Putting CrossFit to the Test: 13.1 Miles

She's also a princess.
She’s also a princess.

Guest post by Tasha: friend, crossfitter, and crazy-good story teller.
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent :-)

I survived! I survived! I never thought I’d see the day of finishing a half marathon! I signed up for a run I had no interest in doing, and finished. Since finding CrossFit, my running days have cut back significantly. It used to be something I did all the time. My longest distance was a 10 miler (finished in 2 hrs 4 min).

Let’s back this story up to April, when I was working an event – the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon expo. My company was set up as a vendor there. Across the aisle from my booth is the “Big Hit Half Marathon” booth. I ran their “half of a half” last year (6.55 miles, in 1 hr 2 min). I looked at it all day. It got into my head. It convinced me that I should do it. I told myself, if you can do ten miles, you can do a half. So I went home that night and signed up. It seemed like a great idea … back in April. Keep in mind, I was crossfitting at the time and loving it; my run days were almost gone. I kept telling myself “I’ll run this week” or “tomorrow” or “maybe later this afternoon.”

Life goes on, the schedule gets busy, CrossFit gets fun, and who has time for running? Not me. Especially long distance. Yeah, I’ll give you sprints for a WOD, and I may even do an occasional 5k. But my running days were behind me. I racked up 30+ races in 24 months. Yet, my ass was still chunky. It never made sense.

So *Nancy tries to save the day! She knew the half was a new distance for me, and wanted to be there to celebrate and not let me run it alone. She signed up too and promised to run it with me a few days after I signed up. Cool. This is going to be great. We’ll turn it into a girls’ weekend with 13.1 miles in the middle.

  • April – no run training.
  • May – no run training.
  • June – no run training.
  • July – I ran two 5Ks (got my time down to 27 min)
  • August – no run training.
  • September – no run training.
  • October – no run training
  • I’ve totally got this. I’ll make it work … I hope.

I’ve never dreaded anything more than this half. Ever.
But I have to do it. Nancy has paid, she’s flying down, she’s so excited, and it’s supposed to be a girls’ weekend celebrating my first half. So I kicked into plan mode a couple days before. Maybe I can “get sick.” Maybe I can convince her when she’s here that she’s sick. Maybe I can accidentally trip her and she can’t run. Maybe … I thought of everything.

I told *James, my CrossFit coach, that my goal was to be under 2:30 and he told me that was crazy. He said “That would be like someone who doesn’t do CrossFit to show up to the Throwdown and expect to place. Just go out there and do your best. You can slow down, but don’t stop running.” Makes sense. Well, they say CrossFit makes you better at other sports, a well-rounded athlete. I was about to test that.

The night before the race when I was getting my run outfit together, a wave of insanity washed over me and I was giddy about the race; I was excited! That lasted for about an hour. Haha. But I always got excited the night before a race when I was picking out the perfect outfit and putting all of my gear in place for the next morning.tasha1

I slept like shit. I was so nervous. I worried: What if I can’t finish? What if I’m slow? What if my gimp hip acts up again? What if I have to walk? I wonder how soon I’ll have to walk? What if, what if, what if. I haven’t run AT ALL since July! Gahhhhhh!!!!

tasha2The morning of and it’s 35 fucking degrees outside. FROST is on my windshield, and I’m expected to run 13.1 miles. I walk towards the start line and down two gummy bear-like energy chews. Nancy told me to save the others for on the course. I didn’t use them on my 10 miler, but I figured I’d give it a try. Plus, if I spaced out the other four chews, it would give me something “to do” … other than shout profanity at the fast runners whizzing by me. So I slid the opened package down the front of my sports bra and hoped that it wouldn’t turn into a sticky, gooey mess. (BTW, it didn’t, it never warmed up enough, ha!)

Oh, and I also feared shitting my pants on the run. If this part is TMI, skip to the next paragraph. I usually “go” everyday at about the same time, which if I kept on track would be between miles 4 and 6. So I forced myself to use the porta-potties, something I hate using. I always come out feeling like I need a whole new round of vaccinations. I made myself go. I was in there for so long that Nancy (in her outside voice) said “Tash, are you ok in there?” Thanks, Nancy.

Line up. Gun goes off. Off we go.

I hate running. Really. Now that I’ve found CrossFit, there really is no need for all that. Take a knee, people, take a knee.

Miles one and two were the worst. I felt like crap, it was cold and I was forcing myself to run slower than I usually do. I knew I needed to pace myself at first. Then I hit mile three and my body loosened up, my breathing was good, and then it hit me: Holy shit, I’m running a half marathon and if things continue to feel this good, I may finish! That’s when I started getting choked up. I didn’t cry, but I got watery and then it fucked it with my breathing. Trust me, running and holding back a cry will make you sound like you have a weird mix of asthma and Tourette’s.

Chugging right along and I can clearly remember in my head seeing the sign for mile 7. That’s exactly when I started to to feel a tingling itch in the arches of both feet. That’s new. Of all the running I’ve done, I’ve never had that. My shoes (Brooks) aren’t new, but not old, I’ve run a few races in them too. Keep going, don’t stop.

I got to the turn around point and passed Nancy on the way back. How did I get in front of her? Wow, I’m ahead of her. That sparked a little surge of energy in me because she’s known for running. Not me, anymore.tasha5

PS: Nancy runs like a damn fool all the time. This race was her 13th half marathon.

  • Mile 8: Wow my feet hurt.
  • Mile 9: Something is wrong. At this point I’m starting to look down at my feet every once and while to make sure my shoes aren’t turning red from blood, that’s how bad they hurt.
  • Mile 10: More pain.
  • Mile 11 was THE worst. My feet were hurting so bad. It felt like stabbing needles of hate jabbing in the arches of my feet. Keep running, don’t stop. You haven’t walked yet and you’re not going to start now. But something is not okay. I decided to give myself exactly 60 seconds at the most to pull my socks up; I noticed they were slipping. Maybe that would help the pain, maybe they are rubbing and causing my arches to hurt. So I gave them a quick tug, made adjustments and started back to running.
  • Mile 12. Holy shit! I passed a clock and according to the math in my head, I’m going to beat my goal that I’m not supposed to have!

Then I could see the finish line. Sweet baby Jesus get me to that finish line and out of these shoes!

Finished! In 2:22! I was so happy to be finished! It was the best and worst (feet) feeling all at the same time. This was race number 38 for me!tasha4

CrossFit works!

I know that I would not have been able to run the entire time (except for the few seconds to fix my socks) after not running for almost four months, had it not been for the CrossFit training.

We got our medals, carbs, gatorade, and headed to the car. It was cold and we wanted to get in my heated seats. I took my socks and shoes off as soon as I got there. My socks had slipped and gathered in my arches. I was running on the loose fabric, which caused half dollar size blisters on each arch. Fantastic!

Blisters earned, bitches.
I earned those blisters! 13.1 miles done!

Will I ever do it again? Well, maybe :-) Now that I’ve proven to myself that I can run a half, and my blisters are better, I can see myself doing it again just to see if I can beat 2:22. However, I will train a some and be better prepared.

We want to know: With what has your CrossFit training made you better? OR, If you’ve run a long distance race, what’s your worst battle scar? Let us know in the comments below!

Comments

  1. Erik WalkerErik Walker says

    I am impressed that you didn’t have any diaphragm cramping. Since running for that distance would certainly involve much different breathing then most of the typical CrossFit style workouts. Do you row for distance?

  2. Tasha says

    Erik, somehow I made it through all 13.1 miles without any cramping or pain anywhere else beside my arches. Occasionally I row to warmup before a WOD, 500m. I did my first 5k row a couple of months ago in 26 something.

  3. Frank says

    Tasha, you’re not only a great friend and a good writer, you’re an inspiration. I did my first 5k that day as well and yes it was cold too. I struggled as I didn’t train either, but it was for cancer research so I struggled through it but the feeling I got when I crossed that line was amazing and I will be running another. Thank you for the info ya shared with me and thank you for giving me the drive to do this!

  4. Stephanie Walker says

    Hey Tash! Love this article. I was just reading over the comments and Erik brought up a good point about diaphram cramping. Mine ALWAYS cramps these days! I never had a problem before with that but I also used to teach hour-long fitness classes where I’d be talking while moving at max capactiy. I don’t do that any more and can’t figure out the breathing thing. I too just rowed a 5k (a couple weeks ago) and had no breathing issues…I wonder if it’s because I’ve conditioned myself to breath with every release of the pull….(that make sense?) I guess I’ll have to employ a similar strategy when I’m running the turkey trot 5k on Thanksgiving! Maybe I’ll just pretend I’m rowing…wish my run time was the same as my row time. :/

  5. brenda says

    Wow Tasha that’s quiet an article! Im so proud of you! You have always had a determination to do what you set your mind to do. And you’ve always done exactly that. I know you can do anything you set your mind on and I know you know your limits, Sounds like you surprised yourself at this. That just proves that “yes you can”. Don’t over do it and watch that hip!!! Love you and here for you, Mom