I entered a race? Ran with a bib? Finished all 13.1 miles? Wow, that seems like a long time ago. I have strange memories of this race because the sick feeling/virus/plague that immediately followed took all focus off my legs and training otherwise for the rest of the week. I’ll spare the details, but I’ll just say that this basically felt like a 13.1-mile tempo workout, and it caused what I will hereafter refer to as the E. Murray Todd Virus (it’s like e. Coli…only…well, very similar actually. Ick).
First, I stated in my last post the following goal for the morning’s shenanigans:
I’m not gunning for a PR, or even a PR effort, but rather a hard effort over 13.1 miles that will serve as a benchmark and confidence-booster for the rest of my training for Boston. It would be nice to run faster than I did on the somewhat hilly Caesar Rodney Half course last year, though.
So, spoiler: the race went exactly as I expected. This was nice. It was even and relaxed for the most part, but not so much so that I would be able to talk at regular intervals or anything. I warmed up almost three miles. It was kind of humid at the start. I ate a banana and a PowerGel when I woke up at around 6:40 AM and had nothing else but water and Nuun until the race, terrified of any acid reflux or other stomach issues (foreshadowing). I knew better than to start with my female 3:04 marathoner friend who was “not in shape,” because she actually was in shape and was definitely going way under 90 minutes (she did). As far as the hills were concerned, they were as I expected: nothing was flat, but every incline was less than what I run in training. I averaged right around seven minute pace for the first five miles, which started downhill and then ended up being a net uphill.
I passed this guy wearing a black and yellow bodysuit who was clearly pacing a girl. Passing the girl was obviously the important part. The bodysuit was just odd. Since I’ve been doing five-mile tempos, the thought crossed my mind that these first five were a little slower than I ran those, but not too much, so I just had to extend that effort over the rest of the race. I felt like I wasn’t working as hard as I was at the end of those tempos.
The next five miles brought some hills, but I was right: none were as intense as the ones I do during training, and I was able to maintain generally the same pace for those miles as the flat miles. What did happen in this stretch was my stomach decided to start acting up….you know, the way it has on every long run, yet I haven’t found a solution. It’s the kind of discomfort that sends your eyes darting from tree to fence to bush, wondering how much time you would lose if you stopped for a moment of relief. In case you haven’t been there: this is no way to run a race. It sends you through conflicting mindsets – if you slow down will it ease the discomfort? If not, should you just hammer it out? In short, it’s an awful feeling. I pressed on, as always, telling myself there’s no way in hell I’m pausing for that reason during Boston so I might as well practice now. Mile 10: insert the feeling getting even worse, a long uphill, hail, and wind. That was the split I’m not proud of, but to be honest, I didn’t even look at my watch when it beeped then. The focus was getting through without any disasters occurring.
I passed a friend after the tenth mile heading into Thompson Park who was also having stomach problems. His mentality: “We have an entire 5k to go.” Mine: “Only 5k left!” My fastest mile was admittedly the eleventh, so I definitely had something left in the tank; the way my gut felt just made me debate whether or not I wanted to risk the aforementioned disaster. My last 5k was about 21:25.
The stats, which were much less important than visiting the bathroom post-race: Official time 1:32:09.5, average pace of 7:02, 62nd overall, 6th female, 1st F20-24.
I thought I did a pretty decent job passing women during this race; I passed three speedy-looking women throughout and didn’t get passed by any. HOWEVER, there was a woman who I was apparently gaining on throughout the race who I hardly even saw who finished ten seconds ahead of me for fifth female overall. Instead of giving separate awards to top three overall like most races, of course this race had to award the top five, so I just missed winning a sweet golden goblet by ten seconds. Oh well. I still got a cool plaque for first in my age group, and my speedy running buddy got third overall (her BF was second overall!).
So as I said, the aftermath of the race on my body was not pretty. It had nothing to do with my legs/muscles/etc., which is good. I recovered really quickly. It was a wake-up call for my pre-race nutrition though…I’m going to experiment with fuel that is NOT in gel form tomorrow on my 20-miler. The goal is no bathroom stops in Boston. If I can’t manage to get in a long run without one, how will I expect not to stop during the race? It was a frustrating week, that’s for sure. Back to the race though: I am happy with how it went. I know I was in shape to run faster. And I’m okay with that, I like that. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be as confident for the big race, which is six weeks from now.
Tell me though, do you have “porta potty vision” as I like to call the selective recognition runners have for porta potties on their runs? Any advice for me about what’s worked for you in avoiding this awful curse?!?