The race started at 10am. Awesome start time. Plenty of time to get up, get ready and get down there, with no stress. I ate oatmeal for breakfast, and went and met some friends so we could carpool together.
Once down there, found some more friends, and we were all happy and not really that worried about the race conditions, really. See? Here were are, just five minutes from the start...
|Back row from left: Chris, Scott, Katherine and Niki|
Front row from left: Ginny, Michelle and Me
Okay, first of all, I'm not a good runner, well, that's probably true as an overall statement, really, but what I'm trying to say is that I don't spend any time researching the race. I don't look at the course, I don't look at how many water stops there are, if there are hills, whatever. In fact, I usually don't even care where the start is - as long as someone else is driving, I don't really care. Quite frankly, I just don't have the time. I show up and run and follow everyone else and that's worked for me so far. Plus, I just see no point in worrying about course details when I can just deal with it when I come up on it and move on.
The mistakes I made - inadvertently:
I forgot to grab my hand held water bottle. I thought about carrying it. But, in the past with half marathons, there's usually plenty of water stops. And I usually end up drinking at them anyway. So, I guess I kinda thought, nah, I don't need it. But, I really did mean to grab it, just in case. But forgot. Probably wouldn't have mattered anyway, because I probably would have left it in the car. Regardless, I wish I had it, because this was a small race, and there were not enough water stops for me.
I also made a last minute decision to not wear a hat or ear covers. Usually I take it off anyway, and I guess I just didn't want to have to carry it. This was a bad decision as well. According to my weather app on my phone, the temp was 38 degrees, which isn't that cold, really. I've run in way colder weather. So, that didn't bother me much.
I've bought cheap running clothes. What can I say? We're on a budget. We're a one income family, trying to get by. I usually buy my stuff at Target. My gloves were $1.50 and I bought them last year. Mental note, buy better gloves. Like waterproof ones. Also, because I have cheap clothes, they usually lack the little extras you need - like pockets for energy goos. Luckily Niki and Katherine told me to put my goos in my gloves. Awesome tip, guys! So, at least I had 200 calories with me.
At one point within the first six miles, I misread my body's signals. At the time, I thought I was hot, so I took off my long sleeved shirt. Keep in mind that this is not unusual at all. In fact, it's quite normal. However, it was very wet (snowy mix of rain at times, sleet at times and snow at times, throughout the whole run). So, I should have known, that was a little weird. In hindsight, I was probably already dehydrated by then and was feeling a little sick to my stomach. And you know when you feel a little queasy, you get hot? Well, looking back, I think that's what happened. So, I thought taking off my shirt would make me feel better. It did at first. But, then after that, I regretted it. But, by the time I realized it, it was too late to put it back on. I was soaking wet, and so was the shirt that was tied around my waist.
I also underestimated how many calories I would burn trying to stay warm. I think taking off my shirt turned out to be pretty stupid. In hindsight, I burned way too many calories, which resulted in more dehydration.
I didn't have a clear plan of what I wanted to do. Do I race it, or just run it? If I were to race it, I was going to run with Scott and Michelle so they could pace me. I know I can run with them, because I've done it in the past. Although not for 13.1 miles. If I were to run it, I would stay with Niki and Katherine. I was torn, and couldn't decide what I wanted to do. I felt really good the first couple of miles and at a u-turn part of the course saw Scott and Michelle. It was then that I decided to race a little, so I sped up trying to catch up to them. Scott ended up waiting for me. But we never caught Michelle. Me racing to catch up was a bad call. I usually start out slow and pick my pace up through the run. Racing at the beginning was a big mistake. Quite frankly, racing at all, was a big mistake. In hindsight, I should have just run it with Niki and Katherine. But, that's hindsight for you.
Another thing that probably didn't help, was that we went to a concert on Thursday night. In Northern Virginia. And we got stuck in horrible, stopped dead traffic on 95 on the way home. We didn't get home until 2:30am and as a result I got very little, and not good quality sleep. More on that night in an upcoming post. The concert was awesome and even factoring in yesterday, was still worth it.
The ailments I suffered:
A cramp. I have never had a cramp before. Can you believe it? Maybe a little teeny tiny one, but not a big deal, really. Yesterday I had a cramp right at the bottom of my sternum and it was bad. Really, really bad. Sharp, stabbing pain that made me want to hold my breath. Not cool. It was right at the halfway point. The course was two loops, and it was right when we were passing through close to the finish that it was bad. I saw Tom then, too. And I SO wanted to quit. I have never wanted to quit a race more than right at that moment. I kept thinking I could just stop right then and be done. Tom has my dry clothes and I could feel better in just a matter of minutes. I don't know why I didn't. I guess because even though I wanted to quit, I really didn't want to quit. I knew that I would regret it. Even though some runs hurt like hell, I always look back on them and think, I'm glad I did it. So, I kept going. Took a while to walk through it (the cramp). But, it finally went away. Thank God.
The course was really hilly. And it had stairs. Some of the hills were VERY steep. And going down them can be just as painful as going up them. I think it was the going down them that killed my IT band. It has been a long time since I have felt any IT band pain. Thank God. It's really awful and nearly impossible to run through. Once it starts, it gets worse fairly quickly. It was on the outside of my right knee and it hurt. I think at this point, I had only three miles to go. Poor Scott had to run with me - I really feel bad about that. He could have gone on and been out of that mess way earlier if he had just run on ahead and left me behind. I told him to go several times. But, he said no. He stuck with me. And he got me through it. After I told him about my IT band, he told me to sit down and he adjusted my knee (he's also my chiropractor, which turns out to be a really handy running partner ;-)). That definitely helped and bought me some more time on my legs.
The weather. Okay, maybe that's not technically an ailment. But, at one point, and I'm not exaggerating, we were - running up hill, against the wind, when it all of a sudden went from a light rain/sleet fall, to a downpour of slanted sleet that hurt when it landed on your skin. It was landing in my eyes and staying on my eyelashes, blurring my vision and making looking ahead impossible. I stopped suddenly, and said, "FUCK!" Sorry, for my language. But, it's true. There was not a more appropriate word for the situation, in my opinion. And frankly, it needed to be said. It was MISERABLE.
Another silly thing about the day, to add insult to injury was that for some weird, odd reason, I put on mascara that morning. How stupid was that? I don't even know why I did it. I never do that. I guess I had some extra time and it was later in the morning than a usual race, so I just did it. So, here I was, running in God awful weather, hurting all over, with freaking mascara running down my face. Awesome. Talk about feeling good about yourself!
Lastly, as I previously mentioned, I was dehydrated. I don't think I've ever been before. At least to this point. I have always associated dehydration with hot weather. But, I guess it doesn't matter. When you're body is trying to stay warm and you're running, you're burning a lot of calories and when you're not drinking enough, it can happen in cold weather, too. And since it was a small race, there weren't a lot of water stops. Not that it mattered that much anyway. It was probably too late.
About a mile or so from the finish when my vision was really bugging me, I thought to myself, what are the signs of hypothermia, again? So, I just googled it and one says, "poor decision making, such as trying to remove warm clothes." That one, I knew. Luckily, it mentions nothing about blurred vision. It mentions slurred speech, but pretty much every part of my body was numb, so it was kinda hard to tell.
Needless to say, I have never been more happy to finish a freaking race before. And that includes the marathon I ran. While I was definitely in a lot of pain when I finished my marathon, the conditions were not nearly as deplorable as yesterday. I wanted out of the cold, wet, snowy freaking mix and into a hot shower and bed. STAT.
In fact, conditions were so horrible, that no one stopped to get photos. We all just left. We had already planned to meet for lunch afterwards. So, everyone that was going headed straight there. At one point during the run I realized that I had forgot to pack an extra pair of shoes and socks. My feet were soaking wet. There was no way I could sit through lunch with cold, wet feet. So, Tom stopped at a Rite Aid and bought me some big, fluffy socks. My shoes are really light and thin, so once I took off the drenched socks, and put the new ones on, I put my wet shoes back on, and it was "fine" till I could get home. Keep in mind that my hair was soaking wet, too.
I couldn't find a picture of me finishing (maybe they thought I wouldn't want it documented). But, I found this one of a girl I don't know. But, it shows how awful it was...
On the way to the restaurant, I knew I was sick. I had not felt that bad in long time. It felt like a bad hangover. And what a crappy way to feel when you didn't earn it by having a fabulous time the night before! Ugh. So, I tried to talk my way through it. Thinking I just needed to sit down in warmth and eat.
I forgot to mention that as soon as I stopped running, I noticed the right side of neck was killing me. Like I had slept on it wrong or something. Seriously? I guess I should just be thankful that my back seemed to do just fine and never gave me any trouble.
So, we get into the restaurant and sit down with everyone else. I think it's safe to say that I looked like total crap. Apparently I was really pale. Scott asked me what was hurting and I told him my neck was killing me. He saw an empty table at the end of the restaurant, so he took me there and gave me a quick adjustment. You should have seen the people sitting at the booth right next to the table!! It was so funny.
Anyway, I tried to eat some bread. But, I could barely chew it and get it down. I sipped on some water. And I thought I was going to yak. So, I went to the bathroom and changed into some dry clothes. Then I went back to the table. But, the thought of food really made me want to vomit. So, Tom asked me if I could drive home. While I didn't necessarily want to (we had his truck and I don't really like to drive it) the thought of sitting there anymore was unbearable. So, I left and Tom got a ride home with them.
You know I feel bad when I leave a social gathering. That I asked Tom to plan. But I was in bad shape.
So, I drove home, forced down a banana, drank some water and took the hottest shower I could handle. Then I dried my hair, got into bed and assumed the fetal position.
Now, I realize that after reading this, one would wonder why in the hell I run. Well, luckily, not all runs are miserable. In fact, most are quite enjoyable. And I don't mean the actual running itself. I am no natural runner or athlete, so I think the running part is always a challenge on some level. But, doing it with friends, chatting, being outside, doing something physical, is almost always enjoyable. And no matter how bad or good the run was, afterwards, I always end up thinking, I'm glad I did it. I always come away thinking it was a great achievement. And I always feel stronger - mentally, and or physically - afterwards.
Ultimately, I think that is the reason I run. Because getting through something difficult (like yesterday's run) is not really as much of a physical challenge as it is a mental one. And somehow I think if I can survive the mental challenges of yesterday, I can survive the mental challenges of my life. When I feel stronger physically, I feel stronger mentally. And I want to be strong. I need to be strong. And so I run. And, thankfully, most of the time I actually like it. ;-)
Thanks to all my running friends who totally get it and help me through all my runs by making great conversation and memories! You're all awesome!