I had a very disappointing Silver Strand Half Marathon. I knew something was wrong at mile 2 and I survived until mile 8 before my asthma kicked in, which led to piercing side cramps a couple miles later. After having to stop and attempt stretching to deal with the knife in my side, I turned to see my training partner catching up to me. Let’s be honest, I wanted to walk off the course. I’ve never been in so much pain in a race and I’ve never had an asthma attack like that on a run. But I was in 3rd place, I couldn’t give up!
I was a little rushed on race morning (my fault) but I got there with enough time to spare that I hit the port-a-potty and got in a short warmup. Maybe it wasn’t long enough. I hit my inhaler twice on the way to the race, as directed. The problem was, my inhaler never really took effect. The gun goes off and I find myself in the lead pack. I look around waiting for the 1:12 guys to show up and they don’t. I get slowly passed by a guy I recognize from the San Diego Track Club. I know he’s faster than me, but not by much. So I tag along and the lead group is 5, then someone comes up on my shoulder and it’s Matt. He’s not in the greatest shape, so I’m surprised he’s hanging. First mile 5:42, two guys break off the front and two guys break off the back. We’re running in pairs. Matt is on my shoulder. Second mile 5:47. I’m feeling good and smiling for the spectators. My girlfriend managed to catch a spot near the first mile marker so I got some encouragement early on. Then I hit a water stop at mile 2 just to get a sip of water. I never got a full breath after that water stop. All I could get were slightly shallow breaths. That’s not good.. the inhaler is supposed to solve that problem.
The two leaders pull away and Matt drops off and I’m running by myself in no man’s land. It’s not so bad. I’m passing kids on the handbike and encouraging them. I’m passing pretty girls on skates. It was alright until about 10k when I started to get bored. I went through at around 35:50, which was dead on with my 1:15:XX goal. Unfortunately my lungs weren’t opening up and I still couldn’t take a full breath. There’s something about being able to take a deep breath that allows you to continue running aerobically. Instead the breathing got worse. 5:48, 5:51, 5:56. My airway started constricting and I started wheezing. It started around mile 8. I didn’t feel like I was running too hard, I just couldn’t get the air in my lungs. Battling that was enough, but before mile 10 I started to get a terrible side cramp. I clutched my side and winced… it wasn’t pretty. I slowed dramatically. I tried everything I could and then briefly stopped before entering the base. Some 4 letter words were on my mind. I continued running only to have to really stop about 30 seconds later. I stretched, I breathed, I tried everything I could think of. Nothing alleviated that knifing pain that was stabbing my side. I was in 3rd place! I was in a great position for a PR! What the F!??! If I hadn’t been in third, I would’ve walked off the course right there. But I saw Matt coming up behind me and started running again. Instead of the 5:45-5:47 I had been shooting for, I had to settle for a 6:10-6:15 because it’s all I could manage with my side ache. It’s amazing how that pace is practically jogging these days. I would’ve killed to run that pace a few years ago.
I managed to stay ahead of Matt until the mile 12 marker where he passed me. The side stitch had subsided but didn’t feel completely gone. I picked up the pace as much as I could to stay on his shoulder, but he was gaining on me. I knew there was a half mile left so I just sucked it up and pushed. I caught back up to him and passed him. I expected resistance, but there was none. I ran the last quarter mile in 79 seconds, which was great considering my condition. I crossed the line in 3rd, but my time had run up to 1:18:14, not even a course PR.
I’m surprised I even managed to finish. It took a lot of willpower to push through that, knowing I was bleeding time to everyone behind me. My last 5 miles were 5:56, 6:28, 6:08, 6:10, 5:57. Had those been closer to 5:50 or 5:45, and I’d be sitting here talking about my nice new PR. Sometimes shit happens. I ran a good race in terms of things I could control. My inhaler didn’t help and I still kept the pace. I managed to kick at the end to hold onto 3rd place. I just didn’t have the race I should’ve had. My legs didn’t feel fresh, probably due to the housewarming party and engagement party I stood around at the night before. Some days things just don’t line up. I know I’m in better shape than that result. I can’t let it get to me. I know that in Houston in January I’ll prove my fitness. I’m a 1:15 runner, I just need a fair opportunity to run it.