Saint George Half Marathon 2012, the end of my pr streak.
Up until this race I had run 16 consecutive prs (I threw out a 5k on a short course and the Hostess half as that was a unique course eating twinkies). This was one of those tough races where you find yourself humbled and realize all streak must end sometime. The Saint George half marathon was is like %75 uphill and raining and just not a friendly course, this course chewed me up and spit me out. Normally I would go through the details first but I am going to jump to the end of the race instead and the best thing about running it first.
If you remember my race report from last year I suffered massive muscle spasms and cramps and waited in line for over an hour to get a massage. So after sticking around and getting my official time (miserable 2:06:08 but more on that later) I look over and the massage tent doesn't have a line. So I am like sweet I am so going to get a massage even though I wasn't really cramping or any pain (my knee did not hurt the entire race). One benefit of it raining no lines for the free massages.
The Chiropractor, I found out that he is a Doctor and a Sports Chiropractor that specializes in athletes and runners asks me what area I'd like to focus on. I tell him my it band has been acting up and I like to do my legs mostly. So he starts the massage and then asks me after a little while if I have lost some weight. I tell him that I have lost 220 pounds and he lets me know that I have a hip imbalance. He explains that because my body was so used to carrying so much extra weight (remember I went from a size 58 pant to a 36 that's nearly 2 feet of less belly I have now) that my pelvis is having to realign to adjust to not carrying so much weight which is what is causing my it bands to hurt.
He then explained how the it band starts in the hips and runs through the knees and because my pelvis is realigning that is why I have a hip imbalance and what is causing my it bands to hurt. He told me I should do some hip strengthening and lateral exercises to help it out.
This explains why all conventional wisdom on it bands has not worked on me because I am not having them because of conventional reasons but because I lost so much weight. This is why the it strap didn't work for me and actually made it worse and why the back massager works really well for me (he told me that and my foam roller are great ways to alleviate the tension as my pelvis realigns). This also explains why my left it band just magically seemed to get better because my pelvis was done realigning for the time being. If you remember when my right it band started hurting 3 weeks ago it started hurting in my hip first then my knee started to hurt. So now I know what is wrong and my insurance kicks in next month and I am so going back to this doctor.
Ok on with the rest of race report. If you remember from last year I almost missed the start of the race because of traffic getting there and then having to run into cracker barrel to throw my wallet at my wife (she no longer goes to races with me alas). So this year I decided to leave a little early and in my rush to get out of the house earlier I took my ipod but not my headphones so this would be my first half sans music (I have done a 5k and a 10k sans). It was raining really hard this morning. In Saint George and the desert we get two kinds of rain the torrential downpour that last for like 30 minutes max or the steady constant drizzle that can go on for hours. It was doing the torrential this morning but during the race it switched the constant drizzle.
Get to the race and just chill in my car as its cold and raining. Am torn if I want to wear my hoodie or not with it being cold and rainy outside. I decide to wear it and ditch at an aid station so I get out and go walk around for like 30 minutes just to stretch my legs as I don't want to do a conventional warmup not knowing how my knee is going to go and add extra miles onto it. I decide just before the race starts that I have regretted having the hoodie the last two races and go drop it off in my car and exchange it for my beanie instead which can be stashed in my pocket.
I line up with the 1:50 pacer and check that she is going to be doing a 8:25 pace, I lost her long before we hit mile 1. This is the largest half marathon in Southern Utah and there was like 2000-3000 runners which meant we went out slow and at one point the 1:50 pacer took off to get up too pace and there was too many people in front of me to even try and keep with her but I wasn't feeling it anyways and a 9mm was about all I had in me today.
The first 7 miles were all uphill, then you got a few small downhills then the last 6 miles were either flat or with a slight uphill. The course just chewed me up and spit me out. Keep in mind because of my knee issues I haven't had a quality run in since the first of the year. I know you don't lose a lot of fitness in 2-3 weeks but couple that with the fact that the course was brutal and I just could never get moving very well.
At the first aid station the 1:55 pacer paced me, I tried to catch up to him but I just didn't have it in me so I just let him go and was trying to stay in front of the 2 hour pacer. Also around mile 3 I got passed by two clowns, one with a bright rainbow colored wig, which is worse getting beat by a 13 year old or a clown? The hills were just beating me up at this point it was around mile 5 that the 2:00 pacer caught up with me. I hear him commenting to his other pacer that they are a minute ahead of pace so the runners must just love running hills. I wanted to beat him with a stick.
I stayed with him for a little while but mile 6 had the worst hill of the race and I just kind of lost him. Now not running with music is very very interesting like sometimes I worried some runners were going to hyperventilate they were breathing so heavy. And some of the snip-its of conversations you hear is quite fun.
After mile 7 you get one nice downhill then the rest is kind of flat or a much smaller incline at this point I am just done and beat up. If this was one of my long runs I might have just called it quits as I was completely trashed at this point, soaked and wet and completely miserable. It was at this point I wish I had some music to take my mind off the miserable weather. But I just kept going knowing there is no way I am going to pr or even get another sub 2 my goal just became to not get passed by the 2:05 pacer (I didn't see him so I don't know if he fell of pace as I finished 2:06:08).
No kick at the finish but my knee didn't hurt the entire time so I am going to be grateful for that. I ran a better race stopping to eat twinkies ever couple of miles just last month.
I feel very humbled right now, which is funny as I ran this race last year in 2:20:20 on a much easier course. But I am glad I know what is going on with my it bands know and it totally made the race worth it.