flower city half marathon–i didn't puke at the finish line!!! (i puked on the bridge instead hahaha)

29 Apr

First: to explain the title of the blog for those unfamiliar with my racing mishaps, I puke after races.  Pretty much every race, ever since the first Flower City Half I ran, 4 years ago.  The normal protocol is to run the race, puke almost immediately as I cross the line (often into my hand because I am trying to stop myself from puking by somehow holding it in via my hand???). 

So today was the Flower City Half.  I have not trained at all for a half marathon.  I have been working really hard to get my mileage where it needs to be to run a successful (read: I don’t want to die) marathon in a month.  Last weekend, I ran a 20 miler.  Normally, last weekend would’ve been a taper, aka much fewer miles.  Unfortunately, I can’t afford that so close to the marathon.  However, I figured this would be a really good indication of what kind of shape I’m in for Buffalo in a month.  That being said, there are some important points to keep in mind:

1.  As I’ve already mentioned, I did not taper.  On Thursday, I actually ran almost 8 miles on trails.  Not necessarily the best plan (for someone who doesn’t normally put in a lot of miles, like me). 

2.  Buffalo is apparently pancake flat.  Flower City is not.  In fact, I’d forgotten just how many hills and rollers there are on the course I ran today.  There’s never anything serious (well the Goodman/Pinetum 1-2 is not “un-serious” haha).  But it is NOT flat by any stretch of the imagination.  Word on the street is that Buffalo is MUCH easier.  Thank.  God.  Eric said he figures on a flat course, I’d run a 1:55 or better.  The uphills really killed me today, but we’ll get to that.

3.  I am a head case on this course.  The minute I hit the river, my brain immediately says, “Stop, bitch.”  It’s a struggle to get myself to continue. 

So here’s how the race went down, along with some of my hilarious (and not-so-hilarious-self-pitying) thoughts along the way.

Mile 1–9:24  I couldn’t get around people who were too slow and it was frustrating me.  And then people stopped to walk and I was like seriously why did you line up so far in front????

Mile 2–8:40  I thought maybe I was too fast, but I felt good (well duh.  it’s mile 2) and I knew I’d settle in.

Mile 3–8:44  Perhaps mile 2 wasn’t too fast?

Mile 4–8:49  Slowing down a bit, but well on track to go sub-2.

Mile 5–9:02  Saw Oliver here I think.  And started to kind of struggle, which made me struggle more because it was so early to be struggling.

Mile 6–9:05  Coming into the mega-hills of Goodman/Pinetum, I decided to drop the pace a little bit.  I knew the hill was going to crush me, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t go into it balls-to-the-wall.

Mile 7–9:34  The hill killed me.  At one point, I high fived some kids to try to take my mind off of it, and then I got all choked up.  Funny, this is where I almost had a melt down last year, too, when I passed a mom with a newborn in the stroller.  Apparently that hill is kid/baby central.  In any event, I ignored the kids/babies from there on out, knowing that it was a bad idea to get emotional during this race.

Mile 8–9:25  Coming through a bit more hill in the cemetary.  As you get into the cemetary, you come up this cobblestone hill.  I got to the top and said, “oh shit I’m gonna puke” (and if  you know me, you know that I thought this in my first half there, 4 years ago, and my problem is puking in a cemetary–where do you puke? I don’t want to puke on a dead person!)  Eric said, “no you’re not, it’s in your head.”  And then I stopped and dry heaved.  At this point, the 2 hour pace group had caught up to us, and Chris was screaming for me.  I pulled myself together.

Mile 9–8:46  Nailed it.  Seriously.  But by this point, I was REALLY struggling.  “Don’t let your mind give out before your legs do,” I kept silently telling myself, when I wasn’t counting my footstrikes (which is a trick I learned from a pro in a Runnersworld Magazine–when you’re tired, count your footsteps, that way you forget about being tired/hurting). 

Mile 10–8:46  And then my legs wanted to give out, not just my head.  Count your steps, count your steps.  The faster you go, the faster it’s over.

Mile 11– 9:06  Somewhere in this mile, I think the 2 hour group caught me again.  I was pretty devastated, which Eric knew without me saying it.  “They have a cushion built in, Shme.  Just go with them.  You’ve got this.”

Mile 12–9:14  Just go.  I can do this.  Just go.  I get up over the Ford Street Bridge.  As Eric is congratulating me, I say, “Fuck. I’m gonna puke.”  “Yeah like you did in the cemetary? Stop.”  And then I puked a little bit.  And Eric’s words of wisdom were, “Puke and run! You can’t stop now or you won’t do it.  Just go!”  So I did.  I puked and ran.  It was glorious.  Into my hand (as per tradition) and then squirted it off and asked if there was any puke on my face so that pictures of me would not be compromised, but that didn’t matter, because…

Mile 13–9:09  I was dead.  Eric kept telling me to go.  I was pretty unaware of people around me, all I could think about was getting to the finish line so I could lay down on the road.  Yeah.  That was my thought.

the last .1–(which by my watch was actually .28)  2:11 or a 7:45 pace.  We got close enough to see the clock and Eric was screaming at me (and Chris in the distance ahead) that I had to sprint or I’d never make it there.  So I sprinted.  And in my head, I was thinking “Oh God there are going to be some really awful pictures of me at this point).   

So by my watch, I ran 13.28 in 2:00:20 (I started it a little early because I forgot at the start line that you don’t actually CROSS the start for a while bc there are so many people there).  That works out to a 9:04 overall pace. 

Thoughts moving forward:

1.  I need to get stronger on hills.  I am a baby, and trail running has not helped because I have pretty much given myself permission to just walk the uphills (which, to be fair, are often more like mountains–they don’t really compare to road “hills”).  We used to do hill repeats on Tuesday nights, and I may need to revisit this, even if it’s just once or twice a month.  My struggles were undoubtedly on the hills–this is where the 2:00 pace group kept reeling me in.  Not cool.

2.  I need to figure out why I puke all the time.  Eric and I think it may have something to do with my breathing, which obviously gets labored going up hills (and the asthma doesn’t help with that).  But we’re not sure.  If any of you have thoughts on this, I’d love to hear them.

3.  I need to stop puking in my hand.  Seriously.  If puke is going to be my thing, then I can at least “do it right.”

4.  I am going to work on setting some good Buffalo goals.  Stay tuned.

5.  When the Buffalo Marathon is over, there will be no more major races (halves or fulls) until at least the fall.  I’m tired of long runs and it’s awful to be in discomfort/pain for 2+ hours.  I’m ready to just do a few fast 5ks, which hurt, but for so much shorter time.  🙂

Thanks to everyone who came out today to support–it is unbelievably motivating to see people I know and love on the course running with me OR on the side, screaming, cheering, OR running along in flip flops (Oliver).  You guys are awesome!

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