Thursday, November 18, 2010

My first half marathon experience

Rock and Roll Country Music Half Marathon ~ 04/24/10

My first half marathon... what was I thinking? I decided to run this race ONLY because so many people I knew were running it and I thought it would be a shame to be left out- plus many of them didn't have a running background, so if they can do it, so can I. I probably only ran about 7 x prior to this race, so when asked to put my expected finish time I had no idea what a good pace would be, so I just randomly picked 2:30.

Went to packet pickup and race expo with one of my best friends RJ and was completely blown away- didn't realize that there were 36,000+ runners split up between both the full and half marathon. Although all the excitement of seeing all the runners was getting me pumped up, it also made me realize how truly unprepared I was for the race. Since this was not only my first competitive race in years, but also first half marathon, I decided to capture the moment!

Apparently didn't put the mask on correctly
Check out my sweet guitar! 

Had our pre race dinner with RJs parents at McFaddens Irish Bar- all the pasta places were packed and considering its more beneficial to carb load 2 days prior to the race vs. the race before, I figured we'd be good. I live about 25 minutes south of the city, RJ lives right downtown, so I was lucky enough to crash in his living room- big mistake. To say that I'm a light sleeper would be an understatement. I laid down to sleep at about midnight, but the ticking of his clock was preventing me from falling asleep. I moved his clock into his bathroom and thought I was good to go. Apparently all the drunken partiers walking by his apartment didn't get the memo so last time I looked at my cell phone it was well past 2am. Up at 5am, sleep deprived, cranky,and  nervous about not knowing what to expect... But I put on a good face....

Like I said earlier there were over 36,000 runners for this race so timing to get to the starting line was going to be crucial. Pretty much all of downtown was closed, so unless you knew someone who lived in the vicinity of the start line, you had to go to LP Field (Titans Stadium) wait in a line of hundreds of people to catch a shuttle which would then take you to Centennial Park where there start line was. First corral gun time was 7:30- they gave 2 minutes inbetween each corral so I figured arriving at the stadium at 6am would be plenty of time. 

After waiting in line for an hour they opened up a few more shuttles and RJ and I literally sprinted to try and get on one- whew locked and loaded with a seat and now just waiting to get to Centennial Park. 

Thousands waiting for the shuttles 
We finally arrive at Centennial Park only to have to rush over to the Parthenon to get a few pictures with my coworkers in our matching shirts- I hate being late and this is only adding to the stress- guess thats what I get for volunteering my camera

Some of fellow Healthways colleagues in front of the Parthenon
Becca, Sara, Erin, Me- 2 coworkers and my boss

After our photo taking I go near the start line with Sara and RJ to stretch a little bit. Because there were SO many people I decided instead of starting in Corral 24, why not start with Sara in corral 13! So said goodbye to RJ and found out spots and waited. 

Our corral is finally up- gun goes off and it was complete madness. One thing I've yet to mention about myself is that I'm a HORRIBLE pacer; I usually just go with the flow of whomever I'm with. With that factored in, along with the first mile being on a gradual decline, trying to pass people to get in good position, as well as the attitude "I'm going to die anyway so I might as well go out strong" my first mile was a 7:30. As you can guess that is way too fast and unfortunately I knew it. I promised myself before the race that I would try my hardest to wait until at least mile 5 before walking. Once I past mile marker 2 I broke that promise. If you've ever been to Nashville its all HILLS, and this course definitely stuck true to that elevation. When mile 5 actually did come around I was completely wiped. It was so frustrating because all I wanted to do was walk, but the ENTIRE course was lined with spectators so it made me feel ashamed to walk in front of people. I officially gave up halfway through the race. My calves were in knots, my arches felt like needles were poking them, and I was HOT. The forecast was supposed to be severe thunderstorms so I wore spandex pants to prevent chaffing for when I got wet... only problem is they weren't running spandex. Didn't realize till this race that fashion spandex are extremely NOT BREATHABLE!!! 
Somewhere in the race there were people handing out what I thought was vaseline on a stick. I was so out of it that I picked it up, didn't know what to do with it so I rubbed it on my arm, no clue why.  Found out later from RJ that it was glucose for energy haha. My other 'novice' mistake was 'gu'- never heard of it, didn't know you needed to take it with water, so when I saw it I just put it in my mouth and threw the wrapper on the ground. Needless to say I couldn't wait till the next water station. By this point I lost the feeling in my feet so I would say that the last 4 miles were spent run/limping and walking, with an emphasis on walking (Later found out that I sprained my ankle but was more focused on the pain in my hips and everywhere else to notice) At this point i was just determined to finish, didn't even care what my time was. Once mile 13 came I was surprised I had a kick in me at all and luckily passed a ton of people. 
After I crossed the line I downed two water bottles before getting my medal.

 The next 1.5 hours was spent trying to find RJ and sitting in the torrential downpour with his parents at our 'meeting spot'- icing on the cake to a crappy race. Came home, showered, napped for 5 hours, then went out for a beer. After my awful first impression I learned some valuable lessons
1.  Shoes really DO matter- need to stop going for light and focus on support
2. Imperative to actually train or at least have some consistent running regime before entering the race
3. 7:30 first mile is too fast, PERIOD.
4. "Vaseline" on the stick goes in your mouth, not rubbed on your body
5. Fashion spandex make an awful running choice.
6. Take gu with water. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh boy, how awful! I'm so glad you didn't quit running halfs after this horrible experience.

    FYI--I've seen real Vaseline on sticks at races (including the Portland Full when we volunteered).

    You'll have a much better time this year. You know, at this warm up race for ID/OR the following weekend.

    Oh, what is Oregon known for? Seafood? Vegan food? I'm not sure.