This almost was a DNS race. Then it was almost a DNF. To say this race was amazing, fun and everything I’d want in a race would be a complete and utter lie. This race sucked and even that is putting it lightly. So, now that we’ve got the truth behind this out of the way, here is what went down.
I had on the calendar an 18 mile training run today and the Just A Short Run 30K seemed like a great way to get that done. It was killing several birds with one stone: training run, race #5/30 for the year and adding some more bling to the collection. Up until Friday night I was actually pretty excited about this race. It was a new distance I to run and after my last two weeks of training, I just felt ready and prepped. Then I saw the weather. This past Tuesday – Thursday we had SPRING. Then on Saturday morning they were calling for temps of low teens and feel like 0-5 degrees. WHAT?!
Looking at those temps just made me MAD!! I am sick and tired of pulling out 5,000 layers and all the fleece lined gear I can find in my closet to run. Is it too much to ask that I can start running in shorts and a tank? After pulling ALL the clothes out on Friday, I finally figured out my outfit (so I thought), but packed more options in my bag just in case.
The morning started pretty early. I heard the parking up at North Park filled up quickly and if you didn’t get in the main lot, you’d have to take a shuttle to the start line area. The shuttle areas were only a mile, if that, away from the start line, but I did not want to bother with that. I got up somewhere around 6:30am. For those who know my hatred of early mornings, this was early for me. I ended up getting to the Rose Barn around 7:15 and snagged a great parking spot in the main parking lot. Once I arrived, I went to go eat my breakfast (overnight oatmeal) and I didn’t have spoon! I ended up being able to eat about half of it, but it was rather interesting. I went in to say hi to Coach Jeff and finalize the plans to meet up with me at mile 8.6 and then headed back to the car to relax and get ready. He planned to run the last two loops with me.
During this hour before the race, I changed my race outfit about 4 times. I finally settled on 3 top layers and at points in the race I felt way over dressed (hey, some sun did come out) but then at times, I felt like I need more. I did start with a neck gaiter and even threw that to Jeff when I saw him at the first time in the boathouse. Finally though after I figured out what to wear, I headed to the start line.
Within 1.5 miles into this race, we hit two big hills. The first was maybe 0.2 miles into the race. I waddled up that hill and enjoyed the nice downhill headed to the next one. When we got to McKinney hill, I ended up walking a good portion. I was okay with this as I didn’t want to ruin the legs so quickly into the race. Somewhere on the downhill, I ended up seeing Sally who was racing the 8.1 mile race.
Honestly, these first 3 miles felt pretty good. I leveraged the downhills and took my time up the hills. I knew these hills were pretty tough, but I didn’t feel at the time that they broke me. I actually went across the mat at the exact time I wanted – 11:24/mile. Then everything broke down and basically beyond this point, it sucked.
The first lake loop. This race actually ran the lake loop in the opposite way and toward traffic. Thank goodness the roads were closed for the most part and this wasn’t a concern. Now as you have maybe noted from previous posts, I truly hate this loop. It kills my gait and my legs with the tilt in the road. Also, since there was the half marathon also being run, the mile markers out were for them and not the 30K runners, so it was a little confusing on where I was sometimes. I finally figured out I was about a 0.5 mile ahead of the markers.
During this first loop, I got in my run/walk break pretty accurately. Since my legs were already CRAZY SORE still from the burpees on Wednesday, I figured doing the walk break every mile was better than every two. Since my water bottles froze over pretty quickly, I took advantage of the water stops. Those volunteers were AMAZING! Yes, each cup was essentially a slushie, but at least it was drinkable.
Somewhere around mile 6.5, I felt my right leg just start seizing up. My hamstring was on fire. This was also on Ingomar Road and the tilt on that right now is just unreal. I walked a lot of this road and had no shame in doing so. The wind also started picking up pretty bad on the bottom of Ingomar and through the early back side stretch. Thanks Mother Nature. If you were going to make is feel like zero degrees you could have at least kept the wind to a minimum. Also around this time I kept playing cat and mouse with Jennifer as she was on her way to rocking the half marathon.
On the backside of this first loop is where I really started to lose it. I felt that my pace was dropping and more walking was being done. I tried to ignore the tightness in the hamstrings and now quads and kept moving. I also noticed that on every walk break, my legs would literally just start to freeze up. As I came into the boathouse for the next lap, Jeff met me and all I wanted to do was cry and go home already, but I just told myself he ran a 50k last week, that I can get through this 30k.
This is the first loop with Jeff and I am so glad I had him there. My pace was really dropping, even at the beginning of this loop and I knew it was going to be a long loop. I really tried to stay on the walk break at every mile, but my hamstring was just not cooperating.
I think the best thing about this loop was my fuel and water was on point! I even tried a new fuel – fig newtons. I figured a controlled environment like this race would be a good time to try. I knew if my stomach didn’t take them, there would at least be bathrooms near by. However, they actually went down smooth and I really felt a difference in curbing the hunger. They just gave me an extra bite that the shot blocks or honey stinger chews haven’t been giving me.
Jeff was a rock star for me. Anytime we came up to a water stop, he would actually run up, grab whatever I wanted and then discard my cup! It seemed so simple, but one less thing I had to worry about.
Somewhere around mile 11 is where everything really died. I think Jeff could really see it in my face and well, verbally because I couldn’t stop complaining. My walking also sky rocketed and became more of a 3 min walk and 1 min run ratio and even then was very sporadic and nothing consistent.
When we got to around mile 12.5, Jeff started talking to me about stopping at the 13.6 mark and telling it would be ok to stop and not finish the last lap. I knew because of how I felt it might be the best decision, but mentally I just couldn’t do it. I think at one point he even said even the best athletes have to stop sometimes and nothing is wrong.A women running beside us yelled that if Ryan Hall can stop in a race because it wasn’t right, then you could. Well, I sure as hell wasn’t going to pull a Ryan Hall and that is when I decided to just struggle through and get that last lap done no matter how long it took me. Oh, and this loop just about took me forever. Gross.
After I passed though the boathouse area and enjoyed some more blue slushie, I told Jeff I wanted to try and be more consistent with the run/walk. We settled on doing a 4/1 ratio and well, I think I actually stuck to that maybe 3 times the entire loop. Can’t say I didn’t try?
There was nothing more than I wanted than to get off my legs. My right hamstring was now screaming. I am sure you didn’t hear it from where ever you are reading this from. The walking continued to increase, but at this point I just wanted to be done with this race. I didn’t regret going through to finish this third loop, but I sure wanted it to be done.
At this point, I would pick something out on the course and just run to it. I just had to focus on short term goals and go from there. It would be signs, a tree, a hill or anything. I walked up every hill at this point, big or small and would take the downhill and coast into the flat as much as I could. I finally got to the 17.5 mile marker and there was such a huge relief in my body. I felt that the end was finally near.
When Jeff and I turned onto the boathouse road, I set a goal to not stop running until I hit the finish line. We had about 0.5 miles left and this was tough. I think what also pushed me is that two women were right behind me and I didn’t want them to pass. Sometimes it’s those small things that will push me to go through. Jeff really pushed me this last half mile and it was an amazing relief when I saw that finish line. Jeff jokingly said that I needed to make sure to jump at the finish line and I responded something to the effect that I had zero energy to jump. Well, then I got the finish line and I knew I had to out do Jeff so I jumped! I have NO idea how this happened and if there is a picture, I am sure what felt like me jumping feet off the ground was actually mere inches.
Once done, Jeff and I grabbed some food and headed to the cars. The cold was hitting in pretty quick and all I wanted to do was get off the sweaty clothes into dry ones. I was actually headed to a friend’s house to shower since I haven’t had hot water in several days now and let me tell you.. that hot shower was amazing! So thankful for friends who will open their showers to me!
Throughout the rest of the day, I just couldn’t help think about how disappointed and really angry I was about this finish and just overall race. Based on my last 3 long runs, I should have done a lot better. Later that night I tweeted that I was just angry about the overwhelming support and responses I got was amazing. I will always be my own worst critic, but as everyone said, I just ran 18.6 miles and no matter what, I should feel proud about that accomplishment. Someone else even said if I can push though that and still finish, I can push through anything. Some responses were just to get over it, figure out what went wrong and get over it.
Then I thought about what went wrong. Here are my three answers: 1) The weather – It really got me. This was the coldest I have ever run in! It felt like zero degrees at the start and even 4 hours later when I was finishing, it still only felt like 10 degrees. This was literally hurting my muscles and my lungs. Just not good.
2) Burpees – In the newspaper article, the writer quoted me as calling these “cruel & unusual punishment” and I truly believe they are. Now, don’t get me wrong, I did these for an amazing cause and I don’t regret it, but they really wrecked my body. It wasn’t until Friday that I could even lift my arms above my head and my legs, especially my right quad and hamstring were just done. Going into this run, my body was already starting at less than 100%. This definitely caused the legs to break down much faster than normal. Note to self – Never do 235 burpees 3 days before a 30k.
3) My 16 miler – I did my 16 miler with Coach Jeff during his 50k the weekend before. He kept saying his pace would be X and I thought sure, I can hang with that. Well, he ended up being super speedy and I just couldn’t hang with it. When I dropped off and left him with Mike, I checked my watch and instead of me pacing Jeff through this whole thing, he just paced me to my third fastest half marathon. Yikes! In a way I was happy about this, but I knew this was the total opposite of what I needed.
While not trying to make excuses, I can pinpoint what went wrong in the last week. I guess that’s a start. I will taking this week pretty easy since this upcoming weekend is the bit 20-miler! Maybe next year I will tackle it again and come out with better results.
Official finish time:
19/22, 30-34 Females