Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rocktoberfest Race Report - Small Medal, Big Pity Party

Signing up for a race always seems like a good idea. There is plenty of time to train and my optimism takes over and I see me finishing with a huge smile on my face. So of course I signed up for Rocktoberfest half marathon, mostly because the medal was very cool looking. I had been running pretty regularly with Cindy, who was training for her marathon, and Doreen who was training for her first half, and ran 10 miles the first weekend of October. Then life got in the way so I didn't do any more running. I went out for a 6 mile last weekend but started too fast and could hardly get through 3. I really had no business running this race. I mentioned to Joe that I was thinking of deferring a year and he said he thought I would hate myself if I did that...that I needed to suck it up and run. He was right.

Then on Thursday I woke up with a pretty decent cold. I had a ton to do at work so suffered through the day. Friday I called in sick, slept until 2:30 in the afternoon and went back to bed at 7 that night. I was worried about the lack of hydration, nutrition and overall being sick, but I also knew that I was going to run the race.

Saturday morning I felt OK actually. All that sleep turned out to be what I needed and while I still had a lot of nasal congestion, I felt OK enough to get ready and meet Cindy at the train. We rode the light rail up to the race together but I was hardly my usual pre-race self. I was feeling pretty miserable and dreading the race. I was grumpy and a bit worried about getting through the course. I took 2 cold pills right before the start and got in line. I made a promise to myself to run my race - slow with walk breaks. Before I knew it, we were on our way.

I pretty quickly fell to the back of the pack, which I was expecting. This race had a 3 hour time limit and anyone who fell behind that was not going to be able to finish the race. I finished my last half at a 3:03 so I knew I was going to be pushing it. Once I had settled in the back I noticed the cop car behind the last person. I knew I just had to stay ahead of that car and I'd be alright. I took my scheduled walk breaks for the first mile but quickly found that I felt better when I was running. I made sure to keep my pace slow but decided to see what I could do. I ran.

The course was very pretty, winding through Myers Park, down Providence Road and through some neighborhoods in the Southpark area. There were some hills but I just kept my head down and ran up them. Before I knew it I was at mile 6, having ran the entire way without a break and I felt great. It was the closest I have ever come to being in the running zone. It just felt better to be running.

My friend Molly told me she was going to meet me somewhere around mile 7 and run in with me. I started to worry that I was going to lose my mojo so decided to take another 2 cold pills, even though it had only been an hour since I took my first 2. I was feeling good so I didn't want to lose that edge.

Now I have never been a particularly public person when it comes to my bathroom habits. But one thing I quickly learned once I started running, is that runners talk. They talk in detail about races, shoes, training plans and bowels. I have discussed my gastrointestinal habits more with Cindy than my own doctor. All that jostling from running creates some GI pressure so it is a very common for a runner to have stomach issues. There are even the stories about the elite runners that don't stop for a bathroom and just run and go at the same time. I will never, ever, be an elite runner. During my first half I had some stomach issues around mile 7 but kept running and the feeling passed. So when I started feeling some pressure, again around mile 7, I was worried, but not too badly. I knew that stopping would make me fall behind the cop car and that was not an option. Molly was standing at the corner so I decided to keep running.

Pretty quickly I realized that continuing running without a bathroom was not an option. It got to the point where I couldn't even run. We waited for another port ajohn...nothing. I tried to run the downhills, but couldn't for more than 30 seconds. No running. So we walked. On top of this, around mile 10 I started feeling really lightheaded and nauseous. I knew it wasn't my normal high heart rate causing my puking, so I started getting really worried something was seriously wrong. I told Molly that she needed to drag me over the finish line if I passed out. She kept telling me I could do it and how inspirational I was to others and how awesome she thinks I am. At this point her words sounded pretty ridiculous and I was really worried I might pass out. The cop car, which at one point was about a mile behind me was now much closer. I could see the two women that were behind me, the only ones who saved me from being "THE LAST ONE." I tried to run but each time was forced to stop. Walking was all I could do. The last two women passed me. I was now last. There was nothing I could do about this, as much as I wanted to run. Cindy met me about 500 feet from the finish line and with her encouragement I did manage to run the short distance in.

Usually I feel great crossing the finish line. I often think it is like child birth - any pain you feel during is instantly forgotten when you realize what you have accomplished. Not this time. I couldn't get comfortable in my body, didn't want to eat or drink anything and really all I wanted to do was curl up and cry. After all that, the medal, while cool looking, is really, really small. I don't know why I had built that up in my head, but it just seemed not at all worth it once I saw it.

It wasn't that I came in last that bothered me. I think it was the dramatic difference. The first part of the race was so great; I felt so natural and like a runner. To finish so horriblly seemed a cruel trick of fate. Joe thinks it was the second dose of cold medicine so close to the first, when I didn't actually need it that threw me off. That would explain my wooziness and nausea. I hope that was it. I just know that no matter what Cindy and Molly said, I felt horrible. I know I am not ever going to be a good runner; or biker or swimmer for that matter. I don't do these things to win, but on the other hand it would be really nice to not totally suck at them either. It'd be nice to finish a solid middle to front of the pack. Sure I ran it and finished it and did it "faster than those that never began" and all those other quotes people say to those of us that come in last, but it still felt pretty bad. The funny thing is that I actually set a personal record, a PR. I ran this half marathon almost 4 minutes faster than my last...feeling sick and with really no training or nutritional base. So somewhere in my heart I know I should listen to all the cliches and be happy that I did it. I should try to hear Molly when she tells me how much I inspire her. I should concentrate on how cute my outfit was (OK this I will concede - I looked really damn cute).Instead all I hear is me, feeling sorry for myself that I didn't do better and that I will never be a good runner.

I know this is a character flaw of mine. Seconds after something good happens to me I am doubting myself, the situation or other people. As soon as I realize I am happy, I look for the bad thing to happen; the proverbial other shoe. Even knowing THAT makes me grumpy. I guess I am glad I did the race. I think I would have felt worse if I didn't. I wish the medal was bigger. I wish I had performed better. I wish I had run the entire course. Pretty much I wish a lot.

My next race is in three weeks, a half marathon that Doreen, Cindy and I are going to run together. I know I will look cute (great outfits are the #1 reason I do races) and I know the three of us will have a good time. Between the three of us we manage to support when one of us needs it and I know that we will be there for each other. Then I start really training for my first marathon in February, a goal I have wanted to accomplish for as long as I can remember. I know I can finish the it walking or running or a combination of both. What I don't know is if I can be happy with what that finish looks like. I want to be, but right now all I can think about is how much this race sucked, how much I suck and how I put myself through all that for a teeny, tiny, stupid little piece of medal.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

September Music

Holy crap it's October!!

Trojans by Atlas Genius
Paradise by Coldplay
Pencil Full of Lead by Paolo Nutini
Invisible by Sklar Grey
Called Out In The Dark by Snow Patrol
Natural Disaster by Laidback Luke vs Example
Lights Out, Words Gone by Bombay Bicycle Club
Video Games by Lana DelRay
Dedicated to My Ex by Lloyd/Lil Wayne