Monday, March 15, 2010

My First Half Marathon Report

I had expected to write up this race recap on Saturday, but I just couldn't.  Then Sunday I went out shopping pretty much all day.  By the time I got home I was wiped and had barely enough energy to breathe.

So ... Saturday was my first half marathon.  As you may recall, I was rather worried about the weather.  We'd been having off/on torrential downpours.  However, in that aspect Mother Nature was kind and we had relatively clear skies.  A few sprinkles here and there, chilly to start, but really quite mild.  Actually, perfect running weather.

I was SO prepared.  I laid out my clothes the night before.  Had our water bottles filled with our favourite Gatorade mix and loaded into our running packs.  Packed some on the run snacks, extra clothes for after.  Timing chip zap-strapped onto our shoes.  Bib numbers pinned onto our shirts.  Everything was perfect.

I woke in the morning feeling totally refreshed (often before a race I have troubles sleeping, from nerves).  I felt so confident.  I wasn't hungry at all, so didn't eat.  I'd had dinner around 6 the night before, but still wasn't hungry.  I had snacks for on route, if needed.  I've run on an empty stomach in the morning lots of times and I do just fine.

We arrived with enough time to do a decent little warm-up and of course the obligatory potty stop.  In the waiting line we got talking to some people and it seemed this was a first half for alot of the participants.  It was all very exciting

I was feeling SO confident and ready!  I'd done all the hard work and I was ready to have it recorded officially.

The first 5 Km was AWESOME!  My husband ran about the first 3Km with me.  He was having some leg pains at first, but they eased up after a bit and then he went on ahead.  He's slightly faster than me so I never expected to run with him the whole time.  It was nice to run the first little bit together though. My pace was awesome and I felt like I had a ton of energy.  I KNEW my time was going to be great.  I had already prepared my facebook status and blog report in my head.

Around the 4 Km mark I thought .... hmmm, my tummy feels off a bit, I may need a bathroom at some point.  But I seemed to recall there being a stop somewhere along the route.  At this point we were passing the starting area and I could have veered off, but it was a bit further off route than I wanted to go, and I wasn't 100% certain that I actually had to go, or if it was just nerves.  Besides, my pace was really good and I thought if I can build up a little reserve, then I won't need to worry about taking the time to stop.

Between 5 & 6 Km was the only real hills on the loop.  Two short, somewhat steep hills, and one gradual hill between them.  About the time I reached the top of the 2nd hill I knew for sure that I needed a bathroom, and fairly soon.  I asked a volunteer if there was potties along the way.  She didn't know.  So I continued on, hoping one would magically appear. 

We rounded a corner then started a long gradual downhill.  That's when the trouble really started.  By this point I had drastically slowed down and was starting to seek out possible bushes to duck behind.  Though, we were running through a subdivision with very few "natural" type areas.  I even went past a cute little family who were sitting out in their driveway on lawnchairs watching the runners go by.  I seriously considered asking to use their bathroom, but just couldn't bring myself to do it.

Shortly after that I had to reduce my 'barely-a-jog-pace' to a walk.  I'm still going downhill!  Runners are passing me, and being the wonderful support system that runners are ... everyone is encouraging me to carry on.  But I knew I couldn't.  As competitive and driven as I am, I wasn't willing to crap my pants - that's not success in my books!

At the bottom of the hill there was an out and back and then we were to turn back down towards the start area for the 2nd loop (where I knew there were potties).  I asked the volunteer at this cross street if there were potties up ahead.  She didn't know if there was, but of course there were the one's at the start line.  At this point my average pace was still OK that if I had had access to a potty right there, and been able to pick it up a little bit on the 2nd loop, I still would have beaten my time goal for this race. 

Sadly, I had to make the agonizing decision to abandon the course and head down to the potties.  My gut was wrenching, I had silent tears slipping down my cheeks, and was walking at a snails pace just praying I would make it.  I'm also mad, mad at the world, disappointed at the hand I've been dealt.  A blind chicken should have been able to take one look at me and realize that I was not in a happy place.  As I passed the start of loop 2, there are people standing there cheering everyone one.  The race director (I think) leans in to me and gives me a big smiley face and says something along the lines of "Smile, it's not that bad".  I, uh .... kinda lost it here for a moment.  All my anger came out and I replied along the lines of, "Yes, it is that bad.  I need a bathroom and there aren't any port-a-potties out there and I gotta take a crap!".  Yeah, not my proudest moment and I bet he was a little surprised.  But seriously, I'm clenching my stomach, I have tears in my eyes, I'm walking slowly and I look mad as hell ... read the signs buddy!!!

Just as I'm about to turn off, my husband comes running by.  He is absolutely sick with worry at this point.  He had expected to see me on the turn around a while back and has been desperately looking for me.  When he saw me up ahead of him, he figured I'd twisted an ankle or something.  He said he wanted to stop right then and there.  He knew this was my thing and he didn't want to do it without me.  I told him what was wrong and told him to go on.  This of course, upset me even more.

So I get finished up in the potty, and then I don't know if I should continue on, or just quit and wait for my husband to finish.  I'm already off course (not that anyone else knew that) and the race for me is over.  I decided to continue on.  I figured I don't want to sit around for an hour waiting for him (he had the car keys too), I may as well run what I can, plus I still want my medal even if I didn't do it properly - I paid for it!!! ;)

As I'm coming back onto the course, I see just up ahead is the runners that I had been running with right before I had to stop.  So I figure at least I can continue on and have a good idea of where I would have finished if I hadn't had this issue. 

The next couple of Kms are good.  My pace is right back where it should be and I feel fine, but then ... it hits again!  I have to slow my pace again, but at least this time I'm in a park and there is a bathroom nearby.  Continue on and go past the starting area again about a Km later and figure, hey, last chance ... may as well make one more stop and hope that will do.

I finish up the last 7Km or so without incident, but really my tummy is still not feeling great and my pace is really slow.  I went through a million thoughts.  I was never going to race again.  Well maybe I'll race, but I'll never race longer than 10Km again.  Well, maybe I'll do another half, but never this one.  By the end I had come back around to ... I can't wait to do this race again and nail it!

My husband met up with me at about 19Km and jogged the last little bit in with me.  He was so worried about me, and felt so bad.  As I came across the finish line I didn't even want to hear my name being called out.  I barely even wanted the medal.  I just wanted to go home!

My "finish" time was 2:07:33, but that really means nothing.  According to my Garmin I ran 12.1 miles - though I know I walked at least 1 or those miles, maybe a bit more.  So, three extended potty stops, 1+ mile walking, off course ..... GRRRRRR!

My husband however did awesome!  He said it was a while before his leg pain eased, but he ran very well.  His goal was to finish under 1:55, though he said when he started he didn't think he would be able to do that.  His finish time was officially 1:48:46, so he blew it out of the water!  I knew he'd be around that time.  I'll get to that time one day too!

As it was, I didn't get to leave for a while yet.  My husband had dropped his sweater part way on course and we walked out to get it.  I figured it would be good for my legs to have a little walk.  You guessed it ... part way out the stomach attacks again!  GRRRR!  Then, when we finally got to where he'd dropped it, it was gone.  He dropped it by a volunteer.  So we head back to the finish and talk to the organizers ... no one had handed it in.  We left our name & #,  hopefully it gets returned, but at least it wasn't anything super special if it doesn't.

My tummy was off for the entire rest of the day, including a bit the next day.  So I don't think it was a matter of something I ate, or nerves, or runners tummy.  Apparently a friend of mine had a similar thing earlier in the week and she doesn't even run (I hadn't seen her so I didn't get it from her). 

I'm pretty sure we're going to do another half at the end of April.  I just can't leave it at this.  I KNOW I can do this!

Maybe one day I'll laugh about it.  For now it's still a bit hard to swallow.  Though, when my friends ask "How'd it go?" I give a little giggle and say "uh .... shitty!"

It's just so disappointing!  I'm NOT disappointed in myself.  I don't think there's anything I could have done differently.  As my facebook status says:

There are some things you just can't train or plan for, you just have to accept them and move on.

When my sister saw that she called me up and said, "Aww, what's wrong Pooh Bear".  Hmmmm, funny you should call me that!

Hope you had a better weekend than me!



Ex Yo-Yo Dieter Debbie said...

Awww, poor were so psyched up for this!

At least it was your potty breaks that slowed you down and not some freak injury that would slow down your training for the next one...

You really are an inspiring runner...I am just re-starting my running program. Your distances and times impress the heck out of me!

Hope your tummy is okay now...and that you're feeling better mentally. Who knows? Maybe one day you'll have a sense of humour about what happened (the phrase "having the runs" has taken on a whole new meaning...)?

I'm not trying to make light of the hard time you had, just hoping you'll cheer up... :)

Syl said...

the fact that you kept going is success in it self, sorry you had a bad race but I have no doubt in my mind that this is a just a little hurdle, you will be back on the half train in no time. You are right there are some things you just can't plan for!

Congratulations you half marathoner !!!!

Sarah said...

Sorry to hear about your potty problems. :( Gettins sick on race day is just plain NO FAIR!! But you toughed it out and did it. You are awesome!!

Lynsey said...

Well, just call this a "practice run" for the next time.

That really sucks for you and I'm really sorry.

I waited all day yesterday for this update. Now I feel horrible for you.

Go get em next time girl!

kimert said...

Huge huge hugs!!!!

You definitely inspire me and my running! I'm glad you didn't give up but I totally would have felt like it if it had been me. Keep going and YES YOU WILL GET THERE! Be proud, very proud, of what you have accomplished so far!

Sarah said...

So so sorry to hear your first half marathon wasn't all that you had hoped. Potty issues are the worst!! Good for you struggling on and finishing though. You deserve that medal. And I hope your next half is SO much better. Don't let this one time get you down. :)

Ashlee Wetherington said...

Oh, Heidi, that really sucks!!! I had the same problem at my half, but luckily I went once and got it all out and was able to continue on. It's the absolute worst waiting for a bathroom to appear, and then not wanting to stop and go, but having to do it. You will finish one the right way very soon. You certainly can do it, your training has shown that. Sign up for the April race!

Suzy said...

Aw, Heidi. Running with stomach issues is down-right painful. I've been there too and there isn't anything that you can do but slow down and do what you can. Give it a little and then go back out and run. You'll do awesome. Sign up for the race in April and enjoy your training between now and then.

Katie A. said...

OMG! I am sooo sorry about that! You are sooo right - there isn't anything you could have changed - sometimes the stress of racing is just enough to send your insides for a loop! You will have redemption! And I bet you could find a new race real quick and do great at it - see if you can find one in the next 2-6 weeks so you don't loose all your training :)

Cassie said...

I am so sorry Heidi! I know you are disappointed but good for you for finishing anyway!

Tamara said...

I am soooooo proud of you! Continuing on and completing the 1/2 despite your issues is really amazing.

And you are the kind of competitor who would come out of an experience like that feeling driven to do better next time.

Of course I still think 2:07 is an awesome time but I know it wasn't what you were training toward. You will make it in under 2 hours next time for sure! No way you'd get dealt a bad hand like that twice!

And it's good to see you haven't lost your sense of humour! :)

You're awesome Heidi

Cupcake Dreamer said...

I've been wanting to try a half, but don't have the guts to try yet. This would be my worse nightmare, but you were so brave to keep moving. Regardless of the outcome, you finished. Try not to be so hard on yourself.

If you never try, you will never know what it feels like. You are an athlete and proved that. Potty breaks or not!

EricaH said...

Sorry to hear you had such a bad experience with your first half. You did all you could and even pushed through to finish and that is something to be proud of, maybe you should write a letter to the race coordinator suggesting more porta potties. Well I feel a redemption run coming on because you still have a 1/2 marathon to rock, the next one will be better.

Teamarcia said...

Oh I'm so sorry that totally sucks. What a disappointment for sure. But you have the right attitude...there's nothing you could have done differently. Just chalk it up to illness and move on. Here's to better races ahead.

Susan (All Things In Moderation) said...

You are still my hero !!!!!!!!! Your one of the toughest chicks I know!

ajh said...

It is so awful to race and need to use a bathroom when there isn't one!
When I look for a marathon I check out the porta pottie situation. I ran a half that had none and I won't do that again. There are also marathons without any so it is worth looking into. So so sorry for your disappointing first half. It sounds like you were speedy speedy and just had problems that couldn't be helped.

Michelle said...

So sorry! But, you really have a rockin' pace! I am envious b/c I'm certainly not that fast even without potty breaks! Way to go!

Fran said...

I've read this post during lunchtime and I felt sorry for you: you looked so forward to this race.

But .... I think you did great! You didn't give up and in my opinion you had a great finishing time. You should be proud of yourself and your next half will be even better than this one.

There are so many people, including me, who can't do this but you did! Congratulations!

If you still want those socks I promised you: send me an email with your address and I get them for you!

~Tammy said...

Training for my first 1/2, I would be incredibly impressed with your time.

Sorry to hear you had potty issues. I experience them a lot when I run and that is the one thing that is scaring me about my own first attempt.

Looking forward to read about your next running goals.

Missy said...

I'm sorry to hear that it didn't go as planned - but truly, not your fault or something you could have prepared for. You did your best with the cards you were dealt. You DEFINITELY have to do another one though. You know it'll go better and you'll leave feeling proud rather than disappointed.

I'm still proud of you - I think you did amazingly and you never gave up which is HUGE!!

Keri said...

Bless your heart! I am so sorry about the potty issues.