Wednesday, May 4, 2011

PCRF Half Marathon (Race?) Recap Part 2 [or How I Totally Took the Prize for Worst Race Fail Ever. In. Life.]

I had grand plans for Saturday night. I was going to eat pasta, drink tons of water and be in bed by 8. And clearly by that I meant eat Taco Bell, drink tons of wine and be in bed by midnight. Whoops. That should have been sign numero uno that this was not going to be my race.

I woke up on Sunday at 4:45, feeling not quite hungover but not quite right. I had casually pretended to be a real person the night before, so all of my gear was "laid" out [aka thrown in a small pile at the food of my bed]. Excellent. I got dressed, grabbed my water bottle from the fridge and headed out. The race started at 7 but I wanted to get there a little early, since I hadn't gotten my bib from Sarah yet. As I was driving down to Irvine, I had this weird nagging feeling that I had forgotten something (along with a growing hangover). Garmin? No, got that. Phone? Nope, right there. What was I missing?

I got to Irvine around 6:15 which was perfect. The race was right off the freeway, which was awesome, and there was free parking. Holla! [Something about living in Los Angeles makes a person covet free parking]. I grabbed my stuff (went back about 4 times because I kept forgetting my headband) and finally made it the start area around 6:30. The starting area of this race was great. There were no lines for the porta potties and everything was really relaxed. My first 1/2 was Rock & Roll Los Angeles in October which was huge. The starting area of PCRF was much more organized. I'm not sure if I was just more blase about this or if it was the atmosphere but I wasn't nervous or anxious at all. I met Sarah, grabbed my bib and headed to the start. Sarah was starting all the way in the front (because she's an amazing rockstar) and I headed towards the back of the pack. I lined up right behind the 2:45 group, not necessarily because that was my goal, but because it was a convenient way of keeping pace. I knew I hadn't trained, but I figured I'd run what I could, walk if I had to and sort of muddle my way through.

After a fun little warm up from Lululemon and the national anthem we were off. As I crossed the starting line (about a minute after the start - so much different than LA!), I realized what I had forgotten. Breakfast. I had forget to eat breakfast. Oh. Crap. All I had was an FRS on my way down (thanks Sarah!). This was not good. I thought about eating a Gu right away, but I only had 2 and I didn't know if there'd be any along the course. I knew immediately I was in trouble, but there was nothing to do about it now.

Miles 1-6 were awesome. I was running just in front of the pace group and I felt great. The pace was easy, it wasn't too hot, it wasn't too windy. Nothing hurt. I was jamming to my music (and by that I clearly mean singing out loud awkwardly). It was great. I had been taking water at every stop, because I knew I was dehydrated from the night before. Right around here I made mistake numero dos - I took some sort of sports drink instead of water. I didn't actually mean to take it, I thought I was just taking water. When I realized what it was, I figured I'd take it - it was calories and I needed calories. BUT. I don't train with sports drinks. I rarely drink them. In fact, I rarely drink anything that's not water (or alcohol, obvs). The sports drink was so sweet. Like, hurt my teeth sweet. It was not sitting well with my stomach and I had a ton of saliva in my mouth (note: this is the least gross part of this post. If it's too much, go ahead and close your window now. It's ok, I'll wait).

So anyway, the sports drink and I were not getting along. I kept telling myself to hold on until the next water stop, where I could grab some water and hopefully get the taste out of my mouth. At the next water stop, they were handing out water AND gels. Outstanding! I really can't say no to free things and I was pumped that I wouldn't have to use my own gels. This was mistake numero tres - trying something new in the middle of a race. I've only ever had vanilla and blackberry gus. They work for me, I don't think they're gross, and I'm a creature of habit. I'm one of those "buy the same shirt in 17 colors once you know you like it" kind of girls. This gel was neither gu, nor one of my preferred flavors. It was some sort of mocha something. I chugged as much water as I could to get the initial taste out of my mouth, then took half the gel. Bad plan. This gel was not delicious. It was not even tolerable. My stomach, which was a little annoyed at me to begin with, started an open rebellion. By the middle of mile 7, I watched the pace group pass me. Every step I ran made me feel a little more nauseous. Miles 7-9 [ish? it got a little hazy] went through some sort of nature trail with a lot of shrubbery. I started dry heaving and had to walk. Shockingly hard to run and throw up at the same time. I had nothing in my stomach besides water and gel, so I couldn't even throw up properly. To say it was miserable would be an understatement.

It was right around this time that I first started to notice how dehydrated I was getting. My fingers had been swelling a little bit in the earlier miles, but by now they were so swollen I couldn't make a fist. This was not good. I was actually starting to get a littler worried that the swelling and the throwing up were related. I stopped at the porta potty around mile 9 to try and get my act together. This was when I discovered that I had gotten my period. Seriously, body? Seriously? They don't give out tampons in half marathons. Fun fact. It was at this point I officially decided this was just going to be a comedy of errors and let it go. I'd just finish the race as slow as I needed to, I'd chug as much water as I could and I'd hope for the best.

For a couple of miles, I had noticed that I was developing a blister on my right foot. I've gotten really bad blisters since I started running, no matter how many times I get fitted for new shoes or wear fancy running socks. It's a thing. But this one was getting pretty bad. I started alternating walking and running. My hips hurt when I walked and my feet hurt when I ran. It was sort of a no win situation, but I was moving along, feeling as good as can be expected.

At mile 11, my mp3 player died. Apparently, when you plug things in to charge drunkenly, you don't always do it right. Outstanding. But I could see the mile 12 marker. I'd be fine. I took a step and felt something squish. At first, I thought I had stepped on someone's discarded gel. Then I looked down. No, no I had not. I had popped the blister that was developing on my right foot. My toes instantly felt better but my foot was now bloody. Apparently it was a blood blister. Lovely. I officially looked like the female version of 2004 Curt Schilling.

I crossed the finish line and just laughed. This was easily the most ridiculous run I have ever been on. I grabbed about 14 water bottles and an apple and headed back to my car.  My feet hurt and my hips hurt, but other than that I felt ok. I had started to develop a really bad headache, but I chalked it up to a combination of dehydration/allergies/residual hangover. When I was driving back up to LA, I started getting a little dizzy and I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open. It was actually a really scary experience because I didn't know what was wrong with me. I pulled off and found a bagel store. I grabbed a bagel and another water and sat in my car eating it. I finally started to feel better, but I have officially learned my lesson. Gidget's Rule #4: Don't run a half marathon on an empty stomach.

When I got home, I showered and then headed right back out to the library. No post nap race for this girl. All in all, I was glad I ran it. I don't know that it accomplished what I had hoped, though. I was pretty disappointed in myself for not pushing through everything. I knew I wasn't physically in shape for this kind of distance, but I didn't realize that I wasn't mentally in shape either. That was absolutely a let down and something I'm going to need to ruminate on a little bit. One of these days I'm going to run a race that I have actually trained for without being injured. That will be awesome.

What's your worst race experience?


Sarah Soon-To-Be said...

I feel like such the villain in this story! Ahhhh. I'm so sorry you had a bad race, and that we didn't get to meet up after, but I'm glad you came! You and your vomitting and period and bloody foot got much more use out of the bib than B would have ;)

Come back down and play sometime. And good luck on your exams!

Gidget said...

Totally not the bad guy! And as soon as I finish exams, I'm insisting on happy hour!