Recall, if you will, my post from Friday entitled Only Popeye Likes Spinach-Flavored Gu. In sum, I discussed my race preparation, what I carry during the race (complete with product examples), and advised the blogosphere o’ runners, “do what works for you and don’t try anything new.” Interesting how my plan and my practice, as set forth in writing, were completely destroyed a mere 48 hours following that post. Allow me to explain.
The Colfax Marathon (and associated races) was held this morning, Sunday, May 20. Gun went off at 6:00 am. Last night I set everything out on the table: my security belt, watch, advil, moleskin, Stingers, aquaphor, ipod, earphones, jacket, my t-shirt with bib attached etc. I filled my water bottle and stuck it in the fridge (per usual) to get my water nice and cold. Everything was there for me to grab, throw in my backpack, and head off to the race, by bike.
I woke up without my alarm at 4:24 am. I had my coffee, ate my bagel, packed everything up, hopped on my bike and off I went. About halfway into my ride, it dawned on me – I totally forgot my phone!!! Ugh – annoying, but not the end of the world. Also, no time to go back and grab it.
I get to the race and lock up my bike. As I throw my keys in my bag, I start to crave a sip of water. Then, I realize – I forgot my water! Still in the fridge! Waterbelt and NO WATER. How could this have happened!!!! GRRRRR. Maybe I’ll call Andy…wait – no phone. ARGGHHH. Okay, okay. Not the end of the world. Totally doable. A little unexpected never hurt anyone. The questions started, do I go with the belt, sans water??? Hmmm, maybe it will bounce around? I had better not. I ask the women standing behind me at the bag check. She’s all, “I wouldn’t wear that empty thing. Is this your first rodeo, honey?” Big sigh.
I thought about it and reflected back to a comment made on my blog last week. And so, a la Jessiemck’s (Mother.Runner.Writer) comment to my previous blog post, I made the decision to run “naked”. No belt, no water. Just my music, watch, and Stingers stashed in my sports bra – again – thank you Jessiemck. I did feel a little free without all of my gear. Heck, I could start calling my sports bra, my power bra. Wow – clever! Plus, I had a general understanding where water would be – let’s do this!
Things went swimmingly for the first 11 miles. Totally on track for a PR. Then, my stomach started talking to me. I didn’t have to dash into a bush, but it weighed me down. I don’t have a lot of stomach issues associated running. I’m glad I could have my first experience now. While I silently willed my stomach to cease and desist, I was feeling little paper-cut-type pains in my sports bra. Oy. I shuffled those little Stingers around and it felt a little better. Okay. Keep going. This had to be an interesting sight.
Stomach pain continued on until about mile 14, right around the time the weather went from 50 to 70 and increasing in a hurry. I started getting hot and nervous that I didn’t have my own water. With no concept of rationing, like I would have with my own water bottle, I took a swig of water or gatorade at every station in an effort to keep any thirst away – thirst that was at the mercy of aide stations. As we ran due east, the sky was blue and the sun was searing (or that’s how it felt). At least I remembered to wear sunscreen this time. I kept truckin along. Slugish. Too much water. Too hot. I nearly lost my mind from mile 21-24 (or thereabouts) with no water in sight. It was nearing 80 degrees (as I found out later). 25 degrees hotter than my first marathon. I was hot, irritable, and panicky. Foreign mental territory. I became convinced that my right shoe was probably filling with blood.
When the water returned in abundance from mile 24 on, I saw my PR come and go. I was pissed. I know finishing a marathon is a feat in and of itself and my time wasn’t going to be bad, per se, but I think it is easy to get frustrated when things don’t go the way you planned. Months go into prep for a marathon. How I felt and where I was finishing was a bummer, to say the least. But, it happens. Do I blame my forgotten water bottle? What do I blame? Nothing, I think. Sometimes it isn’t your day -so they say. In this process, I learned a few lessons and saw some silver linings. Life is funny like that. I will share these things in a mixed list:
1. Sh%t happens.
2. You can’t control everything.
3. Get a BIG handle on the things you can control (such as not forgetting one’s water)
4. Try to see the positive – you may surprise yourself.
5. Change in circumstance doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
6. Finishing a marathon is an accomplishment, even if you do finish a whopping 15 MINUTES slower than your first.
7. I’ve done 2 marathons now – so I think I can finally say, “I’m a marathon runner”!
8. Relay runners with fresh legs are annoying. Especially those folks on the last leg of the race – we get, you FEEL GOOD!
9. Weather changes everything.
10. Despite being sore, post-race: I feel injury free. This is the best news.
11. Don’t be sticking aluminum packaged gels in your sports bra, folks. Post-race result? Looks like a couple of miniature ninjas had a knife fight in my bra. You don’t want that.
12. Biking to a race (assuming it’s not too far) is an AWESOME warm-up. Good call.
13. It feels good to have friends along the way and a loved one at the finish (thanks Julie and Andy).
14. A singular tumor-sized blister on one’s big toe should be popped with a sterilized needle. You may sterilize this needle with Blueberry Vodka – effective and fun. (Thanks, Julie)
15. Ice baths are the best way to prevent extreme soreness and continue to feel like a tough guy post-race.
16. You’ve gotta laugh.
17. Not every race will be your best or your PR, but you will learn while accomplishing something great.
Thanks to everyone for all of the encouragement. Time to get ready for Aspen!
What’s your biggest race blunder or unforeseen circumstance?
On two separate occasions in the past several days, this thought crossed my mind, “I can’t wait for the race this weekend, I need a vacation.” On both occasions, when this thought entered my mind, it was immediately followed with a “what the f&%K? Where the heck did that come from”?
I decided to think a bit more about where this little thought came from (being crazy and all) and why exactly one might think of a marathon as a vacation. Because, frankly, it sounds insane. I get that. Insane and/or medication worthy.
In the midst of my pondering, I figured I’d ask my friend Nicki (fellow runner) about this thought. She would confirm or deny my crazy. We get each other, so I know she would provide tremendous insight. When I saw Nicki, the first thing she asked me was, “Are you ready for this weekend?” I told her “yes”, but I’ve been meaning to talk with her about this “issue” that I’m having (aside from the potential forecast of rain; a colossal fear of mine). So, we get a minute to ourselves and I say, “I keep thinking of the marathon this weekend as a vacation…is that crazy?” The look on her face doesn’t change and she says (calmly), “No”. Like the answer is obvious. She elaborates and says, “of course not, you really need a break.” Sweet, I have someone to sit next to me on the ride to crazy town. Of course my other friend Cat, standing nearby, (more of a biker than a runner) said in response to the same question, “Girl, that is f$%ked up. Are you okay?”
What did I get from these exchanges? A lot, actually. First, I’m not all together crazy. Definitely a “check” in the positive column. Two, Nicki and Cat are good friends. Three, I need to slow down in some areas of my life. Four, this must be a runner thing. I’ve had a less than awesome week and only recently was I informed that it is Tuesday (not Wednesday, as previously thought). I guess it is all relative but, these thoughts tell me I might be in need of a vacation. At the very least, I must need a mental vacation. And, that must be why I am looking at my marathon as a 4 hour mental vacation. Maybe it will be…in its own special torturous sort of way.
When you race for that amount of time, you are so focused and wrapped up in only the finish and by the time you cross that line, you are too exhausted to think about anything else for the rest of the day. Everything else fades away except the sound of your body working and then resting. It’s like the race brings you back to the most primitive qualities of life – breathing and being alive. Like the beach…ahhhh. It’s like pushing the reset button. Isn’t that what a vacation does? Perhaps it’s more of a long weekend than an actual vacation (one lasting longer than 4 hours). Either way, it’s a break….for the mind (the body may not feel the same). But, I’m glad that running has provided one more benefit; one more unexpected silver lining to look forward to. Even if it is crazy.