For Your Viewing Pleasure: My Race Pics

The race pics are in, and though there are no pics of me touching my fingers together in the midst of my out-of-body experience, there is still plenty to laugh at!  So, for your Friday amusement, I now present my last half marathon summed up in three short pics…

First, HH…running strong at the end of Mile 9 (the wheels on the bus were still going round and round at that point, he said, but fell off shortly thereafter)–

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I would give anything for his skinny thighs and ass…it’s not easy being married to a man whose butt is smaller than yours.  These are my problems.  Feel for me, people, feel for me.

And here I was, a few minutes earlier at the same spot…half delirious, but somehow rocking an 8:55 mile (not great, but acceptable given my state.)  Hey, Mr./Ms. Photographer, where were you at Mile 4 when I pulled that 8:10 mile out of my ass?  My stride would have photographed beautifully!

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And now I would like to demonstrate the power of two photos, taken just a second apart, to demonstrate both the agony of defeat and how a slightly different angle and snapshot in time can look so different.

Photo 1: I appear to be moving, which is good considering that I was in the middle of a damn race.  My eyes are closed in an expression that is part what-the-hell-am-I doing, part I-am-headed-to-the-medical-tent-can-anyone-give-me-a-ride, part I’ll-be-damned-if-I’m-not-going-to-finish.  I am moving the fingers on my left hand, because I had lost sensation in them.  Was I trying to snap?  Who the hell knows?  At least I don’t look that fat…I look like me when I look in the mirror.  This is what I see in myself…and I’m okay with it…

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Photo 2:  NOT OKAY!  I have highlighted the areas of my discontent.  HH and I laughed for at least ten minutes over this photo last night, but secretly I am just glad that I have a well-worn sense of humor and can laugh at myself; otherwise, I might cry.  Who is this dumpy speed walker and what is she doing with my race bib on?

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I hope this pic gave your your laugh for the day…it is certainly giving me motivation for next weekend’s redemptive half marathon!  Happy running, readers!

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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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It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World, and a Pre-Race Mantra

FIRST, the mantra for tomorrow’s Rock the Parkway half marathon (the first in my Heartland 39.3 Challenge of 3 half marathons in 5 weeks)–it’s very short and goes like this—

Don’t shoot out of the gate like a freak.

That’s it, really.  I like to keep it simple.

I am hydrating and mildly carb-loading…more than I need to for a half marathon, but why stop something that’s so enjoyable?  I also have been watching the weather obsessively while debating what to wear.  Unfortunately, it has progressed from “should I wear a long-sleeved layer and end up hot?” to temps in the high 50s to start (with plenty ‘o sun) and up to the mid 60s by the time I fist pump my way across the finish line with a new PR of anywhere under 1:52 (the Nuun must be making me delirious.)  It shall be full on Sun’s Out Guns Out weather, which is great for decision making but not so good for racing.

At least we won’t all freeze, right?

I am obviously excited for tomorrow’s half.  I had made a personal goal at the start of the year that I would break the 1:50 barrier this year (my PR is 1:52.)  I figured I would have the best chance in the fall, but now that I made it into the NYC Marathon, I am realizing that tomorrow’s race will be my best chance at meeting that goal.  Do I think it’s realistic?  Not really…I just don’t think I’m there.  So I am going to shoot for a PR instead and hope for the best, but I really do want to focus more on enjoying the race, since my last half marathon was so damn fun because I ran it with no expectations and actually had a negative split for the first time ever (wow, what a difference it made in my joie de vivre!)

Am I rambling?  I feel like I’m rambling…

Anyhoo, I hope to PR, I will probably piss myself if I break 1:50, I will shit myself if I lose to HH but also will be ecstatic, and I really hope to enjoy myself as a bonus (usually I hit the seventh circle of hell around Mile 11 in these things and spend Miles 12-13 listing out the reasons why I will never race again.)

Second, I have to share a personal story that is part embarrassing, part too-funny-not-to-admit (and no, honey, not the story where I ran out of gas the other morning and you had to come bail me out!) 

So I’ve been breaking out with acne lately…at 41.  Yes, it’s a joy running around town with zits and wrinkles.  I’m sure you can imagine my happiness.

I thought it was maybe from running and sweating and applying so much sunscreen (remember that the sun is not your friend, peeps, and slather on a broad spectrum SPF.)  Well, I went to see a dermatologist on Wednesday, and she told me that adult female acne is quite common and that I just have “too much testosterone” floating through my body.  Apparently, if I was a man it would attach to my skin and make my beard, but since I’m a woman it just attaches to receptors and causes acne.  

I was simultaneously horrified and salivating at the comedic aspect.  First, I have decided that my new rap name shall be Heavy T. From now on, please refer to me as such.  I also preface all statements to HH with, “This may be the testosterone talking, but…”, and I scratch myself regularly.

The lovely and ultra-feminine PA went on to describe the medicine I need to take and asked me if I was okay with it, since it’s technically a diuretic which might cause my already low blood pressure to crash more severely.  I simply grunted and shook her hand with my big meaty paw.

Then yesterday, I went to pick up my race packet and noticed on my printed registration receipt that I was listed as a male.  Seriously?  What gives?  People, I am not a man!  I shall seriously be wearing pink for the next few months until I once again feel confident in my femininity.  

I made sure to get it straightened out in the system, ‘cuz you know I check my gender stats every race to see where I stack up.  Hopefully it is fixed for all three races.

As a bonus for sticking with me for this long post, here is a list of my favorite second-half race songs…I am torn between calling them Negative Split Songs or Spastic Songs for Speed.  Regardless, these songs help me crank up my pace, so if you’re looking for new tunes, maybe you’ll find one here in this not-so-original list!

Happy running!

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