Close is a Lingerie Store Without a Front Window: Rock the Parkway Race Recap*

*Alternate title A: Boy, did I Suck

*Alternate title B: I Laid Off Booze for This?

*Alternate title C: At Least I Didn’t Have to Shit Myself

Let me set the tone for my race recap with this telling statement:  I only made it to the finish line because I knew that’s where the medical tent was…and that’s not a lie.

I am frustrated and fired up over yesterday’s disappointing performance.  Did I meet any of my three tiered goals (sub 1:55, a PR if under 1:52, a piss-myself-with-joy balls-to-the-wall-HeavyT-style pipe dream of sub 1:50?)  Yes.

The lowest one.  

Boo.  I finished at 1:54:12, 850 out of 4931 (top 17% overall), 31 of 469 for a top 7% finish in my age group of 40-44 year old gorgeous shebeasts (and as HH pointed out, still a respectable top 17% in my Heavy T age group of men 40-44).  I should take some solace from those numbers, because it’s a damn miracle that there isn’t a DNF by my name.

I hydrated to the gills.  I ingested so much salt to try to get my blood pressure up for the race.  I STAYED AWAY FROM WINE ALL WEEK.

But some things are just beyond control, and that’s the joy and pain of racing.  You spend 12-16 weeks training and hoping for your best day, and it doesn’t always happen.  The stars don’t always align.

Sometimes you show up in bright Smurf shoes and you just don’t get it done.

I have to say that it was so fun having HH with me in the morning.  He had tweaked his back on Friday and spent much of the evening on ice.  I was so worried about him running, but he just laughed it off and said he hoped not to have to be pulled off the course on a stretcher.  I filled out his emergency info on the back of his bib just in case.

I had my usual pre-race breakfast of scrambled eggs and a banana and also sipped some Nuun.  We laughed all the way to the course and repeated our mottos.  Don’t shoot out of the gate like a freak.  Power and poise!  Don’t you go dying on me!

I freaked when we got out of the car and I realized that my bottle of Nuun was leaking.  I had to leave it at the car.  I knew that could be a problem, because I really count on the electrolytes and salt to keep my blood pressure up.

Prerace selfie…we are so going to own this race!  Heavy T wore a pink headband so people would know she is a woman…

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It was so hot.  Tuesday was the first spring run where I was able to head out in shorts and a tank, and there we were at the starting line in 65-degree sunny humid weather.  Not good at all.

Still, can I admit that I was so excited and confident?  I knew I was at least up for a PR.  I lined up just behind the 1:50 pacers.  And we were off…and it was great.

I hung with the pacers and enjoyed the first several miles.  My splits were 8:48, 8:39, 8:38 and 8:10 for the first four.  The hills didn’t feel that bad, but the temperature was uncomfortable.  I ate a few Honey Stingers at around the 35-minute mark and planned on eating another bunch at around 1:20.  That didn’t end up happening, as I was in the throes of a major physical episode (major foreshadowing.) 

I ran Mile 5 at an 8:13.  And the wheels started to come off midway through that mile.  What’s weird is that I never felt like it was lactic acid.  My muscles never burned, and I never felt like I couldn’t catch my breath.  What hit me was just an onslaught of nausea, chills and shaking.  I was trembling, and my body just felt so tired, so suddenly.  I let the pacers move on ahead and prayed that it was just a temporary issue.  I can catch them, I thought.  Fucking positive thinking.  

Two or three minutes later, I took my first walk break, something I’ve never done in a half.  It was walk or puke.  I walked for ten seconds. The feeling passed a bit, and I ran again.

I took six walk breaks from that point on, and debated quitting about a thousand times.  Many others were walking too–more than I expected to see, given that we were all runners from the 1:59 and under wave.  I wanted to cry.

I grabbed Gatorade at the next several water stations and cursed my leaking Nuun bottle sitting back at the parking lot.  My entire body was in a fog, and I just rode the waves of holding in vomit/shaking/chilling while trying to keep moving forward and maintain consciousness.  I was in real danger of fainting.

My splits for Miles 6-8 were 8:20, 8:23, and 9:11.  Obviously, Mile 8 was a difficult one.  I can look at those splits now with the perspective of being a day removed and take a little pride in the fact that I managed two sub 8:30 miles while fighting death or a hypoglycemic coma (ha! the drama!), but there was no pride to be had in my heart at that time, only anger and disappointment in myself and my ability.

Splits for Miles 9-11 were horrid at 8:55, 8:57 and 9:21.  Not the negative split I was hoping for, but then I never could have anticipated that I would be coaxing myself through such a spectacular flameout.  Heavy T was hurting, folks!

I convinced myself to finish only because I knew that’s where I could get some medical attention.  I have never thought that in my life!  Talk about pathetic!  My only consolation was that the 1:55 pacers hadn’t swept me yet, although they had been a solid two minutes behind me at the start.  If they had, I might have summoned my last bit of strength to steal their stick and shove it up their asses.

I never saw HH, who had lined up behind me.  I didn’t even care if he passed me.  All I could think for him was, “Be okay.”  I saw a woman off to the side around Mile 11, cradled by bystanders who were pouring water into her mouth.  Her eyes were glazed.  No one was home.  Hell, neither was I.

Jesus, I was in a war zone 🙂

I was cold, but I couldn’t really feel my fingers.  I touched them together at one point to see if I could feel them.  I had no real sensation, but I could feel that they were super hot, which was so strange because other parts of my body were so cold.

I hope there’s a race pic of me hobbling along touching my fingers together…that would be hysterical in a shoot-me-now kind of way.

I ran by some chick sitting on her ass yelling, “One mile to go!” and almost kicked her in the face.  Must have been the testosterone, but bitch was lying and I knew it.  Don’t fake us out!

I got up to a downright miraculous 9:11 for Mile 12, as visions of IVs and paramedics danced through my head.  Then, by something more like desperation but which I shall call mental fortitude, I zipped it up to an 8:27 for Mile 13 (all downhill.)  Mama needs either a drip or a gun to the head…whatever will make the fog lift.  I did not want to puke.  I have my standards.

I am proud to say that I kicked ass on the last 1/10th of a mile with a 7:52 sprint.

And that’s a race!  Disappointed and frankly pissed, I approached the medal holders and picked a kid that I thought had Down’s Syndrome to take my medal from.  As I got closer, I realized that he did NOT have it…just had a bad haircut.  See what I mean?  I wasn’t right in the head (I mean worse than usual, of course.)

I got my chip cut off, and decided to walk for a minute to see if I could pull myself together or if it was tent time.

I am proud to say that after a few minutes, I was better.  

HH crossed the finish line in 1:59:09, hobbled but proud.  His back gave him trouble, but he ran a smart race and had a great time before his wheels fell off around Mile 9.  He met his goal of coming in sub 2:00.

And I met my lowest goal.  I did laugh when I looked at my Garmin stats and saw that at one point, I briefly hit a 6:43 pace.  When the hell did that happen?

Now I reflect.

What happened?  Can you offer any advice?  Was it hypoglycemia, low blood pressure, or some combo (I know they are linked, and I get both sometimes, but I try so hard to put myself in the best possible position to overcome it.)?  Was it heat stress?

Or, dear God, was I just running beyond my ability?  That would be hard for me to accept, because I worked hard this training cycle AND because I just didn’t feel like the pace was beyond me until the nausea hit.  I was running comfortably and confidently…power and poise!

It reminded me of when the epidural didn’t work while delivering my second, and the pain was so bad that I was puking, and the nurse was yelling at me that I needed to stop puking so I could push, and I wished a painful and immediate death upon her and the members of her family.  It would have been great to just put the nausea aside and run faster, but sometimes it just ain’t that easy!

I welcome any advice.  I feel like I am never going to achieve my sub 1:50 goal if I don’t get a handle on what happened, and I am sad.  Am I just not fast enough or good enough?  Maybe it’s just not in the cards for me…

I maybe should have waited another day to post so I would be less emotional, but this is just how I am feeling.  Thanks for reading!  I should add that HH and I had a lovely afternoon talking over the shared experience, we had our first cookout of the season with the boys and had a great family night, complete with lots of time outside sipping rosé and enjoying the evening.  I think we both earned it, right?

I was just happy not to be prone in the medical tent here postrace…

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As an extra bonus, a pic of HH’s postrace blisters….let this be a lesson to you kids out there…blisters suck!

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35 thoughts on “Close is a Lingerie Store Without a Front Window: Rock the Parkway Race Recap*

  1. My last half marathon was a gastric distress nightmare, so good for you for running through it. That takes mental strength.

    And I feel your pain — I had a shit race yesterday. I want to believe it was a fluke but I fear that it’s that I’m just not as fit as I thought I was.

    Maybe you need a redemption race?

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  2. Sounds like a case of death by paper cuts… which is my new phrase for the things that can cause the wheels to come off in a race.

    One bad turn was the loss of your NUUN. I don’t know about you, but I cannot do Gatorade… It causes me a lot of discomfort and GI issues when I have to drink that during a run. Also. Sometimes the food we ate the two days before set us up to fail.

    I guess the best thing at this point is to review your training… See how you were feeling on your long runs, how you ate before the good runs, and maybe sprinkle in more speed work at the end of runs?

    Sorry your run fell apart…that seems to be pretty common for folks lately. Just move forward. When I have a bad run I use that to motivate me to train harder and run the next one…. Here’s hoping your next run will be better!

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  3. A professional reading this could probably give you a diagnosis of what happened based on your details. I’m not sure why your hands would be warm and numb. You were probably having a sugar crash, but hopefully a clinician will chime in here and tell us all what happened.
    You finished and you survived. It will be better next time.
    Andy

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  4. You post isn’t the first I’ve read this weekend of races or runs not going as planned. I’m no medical professional, but I think it was the heat. Nuun or not, I don’t think any of us are ready for this sudden “heat wave” after such a horrible winter. It’s 77 here today and just a few weeks ago it was in the 30s! I think the fact that you witnessed others struggling around you is just proof of that. I’m happy I have 3 more weeks to get used to the warmer temperatures before my race because I know my body isn’t ready for it. I think you can achieve your goal, this was just an unfortunate situation since it wasn’t the type of weather you had trained in all winter.

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  5. Sorry to hear that your race didn’t go as you had hoped and that you felt so bad. It’s hard to say what happened, but I know that warmer weather (anything above 55) can be disastrous for me. I have to slow my pace by about a minute/mile and drink twice as much water. Your finish time is impressive given how bad you felt. Hopefully once the disappointment starts to subside you’ll see how proud you should be for handling factors that were outside of your control.

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  6. I don’t believe there is any such thing as running beyond your ability. Well done you for sticking at it. I was tempted to say is was a ballsy performance but I thought that might be a bit close to home given your recent posts. Sub 1.50 is definitely achievable.

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  7. My goodness you earned that medal! Totally impressed that you kept going even though you felt so unwell and like rubbish. So glad you didn’t need that IV at the end. I guess it’s true, we can do all the preparation in the world and sometimes it doesn’t come together on the day (I gave up wine for six weeks before my last big event – oh my goodness that first glass of post-race wine was the most delicious thing ever). Very impressed at your gutsy run!

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  8. It seems like yesterday was just a crappy day for racing. I think you’re in pretty awesome shape if you can manage those splits even when you feel like passing out, especially with the heat. Hopefully your next race goes smoothly!

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  9. I definitely believe this runs in te family. I have been running and did myself having similar symptoms. A few moths back I got all shaky and natious instantly! It was scary. I must say I am jealous of your effort even after feeling that way!! Way to go! 🙂

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    • Thank you! I hope you stopped and gave yourself time to recover since you are relatively new to it. Have you done any races yet or have any interest? Glad you are running and hope that you love it!

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  10. Wow, what a recap! Sorry the race didn’t go as planned, but how many really do? In the end, it could be the many things already mentioned, or just a bad day. I’ve had lots of those. There is no reason… Just a bad day. Here’s hoping the next race is a great one!!!

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  11. I’m so sorry you had a rough time, but I gotta be honest…this was the most entertaining blog post I’ve read in a long time. I wanted to laugh because you are hilarious, but then I felt bad for laughing because god this sounds like it sucked. If people were dropping like flies, it was probably heat related. After all it’s not like we’ve had any easy introduction to warmer weather. At least around here it went from arctic cold to 80 degrees in the matter of like 3 days. I definitely think you need a redemption race. That time was amazing considering everything that you went through!

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    • If nothing else, that race needed to be recapped for entertainment value. I am just hoping that there are some funny photos from the course. And it was damn hot…and of course now I am looking out my window at snow flurries. Stupid Midwest weather!

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  12. Hmmm, maybe the problem was that you DIDN’T drink wine?!?! Next half, continue drinking wine as you normally would, especially the night before. (ps, I often give terrible advice)

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  13. Woah, sorry I am late to the party here. And sorry that your race didn’t go as planned. I admire that you finished and still within your goal time with the way your body was acting and how terrible you were feeling, even if it was your lowest goal. Don’t get mad at me (or go Heavy T on me maybe I should say… unless that’s the kind of joke only you’re allowed to make at yourself… I dunno) for saying so but I wouldn’t be so hard on yourself. I think you are absolutely within reach of your sub 1:50. You’ve trained really hard this go-round and if you can do a 1:54 when you feel so nauseous you want to vom, I bet you can do a sub-1:50 when you’re feeling solid. Some runs just freaking suck and it’s a bummer that this sucky run happened to be a race. But I wouldn’t worry too much over it. It really sounds like your body just wasn’t down to run that day. Which doesn’t mean it won’t be ready to roll this weekend! Try and be positive! Good luck!!

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    • Thanks! It definitely was NOT my day, which is such a letdown after training, but it happens. I am holding out hope for the 1:50 at some point, and your words are encouraging! And I am always up for a Heavy T joke 🙂

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