My First Post-Cancer Half Marathon

Lessons learned from running the Naperville Women’s Half Marathon:

  1. Pay close attention to the elevation chart of the race course and make sure you know what to expect!

  2. Using my inhaler just prior to the race is only helpful for shorter distances. For longer distances, bring it with me.

  3. Don’t schedule an out of town trip the day before an “important” race.

  4. The strength training circuits are NOT optional.

  5. Carrying an extra 15 - 20 pounds will definitely affect my pace.

  6. Make sure you have enough time to use the portapotty before the race.

    7. Wear my lymphadema compression socks when running more than 4 miles! 

I was invited to do a Saturday Student Study Session for students who are taking an AP test for the day before the race (it was going to pay REALLY WELL). Before I committed to the session, I checked my training plan to see what was required, and the flights to make sure I wasn’t going to get back too late on Saturday. With that information in hand, I decided to accept the assignment (point #3).

The weather was beautiful. I woke up later than planned, so I didn’t have a chance to get my digestive system moving before I left the house (see more below). At the start of the race it was 37 degrees Fahrenheit. A bit chilly, but I knew it would warm up quickly once the sun came out and I started moving. I decided to skip the long sleeve shirt, jacket and gloves, since I figured they would be one more thing for me to lose!

The parking garage I had planned to park in was full, so I had an opportunity to do my “Silly Toes” on my way to the starting area. The race was supposed to start at 7am. I arrived in the starting area around 6:45 and I knew I wouldn’t have enough time to use the “facilities” even though I was going to be starting towards the back of the pack. My friend, who was a sherpa from my season with Cancer to 5K, was planning to run the race, and she offered to run it with me.

I wrote the heart rate maximums on my arm for each section of the race before I left my house. I was definitely able to keep to the maximums because of the hills. OMG, those fucking hills! (point #1) For the first 3 miles it seemed like all I did was walk up hills! I kept saying, “It’s ok, there has to be a downhill, right?” The downhills were few and far between! It was great to have someone to chat with while I was running. Usually I plug myself into my headphones when I run. I didn’t even bring them with me, I didn’t want to be rude since I knew she would be pacing with me for the entire race. I have to admit, the conversation helped me “ignore” how bad I was feeling.

Round about mile 5 I began to regret not taking the time to use the portapotty before I started running. The race information said there would be some along the route. I hadn’t seen any yet, so I figured they were coming up on the course soon. Thankfully, there they were near mile 6!

After an extended potty break, more hills!  Around mile 8 I started to wheeze and I regretted not having my inhaler with me, because I knew it was going to get worse. By mile 11 my wheezing was pretty bad. I finished the race with a combination of running and walking (mostly walking).

I have to admit, if my friend wasn’t running with me, there were several times that I was getting ready to bail. But with her encouragement, I was able to complete the race.  

My official stats:

6 mile 1:37:29

10 mile 2:48:51

Last 5K 53:38

Finish (13.1) 3:42:28 (16:59/mile)