Sunday, August 10, 2008

Shit. Now What? The CDC Race Report

This morning, MM and I woke up a little after 4am and turned on the Olympics to watch the swimmers and gymnasts while we got dressed for our half marathon until I finally said, “OK, it’s time for our lil' ‘lympics.”

Limp is right, girlfriend. But more on that later. First, the good, the bad, and the "fuck this" moments from today's race, the Chicago Distance Classic.

The good: The weather was fan-freaking-tastic. It was an almost brisk 60 degrees at the start, a few clouds, and as far as I could tell, the humidity was nonexistent despite the fact told me otherwise. I mean, you don’t just get days like this in mid-August Chicago. We’re lucky if it’s not in the 90s. Sometimes, we’re lucky if it’s not in the 90s in October. Just saying. I’ll get over that someday, I swear.

Other than a little stomach pain, which I concluded was probably nerves, I felt pretty darn good at the start line. I was well-hydrated, well-nourished, and I started the race strong. Really strong. Like under 11 minute mile splits strong. Around mile four, I started to wonder how to weigh the need to slow down and conserve energy versus the opportunity to just go with it, and see if I can sustain. I don’t know that I ever actually came to a decision, but the internal debate kept me busy for another two miles, and by that time, I had dropped back to an 11 minute mile. Other than the lingering feeling that maybe I should stop to go to the bathroom, I was solid.

Then, the bad: Around mile six, I experienced a new pain. New pains in running are always mysterious, and in the middle of a race, it's difficult to determine the best course of action. If it’s an old pain, chances are you’ve researched it or even gone to a PT for treatment, stretched it, cared for it, and you know what you're capable of doing with it. With new pain, if you can still run, there's really not much else to do but keep going and hope it goes away... quickly. That’s what I did even though shooting pains gripped my left hamstring. I felt like it would let up, and after about two minutes it did.

For the most part, until mile eight or so, my legs were still moving. I saw a work friend at mile seven and told her I felt good. I had decidedly dropped back to “my pace,” an 11:30 mile, but I was moving. If I could hold out the last few miles, I could still manage a PR.

Not today friends.

By mile nine, both legs were tired, but my left quad hurt as though it had been going up and down mountains rather than running the flat-except-for-that-one-eight-foot-“climb” Chicago Distance Classic course. I slowed down. Way down. But I kept running because I figured if I stopped, my left leg would be so uncomfortable that I may not be able to start up again. I ran until mile 12. This is actually the longest I have ever run with walking once – not for a break, not for water, not for nothing.

At mile 12, I realized there was a woman walking in front of me, but I was running so slow, I could not catch her. That’s the moment I mentally said, “Fuck this,” and started walking – well, let’s be fair, it was less of a walk and more of a limp-walk. As suspected, my left thigh continued to be tight and intensely sore.

As I walked through the last aid station, I looked at my watch. The hope of a PR was long dead (10 minutes is long, right?), but I figured, “Lou, you are less than 10 minutes away from the finish line. You can still manage a race record if you rally... like right this second.” And so, with yet another, “fuck this,” I picked up my aching legs and valiantly headed to the end.

So there you have it, 2:38:00. Even. One minute and some change faster than last year’s CDC. I crossed the finish line, and did some perhaps melodramatic limping while holding on my left thigh. I found MM, laid down in the grass, and contemplated never getting up again.

My biggest concern right this second is that my not-so-stellar performance today was absolutely 100 percent about my legs. Yeah, the stomach was not great, but I have a few solid ideas as to why, and it didn’t hinder me. Had I been running the marathon, I would have stopped at a bathroom. But this is a half marathon. There isn’t time!

Which brings me to my next major concern. I’m all for believing in myself and that shit, but seriously, I have to question my ability to actually run a marathon when my legs are SCREAMING at me, and I’m only halfway there. This is what training is for, right? Of course, I have no idea how I am going to run 15 miles next week. It sure wouldn’t have happened today.

What do we attribute this to? Did I just go out of the gate too fast? And, if that’s the case, then why is every single long run I attempt a struggle? Am I experiencing training fatigue, or am I over-trained? Am I on a collision course headed straight for an injury? The pain I felt today caught me completely off-guard because, if nothing else, I’ve been lucky to be injury-free (and for the most part, pain-free) this season.

There are other bloggers (and granted this may be perception) who seem to have the ability to go from race to race to race. How do they (some of you) do that? How do you train seemingly all the time? I’m starting to wonder if I have it in me. I’ve been training since late-February for various events. I have two months to go. And that’s if I actually make it to the start line of this year's marathon.

I know. I’m such a baditude.

So… friends. Where do we go from here? I’m thinking ice bath. Bat shit crazy? Or crazy like a bat shit crazy fox?

P.S. Lest we not forget MM. He crossed the finish line at 1:42:16, good enough for a corralled start at this year's Chicago Marathon, which is exactly what he was trying to do.


RBR said...

Alright, first off:


That is awesome stuff and you don't seem to be giving yourself enough credit.

Secondly, as someone who more or less goes from race to race, it helps keep me motivated with my training and since I do the vast majority of my training alone it gives me the opportunity to run with other people and meet people.

Honestly, I don't take 'finish time' real seriously. Sure, I like to be faster, but more than that, I like the fact that I CAN DO these things at all.

I spent years sitting on my couch gorked out of my head, smoking 2 packs a day, then later I was killing myself at work or school and I could not EVER imagine running a mile much less a marathon. Any day I go run or bike or swim is a win for me.

Thirdly (that sure doesn't sound right, but whatever) whenever I run a long run I have that distance in my head and then you get yourself prepared for that distance. When I run 5 miles. I think, "Thank God I didn't have to run 10 today. I never would have made it." Sure I would have. I would have mentally been prepared for 10.

You finished 13.1 because you were ready for 13.1. When you do your marathon you will be mentally prepared for that distance.

Mile 10 of a marathon is a very different animal from mile 10 on a half marathon. You have a different mindset on marathon day and the bitching starts much later on ;o)

RBR said...

Oops! I forgot


Roisin said...

Hey man, you finished in good time after you'd done a triathalon only a few weeks ago! You are a rockstar!!!

Dave finished in the same time as MM...stupid fast people.

Liz said...

Dude, an improvement, even small ones, are good--after one of the best summers of training of my 5 years of tris, good weather, good feeling on race day, etc. I only knocked 1:40 off my total triathlon time. I was disappointed, but it is what it is, and it's an improvement.

As for injury, be patient with yourself! Your body has taken on a lot of new challenges this year, so there are bound to be aches and pains. (Did I mention more than 4 months of physical therapy for my first 13.1, and by the time I was done I had been treated for at least three separate injuries? And this is after 2 seasons of tri training, and about 10 years of competitive running.) Be good to yourself: schedule a good massage to get your legs on the road healing.

By the way, the pic of you turned out really nice! You look like a fit and strong endurance athlete!! :-) Yay Lou!

Kendra said...

Yay Lou! As a new runner, I'm still trying to wrap my head around how you went 13.1 miles in the first place, much less how you ran straight through 12 of them. I think you did an excellent job. You also have plenty of time until October to get your legs ready for the marathon, so no reason to worry or go bat shit crazy.

Roisin said...

Yes, and I have verified it with a few other people who had distance tracker thingies on them during the race, as well as experience runners who were confused when their splits suddenly seemed to slow only half-way through the race.

In other words, you did better than you thought :)

Lindy said...

Lou, we all have these runs, these "how the hell can I run a marathon if...." but you can and you will. It's just been a tough year, what, with no charming Lindy or laid-back, cool-headed Megan around. :( But I'm trying to get back to that starting line with you, if only to be left in the dust as you sail off at your new pace!

But you will be ok. Wanna run the CARA R2R with me? (I just made that up, that R2R, you know what I'm talking about, I'm sure.)

Hey, pls visit my blog, I'm requesting advice!!!!!

Hugs and kick-ass race medals,

Running Fool said...

Love the blog! Very fun and informative! You did great yesterday! You know, I've actually taken ice baths after long, difficult runs. They are not comfortable, but they do help!

Hang in there! you have 2 months till the marathon. Plenty of time to increase your millage and get used to the distances. You are right on target!!

Party on!!
(sarah P.)

Jaime said...

I'm sorry to hear that your were in pain this race :(

I hate bad runs but you need to have them to make you realize how amazing those good runs are!

Hopefully yoga will stretch the shit out of us this week!

Lindy said...

Word on the street: the course was long

heidikins said...

Um, you are my running hero. And now you're going off for these amazing, unattainable-to-me goals. Great.


L Sass said...

Congratulations on your record!

I'd like to know how to know when to "go for it" or "pace myself" when I go out fast... I do know that last summer when I PRed in the half-marathon I just woke up and KNEW I'd run my fastest race ever. I just felt great that day! Who knows?

Liz said...

Hey Looooouuuuuuuu.....your awesome running photo is now on my photostream. Check out the CDC set.