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...)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Race Recap: Movie Madness Half Marathon

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Despite a lot of things not going my way, I survived the half marathon yesterday. The course was 1/4 mile long, there was a headwind for 3 miles along the river, my salt tabs disintegrated from my boob sweat, and my calves started seizing around mile 11.5... most likely due to the lack of salt! My goal changed around mile 12 from a PR to not having to walk it in. I didn't have enough time in the bank to be able to slow down as to not tear my calf muscles and still PR.

Thankfully, I did not have to walk, my calves are still in one piece, and I still managed a time of 1:40:35 (Unofficial). Not bad, considering the conditions. It wasn't my day to PR, that is for sure. (And of obviously it's hard to pace yourself to PR when the COURSE IS LONG. But I promise I will only complain about that 100 more times.)



Oh, I got second place female! I'm not going to lie, I would have rather been the last female but PR'ed.

I keep wondering...

What my time would have been if the course wasn't long?

How I would've held up if my salt tabs hadn't shit the bed and my calves didn't seize up?

Flat Megan ready to race. Flat Chrissy ready for LIFE!

Here's the full report!

Miles 1-6: 

The course started with a loop around City Island and then South along the river to the Green Belt where we did an out and back. I had to pee as soon as I started running and decided I would just pee my pants if I had to. Luckily, the "have to pee" feeling went away and I didn't have to do that.

I felt pretty good at the beginning of the race. Some of my splits were a little fast, some were a little slow. But it all evened out in the wash and I was doing a good job. 

Sometimes I thought I felt a side stitch coming on, but I couldn't tell if it was real or in my head. I did some good breathing to keep the imaginary side stitch at bay. 

I took two salt tabs at Mile 2. When I tried to take two more at mile six, my plastic baggie was empty! WTF!? I packed four! Where were my damn salt tabs? Then it dawned on me. I had shoved the plastic baggie in my sports bra and the boob sweat/condensation made the tabs disintegrate. Oh well. I felt pretty good, maybe it would be okay? But I was banking on those electrolytes because even though the course had ample water, there was no Gatorade. The last little bit of electrolytes I had was gone. I guess I could have licked the inside of the plastic baggie, and in retrospect, I should have!

There were not many spectators at all and I was on my own for much of this part of the course. I liked it. It was peaceful. There were a bunch of speedy guys in front of me but I was the first woman this whole time. At Mile 5 when I went through the turnaround, I saw the second female was only like 20 seconds behind me. I told myself, Don't do anything stupid! You are not here to win! You are here to PR! I didn't speed up at the sight of her. I just kept chugging and running my own race.

Miles 7-11.5:

Around Mile 7, we were running North along the river and the head wind was strong. My pace dropped a bit. I was okay with it. I was trying to run by effort and my eyes were not glued to my Garmin or anything like that. 

It was a little bit muddy and I almost slipped and fell at one point! Boy would have that pissed me off. But a gust of wind did blow a bunch of dirt in my face and eyes. Dang. I was going to look like hell by the time this race was over! 

The woman who was in second place started running beside me and introduced herself. We had a mutual friend and were chatting a bit about just running in general. She was very nice. I told her I couldn't talk anymore because I was out of breath, but to have a good race. She pulled in front of me and picked up the pace a little bit as we reached the last turnaround at about Mile 10.5.

I stayed right behind her and started making up some time I had lost from the wind. Maybe I could still PR! I knew running without the wind in my face as we headed back to City Island would be easier, and of course there would be some pep in my step as the miles dwindled down. I can still do this!

Mile 11.5-13:33 (yes, the course was long):

But all that went out the window at Mile 11.5 That's when I felt my left calf seize a tiny bit. Uh oh. I kept running. About 50 steps later, it seized a tiny bit again. Then my right calf mimicked my left. NOT THIS SHIT AGAIN!!!!! If you will remember, I had calf issues at the end of the Dover 10 Miler and MAJOR calf issues at BDR. My calves felt exactly how they did at BDR and I had almost two miles to go. It looked like instead of picking up the pace for the last two miles, I was going to be lowering my pace.

This is also the point I realized the course was either going to be short or long. I knew we were running back over to City Island, but I couldn't remember if we circled the island or not. If we circled it, the course was going to be long and if we didn't circle it was going to be short. Either way, I was pretty pissed off. Seriously, THEY ONLY HAVE TO GET ONE THING RIGHT. THE FREAKING DISTANCE. How hard is it to do that? And I promise, I did not take wide turns, meander, or do anything like that.

The woman in first place pulled farther ahead as my calves were forcing me to slow down. I was sad. I love to sprint it in to the end. There was no way I could do that. You can't push through muscles that are literally knotting up. It wasn't that I gave up, I just had no choice. If I pushed the pace, I was literally going to fall over.

My Garmin beeped 13.1 and the finish line was still quite a ways ahead. Freaking A. I was mad. Somehow I made it to the finish line. They announced my name and that I got second place, which was pretty cool. As soon as I stopped running, my right calf seized and I almost fell. I grabbed water, my medal, and a banana, and then just ate the 'nanner while I kept walking. There was no way I was going to sit down or something stupid like that.


Since there was no awards ceremony and no one had come out to spectate me, I walked about a mile and then jumped in my car and drove home. Oh, a nice girl took my picture before I left. I looked like a hot mess.



So I am not sure what I learned from this race other than I can't let my salt tabs disintegrate and I probably needed more electrolytes than I brought along. I know I need to stop being so nervous before a race starts (I was shaking) and using up nervous energy. I need to figure out how to be properly hydrated before a race. I am not sure how to do that as I use the bathroom 50,000 times before the race. I feel like I am depleted before I even start. That can't be good.

This race wasn't good or bad. It just was. But I'm going to be honest. I am nervous about this calf cramping thing. I need to figure that out or I don't understand how I am going to manage to PR in the half marathon again, let alone the marathon!

Also, the more I think about it, the more FRUSTRATED I get. It seems like my best runs are during training. I never cramp or get side stitches during training runs. I've PR'ed in the half during a training run this fall. I ran a 1:34! Why can I bust that out when I am just running circles around my hood on tired legs but on race day when I am tapered, I shit the bed? Sorry. I just had to vent. I would love your insight on this as I think I am too "in" the problem to have proper insight on it.

That being said, I wish I could just be happy with the way my body performs during training. I mean, it is DOING what I want it to do. So I don't have an official finish time on the internet. Aren't the sum of all my training runs more important than just one day? Yes. I wish I didn't feel compelled to perform a certain way during a race, but I do. I suppose we all do???

One of these days I will ring that PR bell.

Post Race Update: My calves felt a little weird after the race, but by the evening they felt fine. I wasn't tired or feeling beat up the rest of the day or anything like that. It was sort of like after the race was over, I bounced back, which is good news. I refueled at the Pizza Grille, where I ate and drank my weight in pizza and wine. I told my MIL about my seizing calves and the salt tabs that dissolved in boob sweat. "Well your boobs didn't cramp, did they???" she asked. AAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

33 comments:

  1. Wow, second female is amazing!! I am sorry so many things went wrong. I really don't understand the cramping stuff. I read "The New Rule of Marathon and half-marathon nutrition" by Matt Fitzgerald last summer, and that gave some real specific guidelines about hydration. I also get frustrated when I perform better in training runs than on race day. You will get your "official" PR soon! Congrats and great job hanging in there with everything that went wrong!

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    1. Thanks for that book rec, Lisa! I think I need to school myself because or whatever reason, my hydration is just not working for me on race day.

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  2. I know how frustrated you are and I know this will only push you even more to figure it all out and go get that PR. I am proud of you for 2nd place and I am really happy your body bounced back so quickly. That is a good sign.

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    1. Thank you so much Susan! I am determined to figure it out. There is more in me. I can do it, I know I can.

      My quads are a little sore today but nothing like after the 10 miler. I really would like to run!! Hahah! But I am going to try to make myself wait until Tuesday.

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  3. Congratulations, Meg!! Second Overall Female is great, I know it's not the PR you wanted, but it's an amazing accomplishment!

    I think the way you feel frustrated about your running performance is exactly how I used to feel (and maybe you did too) during music school. I spent hours and hours practicing and then when it came time for juries, I'd shit the bed on a passage or a part that I had GOT DOWN. I'd get so upset with myself because I wanted Jury Rec or that scholarship but never got it. Sure I'd get an A on my jury, but didn't get the rec or scholarship which is what I had in my tunnel vision.

    Stress and anxiety does such weird shit to our bodies and brains. My mammalogy professor did studies on the effects of maternal stress on rabbits. The offspring of stressed rabbits had significantly higher heart rates and fight or flight responses. If stress can be passed down generationally, imagine what it's doing to your own body. I was never really good at the endocrine system, but after getting diagnosed with PCOS after a long and stressful period of my life, I think I permanently altered my body chemistry. I'm definitely going to do some study this summer on it.

    Anyway...congrats on preserving through all those factors against you. Did anyone dress up as movie characters, you never told us!!??

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    1. Thanks so much Andrea! I would definitely like to learn more about how stress and anxiety messes with our bodies. I did not dress as a movie character. I would say most people didn't but quite a lot did.

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  4. You pushed through a hard race and tough conditions and finished with a super impressive time. I know it sucks that the time isn't what you wanted or what you were aiming for, so it's okay to be annoyed...ESPECIALLY because the course as long!

    I wonder if your training runs are too fast? I've read a few articles about why some runners peak in training and then struggle on race day, and it seems like the cause is usually doing long runs too fast.

    I know you're frustrated, but I bet you're more motivated than ever to push for that PR again soon. A good goal is one you can't hit right away, so I think your current goal to PR is totally valid and awesome, and I'm looking forward to watching you continue to reach for it!

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    1. Thanks Ali! I am super motivated and that is a good point that the goal is definitely not too easy, hopefully just hard enough and it will be even more sweet when I reach it!

      I am not sure if I am doing training runs too fast. I do like to do race pace runs because mentally I just need to know what a pace feels like and I need to know if I can do it. The good news iiiiiiiis I am soon starting a Hansons plan and they have VERY SPECIFIC pace goals every single run should be. So at least if I stick to those, I know I will be doing it right.

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  5. Sorry you didn't PR but yay for placing! Running against a head wind is very frustrating.

    I always seem to do better in training runs than on race day as well. Perhaps it's a comfort thing.

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    1. It has to be at least part of it. I mean, I am not nervous for training runs, are you? I was SHAKING as I drove to the race.

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  6. Congratulations Megan! You always seem to place in impressive positions!!! You are such a strong runner and has again tougher it out on a challenging run. It drives me bonkers when the race course is long! This year in Boston I thought I was almost finished looking at my Garmin and as it turned out the course was .3 of a mile long! Somehow on A famous marathon course like that I managed to run quite a bit extra. I'm really curious about your Hansons training plan. Is there anyway I could just look at one as a sample online? I'm doing the local bluenose half marathon here the third weekend in May. Every year that course is also lonf. :(

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    1. Well clearly it wasn't a very competitive field if me and the other first woman ran a 1:40, but I'm sure you can all tell by that!

      Wow how did you run THAT much extra?? I mean, I have to trust the Boston course is accurate. And I suppose there could have been some weaving and wide turns? Or no, did you keep it pretty conservative? Do you think our Garmins are that much off??? The funny thing is, when I run around my neighborhood routes I *know* the distance of, my Garmin comes up SHORT if anything, not long. Like my normal 5 mile loop is actually 5.2 according to mapmyrun. It's all so confusing. Like pants sizes. Why aren't pants sizes the same in every store? One store I wear one size, another store I wear another size. One half marathon is 13.1, another is 13.33. What gives???

      I will private msg you about the Hanson plan!

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  7. Hey! I read all of your recap, and I promise I will come back and make a useful comment... Just saw the pictures on Pennlive, You are in one of the pics, your face is anyway!

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    1. I'm sorry, when I said useful, that was a yuge exaggeration, that was the sunburn talking.

      You do not look horrid in the face, you look like you are thinking "I'm going to kick this Half marathon in the face!"

      Congratulations on an awesome half marathon finish! Your speed blows me away, I have nowhere near the expertise or knowledge to give any advice. I can only say that you are amazing at running and when I grow up, I want to run as fast as you!

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    2. ugh... I need to stop letting my sunburn do my talking... I meant You do not look horrid... I don't know where the face thing came in!

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    3. I really take bad pictures when running but I did look it up and I look fine because it was right in the beginning!

      They have our times wrong though. They added almost a minute to our times. I already contacted the race director about it.

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  8. Ahhh that's a bummer that you had a tough race. But congrats on 2nd place female!

    Not that I don't believe you about the course being long, but is it possible the extra distance was due to tangents and/or weaving? It's pretty rare that I come away from a race without a little extra distance on my watch. Although .2 extra is a lot. It's annoying but honestly I'd much rather have a long course than a short one. When the course is long I at least know I ran the actual race distance. Are you able to upload your workout data to Garmin connect and try to figure out what your actual time for 13.11 miles was? Usually there are graphs and stuff to try and pinpoint where that way.

    I think training with the Hansons Method will really help you. It will force you to rein in your paces during training, and the structure of the method is designed so that you peak at the right time and avoid overtraining/leaving your best effort in training. I really think you will see a lot of success when you start that program.

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    1. No, other people had the course long too. We all compared Garmins at the end. And like I said, I did not weave, I took the corners very small.

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    2. Okay. I guess I missed that part...sorry.

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  9. CONGRATS AGAIN! You know all of us are super impressed with your time and placement, but it stinks that you're not as impressed with yourself. A handful of pretty major things went wrong for you (headwind, salt tabs/no Gatorade/cramping, long course, ugh) so it makes sense that you're left feeling frustrated!

    I'm sorry that your boobs ate your salt tabs, and I really can't believe a half marathon course didn't have Gatorade or another electrolyte drink! WTF? That seems like a giant oversight! When Hansons recommended drinking 4 gulps of Gatorade every 15 minutes I thought that was excessive, but I've been doing that on all of my long runs recently and it's made a difference in my energy levels! Or at least I think it has, maybe it's a placebo effect, haha!

    Positives from your race:

    - You forced yourself to run your own race instead of hanging on to first place!
    - Even though you don't like racing you just completed *another* race!
    - Oh yeah, and you came in 2nd place female without even PRing!

    It's also good that you can pinpoint some pretty specific reasons WHY you didn't PR. The worst is when you miss a PR and aren't really sure what happened.

    I think, now that you've had time to reflect on the race, it's time to shake it off and move on! No point in dwelling on what can't be changed. You want to start your next training cycle feeling confident and motivated, so leave this race in the past and get excited about a fresh start! :)

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    1. Well everything I have read about placebos is if they work, they WORK no matter what the reason haha! But I have a feeling the Hansons are right. :) I think when I marathon train I am going to HAVE to carry water/gatorade with me. There is no other way around it. Today I am going to look up their hydration recs and print them out.

      HOw do you carry your hydration? I have always been a camelback girl with the sucky straw but I only ever put water in that. I have a REALLY hard time catching my breath at water stops when I try to drink. Maybe I will have to use my cameback for races...

      I will be honest (and I know you brought this up because of our chat convo) but I am feeling down trodden as I start Hansons and I *am* questioning my ability. I guess that is natural but you are right the sooner I shake this off the sooner it will be in the past. At this point I think I have learned everything I can (because believe me, I have thought about it A LOT!). I have a new plan to try (Hanson) and I am going to be DILIGENT about hydration and salt and read everything I can about what Hanson said about it and the book Lisa recommended.

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    2. WELLLLLL I own every hydration system imaginable. I have a Camelbak, two different waist packs and several handhelds. I hate carrying all of them though! Since I read Hansons I've done all of my long runs on the treadmill so I just bring my Gatorade with me. When I was running outdoors I would do loops that brought me around to my car every 3-4 miles. Now I'm not really sure what I'm going to do since I need to drink much more often!

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    3. Hmmm I have some thinking to do too. And I have to reread what they say about hydration.

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  10. I understand the frustration with the calves. I had my right calf seize up on me once due to dehydration kicking in and it was miserable. I could only imagine how it felt out there. I would have been pissed about the course too, really...getting the distance wrong does make me a little upset. Like, how hard is it really?!
    On all of my longer runs I take my Orange Mud hydraquiver...It holds everything I need (salt/gu/candy/phone/water/etc) but doesn't bug me. I can't wear any other type of hydration without going nuts. The Orange Mud is expensive but well worth the cost. I can't tell its there and have zero chafing or irritation from it.
    This weekend the half I am running has 3 aid stations but the weather is calling for 90 and humid....f* all that noise! I am from Michigan...that is torturous! So I am probably going to wear it for my race too even though I normally wouldn't do that.
    Hope you get all of your stuff figured out! And soon too!

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    1. I am sorry you have experienced the calf thing as well! I really want to get it figured out. I want to stay hydrated but then I have to pee so bad. It's weird. Oh well. I have to practice better during training runs I think.

      I google imaged youy hydraquiver. That's no joke! The more I think about it, the more I think I just have to wear my camelback with the sucky straw because I lose my breath at those water stations trying to swallow water from a cup.

      Good luck on your half!!! I really hope the weather gets a little more mild for you! Where the heck is the race?

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    2. It is in northern Georgia....so a little different than southern michigan haha!!
      Yeah my hydraquiver (i actually call it my jet pack) is crazy but amazing...I don't even notice I have it on. I don't do well from cups either, its like I'm choking or spilling it all!

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  11. Awwww, yep, one day you will ring that PR bell. It'll happen...
    Congrats on 2nd!! That is freaking awesome, even if it wasn't a PR for ya.
    I wish the calves weren't seizing up on you, how frustrating! You are right not to push too much during that, it could come with devastating consequences.
    Running is such a pain sometimes because we never know what each one will hold. All runs hold challenges, but it does stink the less challenging ones are during training.
    Don't give up! You can rock a great marathon. Have you every tried Nuun tablets in your water? They help me more than Gatorade and help me with the nausea in the heat.

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    1. Thanks so much Karen. :) I have not tried Nuun but everyone raves about it so maybe I should research and see what's up. :)

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  12. Well damn it, don't you wish every race was a PR?? That would make our lives much easier. In the mean time, you can enjoy being up that close near the front of the pack... I think that would be scary, I'd actually have to study the course map instead of just following everyone else!! :) At one very short point during my marathon I did get calf cramps, but that was a passing thing, thank God, because it was painful! Congrats on your race. You rock regardless!

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    1. Hellz yeah I only sign up for races that guarantee me a PR ;) I am glad your calf cramps passed. Mine are like seizing and the only way to stop them is to... well, stop running. :(

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  13. I am FINALLY getting a chance to read this and comment (work has been madness). First off, congratulations on finishing a tough half marathon and in a solid time. Second, nice job getting 2nd place OVERALL in a half marathon. You should be totally proud of that. I know you wanted to PR, but it's almost impossible to PR when the race is long. That is probably my number one pet peeve with a race course - if they don't get the distance right. I've run races that are too short (and felt like I cheated) and races that are too long (and felt like I GOT cheated). What a bummer that the course was too long. I could sense your frustration. I would be too. I'm not sure what to tell you about your calf, other than our bodies can be unpredictable. I've been having problems lately with my diaphragm and it makes me nervous for my race on Sunday. I'm hoping the pain stays away and doesn't get in my head. A lot of it is mental. That's the part I really need to work on.

    Killer job out there!!!

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    1. THANK YOU! I hate feeling like I am being "picky" to want the race course the correct length lol. I mean, 13.16 is fine, but 13.33?? NO.

      I know we hand this discussion before about nerves really messing us up on race day. I really think I use the bathroom SO much before a race that I am down electrolytes right in the beginning. I think this is one of my probs. Cause the severe cramping doesn't happen for training runs. But before training runs, I only hit the bathroom like 2 times beforehand... whereas for a race, it's like 20 times!

      I hope you do FABULOUS at your race. You have had some killer training runs so I know you are ready. Get your head in the game girl and you will kill it!

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