Sunday, May 2, 2010

Race Report: Capital City Half Marathon

Yesterday morning was the Cap City half marathon right here in Columbus! The race had so many ups and downs it was kind of crazy. I didn't PR, but I didn't expect to either since I wasn't really trained to run this. But I finished! And under difficult conditions. This is gonna be a long report!

Pre-Race. I checked the weather in the morning and as you can see in the previous post I made, well... it was going to rain. A LOT. Ack. I've done training runs in the rain (but as it turns out, haven't done training runs in the amount of rain we would get during this race!). This was my first rainy race ever, though.

I felt kinda clumsy getting ready for this race... I used to have a nice little pre-race routine but it's been awhile since I've done one, and I hadn't even done a consistent routine before my long runs. I had half of a clif bar and a glass of water, and would've liked to have had some juice but didn't have time. I couldn't find my race belt, and spent a bunch of time tearing my apartment apart trying to find it. I literally haven't seen the thing since January--no idea where it is. It's just a cheap one--a strap of elastic that clips, with a little tiny pocket attached to it--so I don't mind buying a new one if I have to because I want a different kind anyhow. I like having the belt to hold shot blocks in case I want them and because I can pin my number to it, and then if I want to lose layers from my top half I can do so easily. I'm so spoiled that this was the first race I've done beltless--I shoved 3 shot blocks in a plastic bag into the key pocket of my shorts, which wasn't really big enough to hold them, and I pinned my number to my shirt. Unsure about the rain situation, I wore a hat and also did the classic garbage-bag-wearing thing so I could stay dry at least until the start. It was pretty ridiculous:

Nothin' more flattering than wearing a trash bag, that's for sure.  And boy do I ever look stupid in a hat.

So we headed out in a hurry. The traffic was a mess down by the race, and we got there later than we'd hoped, but I was still able to squeeze in a quick restroom break--maybe because everyone was already lined up in the starting area? But they had these weird portable trucks with bathrooms in them, instead of just regular porta-potties, which was nicer. They were playing the national anthem as we made our way over to the starting area. It wasn't raining so I took off my bag and carried it in my hand; I wasn't sure if I'd want it later on if the rain came back, or what, since I hadn't done a rainy race before. We squeezed in near the 2:15 balloon, but the balloon was toward the middle of the street and we were on the edge, and once the gun went off the middle of the pack moved forward while the edges couldn't. We ended up crossing the starting line about 15 minutes after the gun, alongside the 3 hour pace group.

Race: The first couple miles were really rough. This is possibly TMI, but I've been fighting a bladder infection all week, so for the first two miles every single step and bounce was making me have to pee, even though I *just* peed before the start. It was ridiculous. I tried everything to take my mind off of it because it was giving me that nagging feeling that I wouldn't be able to do this race. I made myself pass the first set of port-a-potties because I knew that, in theory, I *shouldn't* need them yet so hopefully the feeling would go away if I waited it out. It eventually did go away, and I made it the whole race without a pee break, but ugh. Sam ran the first couple miles with me, and we talked about how the 2:30 pace group was ahead of us--they started way before us, and we knew we had to catch and pass them at some point if we wanted to be in the 2:20 or 2:15 range at all. I knew it made sense that they were ahead of us, given the start situation, but it was so demoralizing to know that we were currently "worse" than a 2:30 finish--at least in the sense that we were so far behind the pace group that we couldn't even see it.

After Sam took off ahead of me and the pee problem went away, though, I started feeling nauseous. I have no idea why. I felt so so sick.... like almost ready to run off the course and throw up sick. I can't think of anything I'd done differently to bring this on; I had a very early dinner the night before the race, and only half a clif bar in the morning, which is sort of normal and very small. The miles weren't passing quickly enough, and everything was sort of blurring together. The first 6 miles or so had occasional small hills (more like long gradual and very subtle uphill grades, but enough to make this midwestern girl feel 'em). It started drizzling and then raining around mile 4, so I put my plastic bag on just to see how it worked. It kept me dry for about 3/4 a mile and then I realized that it was basically like running inside a body-sauna. Better to run in the cool rain than to get sweaty under a sheet of plastic, so I tore it off of me hulk-style, which awarded me more amusement than it probably should have. Kinda fun and a momentary distraction from the nausea. Rawrrrrr... me no need plastic bag... I destroy. Anyway, all signs point to the garbage bag being a good idea for standing in a rainy starting area but not for running in (I probably should've known this?)

I then proceeded to carry the torn bag in my hand for 2 more miles because I couldn't find a place to throw it away and didn't want to just litter, even though it probably would've been ok to do so on the course. I got to the water stop at mile 6 and decided to take some powerade because i felt horrible and nothing I was doing was helping.

So about Powerade. I don't drink this vile shit, ever. I'm very anti-sports drinks that have sugar and chemicals and gross stuff I can't pronounce in them. For training runs I either use a 50/50 juice and water mix with a bit of salt in it, or Nuun sports drink tabs. I drank this powerade fully expecting it to make me immediately sicker (new thing on race day + possible stomach cramps from sugars, etc), which is why I don't think this was some kind of placebo effect but....

This stuff was omfg-holy-crap delicious! Like nectar of the gods delicious. I drank it down in disbelief and kept running. And then I started feeling awesome! Like superman awesome. I took a little more at the mile 7 marker and this was near the part of the course where we started heading north on High street--which is one of the main streets in Columbus, where we were running first through the cool arts district, then past OSU's campus--both parts of the city that I'm familiar with. Mile 7 was amazing. It started raining really hard but I didn't even care... I was running a 9:30 pace and passing people left and right. I'd been passing people even while I was feeling sick since I had been so far in the back, but now I was passing people in droves.

And then.. I caught up to the 2:30 pace group, which had been ahead of me for all of this time! I wanted to scream and yell and shout and cheer. I actually started crying and smiling at the same time as I passed them, it was ridiculous. I was having all of these other optimistic thoughts, about how maybe some of my friends or someone else I knew would be there to cheer me on (they didn't), about how running was the greatest possible thing in the world and I was more than half done and hadn't done a run this long since January. It was the greatest runners' high ever.

Then it started POURING. Torrential downpour pouring. I noticed this guy around mile 8 who I'd passed, and then he'd passed me, then I'd pass him again, etc. Finally I turned to him and laughed about how I was going to use him to keep up this pace, and we ended up running the last 4 miles or so together while talking. This guy (his name was Tom, he was probably 45 or so?) was a blessing to have along as the miles started getting tougher and the rain got harder. Around mile 10 I stepped in a puddle that covered my feet and from then on my feet were making audible squish sounds. I was getting a lot of rubbing on the back of my right heel. Apparently water in the shoes causes blisters and rubbing, go figure.

The final part of the course went onto the bike trail where I run sometimes, which was kind of terrible course design. It's very narrow, and there were WAY too many people. Tom and I kept trying to maintain pace and pass people anyway. The trail was also sort of hilly because you have to keep going under roads and back up, so it was pretty tough in the final 2 miles or so. We wanted to really open up and haul ass for the last mile, but after those hills I didn't have much energy left in the tank--not to mention that my feet felt completely rubbed raw. I didn't see the race casualties at this point but Sam told me later there were like 3 women passed out on the side of the trail during this part of the course, which would explain the police motorcycles. The humidity was crazy high and it was pretty warm despite the rain, so maybe it was dehydration.

We finished, high-fived, and I checked the Garmin: 2:22:57. So... a full 7 minutes worse than my pace in January, but still my second-best race time, and I hadn't expected to PR anyhow. I'm happy with it considering the lack of training, bladder, nausea, and rain. And I still managed to have fun even though I didn't do my best time ever (what with my inner perfectionist, sometimes this is difficult).

I finally found Sam and we squished our way back to the car. A quick finishing photo in the parking garage:

We were so so soaked. This is gross but I have to post it for posterity. Look what running in the rain did to my feet! Holy crap! They're all pale and shriveled and ack.

A totally-soaked car photo, and a view from the window:

Post-Race: I'm still boggled about the powerade thing. Maybe the reason for my nausea was dehydration or something. I didn't use any shot blocks during this race, but I drank strangely delicious powerade for the whole second half.

After the race a few things were notable:
1) my right hip didn't hurt at all! I wonder if this means that my efforts toward strengthening my hip adductor and trying not to turn my foot outward is all paying off?
2) my right knee hurt on the outside, bad enough that I started limping in the afternoon. It was swollen, like a big lump on the side of my knee. But when I woke up this morning it was 100% better (feels perfect today!) Maybe it was just inflammation? Today I have some muscle soreness but no joint pain at all, which makes me very happy.
3) Apparently I can get inner thigh chafing if my shorts are completely saturated with water. I don't think I really have particularly huge thighs that rub together but apparently they DO rub together or this wouldn't have happened. I have to remember this for my full marathon. Ditto with greasing the hell out of my heels if it's going to rain.
4) Having no crowd support apparently makes me sad even if this is the 5th half I've done and therefore no longer "new and exciting." It's disappointing that aside from Sam (who is usually also running with me!) no one I know cares enough about running to want to come cheer us on. I hope that at least someone will show up for my first marathon or I'm going to be really sad :'( I feel selfish for wanting people to be there, but also I wish they cared enough to bother on their own without me asking and/or pleading them to care. People seem to think that if I'm not going to "win," and if I am slow and have already proven that I can finish the distance, there's no point in caring. But running is so important to me... it would make me happier than almost anything to get a little unrequested support now and then.
5) Fixing my posture makes me feel like a much stronger runner. I was really sloppy with my form during the first part of the race because I was too sick to care, but during the second half I focused on some posture things I read about in the book Chi Running (more on that another day). It really helped!

I've been trying so hard to be healthy and eat more raw and all that, but after this race I went completely nuts with the food. I was so freaking hungry. Sam and I went to Red Robin where I got a vegan burger with guac on it and ate like 3 baskets of fries and several pitchers of water. After a nap, for dinner we had chinese (veggie tofu dumplings!) and tea. And today for lunch we had a huge pile of hashbrowns with some black beans and broccoli. I feel like I should be doing something to detox the massive amount of unhealthy crap I ate along with the powerade but I also sort of don't care because it just felt so good to EAT. I don't know.

I'm counting this race a success and I'm glad I did it. I leave you with a radar map from when we got home:

Totally clear outside! Haha. What timing. :o)

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