I had a breakthrough race this past weekend at the Charleston Half Marathon, and I’ll write more about race day soon.
A successful race begins long before race day or when you start training, so I’ll start at the beginning. The very beginning.
Last February, I ran the Hilton Head Island Half Marathon and set a new PR (1:38:28). Running was going well, my half marathon times were improving, and people brought up the “M Word”.
A week after HHI, I went to a silent auction benefit called Jammin’ for Jimi. Proceeds from the benefit went toward cancer treatments for Jimi Beauston, a local musician who performs each year at the Race the Landing 5K series. The benefit was hosted by Lucey Mortgage Corporation, a big sponsor many local road races in the Charleston area, so the silent auction was a runner’s dream.
After a glass or two of wine and #BeerPressure from friends, I bid on an entry for the Charleston FULL Marathon. I jokingly wrote “BQ Bound!” beside all my entries because… wine. I hung out with friends and listened to the bands, increased my bid a few times, then checked it at the end of the auction. I was outbid and did not win an entry.
When the auction ended, I realized there was another entry to give away in the ticketed giveaway. I purchased many tickets and drank some more wine. I did not win that entry either. Jimi was there in good spirits and we talked. I was okay because I knew my money went to a great cause. The event raised a lot of money and was fun for all. Race the Landing 5K director Lisa Deaton and the Luceys are amazing event planners as well.
Walking to my car, one of the guys who works for Lucey Mortgage stopped me. I don’t remember his name, just that we were all talking in a big group when some friends congratulated me on my PR at Hilton Head. The man handed me the marathon entry he’d won at the benefit, congratulated me on Hilton Head, and told me to run Charleston and qualify for Boston.
Jimi and the man who gave me the entry after the benefit were on my mind. On car rides to races, I frequently thought about that and how a stranger believed in me.
I begin preparing for the Charleston Marathon, with some other races along the way, logging 50 mile weeks in the oppressive Charleston heat and humidity.
I started my training early because I have an immense respect for the 26.2 miles. I wasn’t training for a marathon to take selfies, run in costume, or cross the finish line holding hands with someone. The people who do that are cool and have just as much right to be there as anyone else, and I love seeing the costumed runners on courses- but it’s just not for me.
Regardless of distance, I refuse to run a race I cannot be proud of. I wanted to face the pain of a marathon- the blood, sweat, and tears- mostly the sweat because Charleston is humid year-round.
I trained smart and focused on recovery, crossing workouts off my Google spreadsheet and staying positive. Running hurts, but cancer hurts worse. I’m thankful I only (personally) know the hurt of running and not the hurt of cancer.
After a 12 mile run that included two trips over and back on the Cooper River Bridge, I messed up my knee. I say “messed up” because my ortho said it was ITBS, and the treatments for that helped, but I never received a conclusive diagnosis. I deferred the Lexington Half Marathon and DNSed two Turkey Trots.
One day I was sitting in Lisa’s car and I asked her how Jimi was doing, and she said things were rough. I still had the marathon entry on my mind and thought about Jimi a lot.
With a few weeks completely off running and the race less than two months away, I knew the marathon would not happen. I won’t run a race I’m not properly trained for, and I have an immense respect for the marathon distance. I continued cross training, resumed running, but focused on injury recovery.
I started training for the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon. My knee was okay, but I didn’t have time to rebuild my base and train for a marathon before the Southern summer. I logged two 40+ mile weeks, a few 10 mile runs, and one 12 miler.
During track workouts, I stopped my watch and frequently commented “I have no idea where that pace came from”. Our honorary “track coach” Larry can attest to this because he heard me say it each week.
On a Sunday run, my friend Tom and I talked about injuries and setbacks. Like most successful runners, he’s had his share. During our conversation, we talked about how the difference between a breakthrough race and an injury is a thin line that we tread. He also said those runners who recovered smart came back to the sport close to their pre-injury level.
I debated using the gifted entry for the 5K associated with the Charleston Marathon. This was the safe option, returning from injury and on a few weeks of training. Run the 5K, have fun, and set a mimosa-drinking PR at the after party. Part of me wanted to take a risk for once and run fast, take chances, and dream big.
Someone believed in me, and it was time for me to believe. I registered for the Charleston Half Marathon.