As the end of February drew near and not yet having raced this month, I, almost out of desperation, registered for the 2022 Ellerbe Half Marathon, taking place on the last Saturday of the month in the eponymous city of North Carolina. Observing its daunting elevation chart prior, I hesitated initially, but I had no other option. The Tuesday of the same week, I went out for an easy run of just over four miles, and my legs almost unprecedentedly from the beginning felt fatigued and shins and calves burned and would not recover. I had already signed up for this event, so I took the remaining days meticulously stretching and massaging my legs with a muscle-roller stick, praying, and hoping that the pain would not reappear on race day.
Not knowing the state of my legs, I started the race slightly nervous. I thought I felt a similar pain the first couple of miles, but thankfully, this discomfort subsided in the following mile. The course, 13.32 miles with 758 feet of elevation gain according to my Garmin, consisted of repeated hills of up and down, which I do not mind generally, but the first half included more downhill running and the second half felt to be nonstop climbing, perfect recipe for slowing down drastically the second half after a decent first half, exactly what happened. The fierce headwind the final few miles certainly did not help. My focus shifted from a sub-two-hour finish to simply running the whole way without a walking break, which I managed without much adversity. I crossed the finish line with a gun time of 2:06:06, relieved and grateful to God that my legs did not present a problem because I worried perhaps I carried minor shin splints or another form of overuse injury. I understood my result would be less than ideal here, so I basically considered this as a solid training run.