It's a Bird! It's a Plane!

Nope, it's just 1,500 runners dressed up like various superheroes overtaking your town and running on highway overpasses.

This Sunday was the American Cancer Society Superhero Half Marathon & Relay here in NJ. And I'll just start with some brutal honesty right off the bat: I ran horribly, and it was my worst race ever. But I'm not bitter about it.
The Race Course:
Beautiful. I know a lot of people consider New Jersey the armpit of the nation, but you guys, my state is really pretty. If you haven't been outside of Newark Airport, I can see why you'd have some other opinions. But this race went through Morris County, about 40 minutes west of there, through beautiful neighborhoods, a farming neighborhood, and a lovely, green park. The course was hilly the whole way, with only a few steep climbs but a consistent rise and fall. On another day, I might have really appreciated it, but on this race day, every small-grade incline felt like Mt. Everest.

The organizers and volunteers were fantastic though. There were constant water stops—about every 1.5 miles after mile 1.75, and they offered Gatorade at three of the stops, which is a lot more frequently than I've seen at other half marathons. There were some long stretches without any spectators, but it was sweet to run through neighborhoods and see families sitting outside, the kids in their jammies, waving to all the superheroes flying by, ringing bells, offering high fives.

The Race Day:
It was beautiful. If you weren't running a race and had any idea the weather was going to be so summery, that is. Here in NJ, we haven't seen summery temperatures and blinding sun for more than a total of about 100 hours since last August. We've had some nice 80-degree days, but they've been sandwiched by rain and 60-degree days. On Saturday, it poured all evening and night. When that happens after a streak of humidity this time of year, it either breaks the humidity or brings it. This weekend, it brought humidity we haven't seen in months. (To the point where one of my cheerleaders who wasn't running was having complications from it.)

The problem with this is that I haven't run in 80-degree weather since last year. And according to everything I've read (and it's definitely supported by my personal experience) it take 5-8 runs for your body to adjust to running in the heat—to cool itself more efficiently, to reduce your stressed heart rate, to become more comfortable in high temps. I run in the evenings when I get home from work, when the sun is starting to set and is not directly overhead, and the trees cool the asphalt enough that it's not melting the soles of my shoes. So I was absolutely not ready to run in this weather, and I struggled a lot.

My Race:
In seven races, I have never, ever, ever contemplated quitting. Until this weekend.

My first two miles were well below my goal pace, at just over 9 minutes each. In mile 3, I pulled to the side to pull off my calf compression sleeves and was immediately feeling better with less fabric on my skin. But I walked the next water stop and felt how bad my chest hurt, how fast my heart was pounding, and honestly got a little nervous. I knew the relay exchange and my friends would be at mile 5, and I thought about tapping out then. I didn't, and instead powered through mile 5 somewhere around 55 minutes.

I'm not going to bore you with all the frustrated texts I sent Tracy, all the times I talked myself out of running another step after this race, all the reasons I told myself I was the worst runner alive. I let myself walk whenever I needed to and took cruel comfort in the fact that I was not alone in this laborious race. Tons of us were walking, struggling, cursing the sun. The volunteers and spectators actually looked like they felt horrible for us in the last ~4 miles. People were passing out left and right, seriously: I saw several people get carried out on stretchers or ridden out on emergency vehicles. It was a very challenging day for a lot of people.

In the end, I'm glad I finished. I met 0 goals I set for myself in this race. I was a baby and I whined in my head a lot. But I finished what I started, crossed my seventh finish line in 14 months, and now I can begin preparing for my next challenge.

Finish time: 2:38:28.

Race Highlights:
In this superhero-themed race, there were TONS of Captain Americas, Batmen (myself included), Supermen, Wonder Women, Green Something-or-others, and the other usual suspects. But my absolute favorite was this one girl I came upon several times during the race, decked out in a tee embossed with the image of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. #nailedit

My sweet friends sat under that sun, in that disgusting humidity, on a Sunday morning when they could've been sleeping in, just because I asked them to. They made me a sign and cheered so loudly for me that I could hear them above all the rest of the race day fans. Their smiling faces helped me pull out every reserve of energy I had and cross the finish line on the fastest legs I had all day. I'm so grateful to them for being there for me! And for not judging me for the insane amount of food I ate afterward.

Now What:
Now, it's time to acclimate to hot weather running whenever possible. (Of course, as I write this, it's about 65 degrees outside and if my legs were working, I'd be dying to run.)
I'm taking the next few weeks "easy" in that my long runs won't exceed 10 miles and I won't be seriously obsessing about them.
But now, I guess it's time to admit that I'm in training for the marathon.

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More on that next Tuesday, when we meet up again for Training for Tuesday! The last one of the month is already almost here. Are you going to share your training goals and wins and stories with Tracy and me? Grab your button and find the details here!

Comments

  1. Congrats on finishing (and overcoming all that mental negativity)! This really helps motivate me to tolerate more days of hot runs so I can acclimate to SC runs, but ughhh breathing is sooo hard when it's 90million% humidity and a billion degrees hot.

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  2. I'm glad to hear you aren't upset with yourself - you ran and for a great cause - all that matters!! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

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  3. Why we are soul sisters reason #7846135: BATMAN. I would totally wear a Bat shirt too, friend. Sorry you had a crummy run, but you know what, you did it! And in all that hot weather and crazy humidity, I'd say that's a super win! <3

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  4. Girl, I am so proud of you for finishing!!!! Running with it being hot and humid is no joke. I am dying in our garage now. I am soaked after about 5 minutes on the treadmill and can only run about 5 minutes at a time then have to walk a minute to breath again. Even though you didn't hit your goals, the fact that the run was hard and you didn't give up speaks volumes.

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  5. I didn't know that about your body adjusting to the heat. The worst race I ever ran was in Disney and it was like 100 degrees and 100% humidity (and 10pm at night). It was September and I guess it had been cooling down in the ville, but not in Florida. I thought I would be fine. It took me 2 and a half hours to run 10 miles and I vomited almost immediately after finishing. So many people passing out, vomiting... crazy crazy crazy. I'm proud and happy for you (not that you need me to be proud or happy!) that you didn't give up. Good luck on marathon training!

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  6. Kudos on finishing. The humidity was horrible and unexpected her this weekend - so early. I wouldn't do it.

    I LOVE RBG. So glad someone represented her as a super hero.

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  7. I'm so crazy proud of you for finishing even though you heard yourself give permission to quit multiple times. Reward yourself with something delicious for your sore muscles and maybe a little foam rolling when you're ready for it! Also, hydrate!

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  8. I felt for you yesterday, I really really did. I know that when I get into that place of "Ughhhhhh it's sooooo hot, it's soooo humid, this SUCKS, WHYYYYY" ...I don't always come back from it. I've given up more times than I'd like to admit. I'm so insanely proud of you for sticking this one out and finishing in what is still a perfectly respectable time. Yesterday was the stuff marathoners are made of. You did good, friend, you did good.

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  9. Congrats on finishing that race love! I cant imagine that running in hot weather after running in the cold is easy. I think every runner probably has that race they want to quit - I see great attorneys have cases where they want to throw in the towel, it doesnt make them any more great. Again congrats, you rock and inspire me. Knowing myself I would have tapped out and given in to the relay. You didnt and are awesome. Also so glad you and tracy motivate each other its a beautiful thing to see!

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  10. Bad race for you = best race ever for me considering I've never done one. Well, a 5k once but I barely ran. You are a running badass and actually make me contemplate possibly attempting running again. But then I think, better not. These boobs were not made for running.

    The weather around here this time of year is crazy.

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  11. You are awesome for finishing that race girl! I haven't ran a race in those conditions, and I sure don't want to. That's great that your friends were out there for you too!

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  12. What's most important is that you didn't give up, kept going, and finished - regardless of your time.

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