Wow, today I conquered one of the most difficult challenges I have ever asked myself to do. I laced them up and hit the road for my first official race since tearing two ligaments in my right ankle. It's been a long and tough 7 months of physio, which only lead to limited improvement. However, after a moderate 16k a few weeks ago, I started to get the idea that I might be ready and able to handle this half-marathon - my third Not So Hilly Half-marathon in 4 years.
I knew I was in the worst shape I had ever been, entering a race of this distance, but I put together a game plan and stuck to it. With a course time limit of 3 hours, I set a pace that would bring me in just under that. The run went pretty much as I expected. From the get go, the lower back was extremely painful. The ankle was still very tender too. Also, as expected, my other leg got sore for having to over-compensate due to my limp, which made it very interesting for most of the race, as I found myself using my bad right ankle to support the now worse left upper leg.
Another interesting issue was the matter of hydration management. The sun felt hot, even though it was rather cool, and I found myself dehydrated. They only had gatorade stops at 5k, 10k, and 17k, so I had to make due. Another unfortunate incident was that very early into the race, the pocket in my shorts ripped, and my keys, watch, and emergency kit broke loose. This meant that I ended up running pretty much the entire race while carrying this in my hands. Oh well, I am so used to running with my purse, that this seemed to be a minimal distraction.
Given that I ran wire to wire at the back of the pack, I had a police escort right behind me for the entire race (turned out to actually be saint john ambulance folks in the car). While I knew they were there, not once did I turn back to look at them (runner's superstition is to never look back during a race, no matter what).
My pace remained fairly constant throughout the race. I slowed down to a walk during the few short hills on the course, and found myself limping badly and feeling totally exhausted during the last 4 km, but I managed to get accross the finishing with a smile on my face, essentially laughing along with the finish line attendants - all of who know me. Gun time was 2.57.40, and chip time will likely prove to be about 20 seconds less. Close call and a few moments where I though I would have to drop out, but I struck it through. Depicted below is my finishers medal and my bib.
Not sure when or where I will race next. For now, I am extremely happy to have survived this one, a race that was pure physical torture for 3 hours.