Sunday, July 21, 2013

Drunken race report

One of my prizes for 3rd place!
Okay, so maybe I'm not completely drunk, but I have enjoyed a bit of wine and beer today, because it is my birthday after all. I turned 46 today and that has made all the difference in how I feel about the race I ran. The thing is: I race pretty darn fast for a freakin' 46 year old. That was confirmed when they announced my result at the awards ceremony and mentioned it was my 46th birthday. The gasps from the crowd were audible and the cheers were overwhelming. I think, because I'm surrounded by other masters that are so amazing on a consistent enough basis, I forget how remarkable it is to place as high as I do in races at my age. I really, really tried to soak it in despite my general disappointment in my race performance.

The stats: 3rd place female, 18th overall with a time of 1:25:29.

I did not go into this race thinking it would be a stinker. I had two very bad, short, training runs leading up to the race, but that is pretty much par for the course. In fact, sometimes it seems as though the worse I feel in the couple of days leading up to a race, the better I preform on race day. Bottom line: I did not let the heavy-legged feeling I had the last two days bring me down.

We stayed in Sonoma last night and that was great. No crazy early morning wake up call, just the usual 5 a.m. I will report one thing that was out of whack, though I have been enduring this for a couple of months. I have been retaining water like a mofo. For those of you who have suffered from this, you know it can lead to some really awful feelings during workouts and races. I have been retaining between 3-5 pounds of water weight and generally experiencing miserable GI issues for the past few months. More on that later, but just know that I woke feeling like I had a camelbak installed around my middle. Since this has been how I have felt for the past two months, I didn't feel like it was particularly strange, so I am hesitant to use it as an excuse.

The race start was not ideal. The busses were packed and we arrived later than we wanted to the start area. The portable toilets had 30-40 minute lines with only 20 minutes to the start, so I went in search of farm worker portables with success. The line was much shorter for these!

I jogged back to the start and after a few minutes we were off. The course starts with a brutal uphill right away. Supposedly, then it runs downhill for a couple of miles before flattening out. However, those next few miles were definitely rolling pretty nicely. It was in those first few miles that I realized my breathing was labored far more than it should be for the paces I was doing. I was patient and just tried to run by effort. I ordered myself not to look at my Garmin until mile 6. At mile 6, I was running somewhere around 6:25 pace. And, I was breathing hard!

I then did something I've never done in a race before: I shut off my watch. I didn't want to know the details any more. I didn't want my expectations interfering with my experience. I wanted to enjoy this long run through a beautiful countryside on my birthday. I slowed to an effort I knew I could hold, and I just crossed my fingers that the 4th place woman wouldn't catch up to me. Several men caught me and passed me, but no women did.

I feel really ambivalent about how I ran this race. I know that I couldn't have pushed myself harder without risking dropping out. Mentally, I held my shit together, I think. I could have broken down at mile 6, but I made the decision that enjoying the race and finishing were higher priorities. The story I was concocting while in the race wasn't nearly as positive as the one I'm telling now. I guess I've run enough races to know that perspective changes after a race is over.

What I thought about the last 7 miles of this race was what I should do next week. Should I start marathon training for my first attempt at an OTQ in Chicago? Should I go with Plan B and run CIM? I feel like I am leaning pretty hard towards punting to CIM and right now is the time to make that decision. There are a lot of benefits to going that direction: I am currently leading the Pacific Association Masters Long Race Series and CIM is on the list of focus races. So are two other races that I couldn't do if I ran Chicago. I know several runners shooting for the OTQ at CIM. It's in my backyard, literally. Chicago requires financing to get there though the payoff for placing well in the masters' race is very lucrative. I also have this history with Chicago and therefore a certain magical feeling about the place.

Tough decisions ahead for me. Coach Hadley and I are in discussions about this currently, but no decisions have been made.

So, here I sit. Typing away at my keyboard with some seriously droopy eyelids. All in all, it's been a great day. The Genius has treated me well and I got to hang out with some of my Impala Racing Team peeps today in a beautiful place.            

Just look at that handsome couple!

The birthday girls: Michelle and Jaymee. We both turned 21 today! Just in time to enjoy some yummy champaign cocktails!
Thanks to everyone for sending me good wishes on my birthday. It really has been a great day!


  1. Ohh, dilemma! Not sure if it helps, but I completely botched a race this weekend as well that had me questioning my ability to qualify at Chicago. Might just be that point in the cycle? Whatever you decide, best of luck! Would love to see you at Chicago, but you know CIM like the back of your hand and the logistics are super easy!! :)

    1. Thanks, Nichole. I am sorry that you had a bad race too. I appreciate your perspective because I know you know what I'm feeling. I do feel like I could pull my training together to have a decent race in Chicago and come close to the OTQ standard. However, I don't feel completely confident that I can get my fitness up to that level by October. Plus, the goal is to run faster than the standard, so I don't want to run it just to have a good race. My feeling is that I should incubate a couple more months. As we know, that is dangerous as well. It's easy to take good health for granted and who knows when a little niggle, of which I have zero now (knock on wood), might knock my training back. Nonetheless, I'm leaning toward CIM.

  2. I'm glad you didn't bail out at 6 miles. Pretty special to place in a race on your birthday, even if the time was disappointing. Sounds like it wasn't the easiest course though! Uphill starts can get the lactic acid flowing very early - not ideal for a long race. Hope you figure out what's causing the camel back problem.

    Tough choice about which marathon, but I'm sure Coach Hadley will help you come up with the right decision.

    1. I am glad about that too, Ewen. I think you are spot on about that lactic acid flux at the onset of the race. I didn't respect the hill enough. Coach Hadley is being very helpful with my decision, but like I wrote in my comment to Nichole above, we think CIM is the right way to go.

  3. Well happy birthday 2 days late! Sorry about your race. It does sound like a tough course. That feeling of "why can't I run faster??" is so frustrating though.

    re: Camelbak issue - didn't you write recently that you started taking the pill? My experiences with midriff camelbaks were due to : 1) the pill, and later 2) lactose intolerance. Anyway, I hope you figure that out!!

  4. Thanks Heather! I understand that there's a time zone difference there for you to deal with:)

    Yes, the cartoon character feeling of running in place is unpleasant for sure. I want to stop being drawn into that cartoon!

    I did start the pill about a year ago, but was quickly taken off of it when I started getting 4-5 migraines per week. As it turns out, and what I plan to write about once I know more, is that I have ridiculously high levels of estrogen in my system, so it makes total sense that adding more would send me into an altered state. I had to get my own tests done to find out that I am super-estrogen girl. My doc doesn't believe in testing for such things. New doc being ordered today. The little bit I have researched seems to indicate that high levels of estrogen are quite common for women and cause a whole shitload of problems for us, including the camelbak. More to come...