Proud to have finished or stupid for pushing too hard?

Last Saturday I had my second Half Marathon ever.

It was much tougher than the first one, in spite of the awesome sunny but cool weather, compared to the rain and cold of the first one.

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Arriving at the park, lots of fog announcing a sunny day

And I know exactly what made it tougher.

Ambition!

Because I pushed my body more than I should have.

In 2011, I had no ambition to even try to run. I was a walker, was training to walk and was happy to walk a half-marathon, thinking of that as an accomplishment big enough.

Between 2011 and 2013, my preparedness level went down, as I was not walking as consistently as before throughout the year, and I did not got even closer to become a runner. Still a walker and a slower one for lack of training.

But still I got ambitious thinking I could try to run at least a little part of it.

I did try running before, and ran part of a 10 k in August and part of a 5 k in October. But since October, my training was very little and was focused more on walking than on running. I did only one training run. Just one!

But still I got ambitious thinking I could try to run at least a little part of it.

And that’s what made my feet very very unhappy.

The first mile I started running because I crossed the start line with a friend who is a runner. We never really stayed side by side because even with me trying to run, she is faster and I didn’t want and would not slow her down. So after crossing the line, off she went on her faster pace, while I stayed behind on my very slow jog. Before milestone 1, though, I had already switched to walking, as my right foot was starting to hurt a bit.

About to cross the starting line

About to cross the starting line

It is a bit common, though, that my foot hurts a bit in the beginning, but as it warms up the pain fades away and I can walk a lot with no pain.

The second mile, I walked most of it. I may have jogged a minute here, a minute there, but it was a walking mile. And by the time I reached milestone 2, the problem was a different one and on the other side. My left foot was getting numb. So now I had one foot hurting and another one numb. Great!

The third mile, then, was a listen-to-your-body-and-try-to-find-balance one, in which I was trying to figure out how to make my left foot come back no life and the right one to stop hurting. And I did find the balance. By milestone 3, I had realized that for the pain the solution was to slow down, while for the numbness the solution was to speed up, so my job was to find a speed that would please my 2 halves. And that speed turned out to be 3.8 mph.

Walking fast, with some little jogging here and there, on a foggy trail

Walking fast, with some little jogging here and there, on a foggy trail

For the fourth mile, my strategy was to keep that 3.8 mph speed to make my feet happy again and it worked great. So great that by milestone 4, I decided I could risk jogging a bit more and decided to try to jog for a full mile.

The fifth mile was jogging.  It wasn’t too bad. I could feel I was forcing my right foot again, but it wasn’t hurting much. For the lower back, it seemed to be even more comfortable. My muscles were ok. They always are. I like my muscles. And I was able to keep a speed of 4.8. Yay! On milestone 5 I switched again to walking.

The sixth mile was a full mile of walking. I felt my feet harder when I switched to walking than while I was jogging, but then the pain went sort of away. That’s when I had the great idea to play intervals until the end. I could walk 6, jog 7, walk 8, jog 9, walk 10, jog 11, walk 12 and jog 13, crossing the finish line jogging. That’d be perfect! With that idea in mind, at milestone 6, I switched to jog again to go on with my plan.

Seventh mile was jogging again. But my feet was not as recovered now as it was at the beginning of mile 5, so I was not able to keep the same speed. I was still able to push myself to jog the whole mile, but at a slower speed of 4.3 and with some pain. I was actually looking really forward to see milestone 7 and be able to switch again.

On the eight mile, as I switched back to walk, my feet started hurting more again, just like between 5 and 6, but this time the pain was much worse. It was actually awful. OMG!!! Hard to put any weight on my right foot. And I still had 6+ more miles to go. At that point lots of things crossed my mind, and I was torn between:

  1. listening to the clues my body was giving me and call my husband to pick me up half-way through
  2. setting my mind to complete the race, after all in a endurance race the mind is more powerful than the body and should be the one not to give up.

Ambition + pride + though-headedness make me pick number 2 and set my mind to finish, regardless of the incredible pain I was feeling.

And of I went, to walk for 6 more miles in spite of the complains from my right foot.

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At the second half of the half, the sun started to come out, my feet started to hurt like crazy and I started to get behind…

At some point, left foot started complaining too, after all, with the other one refusing to support my weight I had to put more stress on it.

Miles 8, 9 and 10 were painful and hard. My focus turned to try to be able to make it in under 4 hours, since the course would close after 4 hours… So I was trying not to let my speed go below 3 mph. And I was able to keep it at around 3.1 mph, which should be enough.

At milestone 10 I called my husband to let him know that I had 3 more miles to go and I was doing 3 miles per hour, so I would be crossing the finish line in 1 hour, so he could plan to be there by that time to pick me up.

After that, I don’t know if it was a psychological effect of knowing the end was close, or if it was the fact that my body was starting to get used to be ‘abused’ by me with all that walking-in-spite-of-pain thingy, but I was able to increase my pace and speed a little bit, doing 3.4 mph.

And with that I crossed the finish line after 3:33:04! Yay! I made it in spite of all!!! And faster than last time, which had a time of 3:49.

But with all the pain, especially at that night after a soaking relaxing bath, I started wondering if I should be proud to have finished or stupid for pushing too hard?

Today, after 48 hours, my feet are much better, but still hurting more than they should. I’ve been using pain-relief creams, massage, and rest, but the thing is still there.

I tried to read a bit about feet injuries and I guess it could be plantar fasciitis (which I have and that’s why I’m a walker more than a runner), maybe in great extend my peroneal tendons, maybe a tiny bit of Achilles tendons, most likely a combination of all three.

But one thing is for sure. I finished it and I have my medal to prove it! And in a few years I will have forgotten all the pain, but will still have the memory of finishing one more race.

The medal to be proud of!

The medal to be proud of!

So I guess that answers my questions and tells me I can be proud, just a bit more cautious next time.

And there will sure be a next time!!!!

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4 thoughts on “Proud to have finished or stupid for pushing too hard?

    • Thanks. Yes, go for it. It’s nice and gives us a nice feeling of accomplishment. Just don’t try to do it without proper training (like me) and make sure to wear the right shoes for you (another mistake I made on the race described here… ). Finding someone to train with you would also be a nice thing, to keep you motivated. Maybe your marathoner cousin? Good luck and keep us posted.

      • Thanks for all the advice..I have other friends who do run and my cousin is in a totally different league that I can’t keep up with. I’m sort of “training” for a July one. It’s been more than 15 years since I last joined a run like that. I do hope to finish one – I’m so out of shape 😉

  1. Pingback: Whole30-powered race and reintroduction phase | Paleotizing The Girl

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