A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Race Recap: Best Damn Half

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I apologize if this post is disjointed. I put it together rather quickly... Some of it was written while hopped up on Ativan and Dewars!

Spoiler Alert: I did not reach my goal. I didn't even PR.

Full disclosure: Leading up to the race, I was confident I would PR. I had PR'ed in a training run for goodness sake. I wasn't cocky about it, but I just figured that if I could PR in training that I could PR with a proper taper and the excitement of a race atmosphere.

Reality: It was not my best day, but I did the best I could do on that day.

Before The Race:

I woke up at 3:36 to the sound of Ali's coffee maker. Ah, coffee! I was surprisingly awake and refreshed. I drank coffee, fiddled around on the computer, and got dressed. Before I knew it, it was 4:55 and we were out the door, headed for Cape Coral!


Ali only lives about 20 minutes from the start of the race so we arrived with plenty of time to eat our breakfasts check my gear, and go to the bathroom 500 times before the 6:45 start. We met up with Kristina before the start as well. The closer the start got, the more jittery I was. I popped into the port o john one last time as they were singing the national anthem. It felt wrong to be doing what I was doing during the national anthem...

The Race:

I squeezed my body through one of the starting corral barriers so I could get up near the front. It was a good idea, because when the race started, I wasn't slowing anyone down and was passing people until I got into a groove. The sun had just come up and it was already getting warm. I wasn't going to worry about the first mile or two, I wanted to let my legs warm up. I turned on my podcasts and hunkered down for what I hoped would be a PR.

The course was flat. It was an out and back through neighborhoods. The vegetation and architectural style was different than that of PA, but when I am on a mission, I don't have the energy to be looking around at scenery. In fact, I didn't even hear a lick of my podcast. It was playing, but I don't know what was going on! My own thoughts were overpowering what was coming out of my earbuds.

I was having a hard time getting into a comfortable pace during the first 5 miles (heck that's almost half the race! Whenever I felt I was comfortable, I'd look down and my pace was near 7:30. No, that was not going to do. I picked up the speed a little bit and got a couple miles in at a sub 7:20.

Mile 7.5 is when things first started going wrong. I got a stabbing side stitch. Not as bad as the one I got at the Dover 10 miler, but I feared it was going to get worse. I breathed, I rubbed it, and I slowed down. I figured if I slowed my pace for a bit I could make it go away, then I could pick it back up and make up some time. I slowed down for about two miles but the pain lingered. I decided I was just going to have to deal with it as it didn't seem to be getting worse.

I tried picking up the pace but it was hard. Anything below a 7:30 felt hard. And yes, I know it's supposed to be hard, but it was harder than it felt during training. The weather was warm and it was quite sunny by this point. There wasn't anything blocking the sun at all.

I knew I was going to have to work for this PR, and there wasn't much time left. Unfortunately, at mile 11.5 the next thing went wrong. BOTH of my calves seized up into painful knots. This was not just general soreness/achiness. This was like having a really bad charlie horse but in both your calves. This new problem was my downfall. To prevent my calves from tearing I was not going to be able to push the pace. This meant my A goal (1:34:XX ) was officially out of reach. The way I saw it, I had two options:

1. Push the pace and still try to get a PR (<1:38:07), which would seize my calves up even more and knock me to the ground. If I was lucky, I would be able to walk to the finish line and obtain a personal worst. 

2. Slow the pace so the calves would stop seizing and hope I could make it to the finish line with a respectable time without tearing my calf muscles.

Obviously, I opted for number two. Luckily, while my calves were still seizing, if I ran just the right pace (8:00) and altered my gait a bit, they didn't get worse. But I seriously almost cried when my Garmin hit 13.1 and the finish line was still around the bend and down a bit of a stretch. My Garmin read 13.33 as I crossed the finish line.

I clocked in at 1:40:50

Not my best, not my worst.

After the Race

I was worried about how I would feel when I stopped running. A volunteer helped steady me. I got my medal and some water. I walked for a bit but wanted to sit down. I found a shady spot behind some cars and sat down carefully as to not bother my calves. Bad idea. The left one knotted up so bad I couldn't even move it. Looking back I should have taken more salt immediately after the race. (I say more salt because I took salt tabs and water during the race but clearly not enough!) So I couldn't move my leg and it hurt really bad! I needed help.

"Can someone help me?" I called out tentatively. No one responded. I was shielded by cars and it was loud due to being near the finish line.

"I need help!" I shouted a little louder.

Nothing.

My calf hurt so bad I couldn't imagine standing up could hurt it worse, so I made myself stand and walk, hoping it would relax the way it does when I walk off a charlie horse. It worked. I was not going to need any help. I walked and didn't sit down for awhile after that!

I wondered why my training went so well and the race didn't. My training runs didn't feel easy but they weren't horrible at all. This whole race was hard. Not a single second felt the way I thought it would feel. Hitting the paces I needed to was hard. I felt a little puke-y and poop-y. How comes I could hit a PR in a training run but not during a race with proper taper and race day excitement? I have a lot to learn about what my body apparently needs as far as hydration and electrolytes are concerned. I drank and took salt tabs during the race but it clearly wasn't enough. Time to learn, experiment , and hopefully race better with a new strategy!

Runner Perks/AG Award!

The post race perks for runners were awesome! They provided free massages, so I got one! It felt good on my tired legs. They had all kinds of food (which I didn't eat), alcohol (also didn't imbibe) and water and Diet Coke- which I did have! The medals were huge!


While they were doing the 5k awards, I nosed around and looked at some preliminary 1/2 Marathon results. I counted and it appeared that I was the 7th woman overall! I thought statistically I had a good chance to place in my age group, so I hung around for that ceremony. Well, I did end up placing first in my age group! I got another medal AND I got to stand on a podium for the first time! I am so proud! I kept thinking, "My parents are going to see this and be so proud of me."


Waiting for Ali and Kristina

After I got my award, I headed to the finish line to wait for Kristina to come in. It was quite warm out by now... it had been warm for hours! It was so inspiring to see the half marathon runners cross the finish line and get the glory they deserved! It was around the 3 hour mark when the winner of the MARATHON (which was a woman!!!!!) crossed the finish line. Wow, it was so cool to see that! I was glad I got to chill at the finish line and see all that. It really put things into perspective for me.


I got to cheer for Kristina and take some pictures as she finished. Make sure you check out Kristina's blog to read more about her thoughts on her race.


After Kristina recovered, we walked backwards on the race course to Mile 24 where we were going to cheer for Ali, who was completing the entire marathon. We found some shade and sat down and cheered for the runners. At this point, the sun was brutal, and it was really affecting the runners. Most were walking by this point. I was busy chatting with Kristina when she noticed a runner hunch over in pain. We rushed over to render aid. He was suffering from major cramping and was writhing in pain. I ran to the nearest water station and they sent help. Eventually, an ambulance came to help the poor guy out. His calf would seize, then his quad, then his other calf... He was debilitated by pain but kept mentioning the finish line. I looked at Kristina. "I don't think he is finishing," I said, and she agreed.


Once we knew he was in good hands, we walked a bit more to hook up with Ali's husband and sister. Before we knew it, Ali came running by, looking way better than many of the others now who had either slowed to a shuffle or a walk. 


We gave her some encouragement and off she went. Two more miles to go! The rest of us hopped in the car and drove to the finish line to wait for her.


As we waited for Ali to finish, guess who we saw walk across the finish line- the dude we had helped at Mile 24 who was suffering from cramps! HE DID IT! I took his picture and told him he is an inspiration.



I was brought to tears watching Ali complete her second marathon. It was a boring course- two out and backs. The sun was brutal. The wind affected her asthma. But quitting was not an option. She sucked it up and she DID IT and now she is a two time marathoner! Oh, fun fact, her Garmin clocked the course long as well! It said 27.1 miles. "Ali, you just ran your first ultra!" I told her! Be sure to check out her blog, as I am sure she will give you her full race recap soon!


Post Race Giddiness and Hash Out

Boy were we giddy to be done. We took the obligatory post race photos. That's Sean with us- he earned a half marathon PR that day and he was so happy! It was fun to share in his happiness.



We went home to shower and then stuffed our faces at a deli. Ali, Kristina, and I spent a little time re-hashing the race at lunch, but Ali and I spent even more time rehashing it later on that night on her back porch.

The Next Day

Can I just tell you my calves and quads were a little sore the next day, but my IT band was not bothered at all during or after the race! This is great news! It makes me feel like my body is holding up quite nicely. I am already getting ideas...

WHAT'S NEXT?

... What ideas am I speaking of? Well, I am not giving up! I want that half marathon PR and I am going to get it! I want to learn how to not get side stitches and convulsing calf muscles and then I want to go KILL IT. I will have to decide if I want to try again soon or in a couple months. No decision has been made yet as I have a lot to think about. But I want you to know I am NOT deterred! Sunday was not my day, but my day is coming!

39 comments:

  1. Great job! Podium finish! I am also psyched to read that a woman was the overall winner for the marathon. Congrats to all of you! I am excited to read Ali and Kristina's blogs too. I wonder if some of the dehydration is from the plane trip, and the medication you take for the plane.
    Your PR is there for you--Next time!
    It sounds like a fun trip...

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    1. Dehydration from meds and plane is DEFINITELY something I should look into as well! It was a great weekend anyway. I didn't get it this time but that just means I need to try again.

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  2. Who'd have thought you'd be dealing with heat in December! Angry calves aside, I think you ran a great race and definitely gave it your all which is a total win. Congrats on the AG win! I have no doubt that PR is around the corner!

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    1. I sure did give it my all, unfortunately my "all" that say was not a lot! Thank you for your support Marcia :) Can't wait to GET that PR sooner or later.

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  3. Congrats on that AG win! Ugh to the side stitch and the calf pain. It just goes to show you that you can THINK you're prepared for a race but then fate has a different idea...(hello, Chicago marathon, I'm talking to you...)

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    1. Yup, I don't know what I could have done different, except maybe take in more salt and eat a banana before and/or during the race. I plan to figure it out!

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  4. I'm so sorry your body rebelled against you like that. After you trained so hard! It sounds like the heat, which you weren't acclimated to, and like someone else said dehydration from medication and the plane ride :-( Maybe you will have better luck trying for a PR on your home turf next time around?

    Anyway, congrats on your AG win! That's so awesome! I know it still sucks that you didn't meet your goal but if there's anything I've learned lately, it's that we have to take small victories when we can get them. The big ones only come around so often.

    I'm proud of all three of you, and I'm proud of the cramp dude who finished! That's awesome! Now enjoy your recovery :)

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    1. Thanks girl! AG award was a nice way to soften the blow of not running the race I wanted. I seriously would have rather PR'ed than won the whole damn race with a time that wasn't a PR, you know what I mean?

      Cramp dude was a ROCK STAR. Hell anyone that completed that full marathon (ALI!!!) in that heat is a rock star. I only had to run for less than two hours in that heat. Others ran many more hours and endured more than I.

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  5. I think you did amazing! All of you girls did a super job and have a lot to be proud of!

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  6. Wow. I've read all three of your recaps and this race just sounds brutal! Nice work with your AG placement despite the cramps, that's awesome! I'm sure it's frustrating to go into a race thinking you are prepared for a PR and to not reach that goal, but it sounds like the problem was most definitely NOT your training. I'm sure you'll hit that PR soon.

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    1. Thank you Lizzy. :) It was a little frustrating but that race was bigger than me and I so much enjoyed being able to share the experience with Ali and Kristina!

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  7. That is so cool that you ended up getting two medals. There story about the man finally crossing the finish line almost brought a tear to my eye. One of my favorite things at races is to stick around and cheer for others. Sounds like you ladies had a great time. I am certainly sure your parents are quite proud of you Megan! What a great picture to have of you on the podium. Congrats!

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  8. You are the best. I am obviously super impressed by your first place AG award. I have bragged about you to all of my coworkers and to Adam. I know Paul, your parents and the kitties must be super proud of you because I know I am! Even more impressive was the way you supported every runner who you saw on race day. That made me want to be more supportive and a better person in general!

    I loved getting to spend time with you and Ali this weekend and definitely want to make a northern race happen in 2016!

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    1. I loved spending time with you gals too! I will look for some northern races for us. They don't have to be in PA. :)

      Aw I was so worried you would think I was an airhead or something, I'm glad you liked me. :) I know that seems so silly to say!

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    2. I'd love to make a northern race happen too! :)

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  9. So awesome all of you got to meet up and run together. Sounds like that sun was brutal. Incredibly inspirational that guy was able to finish after you helped him. Amazing!

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    1. It was so cool to meet Ali and Kristina! They are my blogging idols!

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  10. I love that medal says BEST DAMN RACE And you got an AG win for it!! Awesome job! You look awesome in your podium pic! Did you change? You look really fresh :) FL man...I don't think I'd be a runner if I lived there truly, the only time the temps break is typically January and maybe Feb. It is beautiful place and I am fine if I am walking, but no thanks to that humidity year round lol
    Hopefully as you test out your calves you won't feel that tug, that tug is bad painful stuff...
    It is so fun you got to hang out with blog buddies and share an event. Did you feel okay on your flight home?
    I am proud of you girl! Hey, if you are feeling good look for a local race :) You can bust this out soon lol

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    1. Yes I did change hahaha! Normally I don't look that fresh!

      The flight home was ROUGH. You can read about that in my Weekend Wrap Up tomorrow. :)

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  11. Congrats on your first place! but now I got major anxiety about running a half in Florida!! I guess if I am training in it I should know what to expect! Maybe by February there will be cooler temps!

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  12. Oh wow, sounds like a painful race! Congrats for hanging in there, and very cool that you got an AG win. I have never been on a podium... we totally need to get one for our running club so they can bring it to all of the races :)
    I seem to fall victim of side stitches at the worst times (racing!). It sucks because the best way I've found to get rid of them is to walk :(

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    1. I hope that every runner can someday experience the podium! It was very cool! Of course I would have rather PR'ed and came in LAST. ;)

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  13. I'm so, so glad you were there this weekend! I know you didn't hit your goal, but in a way, knowing you struggled too makes me feel a bit better about mine. It validates how tough Sunday's race was! I know you have that PR in you, and I think you'll reach it sooner rather than later!

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    1. I totally understand what you mean. The struggle was real! I am so glad I made the trip to FL too and finally got to meet my favorite bloggers. :) It was fun chatting with you and I was glad I got to be part of your big day!

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  14. Hey Meg, sorry it took me so long to get to your blog post today. I'm so glad I did though. I soaked up every word. I'm so proud of you, my friend. That pic of you on the podium is so perfect. I am so very proud of you. There's one thing that hasn't left my mind though and that's the fact that you asked for help at the finish line. I'm not sure why, but in every post you write, I get this feeling that you are so strong. It takes so much strength to get through the lifey stuff that you deal with and it shows by the fact that you loudly asked for help when you needed it. Only the strongest people can do that. Even when nobody shows up, don't ever stop asking for help. Someone will always come along. But anyway, fuckitty fuck on the calf cramps. I'm not sure wtf is up with that but I wish I hand answers for you. I don't doubt for a hot second that you're going to get that PR next time. You've got it in you, and you know it, I can feel it. <3 Now go get it.

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    1. Aw thank you Suzy, sweetest comment ever! The calves were just not something I could push through. My legs would have collapsed or I would have literally torn my calf muscles. They are still sore today! Thank you I know I have a PR in me too, and when I get it, it will be that much more meaningful! :)

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  15. Congrats on the award!! How awesome that you got to stand up on the podium!
    One time after a 5k my calf cramped SO bad I couldn't walk. I think it was because it was super hot out and I sprinted a downhill finish. I remember my calf was really sore for a week or two, and I had to go to the chiro for ART to get the knot worked out.
    Sorry you had some issues during the race but you still did awesome!

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    1. Thank you Lisa! I am totally babying my legs right now. No running until my calves feel close to normal!

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  16. Way to go Meg!!! I've had half marathons like this where I was definitely capable of a PR and it didnt' happen due to weather or side stitches. For a while I was known by my friends to get frequent side stitches when racing. :( They suck. I don't get them in a marathon and I think it's because I'm going a bit slower???

    It looks like you girls had so much fun! Next time, I want in. :)

    Congrats on the AG placing! And when you do get your PR next time, it will feel amaze balls!

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    1. I never got one in a marathon either. Definitely must be the speed thing. Well it sounds like they can happen to everyone! How did you get yours to go away?

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    2. Oh we are looking for a northern race, maybe you could come! :)

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    3. I usually slug my way through it grunting and moaning, while slowing pace :(

      YES!!! Keep me posted!!!

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  17. Congrats on your first place AG finish! I LOVE that picture of you on the podium. I'm sorry you didn't get the PR you were hoping for, but it sounds like you made the right decision by not pushing it. I have no doubt in my mind that under the right conditions you would blow that PR out of the water.

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    1. Thanks so much for those kind words Courtney. :) I hope to crush it soon!

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  18. I am finally catching up on blog posts this week! It was fun reading about your trip to Florida, meeting Kristina and Ali, and running the half marathon. That's the beautiful thing about running - we never know how the day is going to go. You can have the best run or the worst run, and often times there is little you can do to control what happens. When I read that you had a side stitch I cringed because I know how PAINFUL those are. Way to push through it. I'm sorry your calf was cramping too! I wonder if the heat and humidity has something to do with it?

    Congratulations on finishing FIRST in your AG! That is a huge accomplishment. That must have made you feel a little better about your performance :) And now all of us in blog-land get to follow along as you still chase after your goal of a PR and sub 1:35 race! Woo hoo!

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    1. Thanks Kristen! It's so true, anything can happen on race day. I sure got my ass kicked. :)

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