I ran a half marathon in under 10 minute miles! I ran the 13.1 miles 42 minutes faster than my first half marathon! That’s a significant drop in time. It also shows how far I’ve come in my journey with Addison’s.
My first half in 2008 was rough. I finished it, but I was struggling. I did not adjust my medicine correctly and it took me DAYS to recover. This half, I was able to return to work the next day. Although I was limping from my muscles being mad at me, for the most part I felt fine.
This was not an easy race for me. I tore a muscle in my left leg my senior year of high school and I ignored it, which put strain on my right hip. My left leg healed up fine, but my right hip frequently bothers me. It had started hurting the Tuesday before my race and is causing me pain now. It’s unbelievably annoying but not unbearable. As I was walking to the start on the day of the race, I mentioned to my friend how this would be a painful race for me. I hadn’t even started running, and my hip was hurting me!
The month before the half marathon, I had experimented with my medicine dosage and some nine mile runs. I needed to know how my body responded to the stress of long runs and how to compensate with additional medicine. By race day, I had a game plan. I knew what to do.
The First Few Miles
During the first two miles, I quickly realized that I was going to be able to pull a faster pace than my friend. I left him on mile three and continued the race on my own. Mile six and seven were especially painful for my hip, but the adrenaline of being over half way there carried me through.
At mile ten, I thought to myself, “Sweet. 5k left. I have run this distance so many times! It’s short!!” When you’re running a half marathon, you don’t think about how you’ve already put your body through ten miles of running. You just tell yourself that it’s only a “short” three miles left.
Those last three miles were scary for me. At mile eleven, I started getting really dizzy. During those moments, fear consumes my thoughts. I started having visions of passing out on the course, collapsing and not knowing who I was. I found someone wearing a neon green shirt and I told myself to just follow that.
I wanted desperately to see the mile twelve marker. Seeing a sign for mile twelve meant that I only had 1.1 miles left! It seemed like reaching that mile twelve would never happen. By that time, my hip pain was unbearable and I could barely focus on my surroundings. Speaking to the other runners after we finished, mile twelve was evil for everyone! It’s the point in the race where your strength and stubbornness are truly tested. Where was that darn sign?!
Turns out there was no mile twelve sign. The race coordinators decided just to give us a 20k sign. I remember passing that going, “Gah!!! You want me to do math on the course?!!!” Trying to calculate how many miles 20km was did provide a distraction from my hip pain especially because it took me much longer than it should have to do that simple conversion.
“5km is 3.1 miles. 10 km is 6.2 mi. 15 km is 9.3 mi. 20 km is… it’s… it’s… come on Amber. You can do this math… it’s… it’s… 12.4 miles?! 12.4 miles!!! I have less than a mile left to go! I got this!”
I cried some tears of relief when I realized I had less than a mile. When I saw that finish line, I gave it my all. I sprinted as fast as my pained body would allow me too. My official time was 2:08:33.
I was so confused and overwhelmed at the end of the race. I get like that, especially when I push my body hard. I wandered over to an uncrowded area to sat down. I probably shouldn’t have sat down but I was swaying heavily and I was struggling to walk. I texted my friend and told him where to find me. And then I waited.
He did find me, very confused and overwhelmed. My memory of the conversations with him after the race are very fuzzy. I remember him wanting me to get up and walk around and I remember being frustrated because I didn’t want to walk. I remember him asking me questions and just getting overwhelmed. I didn’t want to answer any of his questions, so I ended up throwing my phone at him like a child.
He asked me the next day if I remember throwing the phone at him. I faintly do but I’m not sure why I did that. My family has told me other stories in the past of me throwing items at them when I become overwhelmed and am not feeling well. It causes those around me to go, “What the heck?! Ok… wait. This girl isn’t feeling well.”
He refused to leave me until he knew I was safe on the train that we used to get to the race. I’m not sure how much time passed between when I crossed the finish line and when we got on the light rail. I remember him giving me a weird look after we were seated. I asked him why. He told me I looked like I was feeling better.
“What, did I scare you earlier at the finish line?”
“Uh… yeah… a little bit.”
I didn’t feel well enough to drive home at that point, but luckily another group of my friends was meeting up for brunch. I joined them, which gave me more time to recover and get some food. After brunch (and all of us talking about evil mile twelve) I felt well enough to get myself home.
I don’t plan on completing another half marathon any time soon. This race was painful but I am so happy I ran it. I ran this race FAST for me WITH Addison’s Disease. I shattered my previous record. New PR!
Though there are things I would do different for my next half. Hey, I love running too much to say that I’ll never run another half marathon again.