Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Presque Isle 1/2 (race report)

State #18- Erie, Pa
Temp-80s at the start, mid to high 90s by end

For those newbies who have just started following my blog- Welcome!  I have a fellow friend and co-worker, Becca (otherwise referred to as B) who is completing the 50 1/2s in 50 States with me. 
Our 1st 1/2 together- Women's 1/2 in Nashville

She has 2 states she completed that I have yet to race- Pennsylvania and Nevada; I have one, Indiana, she hasn't done. We're trying to catch up to one another so we can finally be on the same page- thus the Presque Isle 1/2 fit nicely into my schedule for a Pennsylvania race. 

Presque Isle is a Pennsylvania state park in Lake Erie. The website didn't really give much information, but considering it was a $37 registration fee and my parents were paying for my flight back into Ohio and mom was driving up to Erie, it was financially a smart decision. I was excited because in my mind I was thinking "It's on a lake so it will be cooler temps better for running in + I get to run alongside the lake the whole time"---- silly girl, little did I know. 

The only thing I know for sure about this race, is that it starts at Beach 1.As luck would have it, B did this race 2 years ago, so as we're driving into Presque Isle Park, I was able to call her for directions on what to look for. Unfortunately I missed the part about how you can't see Beach 1 from the road so we ended up traveling all the way to Beach 6 before stopping for directions- thank goodness we did a dry run. 

After turning around and looking cautiously for the signs, we do find it, pull in, and sure enough there was the small white tent that I was told race day registration would be- We made it! Naturally we had to at least check out the beach while we were there, gorgeous!

Mom was excited because she grew up in Wisconsin and a large part of her childhood was spent going to Lake Michigan which has river rock on the beach vs. shells- Lake Erie was the same- river rock EVERYWHERE (sorry no photos)

After the beach we do a little birthday shopping and finally decide on a late dinner- 8:30- eek! They always say hindsight is 20/20- man I wish I would have had enough intuition to realize that pizza + garlic breadsticks right before bed was probably not a good idea. 

A little confession about my eating routine- others may disagree with what I'm about to say, but its backed by science-  the most important day to carb load is actually 2 days prior to your race, not the day before. Granted you do want to make sure you don't eat crap a day before your race, but the whole eat as many carbs as you can is no longer at its prime beneficial energy source that close to your race. Anyway I haven't really eaten many carbs, aside from fruits and veggies, over the last month- so the whole week leading up to the race I was slowly starting to add carbs back in so I wouldn't get sick or bloated. 

I felt that I did a good job, so I didn't pay much attention to my dinner meal- rookie mistake.  (more to come on that later) 

I realize I don't have anything for pre-race fuel, so I go to local grocery store and start checking out their granola bars. I can't do anything too heavy, and I refuse to consume artificial sweetners if not necessary (exception- gummy bears & candy bars) so my race day food is always Lara Bars. They were having a sale on Cliff bars, so I decided on one of those.

Get back to hotel- watch some awful acting Lifetime movie and attempt to go to bed. I stress the word attempt because I kept tossing and turning all night. Granted I was tired, but my body was rebelling and fighting me- grand total I maybe got about 1 hour of sleep- awesome.

Race Morning-
Woke at 5am- stretched, changed, ate, hydrated- normal race routine. Mom and I drive to beach 1, get through race day registration- and head to the beach to kill time.
Mother daughter photo

practicing my life guarding skills 

Mom thought it was cool to capture the moon 

Ugh this skirt makes me look chunky :(

After our photo shoot we decide it might be a good idea to stretch / warm up and use the bathroom.
The race is put on by the Erie Running Club- although its a smaller scale race with a 'mom and pop' type feel,  there were probably several hundred runners there- more than I was expecting.

ready to rock 

Race start had times of the pace you were anticipating running, so I kept telling myself I was going to go slow to start with and lined up at the 9:00 min pace start.
congested and disorganized start line. 

First time I've been to a race in a LONG time that didn't do the national anthem. Countdown followed by a large blow horn initiated the start.

MY gameplan- PACE myself- don't go out too fast and die. The entire course was flat- a 20 feet elevation change, so I was expecting it to be easy. First mile I started out at a 10:30 pace, and once I got my breathing down I naturally picked it up a bit--- actually a lot bit. I was cursing myself when I hit the first mile at 8:05- WHY must I do this to myself.

Because the course was a full loop, logistically the only place my mom could really 'cheer' me on was shortly after the first mile- naturally i'm more prone to look 'strong', happy, fresh, etc.

So this is where it gets ugly.... the course itself was literally just on this road where you were surrounded by trees- not much change of scenery, so some may view it as beautiful nature, but after awhile it gets old and runs together. Here are the high lights:

  • Within the first 1000 feet of the race my bladder decides it has to be empty, ASAP- me being stubborn tried to ignore it. 
  • Ever heard the expression 'cotton is rotton'  when it comes to what to wear when working out?!?! Although I NEVER wear cotton, the skirt I wore happen to be on clearance at Kohls and it was cotton. Honestly I didn't think it was a big deal, but I literally started roasting about 2 miles in. As I started to sweat the skirt got heavier and heavier. 
  • Finally at mile 6 I went into the woods, took off my skirt, peed, and decided to use my skirt as a sweat rag. Texted mom my skirt was off so when shes looking for me at finish line to just focus on blue
  • Immediately I noticed how much LIGHTER I felt without having the skirt weigh me down- lesson learned.
  • Getting hotter, humidity picks up, skirt helping to wipe sweat, however I am miserable. I literally can't run for more than 2 minutes without having to walk- I'm starting to realize that it doesn't matter how 'in shape' you are with other activities- the only thing that prepares you for running long distances is RUNNING- not p90x or any other type of cross training- ugh!
  • I'm getting frustrated because all my mile splits are above 10 minutes now and I know my hopes of breaking 2 hours is lost.
  • The gatorade is some type of vanilla or really really watered down gatorade (it was clear) and it wasn't helping my energy levels. My sleep deprivation was kicking in thus making the effects of dehydration heightened. Since we're running through a state park there are the ground water fountains every so often and I just have to stop at each one to drink as much water. 
  • Unfortunately, this wasn't enough. I had some 'digestive issues' during mile 10- and I couldn't bear it any longer and went to use a park restroom. I haven't been this uncomfortable / quesy, hot etc during a race since St. Louis. Both these races had 2 things in common-1. I chose something other than a Lara Bar before the race. 2. Extreme temps.... I can't control the temps, but I sure can control what I eat- noted for future.  
  • Upon using restroom I started noticing people on the side of the road passed out- 6 total and one getting carried away on a stretcher- so much for being in the farther north expecting cooler temps. 
  • Finally get to mile 12, turn on my pump up song and begin to speed up- it worked for 2 minutes and I had to walk again- NEVER happens during my song. 
  • Since there is no definitive land mark indicating the finish line (aside from a crowd) I guess I'm getting closer by seeing some finishers walking toward me- IMMEDIATELY I notice that NONE of them have medals---- PLEASE tell me there are finisher medals????
  • I manage to pass 2 girls right before finish line and actually beat my goal of 2:15 (once I used the bathroom I was WAY behind schedule and had to re-adjust my expectations) 

  • Happy to be done I go over to get some water and some food and ALL they have is bananas and watermelon- I do not care for watermelon so its just a banana :( 

Every race has to have some pros right!?!? Well this race had 2
1. It.was.flat
2. Afterward you could go in the lake and cool off- that is exactly what I did

This was my response in how I felt about the race

close up of my reaction- look at that belly!! I was sooo bloated afterward

Whats this you may ask- this is my 'medal' aka a key chain flash light. Mom tried to make me feel better and said we could tie a string around it so it could mimic a medal- its just not the same. 

our 'after' photo

walking back to the car. 
Its been a LONG time since a race completely wiped me out, but this one did me in. Once we got back to hotel I had to take a nap before doing anything. After a solid 1.5 hour I was ready to go, got cleaned up and went our touring the 'island with my mom'

Would I recommend this race to anyone?!?! If you live in the area, sure, but I wouldn't travel for it. ZERO race support, hot, no gu offered (brought my own), no medals, no post race food- no thanks. 

Official Time: 2:13:14 (ouch)
Overall place 526/ 849 (I've NEVER finished in the bottom 1/2 before... sigh) 
Decided to sign up as Athena so I could place better- 10/42
Mile 1- 8:06
Mile 2- 8:24
Mile 3- 8:30
Mile 4- 9:37
Mile 5- 10:00
Mile 6- 11:14 (potty & changing break)
Mile 7- 10:31
Mile 8- 10:39
Mile 9- 10:06
Mile 10- 13:26 (long bathroom break)
Mile 11- 10:01
Mile 12- 10:52
Mile 13- 10:13
don't know .1 bc garmin kept going


  1. UGH!!! That sounds just miserable. I can't imagine seeing people on the side of the road in such numbers. Then all of that and NO medal??? Sheesh! I use the medal as my sole motivation in those last miles. I always get so curious about what it will look like and it pulls me through. That would suck to then get a freaking key chain. Eh, check Pennsylvania off the list. Off to better races now! Congrats on finishing (and if it helps, I still think your time is really fast)!

  2. Um, you get what you pay for? Your post reminds me why races usually cost more than $37, haha. So sorry you had issues all the way around. But, what a special time with your mom. Family is awesome.

  3. aww! the state park sign and talk of beaches had me excited that this would be an awesome course. oh well, at least you can mark off PA for pretty cheap!

  4. Sorry you had such a miserable time all around. But like the other commenters said, mark Pennsylvania off the list and now you & your friend are 1 state closer to being on the same schedule. I would have definitely jumped in the lake afterwards, too.

    (oh, and thanks for the compliments on my post, and I'm 41 by the way!)

  5. Sounds super sucky. Um... NO MEDAL??? You know how I feel about that!