Thursday, April 15, 2010

Go St. Louis Half Marathon Recap

Well, it has been 4 days since my first half marathon...and as you can see, I haven't blogged about it yet...It was a little bit of a disappointment.  Since Sunday, I have had a chance to think about everything, re-evaluate what I should and shouldn't have done, and I am all geared up to do it AGAIN!!!
Let me give you a recap of the week leading up to the race, and then the day of the race....
I did the normal "taper" that everyone talks about, where I only worked out twice during the week, so that I could relax my muscles and legs.  During that week, I for whatever reason, lost 6lbs.  Let me just tell you, that I am ALWAYS trying to lose weight, and during the whole 8 weeks of training, I didn't lose even ONE, of course this 6lb weight lose in 5 days, was AWESOME!! (but I didn't even think of how it could potentially affect my running...)  On Saturday evening, I went out to dinner with my family and had a pasta dinner along with bread. (carb everyone says)  I also drank plenty of water leading up to the race, and felt really good all week.
Race morning I woke up around 4am and got ready...I had my race outfit picked out and everything charged and ready to go (including my BRAND NEW Garmin watch!!!)  I ate my normal breakfast (before a long run) of a fiber one bar, a banana, water and a little bit of coffee.  I did this approx. 1/2 hr before we were leaving, so everything could digest, and hopefully I would go to the bathroom (which I did before we left)  I was meeting my next door neighbor Jen outside, and then we were riding with a doctor that she runs with, Dr. Mohan.  He was going to be driving us down, and then my husband, son and parents would be meeting me there later so I could ride home with them.  I knew I could only bring the necessities because I would have no where to leave anything once we got to downtown St. Louis.  Here is a pic of me before I left the house:

I walked outside at around 5:40am (we were leaving at 5:45am)  My neighbor Jen was at the end of her driveway waiting...she saw me and told me I better grab a "throw away" shirt, so I wouldn't be cold while waiting for the race to start.  The temps were in the high 40's/low 50's by then, but there was a slight breeze and chill in the air.  I ran back inside and grabbed a long sleeved shirt to wear.  I then ran back out and waited with Jen for Dr. Mohan.  (My 3 other running friends all live in St. Louis, and they were taking the MetroLink down to the race...I had spoken with them earlier and everyone was SUPER excited!)
Right at 5:45am, Dr. Mohan can pulling up in a brand new Jaguar, for us to ride to the race in...Super Cool!  I told him we were riding in style!
We had a little bit of trouble getting down there because of exits being closed etc, but at around 6:20am we arrived and I went off to find my friends.  My friend Becki had picked up some balloons, and I spotted them right away (good tip for anyone who is meeting people...It was super easy to find them!)  They were right at the back of the 9:55 pacer.  We stretched some and talked and just all were super excited.  At 7am, the race started...Becki had handed all of us a balloon, and we released them as we crossed the start line (I'm hoping for a cool pic of this from the photogs)
The first 4 miles were really good...I felt good, and the weather was not too hot yet.  We were keeping a steady pace, and actually when I looked at my watch a few times, we were actually going faster than I would have wanted (sometimes it said 9:30ish, and sometimes 9:20ish...way to fast for me to start out a race...I am the type of runner who starts out slow and can really pick it up at the finish)
Right after mile 4, I started to feel a little dizzy and not like myself.  My legs felt heavy, and my feet started to hurt (which had never happened to me during a run)  We had just done a Gu and I was carrying my Golite handheld, so I was sipping water.  Around mile 5, the heat really started to pound down on us, and I!!!  I didn't want to mention it to the other girls, because I didn't want to discourage them, so I just pushed on.  Me and Becki had been out ahead of Kris and Sarah most of the time, but around mile 5.5 I dropped back to run with Kris and Sarah.  Sarah mentioned she thought she might have to go to the bathroom....
At mile 6, I spotted my husband and parents and my little running supporter Logan, along with some of my parents friends (their daughter was also running the half...this was her first race, EVER)  This did cheer me up, and I was able to show a smile and a wave:

Right after this, I saw some porta potties, and even though I didn't need to pee, I told Sarah that if she wanted to stop, I would stop with her.  She took up my offer and we stopped (note: I never normally want to or have to stop during a race...first time EVER!)  But, I was just not feeling good and I thought maybe stopping for a minute would help.  Sarah ran to one of the potties, while I stood outside...then out of nowhere, I couldn't control it and pee started to run out of me...I freaked because I couldn't control it, and I ran into one of the open porta potties and went to the bathroom.  (At this time I didn't know what was going on...these were things that never happened to me...especially only 6 miles into a run.  I felt like I couldn't control my body!)
After I was done, I ran out to find Sarah, and I didn't see here anywhere...I waited around for a few more minutes and started up again...not sure if she was still in the bathroom or had gone ahead and started back up again.  At around mile 7 I spotted my friend Sarah's husband, son and parents and in-laws, so I ran up to them to see if they had seen Sarah, which they hadn', I decided to wait with them for a little bit to see if she came by.  (And again, I felt like I was going to pass out...I started to get tunnel vision, and everything around me was a blur)  I do remember Sarah's MIL ask me if I wanted a banana and I took it and ate half.  I finally decided to push on without Sarah. 
I took off again, and did a run/walk thing for another couple of miles...My legs just didn't want to move, and I was almost running slower that I was walking...It was such a horrible feeling, and I just couldn't understand it.  I tried to listen to my music and just concentrate..I tried to focus on my breathing and tried to force my legs to run harder, but NOTHING was working.  At one point, I JUST WANTED TO QUIT!  I told myself that the one thing I have ALWAYS told my 18mos old son, is to "Never Give Up!"  I knew I had to push through this and prove to him and myself I could finish this!
Around mile 9 the route looped back around, so I could see everyone on the other side of the road running back.  I told myself I would run this, focus on looking for my friends.  At mile 10, out of nowhere, someone yelled my name and came up from behind me and hugged me...IT WAS SARAH!  I guess I had ran past her while she was walking...It was soooo great to have someone with me to finish this "excruciating race"!  She was also feeling it...I haven't mentioned yet, that the heat continued to rise, and the course was HILLY, HILLY, HILLY!    This of course didn't help anything!
We continued to do a run/walk for the next 2 miles.  We pretty much walked the hills, ran the downhills or the flats.  We did stop at every drink station, and I did fuel up on a little gatorade, which I think might have helped. 
At mile 12, I finally started feeling better.  There was one big hill that we decided to walk, and then I told Sarah, lets run the remaining bit, and cross the finish line running!!!  She was really starting to hurt too, but she agreed.  We finished the hill, and then took off at a run.  My legs really felt weird, and I was having shooting pains in the front of my calves, but I pushed on.
We crossed the finish line TOGETHER and gave each other a huge hug!  We had done it...through the heat, hills, pain, and just a HORRIBLE run day, I had done it!  Mine and Sarah's 1st half marathon, and we had completed it together! 
Afterwards I was still really, really dizzy and at points thought I was going to pass out, plus I had HORRIBLE leg cramps, where I couldn't hardly stand, and it brought tears to my eyes.  This happened 3 different times after the race....again,something I had never, ever experienced before!
It was such a relief to see my parents and my husband and son...We did get our race pictures taken together, with our medals.  We also took some with our own cameras:

I really didn't start to feel better until we reached the car.  We went to lunch with Becki and her husband, and it was nice to get something to eat and not feel sooo dizzy!
That afternoon I was not feeling great about the race, but my husband kept telling me how proud he was of me...It did make me feel better!  I took a long shower and nap that afternoon, and by that evening, felt a little bit better about everything.  Here is a pic of my and my son that I took once we got home:
So, for final results: (not very proud of them, but I will still share)
Final Time:
Distance HALF MAR
Clock Time: 2:39:15
Chip Time: 2:31:47
Overall Place: 7403/10705
Gender Place: 4181/6821
Division Place: 977/1460
6 Mile Time: 1:00:30

So, this was the long post of my first "kind of successful, kind of not successful" half marathon.  I am now evaluating and re-evaluating what I should or shouldn't have done, and what caused me to feel the way I did throughout the race.  Has anyone else ever felt this way, and what do you think the cause was?  Do you think the weight loss could have contributed to my body breaking down like it did?  Why did I cramp so bad after it was over?  These are all questions I need to figure out before I start my marathon training in a few months.  I will tell you this:
Even though I had a bad run, I am ready to get back out there...I know I can do it, and I will!!!  Also, I plan on running another half marathon before my marathon in October.  I need to prove to myself that I can do this...because I know I can!!!
In speaking with a lot of other runners who ran this race, everyone said it was extremely hard and hilly!
Contests to check out:
Amanda: RuntoTheFinish: 3 Changes Challenge- Ends May 15th
Jamie: Running Diva Mom: Inspire Towel Giveaway- Ends April 18th
Jamie: Running Diva Mom: Run Like a Mother Book Giveaway- Ends April 15th
Erica: I Run Because....I Can: Gu and RoadID Giveaway- Ends April 16th
Lil Runner: CEP Compression Socks Giveaway- Ends April 23rd
Laura: My Reason to Run: Runningskirt Giveaway- Ends April 29th
Tonia: Racing with Babes- Food and Music Giveaway- Ends April 20th


Lisa said...

Congrats on finishing and for pushing through. Sounds like it must have been hard, especially when you were running by yourself.

Perhaps a lot of what your were feeling was hydration related? If it was hot maybe you were losing electrolytes? Did you carb load before the race?

Not having rune a half yet I don't have a lot of advice but those two things came to mind. I think the cramping is normal but could also be a sign of dehydration, especially if it was as severe as you described.

Glad you are not writing off running after that and have plan for more races.

Again, very nice job and your time is pretty respectable, it's an automatic PR :)

p.s. the balloon idea is great!

Darcie said...

Congrats on finishing your first half!

I ran the half that day too--I think a lot of the problems were heat related. It got hot quickly in St. Louis and most people hadn't trained for heat. I know I hadn't! The course also had a lot more hills than in previous years--I think that surprised people.

One of my friends ended up fainting at mile 11 and getting an IV. You were smart for walking when you needed to walk and listening to your body.

Good luck with your next races!

Tricia said...

congrats on finishing a tough race

Running Diva Mom said...

Congratulations ... YOU FINISHED and did very well. You should really be proud of yourself. If you felt well and fueled next time ... just think how fast you'll be. Don't get down on it. I really enjoyed your race report and all of the description. You did awesome, wear that medal proudly.

Only runners can talk about pee and poop publicly!!! :-)

And, thanks for the link-love to my giveawayss!!

Heidi said...

I'd bet the hills & heat probably contributed to it .. plus nerves. I don't think the weight loss has to do with it. When I'm training hard I don't really lose weight, then if I take a break I'll have a sudden drop. I think that's pretty common. Though if I take too long of a break the weight comes back quickly usually with a couple extra pounds.

Congrats on finishing your first half. My first half (only so far) was a distaster. I can't wait to get out there and conquer this distance. Hopefully we both have solid success on our next half's!

AM-GoalsfortheWeek! said...

Nice job chica with the race. And i think most people feel like 'i just want to quit now!' at some point of a race. that says you pushed yourself.

and i think it's also a bit normal to feel icky for a bit post race. I know that happens with most people. again, you pushed yourself;-)

love the pics and your outfit too1

Melissa said...

Great job!! You finished and your time was good!

Thanks for the great recap.

Velma said...

I was there and I have run the race a few times before, and the race course is tough. It was a hot day, and there were a lot of people who struggled. You will get it next time!! I sae your friend in the tutu - so funny. Pat yourself on the back - you finished!!

Valerie said...

Great job on finishing the race strong. I was so hilly and so hot! I had a really tough time finishing too and definitely didn't finish in the time I wanted. I think I underestimated the toughness/hilliness of that course. If I do it again, I'll definitely incorporate more hill training in my plan.

As far as how you were feeling after the race, I'm not sure. It seems like you did the right your potassium in banana and GU and stayed hydrated. As far as your emotions after the race, I think that's really normal. I definitely had a mixture of emotions...happy for finishing a race 11 weeks pregnant (which I have to keep from all of my friends until this weekend, so shhh:)! But, also because I was bummed about not hitting my goal time. I wasn't even trying for a PR due to the pregnancy...I didn't want to push myself that much. But, I was still disappointed.

But, you did a great job. Not many people can say they've run a half marathon...especially juggling family/work/training. And, soon you'll be in the 1% of people who complete a full marathon!

ShutUpandRun said...

Good for you for pushing through despite the pee thing, which would have freaked me out too! My friend did that on our last half marathon. Totally wet her pants without any control. Glad you made it and lived to tell!

Anonymous said...

I had kinda the same experience last Sunday as well. If you read my race report, then you will see. I didn't have quite the symptoms you had, but I just didn't have it in me that day. I don't usually walk during the last mile of the race and I HAD to that day...for whatever reason.

I was thinking while reading your post that maybe your anxiety of the race just got to you?

Congrats for finishing! I very well know how hard it is to complete a race your body doesn't want to finish!

Staci Dombroski said...

Way to go on your run!! I can just imagine how frustrated you were not feeling good. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Anonymous said...

Ok first of all, you finished. And with a VERY respectable time I might add!!!!

Ok this is gunna sound crazy but it sounds like it could have been over hydration/hyponatremia. We always get so concerned with becoming dehydrated that we can actually become over hydrated which is just as bad, and sometimes worse. The dizziness, muscle cramping, and the little bathroom incident sound very much like hyper hydration. The pee thing...your body literally needed to get water out and now. The fact that you lost so much weight so fast (too fast) in such a short period of time probably threw your body water levels and electrolytes completely out of whack and your body didn't have time to compensate for it before the race.

Sorry for making this so long but look up hyper hydration and hyponatremia. In short, it means because it was so hot and you were sweating out so much salt and were only taking in water (without the salt and electrolytes) your water to sodium ratios got very messed up. WOW ok sorry about that but I was an exercise science major for a while and they pounded this stuff into out brains. Let me know if you have any more questions about it!

Anonymous said...

Way to pull through it. I cannot even imagine running that whole race feeling the way you did. I have never experienced anything like that. I do hope that it was a fluke thing. I am just glad to hear that you finished and you still did it in good time!

Nicole Joy said...

WoW! Congrats on your first halfie. :0) Sometimes when you're disappointed in your running you have to take a step back and realize you had the courage to even do it! Many people never get the motivation or even discover how awesome running is. You've got both of those!

PS- We said we were going to keep track of each other's mileage bc we had about the sameat the time and - BAM! - you're whooping me now. Lol. I've been resting bc of an injury but I'm going to try and catch up!!

Sarah said...

My guess is the heat is what did the most damage on your run. I have trained on hot days and it's amazing how much it can affect you even a few miles in. I hope your next half is way better!!