Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Callaway Gardens Half Marathon, Race Recap

I have to start this post with a photo of my favorite spectators.  After dropping me off at the start line, they were able to grab breakfast and then wait in the warm car before coming out to cheer me in for the finish.  I was so happy to hear their voices.  (It did hurt a little when Libby said, "Mommy, I didn't think you were ever going to finish!"  Thanks, Lib.)

The race began at 8am eastern time, which was 7am for me.  I had woken up feeling pretty crummy (hello, UTI symptoms), so I took Tylenol before the race began.  The event coordinators were REALLY good with organization--we started at 8 am on the dot.  The half runners and full runners both began at the same time--the race course was a loop around the gardens, so the half runners completed the loop once and the full runners did it twice.

The race reviewers weren't kidding when they said the course was hilly.  I don't know that any part of the course was all.  I felt like I was either running up a hill or down a hill.  Even with all those hills, I felt strong.  I paced myself really well (as opposed to previous races) and was hitting a steady 8:30 per mile going into the 7th mile.

Around the end of mile 6, I started to feel a nagging pain in my right hip.  Nothing severe, just unexpected.  I've never actually hurt during a run at all, and I've especially never had hip pain, so I didn't quite know what was going on.

The course was beautiful--winding through trees and flowers and around a lake.  The weather was great--39 degrees with zero wind.  Chugging through mile 7 listening to my tunes and taking in my surroundings.  All was great in my world.

Mile 8 I made a friend.  He strikes up conversation.  (Thankfully, he did most of the talking and I did most of the listening.) He was a trainer for the Biggest Loser contestants once they returned home from the show.  He had actually just completed the Disney World Marathon two weeks prior, expenses paid (flight, room, and race fee) by a client who wanted him to pace her.  Now that's a job I could handle, right there :)  Conversation with this friend lasted a little while, and I made it to mile 10 without thinking about my hip.

I'm not sure what happened between mile 10 and 11 (I'm thinking the Tylenol wore off), but my hip started screaming.  Every step I took was excruciatingly painful.  At mile 11, my mental toughness (or stubbornness, maybe) kicked in.  I was determined to finish.  I had made it that far with a pretty steady pace and with zero walking, so I wasn't quitting.

Miles 11-13.1 were miserable.  My hip pain radiated down my leg to my knee and into my foot.  I was fighting back tears, and my pace had slowed to somewhere just over 10 minutes per mile.  Still not walking, but not good pacing either.  (I actually attempted walking, but the hip still hurt just as much, so I figured I might as well run.)  I was SO glad to see the sign for the finish.  I heard my girls cheering me on and mustered up this smile for a photo.  Totally faked and completely for my girls.

I crossed the finish in 1:56:42, with an average pace of 8:55 per mile.  My first half was 1:55:16 and almost completely flat.  Even though I didn't PR, I feel like I ran a better race this time when you consider the hills.  And the pain.

I made Justin take this picture of me with the girls before literally falling into him and having him drag me to the truck.  I don't know if it was the hills, or if I stepped off the trail and pulled a muscle during the run, or what, but as I'm writing this (on Wednesday) I'm still having hip pain.  It has gotten slightly better, but not much.  I can walk without falling now.  After the race on Sunday, I would literally stumble with each step.  When I put weight on my right foot, something in my hip area hurt so much that the muscle would give and not support me.  Crazy, right?

I'm completely baffled by this race.  It was superbly organized, and utterly beautiful.  Definitely a race course I would recommend.  They have several options--5k, half, and full marathons.  The hills were killer, but who doesn't like a good challenge every now and then?  What confuses me is my hip.  I'm not sure what the problem was (is?!?), so I don't know how to prevent it from happening again in a future race.  My plan is to give it a few days of complete rest, and then work on stretching it out really well.  Hopefully, I'll be able to walk normal and start running again next week.  Until then, I'll just be limping around over here. :)

Any suggestions for hip pain?  I need a diagnosis :)

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