Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Austin Marathon 2011 - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

I really don't know where to start. But I want to preface this whole post with this: my performance at the marathon was no one's doing but my own. What I am trying to say is that I am not about making excuses. I didn't run the race I had trained for, and that sucked. I could sit here a write a post about how the weather was very different than what I trained for, I ate different foods, I traveled, I had a head cold, but in the end, all of those things were still my fault. I chose a race in Texas. I chose to eat food the night before I hadn't eaten before. But at least now I know my mistakes, and I won't make them next time! And yes, there will be another marathon (just don't tell my husband...).

So, onto the race.

I traveled to Austin last Friday and arrived to warm weather. Highs in the upper 70s/low 80s, lows in the upper 60s. High humidity. Weather that I love, just not the weather I had trained for the last few months. I didn't even pack my gloves to run in. I was in heaven. Saturday we hit the expo where I picked up some Yurbuds and a really cool shirt that says "Run, Live, Sleep, Repeat". My friend got her legs all taped up with k-tape and people were staring where ever we went. It was pretty funny. We finally made it home about dinner time and my friend's mom had made some homemade spaghetti sauce. I should have said no and just eaten plain pasta, but it was yummy and I had two servings. My friend smartly passed and just ate plain pasta. I crashed pretty early that night since I had been up early.

Race day my alarm went off at 4:00am. I took my time getting ready, but already had a nervous stomach and by the time we left at 5:00am, I had visited the bathroom 4 times. Not a good sign, but I figured I was just really nervous. I was in a tank top and running skirt, and was fine outside since it was already 65 degrees and 75% humidity. We made it to the start in plenty of time, and lined up between the 4:30 and the 4:45 pace groups.

And we were off onto the HILLIEST COURSE I HAVE EVER RUN. Seriously. I would not recommend this race to even my worst enemy. I run hills all the time in Holly Springs, but these hills were relentless. The first 6 miles were uphill out of downtown Austin. Then a little bit of a downhill, and then all I remember are uphills. I freaked out my husband and friends who were tracking me because I missed the 5K timing mat. It didn't go all the way across the road, and I never stepped on it. We did hit it at about 33 minutes. My 10 mile split was 1:48, and soon after that things started going downhill.

It was hot. By mile 3, I was pouring water on my head. I had been taking extra vitamin C and zicam to head off my head cold, and that was a stupid idea because it didn't work and I think it just made my stomach worse. I stuck with my friend and her running friends until about mile 12 (the half marathoners split from us at mile 11), but I ended up puking on the side of the course at that point. It was a lovely mix of orange Gu and yellow Gatorade, but I instantly felt better. I was still running 100% of the time through all this. And then BAM, my stomach just completely cramped up. Who knows what it was - the heat, the food I ate, the medicine I was taking, the Gatorade, dehydration - but whatever it was, it SUCKED. My stomach hurt so bad at points I had to completely stop and was doubled over. I threw up again somewhere about mile 15ish in a portable restroom (which was lovely, let me tell you). Again, I felt better instantly but that feeling went away quickly.

At that point, I had nothing left in the tank, and taking another Gu or drinking any Gatorade was not an option for my stomach. I tried some pretzels someone was handing out, and I could get it in my mouth, but I just couldn't swallow them. I was drinking water but I was still so freaking thirsty. I remember somewhere about mile 19 I saw a girl throwing up and a policeman took her off the course and I thought there was no way in Hell they were taking me off the course. I was going to finish no matter what. All I really wanted was a diet Coke. I even almost asked some spectators, but honestly the energy that would have taken to ask was too much. So I kept trudging along. I walked when my stomach protested too much and the hills were too steep, and ran when I could. Even walking though, I was passing people running. I remember around mile 23/24 walking up a hill and looking around me and everyone was walking. I remember the 5:00 pace group passing me, and I didn't even care. I knew I would finish, but I knew any hopes of a "good" time were over.

Finally I was at the end. At 800 meters to go, you have to climb a hill and I saw my friend's husband. He was a huge help throughout the day on the course. He talked to me and told me when I rounded the corner to start running, but instead I started running then. I remember seeing the finish line and I was so freaking happy.


A couple days post marathon, and my quads are still sore from all the hills. My head cold is worse, but my stomach is finally better. I will be honest, I am hugely disappointed and sad about my time. I really thought I would have done better. I know that if my stomach had felt better I would have done better, I just don't know by how much. I am still proud of my accomplishment and am going to wear my finisher's shirt every chance I get, but still. Hence why there has to be marathon #2. My friend didn't do as she expected either, and we both want our redemption race. Any ideas?

Huge, huge thanks to momof3 for her kind words and helpful wisdom, and for Tall Mom for the shout out. And thanks to my husband for putting up with me and all my running the past 6 months, and taking care of the home front while I flew to Austin. And a huge thanks to my friends who supported me from afar in Holly Springs with cards and love and good thoughts - Wendy for the arm warmers and cards, Nancy for the brownies, and Shelley for my week of gifts, poster on my front door when I got home, and the champagne. I couldn't have done this without any of you.


Sherry @ Life from my persective said...

I'm so sorry that your stomach was upset that day! Good for you for finishing the race and for already planning to do another

Sharon Mc. said...

We are so so proud of you! You did an amazing job. Your determination and perseverance is truly admirable. Way to go!!

Plankton said...

No matter what, you finished the race! That's brilliant. You can always improve your time later; anyone can have an off day. You have to celebrate. :)

momof3 said...

Awe! Thanks for the shout out.

Your friend, Sharon Mc has written what I would say here - those are words to read, and re-read.

There is nothing about marathoning that is predictable. I've said it before, I'll say it again ~ you can train perfectly for 24 weeks, and on race day, it's either "your day" or it's "not". There's no knowing beforehand. I think the first 26.2 is more of learning experience than race anyway.

You learned a lot ~ which leads me to your next race. Look FAR into the future for your next race. My new advice for the marathoner (AKA "what I learned this year with my nifty 'Tibia stress reaction'") is to make sure you have 9 months between races. This ensures proper recovery/time to re-train. I also think you're spot on with your reflections on travel, aim for a more local race.

I'm doing my hometown race again, not because I 'have to', but because why would I travel when I don't need to? It's ONE more variable to go wrong. So, as I said, look ahead, pick a local marathon if possible, and then sit back and relax for a month or so.

Take the time off, write about the experience, reflect on the photos *they'll be hilarious, or disastrous, and don't ever EVER apologize for your finish time.

You. are. a. MARATHONER.

momof3 said...

P.S. If you have access to a pool this week, and you know how to swim, hit the pool. It will clear the lactic acid from your legs (cool water, warm muscles from kicking). And then I like to do sort of a reverse taper... 3 miles a few times for the first week, maybe a 5 or 6 mile "long run" in that second week, building back up for about 3 weeks, and no speed work.

Cassie said...

You did it and that is something to be proud of. I would have given up after the first time I puked!

Carmen said...

I can't wait to have our glass of wine! Momof3 had awesome advice! I can't say it any better. You showed such discipline and perserverance. I can't wait to train with you for your next one!

Pamela said...

maybe you had a real flu bug in you tummy?

I remember when I played competitive racket ball, I had to go potty all the time before the competition.

I called it the sphincter scale... how nervous you were is how badly the spasms registered on the scale.

Sorry you had a disappointing run.

Melinda said...

I wouldn't be worried about your time at all! I can't believe you finished the race with the stomach issues you had. I always eat spaghetti the night before a race and it never causes problems. Who knows why you felt so awful - I'm sure the medicine didn't help. Either way - CONGRATS! You did it!

And I think you should do Grandma's Marathon next as this is the one I'm considering. And it's FLAT!!