Famous Feet Friday and Gross Race Memories!

Fridays are my long run day, according to Hal Higdon, running god.  I love this because it leaves Saturdays open.  Today is my first cutback week, as my program builds for two weeks and then cuts the mileage every third week so the body can rest.

I’m scheduled to run 6 miles today, but since I cheated last week’s run (running 7 instead of 9), I’m debating whether to run 9 or so instead.  As is my style, I am overthinking things, I guess, but I’m set to run 11 miles next Friday, and I don’t want to jump to 11 having not done more than 8 previously.

This is why I get aggravated when I mess with a scheduled run.  I am just not flexible when it comes to this stuff.  Showing up at the starting line with my runs all lined up neatly behind me is my security blanket.  I like to approach race day thinking that I’ve done all my runs and been a good girl and that this means I can complete the race and meet my goals.

Can you tell that I’m a shoes double-laced, hydration carefully planned, fuel-tested, training miles carefully logged rigid kind of runner?  Yes, I am, but that’s what runner’s trots, bad runs, some heinous water station experiences and a few races under the ol’ belt have made me.

(You might be happy to know that I’m not this way in all aspects, especially around the house.  I don’t give a rip about anything except for a small quirk about not liking spare change lying around.  Other than that, it’s a free-for-all).

I’ll never forget my first race…Hospital Hill 2007 Half Marathon.  I trained by myself and ran my miles in ever increasing loops around our house.  This was advantageous, because I was constantly plagued with runner’s trots.  It was not unusual for HH and the boys to see me pop in the door, run to the restroom, and pop back out again for a few more miles.

I experimented with various fuel/snacks during my long runs (something I’m now not convinced I needed for that distance, but that’s a topic for another post perhaps).  Everything made me ill, especially anything goopy like the gels or shots.  My stomach seemed conditioned to explode at mile 6.  The only thing I refused to change was my bowl of cereal in the morning with pumpkin seeds and flax seeds, because I loved that damn cereal!

Uh-huh.  Dairy and seeds.

I showed up on race day nervous and untested.  Having never run a single race before, I felt like an idiot…like everyone could somehow tell I was a newbie…like I didn’t belong.  I lined up waaayyyyy toward the back thinking I was surely the slowest person there and not wanting to interfere with all the “true” runners’ races.

We cruised for the first mile or so through downtown Kansas City and then turned for the first hill…Hospital Hill.  It looked huge.  Hills were my nemesis.  I had been training with a heart rate monitor (again, a topic for another post), and every time I ran a hill, my heart rate skyrocketed and never came back down far enough.

I was so afraid of that mile 2 hill.

Whitesnake was cranking in my ears (“here I go again on my own”…get it?) and I saw a young man standing to the side with a sign that I’ll never forget, cheering on the runners…

This Hill is Your Bitch!

I started to laugh, and that helped me relax.  I felt like I charged up that hill.  I passed runners.  I felt good at the top.  I started to get a little confused, though, as we ran down the hill.  Nobody sped up.  Everyone kept the same pace.  Things seemed off.  We approached mile 3, and I checked my watch for the time.

I realized that I was running 11-minute miles, far slower than Tortoise Angie runs.  Now, I’m not knocking the 11-minute milers.  We all have our own speeds, and some of that is predetermined by our bodies.  In fact, I might give more credit to the penguin runners, because they’re out there longer and may in fact be working even harder than faster runners for whom running might come easier.

It just wasn’t my speed or my goal for that race.  I realized that I was cruising because I wasn’t really running hard.  Here’s where the overthinking comes in…I wanted to speed up and run at my intended pace, and I felt like I could certainly do that.  But did these runners know something I didn’t?  Did they have the race experience to know to hold back?  If I left them behind, would I run out of gas and get passed somewhere down the road?  How embarrassing would that be?

I decided to give it a shot anyway.  I just couldn’t live with 11-minute miles.  It felt so good to open up my stride and take off.  I cruised along at a much faster pace until mile 6.

When you’re sliding into first, and your pants begin to burst…

Let’s just say that I lost 8 precious minutes waiting in line at various bathroom stations…and I never got to go!  I would wait two minutes, then run on hoping to find another station.  I did this four times and NEVER got to go!  Did I mention that I never got to go?

That was the most painful finish line approach ever.  We’re talking full body sweat, and not from running.  I raced into the line of bathrooms just past the finish line, darted into the second from the left and almost threw up.

I wasn’t the first one with a problem, and somebody had hovered incorrectly and hit the entire back of the stall.  Butts down, not back, people!!!!!!!!  I know your hammies hurt, but squat properly!!!!!!!

I was so disappointed with my time (2:11:35) since 8 minutes of it was spent in bathroom lines.  Needless to say, I eventually figured out that my stomach doesn’t want to digest dairy and seeds on race day (I am such a genius).  I am happy to report that coffee, two eggs and a banana are my constant choices for race day, and I’ve never lost another second waiting in the potty line during a race.

So I know what works for the half-marathon distance, and I’m comfortable with it.  I eat my tried-and-true breakfast, I may pack a little snack for the one-hour mark, and I’m comfortable with the distance and what it takes to finish.  I have a friend who runs marathons all the time, and she and I ran the Paris half-marathon together last spring (my first time running with someone…AGAIN, a topic for another post!).  We each took the train to Paris packing our own hard-boiled eggs and bananas for the race.

This is the smile of a woman who didn’t have to go to the bathroom once!


The marathon distance is a completely different story, though.  Number one, can I even finish?  What should I eat that won’t make me sick (gels and goop still affect me)?  How will I adjust my training schedule if I get off-track (since I’m already off and it’s only Week 2)?  What if I see spare change lying on the course and feel the need to pick it up (just kidding!)?

I guess I don’t really know.  I’ll just have to wait and see.  I can only control today–and the sun is out, I’ve got a great playlist ready to go, and I’ve got a celebrity marathoner to share.

Do you know Christy Burns Turlington, former model?  Yep, she’s gorgeous and ran the New York City 2011 Marathon in 4:20:47.  She said the last few miles were the closest thing she’s ever experienced to match the pain of her natural childbirths.

I’ll try to tell myself that that’s nothing compared to the physical pain of running while holding in the trots combined with the mental agony of anticipating a blowout at any second!

One last note: a funny cartoon I found…here’s to all the AS sufferers like my sister who’ve been told to do yoga!  More on TiffeeG and AS in my next post.  Happy weekend!

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