-in-the-bad-way for being literally one second away from 1:24! But having never been in the 1:25s before, and to do it on the most unexpected day, I was thrilled.
Then I hopped in the shuttle to get to my car and back out onto the course to look for my athletes. Birthday girl Karina (celebrating with a smashfest, of course) in the half marathon proved too speedy for coach’s stalking skills, but I did manage to find fellow Mighty Trojan swimmer Barry and make sure he kept it honest for the last 10+kilometers of his marathon (This course is awesome for bunny-hopping by car by the way.) . . . Indeed he was doing us proud: Barry’s 30 minute–hello–marathon PR was the icing on the TeamHPB cake for the day!
What a difference a week makes!