Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Race Recap Part II - Go! St. Louis Half Marathon - The FEELINGS

Running a half marathon has been on my life list for a while (try 5 years). I’ve failed in the attempt a number of times before this, so it’s not surprising that I have a lot of FEELINGS about my finish. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but my biggest struggle with running is definitely mental. As the Grige tells me constantly (and yelled at me during the race – highlighting the reason we no longer run together), “You can go FASTER than that! TRY HARDER!”. I finished my race strong, but I haven’t learned how to push myself to the limit yet. However, finishing was a huge confidence boost, and I believe that conquering a marathon will give me the push I need to start working on speed. So, the FEELINGS:

What Surprised me:

I was totally unprepared for the emotional rollercoaster that goes with preparing for a race. I was SO NERVOUS on Saturday that I could barely sleep. Watching UMich basketball (barely) beat Syracuse in the Final Four did not sooth my nerves (Longest 2 minutes of my life, seriously). But they won! So I went to bed happy. My nerves continued Sunday morning as we sat in traffic at the race exit.

During the race, I felt amazing – elated. I can’t believe how much I actually enjoyed running. There were tons of people, and even though I was hurting, I felt happy. I did not expect that AT ALL. The finish, especially, was really emotional for me. I sprinted my last mile, and plowing through that finish line was just overwhelming. I felt like I was going to cry (luckily, I didn’t). Honestly, the last time I felt that emotional was walking down the aisle at our wedding.

Finally, I was really worried that the fact that I wasn’t used to getting up early/running in the morning would hurt me. I don’t think it actually had any impact at all. I was so nervous that getting up was no problem and I felt fine while I was running. I’m glad to push that worry out of the way for marathon training, because running in the evenings has been working out really well for me schedule-wise.

What didn’t Surprise me:

The logistics of getting to big events on time are always a bit stressor for me, and I planned accordingly. The Grige drove me in so that I didn’t have much to worry about. But I’m one of those people who is always at the airport an hour before I need to be “just in case” and I’m still nauseous the whole time. Race morning was no exception, and I was a ball of nerves. As a result, I’ll be extra cautious about which races I sign up for moving forward. I think that travelling to a race will be nice, because I’ll be able to stay in a hotel close to the start, eliminating a lot of travel stress.

My pace was also no big surprise. I ran at the pace of my best training runs (not 1 minute/mile faster, as some training plans suggested I would be able to). In retrospect, I probably could have pushed it harder. However, I kept thinking about the fact that I’m running 15 miles this Saturday and how I didn’t want to be dead for that. Truthfully, this is just the half-way point in marathon training, and I’m happy to have logged a half marathon time that I can compete with in the coming years. However, I would be lying if I told you I thought I couldn’t do any better. I am stronger and faster than I think, and breaking those mental barriers is one of the great challenges of running for me.

What went wrong

My stomach totally went bonkers on me at mile 4, which meant losing 3 minutes (I timed it) to a port-a-potty stop. Annoying. I was also really sick for the rest of the day yesterday and have been on a liquid diet since the finish as a result. I ate my breakfast with lots of extra time and ate the BRAT (Bananas, Rice, Apples and Toast) diet starting 2 days before the race. I don’t think there’s anything else I could have done, but I’ll continue to try tweaking things. I may give immodium a try before my next long run, just to see if it helps.

Sunday was the warmest day we’ve had so far, and I paid the price for doing all of my training outdoors. Since I’m used to running in extremely cold weather, this is the first time I broke out most of my summer running gear (shorts and tank) this year. The result is some pretty nasty underarm chafing (ouch!), a sunburn, and GIANT blisters on my arches from sweat-related rubbing. Luckily, I didn’t notice any of this during the race except for the blisters. I could feel them forming by mile 5, and I could practically hear them squelching by mile 10. Ugh. I could barely walk to the car after the race. However, I’ve now pierced and drained them and I’m hopeful to be back on the road tomorrow. If not, I’ll be swimming my training this week.

What went right

My training plan helped me feel really prepared. There was never a moment where I worried if I would be able to finish or not, andknowing that I could do it really helped me relax and enjoy the race.

I decided at the last minute to run without my handheld water bottle. It was a good decision – I’m really glad I didn’t have to deal with carrying anything.

Training on hills really paid off! Some of my fastest splits were on the hilly portion of the course.

I can honestly say that I really enjoyed this run. It was fun to run with other people, I enjoyed seeing the spectators and I enjoyed being pushed by the challenge of “racing”. I felt happy and good pretty much the whole time!

1 comment:

  1. Re: the GI issues, I experienced that a lot when I was first doing longer races. I can't quite put my finger on why it does not happen as much anymore. I assume part of it, is just becoming accustom to longer distances. I did learn at one point that taking non-tylenol can typically upset a stomach whereas tylenol will not. So once I switched from motrin to tylenol for any post race (or long run) aches, that helped. Maybe also real food during the race? I can definitely say that I had better post-race GI outcomes when I had someone hand me off a pbj during a race than not, but I couldn't say for sure that's it.

    Sounds like you had a great first half!! Congratulations.