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!