On Saturday morning, as planned, I ran a slow half-marathon, the Highlands Ranch Backcountry Wilderness 1/2 Marathon. Slow meant slow: 2:31:08, a half-hour slower than I ran the Boulder Half last month. But there was no disappointment this time, because I did it on purpose. The course, though I wouldn't really call it backcountry (more like undeveloped suburbia), was super hilly the entire way, and featured about four miles of rugged single-track. I ran it with my friend Kathy, and we took walk breaks every four minutes for the first half, slowing down even more during the second half and especially in the single-track portion, when the rocks and scree started to get to her bum knee. She sent me off during the last two miles, and thanks to all the walking, I was able to clock an 8:27 for the last one. I felt great. It was exactly what I wanted in the day's training run: proof that I could still tackle the distance, and no soreness (with one caveat to that, which I'll get to below).
I am a big believer in walk breaks. This isn't to say that I am a believer that I could qualify for Boston while taking them (though Jeff Galloway and others do believe that). What I believe about them is that, once this goal is accomplished, walk breaks will be my way of ensuring that I can continue to enjoy beautiful long runs like Saturday's for the rest of my life. If it's the experience, and not your time, that you care about, I wholeheartedly recommend walking during your runs. You will be both fit and happy, and you will rarely be sore.
Saturday's race almost didn't happen. The day before, my daughter Ruthie got sick to her stomach. We weren't sure if she had caught a bug, eaten something bad or just gotten herself worked up. I was prepared to bag my race plan, and even called Kathy to say I might not be coming down. Fortunately, Ruth recovered enough by the time Dan got home from work that it was clear I would be able to go. But the uncertainty, I realized, was something I need to get used to.
Something I'm also getting used to (and this is the soreness caveat mentioned above) is a pain in my right foot. Since having my kids, I've had a mild-ish bunion on that foot, and a vague soreness on the ball between the second and third toes. During my training for the Boulder Half, the soreness got worse. And after my 10-miler a week ago and again after yesterday's race, it was the worst ever. It felt like I was stepping on a marble. I've decided to see a podiatrist about it (and the bunion--might as well cover it all while I'm spending the money!). My fear is that I will be told to stop running for a while. Cross your fingers that this doesn't happen! I am one grumpy person when I can't run.
The other thing coming up this week is that I have an appointment with a nutritionist on Tuesday. I have told her that weight loss for running faster is my goal, and I will dutifully bring in a food diary with three days worth of my inconsistent meals and snacks recorded. I have paid for three further meetings with her, so I'm hoping that being held accountable for my eating habits will help me (finally) change them. I hope she won't be one of those kind folks in the medical and health fields who praises my "normal" weight and pegs me as a closet anorexic for wanting to shed some of it. I am not and never have been even close to anorexic. I really like eating. It's just that I need to channel my liking for good food into a healthier relationship with it that supports my body image and my running. Stay tuned for more on this after the appointment.
P.S. Congrats to my cousin Zach, who ran a 1:44:11 in a half-marathon in Riverside, CA. That's 7:57 per mile! Another source of hope: I share part of his gene pool.