Monday, November 21, 2011

The Ugly: San Diego Day Three, Silver Strand Half-Marathon


I should have known this wasn't going to be a good day as soon as the alarm went off.  Usually the night before a race, I can hardly sleep and wake up before my alarm jazzed up and raring to go.  Not that day.  I had to pry myself off the bed to start getting ready.  I just felt exhausted!

I made coffee in the room, drinking it right away, hoping it would work its magic!  I ate breakfast while I got ready.  I usually eat a whole bagel with cream cheese and a whole banana before a long race but I could only stuff down half a bagel and 3/4 of the banana.

I grabbed some water to go and headed downstairs to catch the shuttle to the race start.  It was a 15-minute ride to the start and I was starting to get a little more nervous.  It was finally starting to feel like a race morning!

The start area

Once again, the grass was wet so I laid down my gear bag and sat on it to stretch.  As it got closer to start time, I took a Hammer gel, then wandered a little to find a garbage can for my gel packet and empty water bottle.  They had several pacers for the race (1:30, 2:00, 2:15, 2:30).  The 2:00 and 2:15 pacers were really close together, plus from prior experience the pacers tend to go out a little faster than even splits would be, so I lined up just in front of the 2:15 pacer.  Just a few minutes of waiting, and we were off!

I wanted to avoid the bonk that happened in Mankato, so my plan was to use the first couple miles as my warmup as a way to keep my pace at a sustainable level.  I also had my iPhone loaded with music for this race (I usually only run with music when on the treadmill) with the first couple miles worth not being all out pump-me-up songs, but more moderately tempo-ed, yet still inspirational, music.

Mile 1: 9:31  Mile one was a little rough, but right where I wanted to be for pace.
Mile 2: 9:45  A little slower than I wanted and still feeling rough.
Mile 3: 9:43 Still slower than I wanted, but at a pace for a PR so okay with it. Stopped listening to the music, as I didn't think it was helping.
Mile 4: 14:18  I had to make a potty stop at 3.5 miles, only the second time I've had to do this in a race, and the first time in a running-only event.  Apparently, even though my coffee had worked its magic earlier that morning, it hadn't worked well enough.
Mile 5: 10:27 I had thought that the potty stop in the previous mile would make me feel better and therefore run faster.  I was wrong.  Things were starting to fall apart.
Mile 6: 10:43 Partway through this mile, I knew that a PR was too far out of reach so I decided to just
keep going at a steady pace and enjoy the scenery.
Mile 7: 13:15 Enjoying the scenery didn't last long.  At about the 10K point, I started to feel extremely dizzy, so I stopped to walk.  I walked for about half a mile, starting to cry at one point when I thought I might have to take my first DNF (Did Not Finish).  However, it was another mile to the aid station where I could drop and I wasn't any less dizzy walking than I was running, so I started to run again.
Mile 8: 10:58 I managed to make it to the aid station, and felt a little better.  Still dizzy, but better so i kept going.  By golly, I paid a lot of money to go to San Diego to race.  I wanted my t-shirt and my medal!
Mile 9: 10:40 Just kept plugging along. 
Mile 10: 10:09  I have no idea where it came from, but from mile 9 to 9.5 I had a little bit of a runner's high and was running at 9:15 pace without any extra effort.  Too bad it only lasted a half a mile!
Mile 11: 11:14  Right back to slow.
Mile 12: 11:31 Not too bad considering I walked 0.2 miles at the aid station.
Mile 13: 10:20 I just wanted to be done.  I was sooo tired.  And still dizzy (that got better on and off during the race, but never went away).
Last 0.24 miles: 2:11 (9:09 pace) REALLY just wanted to be done.  All I could think about for this last part was getting to the end and lying down.  Stick a fork in me, I was done.
Total Time: 2:24:43 Not my worst, but FAR from a PR.

I wandered through the finish line chute, grabbing a water, a muffin, and half a banana.  I sat down and forced myself to eat the muffin, knowing it was the right thing to do.  I couldn't manage to eat the banana, though.  I decided it really sucks to do a long race like that with no one waiting for you at the finish.  Especially when all you want to do is cry, pass out, and go home, not in any particular order.  I wandered around till I found the t-shirt pick-up, grabbed my gear bag, and boarded the bus back to the hotel.  I had hoped to meet Marison again after the race, but I was feeling so lousy I just wanted to go back to the hotel.

It was a good thing I went straight back to the hotel, because I was still upset and it took me a long time to get my sh** together.  My mantra for the race was "The gorilla's not tired yet" (based on the quote below).  I decided that this race had been a whole different sort of gorilla than I was used to.

As I checked out of the hotel, still all I wanted to do was go home.  I considered going straight to the airport, but I needed to fuel up the rental car.  I wasn't going to do that on Coronado, gas was at least 50 cents more per gallon.  So I headed toward the area I had stayed in the first couple days.  It was only a couple miles away, and I knew where a gas station was.

After fueling up, I felt a little better so I got a coffee and decided to go get some fish tacos at Joao's.  Fish tacos are good for the soul, because I felt much better after eating them.  Of course, the margarita probably didn't hurt.  It was a beautiful sunny day so I headed back to the walking paths near my first hotel and plopped myself on a bench for a couple hours.

Of course I ate all of that, silly!

View of the walking path from my bench.

I stayed as long as I possibly could before heading back to the airport.  I was excited to go home, but sad to leave (quite a change from my attitude a few hours earlier!).

More of those BEAUTIFUL birds of paradise. 

San Diego was a great trip to face my shyness.  The people were all really nice, especially my fellow GOTRIbal ladies.  It really just shows me that my fears of meeting new people are really unfounded and I should do it more often!

I was sad that I ended my trip (and my race season) with a disappointing race.  At the same time, I am ready for the race season to be over.  My race season started in May so it's been a long one.  I am looking forward to planning out my 2012 races and training plan, setting new goals, and doing something besides swim, bike, run (think strength-training and yoga!)

Bring on the off-season!

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