I made it! I survived! Somehow I managed to run the St. Louis Half Marathon, even finishing in a decent time.
On Wednesday, four days before the race, my left hip started to act out. It was really tight and I couldn't quite pin point the pain. Some steps were fine, but other times I could barely manage to put force on the leg without feeling like I was going to crumble to the floor. At that point running the half seemed impossible.
I took Thursday, Friday, and Saturday completely off. No running. All I did was rest, eat, and stretch. I didn't even go get my bib, claiming that I wasn't going to run on Sunday; my friend ended up getting it for me, knowing that I'm stubborn as hell and probably would run it.
Fast forward to Saturday night. I tried "running" a few strides to see how it would feel. I took a total of 5 steps before crying out in pain. The odds did not look good. I decided then that I wasn't going to run. I spent the rest of the night doing some reading and eating cookies. No pre-race carbo load, no nothing.
I set my alarm for 5:30 so I could go to the race with my friend Jeff (who PR'd again, running a 1:32!) and cheer him on. I didn't lay any of my clothing out like I usually do. The next morning, I threw on some comfortable running clothing, grabbed my garmin, bib, and ipod, and headed out the door without eating breakfast as I wasn't planning on running. No pre-race rituals of coffee, oatmeal with peanut butter, and bathroom breaks.
At the start, there were physical therapists who were giving free consultations to runners in pain. I went up to them, described my pain, and they did some horribly painful stretches/massages on me and told me I was cleared to run. WHAT? I couldn't believe the doctor's words. It hurt to walk minutes before and now i can run? What kind of miracle worker, fairy godfather, genie in a bottle are you??
Well, I took a few strides 5 minutes before the start and lo and behold: MINIMAL PAIN! I wasn't compensating my form at all so I thought to myself, "I'll just take it easy and DNF after 2-3 miles."
2-3 miles turned into 5, then 8. At that point my hip started hurting a little, but I told myself to stay in the game and targeted a girl to follow for the rest of the race. At mile 10, my pace slowed significantly and my form started to compensate. But I was too far in to quit. I finished, awkwardly hobbling across the finish line in 1:46 and didn't positive split too badly!!
Some say I'm courageous for finishing. I think I'm a foolish, stubborn runner who likes pushing my limits a little to far for comfort.
Thankfully its 3 days after the race and I have been feeling very minimal pain/soreness in my left hip. It's slowly going away due to the amount of foam rolling, compression, and stretching I have been doing. I'm pretty sure that the pain would be gone if I had waited to run for a few more days. I've been cross training on the bike and the elliptical and will probably do so for the rest of the week. I want a full recovery soon so I can start training for a marathon in 2013!
As for the course, it's an out and back loop with tons of rolling hills. It passes Downtown Clayton, Washington University, and loops around Forest Park. Course support was friendly but sparse. I would definitely run the half again because its convenient and local. It's a small, challenging, and and well-run race with not much to see on the course.