Sunday, April 01, 2012

Flip Flop Half Marathon

After having two very bad 10K's in the last couple months, I was apprehensive about the Half Marathon I had today, which I signed up for at the end of December.  I wasn't sure if I should race at all.  I wasn't scared so much of the discomfort I sometimes get from palpitations (fatigue, nauseau), but more about the disappointment and sense of failure I got from DNF'ing my last race.  I mentioned to a friend of mine that if I DNF'd another race, I might not ever want to race again.

I decided I really wanted to do the race, and would just do my best to keep it under control.  I'd put in the mileage for it, and knew I could run the distance if I kept an easy pace.  Still, it was scary going into this race.  Last year I got heart palpitations at mile 5 in the race, and the rest of the race was hell.  I finished it in 2:35, walk/running the rest of it.  Also, in a training run I did in January on part of the course while I was still recovering from the stomach flu, I experienced heart palpitations while I ran what felt like a really easy pace to me.  Between having two bad 10K's recently, and bad experiences with this race and the course, I had a bit of a feeling of dread going into it.

I've cut way back on the intensity of the training, realizing that my best races recently have been ones where I didn't train for them at all.  I also had some acupuncture done to treat the heart palpitation problems.  The acupuncture has helped me to feel more relaxed, but I knew I couldn't be sure if it would help until I had a good hard run.


Raybon took Rory to the library for a few hours to allow me to relax yesterday.  I did some dishes, cooked dinner, did a bit of laundry, and watched part of "The Hangover."  "The Hangover" was really funny; it was the first time I'd seen it.  (I still haven't finished it because the boys got back before I could.)  It was good to take my mind off the race.  I'd been reading "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running", but then I saw an article in a running magazine that said not to read books about running or watch movies about it right before a race.  So I really enjoyed "The Hangover" and I think I was reminded of why laughter is sometimes the best medicine.  It was nice of Raybon to take Rory to the library without me even asking him to.  I think Raybon felt bad that I had to watch Rory in the morning while he did a long run the day before my race.


Back in December when I signed up for the race, I thought three of my friends would be joining me.  But one of them has taken on foster care of 3 children unexpectedly, another decided to visit family this weekend instead, and another has been too busy with work to train.  I thought I'd be going it alone.  Last year one of my memories in the race was a feeling of jealousy looking at other women running with their friends in matching outfits.  I missed my triathlon team a bit, and felt really lonely.  So I was a little bummed not to have any friends in the race with me.

But last night I got a text from one of my friends, C., saying that she decided to do the race anyways, despite not having trained since the last time she saw me in January.  This made me really happy, and I felt better about racing.

I actually carbo-loaded for the two days prior to the race this time, getting about 70% of my calories from carbs.  I've never consciously counted my carbs before a race before, just eating carbohydrate rich foods.  I found it almost hard to eat so much.  I've been using a calorie tracking website at www.LoseIt.com, which has helped me track my calories.  I usually eat a lot of fat, and not so many carbs.  Since fat has more calories per gram than carbs, my stomach felt really stuffed eating so many carbohydrates, having to take in so many more grams of food than I normally do. Mostly I ate rice and sweet potatoes.

For some reason, my feeling of dread went away in the evening before the race.  I prayed to God that my race would go well, and I think knowing C. would be there, too, made me feel better.  The weather predicted sunny but cool weather, perfect for a race.  

At home the morning of the race, I ate nothing.  I drank two cups of water, that's it.  I was afraid that eating something would unsettle my stomach, and I decided instead to rely on the carbs I ate for two days prior, to see if that went better.  I also drank less water than I often do before a race.  My last couple races, I could hear the water sloshing in my stomach, so I thought I might be drinking too much.

As we drove down to Flip Flop, about half an hour from our house, I realized I forgot my race number when we were halfway there.  Raybon noticed it.  I told him to just keep driving to the race, but he figured we had time, and turned around.  He was right, we did have enough time, and I got there about 15 minutes before the race start.  We saw C. as we were driving up.  I forgot to ask her why, but she was jogging back to her car, I think.  Raybon dropped me off close to the start.  I gave Raybon a quick kiss, got out of the car, and went to find C.  I heard Raybon call out to me "Aren't you going to kiss your son goodbye?"  I completely forgot, and felt bad.  I'm glad Rory is the type who gets over things quickly and doesn't take things too personally.  I gave him a kiss on my mouth, and had him kiss each of my cheeks for good luck.  I wasn't wearing my wedding rings, because they need to be resized and kept falling off.  I wanted to wear something  that reminded me of something happy but couldn't find anything in the rush to get out the door in the morning, so I was happy to wear Rory's kisses.

I found C. and after talking some, discovered that it might work out for us to run together.  C. is my training partner, but she is a bit faster than me when she is in shape.  Between me overtraining and her not training at all, we thought we should try running together.  

It really worked out for us to run together.  C said she was out of shape, but might have been tempted to run too hard if I wasn't there  to slow her down.  If she wasn't there running along with me, and bringing along her cheery chatter and sense of humor, I probably would have been so dismayed by my pace, I would have pushed harder than my heart rate monitor was telling me to.  She managed to stay with me, despite having to make a pit stop for a potty break, taking breaks to stretch, stopping to take someone's picture and picking up all the free unopened Hammer Gels she found along the course.  Her pockets were full with 20 or so Gels by the end of the race.


Near the start of the race, I saw a former swimming lane mate pf mine running in the opposite direction from me somewhere between miles 2 and 3.  She is a really fast runner, so I assumed she was finishing the race.  I realized shortly after I cheered for her that there was no way she could have run 10 miles in 30 minutes or so. I was so embarrassed I almost couldn't stop thinking about it for a few miles.


I really was a beautiful course, especially the cliffs along the ocean in Wilder Ranch.  C. pointed out the beautiful view of all the other runners making their way along the path against the backdrop of ocean.  I felt that sense of camaraderie with all my fellow racers that I get when I'm enjoying a race, something I haven't experienced in my last couple of races.

I had fun running, and felt a sense of liberation once I passed by the two places along the course that I'd experienced heart palpitations in last year's race and this year's training run.   We took it very easy and ran 11.5-12 minute miles for most of the miles of the race, and then decided to pick it up when passed the 10 mile marker.

During mile 12, we passed by an old woman, and C. told her "We want to be you in another 20 years."  She asked her how old she was and she said "78."  I had gotten a few yards passed her by that point, and I turned around and said "Oh my gosh, that's awesome."  The woman said something about running the Boston Marathon, and I asked her "Are you on our City Council?"  She said yes, and C. asked her if she was famous.  She told us her name was Katherine Beiers, and I said she was famous for being on our City Council and winning her age group in Boston.  Yes, I hope to be in her kind of shape even 20 years from now, when I'll be only 56, not 78.  

Another funny thing was that I got cut off by a big truck while running through a cross walk during mile 13.  I had to stop and break my stride so I yelled "Effing a-hole."  Yes, that's what I really yelled, not the cruder version that it represents.  Still, I was embarrassed at my temper.  It's not really a constructive thing to do.

My last 3 miles were my fastest, and they hurt like heck.  I ran a 9:15, then a 10:05, then a 8:35.  I saw Rory and Raybon cheer for me at the finish.  I finished in 2:25.

I hurt so badly afterwards as I walked back to my car.  I felt like my face was probably frozen in a grimace. But I was happy, despite being exhausted.  Totally satisfied, despite being hungry, dehydrated, and in pain.  I took me about 45 minutes and a scone, smoothie, and vanilla steamer to revive me.

It's kind of funny that I put so much effort in those final 3 miles, instead of coasting in, when my time was going to be bad no matter what.  But it made me realize that the hard effort and giving it all I've got is a lot of what I really love about racing.  I've been in a funk for a couple of months, and I think it was because I'd never get to have that feeling again.  Is that strange?  I guess it wasn't that I can't run as fast as I could that was getting me down, it was the thought that I'd never be able to push my limits.

I'm hoping that this race is a new beginning for me, and that I'll find a way to train that allows me to push my limits again.

I'm in a good mood today, not grouchy like I have been after past races.  Maybe it's the acupuncture.  Maybe it's because I've been taking it easier in training.  Maybe it's the recovery amino acids I've been taking.  Either way, hopefully this means I'm on the mend.

2 comments:

Jocelyn Wong said...

I'm in a funk too. well, hopefully you're not in a funk any more. Hooray and congrats for having a good half marathon! proud of you!

Nori said...

Hi Jocelyn! Thanks for the congratulations. It wasn't my best race ever, but I'm just at a point where I'm glad to finish a race.

I miss you. I've been thinking about you as I've been going through this experience, and how hard it must be for you with all you've been through in the last year/years. Give Socks a hug for me. :)