On June 6th, I participated in the Asheville 10K, held in beautiful Asheville, NC. When I registered a couple of months ago, I started using an excellent training plan. I was starting to be really pleased with my training, but then that dreaded six-letter word all runners fear happened: injury. My sister got married in May, and at her reception I hurt my toe while dancing. I had a few people look at it, but they thought it appeared to be jammed. I took some pain medicine and hobbled along on the dance floor the rest of the night. The pain was worse the next day. The top of my entire foot was black/blue/purple, and my toe was swollen. I taped my toes together, took pain reliever and assumed it would heal in a few days. It never really did though.
Needless to say, I stopped training completely and was planning on bailing on the 10K. However, one of my great friends from college (Kayla) registered, and this was going to be her first 10K. Then, another one of my amazing running friends (Renee) registered, along with her daughter (her daughter’s first 10K). My toe still hurt pretty badly, but I figured the thing was just really jammed. I checked to make sure the race was walker-friendly (it was!) so I decided that I would still participate, but I would be a walker with no goals other than to finish and get that medal at the finish! *I do not recommend running/walking on an injury without speaking with a doctor first. I learned my lesson with this race as you’ll see if you keep reading!*
The Friday night before the race the kid’s stayed the night at my parent’s house because we had an early race start, and they wouldn’t be going this time. Andrew and I had Chicken Bow Tie Pasta for dinner (our favorite and trusty pre-race meal-I’ll post the recipe soon), chugged water, I laid out my race gear and we went to bed way too late. The alarm went of Saturday morning at 4 a.m. We got dressed, and I put together my usual race day breakfast (1 bagel thin with nutella, a teaspoon of peanut butter on the side, banana and water) to eat in the car. Kayla and her husband Micheal (Andrew and Micheal were college roommates and we’ve all been friends ever since) met us at our apartment, and we hit the road around 4:30.
Asheville is around an hour and a half from our apartment. The drive was beautiful but very foggy. The area was packed with runners once we got near the race start. Andy dropped Kayla and I off while he and Micheal parked the car. We then met up with Renee and her daughter Madison. They were kind enough to pick up our race packets and bibs the day before at the expo. Soon after pinning our bibs on, the guys met up with us, the National Anthem was sung and the half marathoners started right at 7 a.m. Just a few minutes later, it was time for the 10K participants to start.
The gun went off and I stuck toward the back of the pack. I immediately lost sight of Kayla, but I could see Renee and Madison ahead of me for about the first half mile. I’ve never really walked an entire race before so I wasn’t sure what time to shoot for. I decided to focus on simply finishing. For the first time EVER, I flipped my Garmin around my wrist and vowed to not look at it until I hit each mile marker. I did not want to stress out about my finish time and disappoint myself.
The first mile had a few downhill areas. I actually started out with a slow jog that I was able to maintain without my toe throbbing. The weather was absolutely perfect. There was a slight fog, and the temp was cool but not cold. I left my earbuds out for the first half mile or so. This is something I started doing when I ran Disney for the first time. I enjoyed hearing the noise of shoes hitting pavement, the cheers from the crowds (I spotted Andy and Micheal and gave them a quick wave), the hustle and bustle of restaurants opening up for breakfast. I enjoyed just watching other runners, taking in the sights of the gorgeous mountains and quaint downtown atmosphere. I soon saw the Mile Marker 1.
MILE 1: 13:35
I hit mile marker 1 and flipped over my watch. I actually was ok with that time. My fastest mile ever as an adult took 10 minutes. I was in the best shape of my life at the time too. Given the status of my toe, the fact that I have weight to still lose, and I haven’t been in a race since last February-I was quite happy with the time. If I could keep that pace up and my toe kept cooperating I would be pleased with my finish time. I sent Andy a quick text letting him know all was good with the toe and I was feeling great.
After the first mile marker, the course took us out of the residential area and onto the main highway. Thankfully, there were plenty of officers out who were directing traffic away from the course. This would not be the case later on the course, but I’ll get to that in a bit. This stretch was foggy, and the temperature felt great. This was my favorite stretch of the course because it was so quiet. We ran by wooded areas and a really pretty stream. There was a small band set up on the side of the road too, but my picture turned out blurry.
I was feeling ok at this point. Toe was still in good shape. My KT Tape started to unravel, and I had to stop and rip it off my shins-ouch! (Quick Tip: Do not put on KT Tape in the car on the way to your race. Worse application ever.) While I loved this stretch, it felt like it was never ending. Soon, I found out why when I saw this:
Say what?! There wasn’t a marker for mile 2, and because I wasn’t looking at my Garmin until I hit the markers, I never knew that I passed mile 2 and was finishing mile 3. This was actually a nice surprise, because I was about halfway done with the race and was still feeling ok. My toe was a little sore, and I had switched from jogging to walking somewhere between these miles. Mentally, I felt great, and was really enjoying the course. I certainly wasn’t leading the pack, but I was around the middle.
MILE 2: 14:13
MILE 3: 15:19
I think you can look at those times and see when I started to walk! As good as I felt the past miles, it all went away as I began the endless climb of Mile 4.
Immediately after crossing the Mile 3 marker the course started to incline. I thought to myself “I’ll walk to the top of this hill then start jogging again. That’ll make up my loss of time.” That plan was short-lived. The hill didn’t end. Instead, I’d reach the top of the hill, make a turn to the left, then BAM – another hill. Reach the top of that hill, turn left then BAM – another hill. At this point, my toe was in a lot of pain. The funny thing is, I wasn’t uncomfortable anywhere else. Usually, I have shin splints, and without KT Tape I was sure I’d start feeling the burn in my shins, but I never did. I sent Andy a text telling him I was the last person now, and I was feeling defeated. The race organizers put up another one of their signs at the top of the final hill (for that mile) and had a water station where Gatorade, and cookies were also served.
MILE 4: 18:44
I looked at my watch and was pretty frustrated, I won’t lie to you. I knew that my body could do better than that. I remembered weighing over 200 pounds a couple of years ago and the very first mile I ran taking me over 20 minutes. I had gotten my mile down to 10 minutes since then, finished a half marathon among many other distances, and I had fallen in love with running. My training was going great before my toe injury, and I felt like I was starting to get back to my pre-baby capabilities. Needless to say, I threw myself a pity party for a bit. I started to tear up because I felt like my old self again. I didn’t see the point in even trying to finish the race because my mile had just taken almost 20 minutes. I was disappointed, frustrated, and fighting a lapse in self-confidence. I was so pissed off by the time I saw the water station. I took a sip of water, grabbed a cookie then seconds later proceeded to choke on the cookie, coughing up bits of sugary sweetness all over myself.
“Shake it off,” I told myself, and I actually listened. After the race I told Andrew that I had a “come to Jesus meeting” with myself at that point. I was participating in a race for the first time in over a year. I had a plan to walk and a goal to just finish. I needed to stick to that plan and goal. I was walking on an injury. I made it my mission when I started this blog to motivate the average person and to inspire them to be a greater version of themselves with greater experiences. I may not ever place in a race or be a size 0, but I was pushing my body through a challenge physically and mentally. That is what my fitness journey is about. I wiped my tears away, sucked it up and shook it off. Who cared what my finish time was going to be? I didn’t. I turned my watch over and didn’t flip it back until after the race.
You can see in this picture that we finally started to go downhill at this intersection. The problem was that there was traffic everywhere! The officers (particularly the female officer you see in the yellow vest) were extremely rude to the race participants. At this point I thought I was the last runner, but there was a small group behind me. I heard the officer tell them to “hurry it up” and “at least run through the intersection” because of the cars. A man behind me said, “But we are so tired and just finished an entire mile uphill.” She did not care, and kept barking orders at him. Having run many organized races, I found her statements to be extremely rude and unprofessional. I understand if you have a course on the highway and need to protect runners from cars. However, there was plenty of highway that we ran on, with MANY cars and NO officers directing traffic at several large intersections throughout the race. The course should have been closed, had a cut off time to allow traffic back in, had more officers to patrol or remap the course off the highway.
MILE 5: 15:58
A negative split-woo hoo! I was mentally doing better at this point. My toe hurt like absolute hell, but I knew that I was going to achieve my goal of crossing the finish line, getting that gorgeous medal and soon I’d be off my feet. Jogging and even a brisk walk weren’t even something for me to consider after mile 4. I just walked at my normal pace. I listened to iTunes on my phone. I had conversation with myself. I told myself to remember how humbling this experience was. To hold on to every emotion and detail of this race so that when I one day cross a full marathon finish line, I’ll know how freaking hard I worked to get there. I reminded myself that I could really only get better from here and promised myself that I would. Can you tell those last two miles were “good for the soul” kind of miles?
I pulled out my phone to text Andy around the 5 1/2 mile. I wanted to make sure he was at the finish waiting on me. He had been texting me off and on to check on my toe (at some point during the race we decided to bite the bullet and that I’d be going to the doctor the next day to finally see what was wrong with the thing). Before I could hit send he was at my side. He wanted to walk the rest of it with me! It was so nice to have that time with him. He told me that Kayla had finished with a great time and that Renee and Madison came through the finish soon after her. He walked with me to mile 6 then went to the finish to wait for me to cross.
MILE 6: 17:54
I walked across the finish mat at 1:41:07 official time (1:41:06 Garmin). A volunteer handed me my beautiful medal and then I met my handsome husband and awesome friends for photos and the after party!
The after party was held at a huge park just past the finish. There was an amphitheater with a band, several food vendors that included Earth Fare (free bagels, bananas and protein drinks) and Sierra Nevada (free beer for participants). It was nice to mingle for a bit and see the half marathon finishers as well. Their medals looked like ours, but it had a spinner in the middle and I think the ribbon was a different color.
We finished up at the after party then made our way to a little New Orleans-style restaurant for a quick bite to eat. They had beignets on the menu and I had to order them. I can’t find them in my part of South Carolina (can they be found in South Carolina at all?) I’ve only had them once at Disney World and they are sinfully delicious. The order came with four huge ones, but I could only eat two.
Final Thoughts and Injury Update:
- Weather was perfect
- Great medal
- After party was very nice
- Race volunteers were great (except the police officers)
- Price (I paid $50 and I believe that included a late registration fee)
- Good amount of water stops
- I would do it again!
- Police and traffic on course as I mentioned in the recap
- Participants could not pick up packets the morning of the race
The morning after the race, I went to the doctor and had x-rays taken. My toe was broken in 2 places at my sister’s wedding. You can see a dark mark on my last toe across the top. That is the first break. The second is the little piece that is chipped away on the side. The doctor said that he could tell it had been healing for about 3 weeks from my taping it. However, I was ordered to wear that ugly shoe for 3 weeks to help it finish healing. It is supposed to keep me flat footed and prevent me from leading with my toes when I walk. I asked him if it was caused by my 10K before and he said no. Thankfully, the 10K didn’t make things worse, but it does explain why I had been hurting for weeks over a silly little toe. I definitely learned my lesson with this injury. I know to trust my gut from now on when it comes to injuries. It is better to have it looked and nothing be wrong than to unknowingly race on a break.
Have you ever raced the Asheville 10K and Half Marathon? Have you made the mistake of running when you had an injury?