For every single mistake, there’s an opportunity to learn from it.
Well, I have lots to learn from yesterday’s race.
With 10 half-marathons and a bunch of shorter races under my belt, I don’t consider myself any kind of running or racing expert, but I thought I knew pretty well what my body could and couldn’t handle.
Um, maybe not so much.
Well, I finished under 2:00, and I ran with Tina (and Meganerd!), and I enjoyed the race.
I don’t think I finished safely.
I ordered a delicious gnocchi and had them add chicken so I could get a little protein in.
I also had two fabulous glasses of New Zealand sauvignon blanc. I wasn’t planning on PRing at the race the next day, so two glasses of wine couldn’t hurt, right? Two glasses of wine isn’t much, right?
I had water at dinner and in the morning…
We woke up at 5:30 to plan on leaving for the race at 6. My stomach was a little upset, so I took one Immodium as I was getting ready–which is not terribly unusual before a race for me and my sensitive stomach. It generally calms things down.
We were staying at the Washington Marriott, near Foggy Bottom, courtesy of the very awesome Caitlin’s father and his Marriott points. Thank you Caitlin and your dad! I love him. We decided splitting a cab four ways wouldn’t be much more than taking the Metro and might be less stressful. The cab ride went very smoothly and we were at RFK within 15 minutes.
One of the best about this race is the access to the Armory before the race. A warm, indoor place to hang out? What?? Awesome.
Also awesome? The race on St. Patrick’s Day and everyone decked out in green.
(Laura, by the way, was pacing the marathon…her 68th marathon. Because she’s a little crazy like that.)
We hung out inside until about 7:45 when we decided we should probably get in the corrals. My phone wasn’t getting good service, and I couldn’t get ahold of Tina, and I started getting a little nervous. For a race I was undertrained for, it would really be nice to have someone else to run with.
On the way out, I ran into Meganerd and we walked to the corral, hoping to find Tina.
Since we were relatively close to the front (corral 8 out of 20-something corrals), we were able to cross the start quickly.
Our first mile was in the low 9:00s, and we tried to keep as many miles in the low 9s as possible, but our splits ended up being pretty inconsistent. We’d run one mile in the 8:40s and then the next in the low 9:00s. It was almost like we were doing intervals while racing? Really weird.
It was in the low 50s when we were standing in the corrals, but it warmed up really quickly, and kept getting warmer as the sun came out.
I’d had my usual pre-race breakfast, a Luna bar and banana, but it didn’t seem to be enough. About 4 miles in, I started getting really hungry–for real food. I’ve been hungry for solid food at the end of a marathon, but never so early in a race. I usually Gu at mile 6 of a half and then take half a Gu around mile 9 or 10, but I went for a Gu at mile 5 yesterday. Speaking of Gu, they hooked me up with a free bib for this race, which was much appreciated–especially since I signed up for this race when I was unemployed.
I ran the National Half last year, too, before it was organized by Rock ‘n’ Roll/Competitor Group. I hadn’t heard good things from other races the group has put on, but I hoped for the best at our race. Last year wasn’t terribly well-organized–the race ran out of water at a lot of stops, there were few mile markers on the course, so the race could only go up from there, right? Thankfully, yes. I can’t say I noticed any major hiccups yesterday.
As for the Rock ‘n’ Roll part of the race, I’d always heard there were tons of bands on their courses. I don’t remember how many bands we passed, but it was a nice perk. I can see this being especially awesome for a race that doesn’t go through a city, where there’s less to look at on the course.
Even though I’m not as well-trained right now as I was for this race last year, the extra year of running under my belt, and plenty of racing on hilly courses, definitely helped my muscle memory. Running at a 8:40ish pace was certainly no walk in the park, but I didn’t feel like I was dying, which, for being undertrained? Pretty awesome. Physically, my legs didn’t feel very fresh, but they never felt completely spent, either.
The three of us managed to stay together until around mile 6 or 7, running through Dupont Circle, when we lost Megan. It can be difficult enough running with one other person sometimes, but trying to keep three people together at the same pace is pretty hard.
Tina and I ran together just the two of us, and definitely talked even less than we did at the NYC Marathon, since the running was not coming terribly easy to us. I remember around mile 7 or 8 seeing salt packets at one of the water station and thinking they looked really good. Not a good sign.
The rest of the course and race was pretty standard until around mile 11.5. Megan had caught up to us a few minutes earlier, and the three of us were running together again. I started feeling a surge of energy, and with Megan a bit behind me, and Tina a bit behind her, I decided I was going to give the rest of the race all I had.
We were around 11.25 at 1:40ish, and I thought I still might be able to pull out a miracle PR. The first 10-11 miles of the course is fairly scenic, but the last few miles is really boring. Once you pass Howard, you run through Capitol Hill on the NE side of DC through some residential streets. There’s also a long street–I think 13th Street–that you run on for seemingly forever.
I told myself I’d pick things up once I hit 12 or got off that damn street, whichever happened first. Once I hit 12, I turned it up, and ended up running that last mile in 7:55! I am still in utter shock when I run an entire mile in a race under an 8:00 pace.
I ran hard, looking at my watch, doing mental math to figure out whether I’d be able to PR or not. Once I hit 13, I saw I wasn’t going to PR, and I became discouraged and slowed things down to a jog. When you hit 13 on this course, you can’t even see the finish line, which is also incredibly discouraging.
I ended up crossing the finish line in 1:57: , a time I’m really happy with for the amount of training I did. I can’t wait to see how much faster I can get later on this year when I do put more effort back into my training.
I walked past the finish line and turned around to look for Tina and Megan for a few minutes. When I didn’t see them, I started walking towards the beer tents, figuring I might find Tina there. Sure enough, she walked over there a few minutes later. As I started talking to the girls, I knew something was wrong.
I felt woozy, and I started to see double looking at them. (And no, I hadn’t gotten a beer.) This happened to me once, when I ran my last 20-miler before the marathon, and I knew I couldn’t make it back to the hotel without getting some salt into my system. I looked around to see if I could nab someone’s Gatorade, but didn’t see any wayward Gatorades for me to take.
I told Tina I thought I needed some salt, and we walked over to the medical tent. I thought I’d be able to grab some salt packets and peace out, but they took my information and had me sit down and mix salt packets into water. After one little bottle of this, I didn’t feel any better at all, and asked for some straight-up salt packets. They tried to offer me Gatorade, but it usually makes me sick to my stomach, so I tried to say no. After taking a few salt packets and realizing they weren’t doing anything, I relented and took the damn Gatorade.
When I’d sat down, they asked if I wanted them to take my vitals. I thought I’d be fine after some salt, so I initially declined, but once I wasn’t feeling any better, I asked them if they could take my vitals. The volunteer took my pulse, and said it was 112. She told me she thought I should lay down on a cot and elevate my legs. As I sat there, I started feeling really nervous and scared I might pass out. I remembered once at physical therapy, a guy telling me a story of how he was in the hospital for 36 hours after passing out after a race from dehydration. and had visions of the same happening to me. Tina came back in and sat with me for a few minutes and calmed me down.
The volunteer came back again and took my pulse again–it had only gone down to 106, but at least it had gone down. I tried making a joke and saying “well, sitting in a medical tent hoping I don’t pass out isn’t really doing anything for my nerves.” She smiled but told me if it didn’t keep going down, I might need an IV. Even more nervous at this point, I was determined to be a good patient and get the hell out of there. I finished the Gatorade, asked for more salt and took some more water. Finally, I wasn’t seeing double and got the hell out of there.
I walked back over to the Armory to meet up with Ashley and Caitiln (who ROCKED her race–1:53!). Ashley’d had a rough time, too, and we sat in the Armory and decompressed a bit before finally leaving. At this point, I was absolutely shivering, and just wanted to get back to the hotel.
While I don’t know whether it was the two glasses of wine, the warmth on the course and this being my first warm race of the year, being undertrained, or what, having to take a trip to the medical tent really scared me into not being so blase about my racing and training. Sure, I can pull out a half-marathon on minimal training, but I need to be kinder to my body. I can’t not train AND have a few glasses of wine before a race and expect everything to go well. That’s a lot to ask of my body. (As if a half-marathon alone wasn’t a lot to ask of my body.)
Whew. What have you learned from rough races?