RACE #160: Huntsville Half Marathon

It’s hard to put this race into words. It was a tough race. A race I’ve done before — including the full last year. But, Saturday just wasn’t my day and it was tough for me — physically and emotionally.

I had such a great experience running the Huntsville Marathon last year that I decided to sign up for it again this year. The plan was to use it again for my ultra training — including my 100 mile run in February. But, my ankle had other plans — so I downgraded to the half marathon instead.

After spraining my ankle in April my training and running was just derailed. It really took a toll on my plans, aspirations, training and morale. It’s been tough being slower than what I know I am capable of running. I’ve dealt with that the past couple of years, but this year it seems like that my best now was my worst case scenario just a couple of years ago.

So, yeah, this year has been a struggle for me — to say the least.

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Going into this race, I knew it wasn’t going to be my best race. I knew I probably wasn’t going to sub-three. And, I knew it was going to be tough. So, I really just wanted to go into the race and just have fun. Fairly simple enough, right?

But, as much I say that, there are times — especially lately — that I say that, but do want to push myself a bit harder and further than what I should be doing right now. And, that was me on race morning. I want to feel like I am flying once again.

Race morning I felt pretty good. After carpooling up to Huntsville with my friends Rob and Joey. I hopped on the on the bus with Rachel, Jonathan and London and hung out at the start line for a good half hour before gun time. The later start time (8:30am) was kinda nice and I think that added to my mood.

But, needless to say, I felt optimistic.

My friend Monnica Skinner was pacing the 3:00 half marathon time so I decided to stick with her as long as I could. The best case scenario was the whole 13.1, but knowing my limitations I would have been happy with half of the race. Luckily for me, I was able to stick with her for the first 5 miles.

I really enjoyed those five miles with Monnica. I love the Skinners — Monnica, Corey and Cevan. They’re always a great conversation that ends with a laugh. If there was a saving grace from this run — it was those five miles with Monnica. I really enjoyed them.

But, around mile four, I knew I was going to be slowing down. My right foot started hurting — it wasn’t so much my ankle as it was the top of my foot. I’ve had issues with it since the Mt. Nebo Half about three weeks ago. I don’t think it’s serious — but, there’s some tendonitis going on and it’s just not fun.

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So at Mile 5 I let Monnica keep pace and I slowed down to stretch my foot a bit. I tried to keep up my pace and did pretty good for about another mile, but the foot was just in pain and I slowed down quite a bit.

Between miles 7-8 I just walked. I would stop periodically to massage my right shin and top of the foot. Feeling a bit embarrassed and not wanting another runner or race official to stop and ask me if I was okay, I would untie my shoe quickly and then retie it in between massaging the foot.

I must admit I’m laughing about that now — not the sore shins and foot, but the way I tried to disguise how I was feeling. I knew I could finish this race — regardless of how slow I was going to end up being. I didn’t want to be pulled off the course or asked if I was okay every time a race official drove past me.

This was also around the time I became frustrated with the situation. But, it soon grew into a frustration of the past year of running, my ankle and training. I let doubt creep and that just didn’t help things at all. I really took myself to a not so good place mentally.

I am not sure exactly what got me into that place, because I haven’t gone there before. I think part of that was because I was feeling down about having to downgrade from the marathon and a bit of anxiety about the training for my 100 mile run in February. I do worry if my ankle will be ready by then — and I think I dwelt on that a bit too long during this race.

I knew that I had to get myself out of this funk, so I just tried to get my mind off of it. Which is much easier said than done when you’re running by yourself. So I tried focusing on my music, singing out loud (that stopped quickly), playing the “I spy” game and just running from fence post to fence post.

This helped a little bit, but once I got to Mile 11 — I just kinda focused on getting done. I knew I was going to be well over three hours, so now it was just about finishing strong. And, really, this helped get me out of that funk.

I focused on passing runners in front of me and kinda of making a game of it. The foot was sore, but most everyone in front of me was walking so I knew I had it in me to at least power walk past them at this point in the race. So that’s what I did.

Of all the miles during the race those last two miles actually seemed like the fastest ones of the day. It was the distraction that really helped. I just wanted to be done and having that goal helped me get past a lot of those self defeating thoughts.

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I got to the finish line in 3:31:28 — definitely one of my slowest races. But, it was hard to celebrate it beyond finishing it. Almost immediately after I finished I just wanted to move past the race. It really helped having a number of friends at the finish line because they helped bring me back to why I love this sport so much.

Being able to chat with Elsha, Robert Merriman and his family, the Skinners and many, many others put myself in a good place. They were a great reminder that not only were my frustrations and obstacles minor in the scheme of things, but that I will get back where I want to be. I really just need to show more patience and do what I need to do with my physical therapy.

I’ll get there.

But, that doesn’t mean I am not nervous about my 100 mile run in February. Because, I am. But, I know I can still do it. I am not at that point of absolutely not being able to do it. If there is a moment where I hit that, I’d rather have it happen during the run instead of months out from race day.

But, that’s a post for another day.

I am looking forward to this weekend’s race. It’s a trail run that I’ll be running with my friend Zack. After this past weekend’s race the trail race will be a welcomed different change of pace. It should be a lot of fun.

As difficult as my day was out on the course — I really do love this race. I’ve done the full and half marathon before and it’s just a well run race. The city gets behind the race and it was kinda fun being greeted by musicians along the last 3-4 miles. There was a bagpipe player, country singer and an accompanying guitarist, a cello and someone playing clarinet or some other kind of wind instrument — it was kinda cool.

I definitely want to run this race again — especially the marathon. The canyon is absolutely gorgeous. And, the first 17-18 miles of that marathon are some of my favorite miles of any local race.

So I want to be back.

I will be back.


MY NEXT FIVE RACES


Weekly Miles

Running Miles — 8.0 miles
Race Miles — 13.1 miles
Walking Miles — 28.87 miles
TOTAL MILES — 49.97 miles
Races This Week — Huntsville Half.

September 2017 Miles

Running Miles — 15.0 miles
Race Miles — 26.2 miles
Walking Miles — 65.69 miles
TOTAL MILES — 106.89 miles
Races in September — (4) Revel Big Cottonwood Half, Huntsville Half, Timp Elk Run & Jordan River Marathon.

2017 Miles

Running Miles — 373.55 miles
Race Miles — 348.62 miles
Walking Miles — 986.93 miles
TOTAL MILES — 1709.1 miles
Races done in 2017 — (23) New Year’s Half Marathon, Sweethearts 5K, Jackpot Running Festival, SL Tri Club Indoor Half, March Madness Half, Lucky 13 Half Marathon, Emigration Canyon Half Marathon, Riverton Half, Saltair Half, Provo City Half Marathon, Jordan River Half Marathon, Drop13 Half Marathon, Bear Lake Trifecta — Idaho, Wyoming & Utah, AF Canyon Race Against Cancer, The Hobbler Half, Handcart Days Half, DesNews Half, Elephant Rock Trail Half, Run Elevated Half, Nebo Half and Revel Big Cottonwood Half.


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