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Archive for May, 2013

Wow, my first half-marathon! This insanity began with a text message from a friend. His goal is a half-ironman triathlon, and he was looking for a nice easy training run with a t-shirt and a medal. His easy training pace was about where I hoped my race pace would be, and he figured he’d keep me company if he could convince me to do a half marathon. He assured me that the course was flat and easy. I had already run a 9-mile long run, and had 4 weeks to get ready, so I agreed.

I didn’t really change my training much. I attempted to step up my regular Tuesday and Thursday easy distance weekly from 3, to 4, to 5 miles while maintaining my Wednesday interval workouts. I planned to leave Monday core workouts, Friday stretching/rest, weekend long run/rest days alone. I wanted to lengthen my long runs by a mile each weekend, until I had run 14 miles the weekend before race day. In reality, I got plenty of good training done, but not as good as I had hoped. Sickness and soreness knocked me back by about a week, and my long run the week before the race was an enjoyable eight miles rather than 14. My longest run prior to the half was a 10 miler shortened by exhaustion and heat two weeks before the race. Ah well. Best laid plans, right? At least the eight miler had me in a good mood before the race.

I was pretty excited on race day. I had gotten good sleep the two nights before; I thought that I had eaten well, and I felt great. The group I rode with had been through this race before and had a good strategy to get us dropped off prior to the start without so much as getting stuck in traffic once. Once let out in the parking lot, I found the bag drop and hung out trying to stay loose before the gun. Finally, the gun sounded and we were off! We basically walked to the start line because of the sheer number of runners, but by the end of mile one I was cruising along. The course is a major highway with plenty of room for runners for the first three miles, and then heads onto flat asphalt greenbelt trails for the rest of the course. My friend ran along with me, and we chatted while keeping a really good pace- miles between 9:15 and 9:30. This was above my goal pace but i felt great so we kept it up. It wasn’t until we reached the second water station, at mile 4, that I got the feeling that this might not be my day. It was at this point that my lower intestines began to protest.

I really didn’t want a gastro issue to cost me my goal time, but by mile 7 I was in a full on panic and stopped at the first available port-o-let. The wait plus the visit cost me eight minutes, and my buddy went on without me. Alas, it was not the end of my distress. I was forced to stop again, at mile 8, to visit a park restroom, which cost me another 12 minutes and basically ended any hopes of achieving my goal time. I was pretty crushed, but leaving the restroom I saw my wife and my little son cheering for me, which improved my spirits, and I ran on.

The rest of the race was kind of a blur. The gastro issues never returned, and I kept running sub-10 minute miles. I remember mile 11 as being tough, but not long afterwards I almost laughed as I passed the zoo, with the Giraffes sticking their heads up over the fence as I ran by.  My last mile was actually my fastest, at 9:06, which is something I am pretty proud of. I was excited to cross the finish line strongly. The post-race fiesta was great, including plenty of free Power Bar samples, fruits and veggies, potatoes, and even chocolate milk. After hanging out for a while, stretching, and eating, I headed home to take a shower and a nice long nap.

Race Swag:

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My official chip time was 2h:21m:48s, which was disappointing since my goal was 2h:15m. Even more disappointing, was that without the time in the bathrooms and bathroom lines, I would have finished in 2h:04m:47s. I will probably have mixed feelings about this race for a long time. Disappointment because of what could have been, and satisfaction from successfully finishing what would have been unthinkable for me only a year before.

What I learned:
1. GI issues are really common among racers. I have read quite a few supportive and explanatory blog posts since completing my race. I wish I had read some of them before!

2. I may have sabotaged myself in the days before the race by trying to eat healthy. I actually upped my fiber and fresh veggie intake. Oops. Those foods tend to speed up digestive action in unhelpful ways.  From now on, carrots, broccoli, and oatmeal will not be a part of my diet in the 48 hours leading up to a race! Rice, white bread, and fruit are more stable.

3. The race organizers really should have had bathrooms set up before mile 7. That is simply too far into the race considering how common GI issues are among racers. There is really nothing that can be done about the lines, but you just have to have bathrooms at an event like this.

4. I am capable of a much faster time than 2:15! Especially on a flat course like this one. At a bare minimum, I will be aiming for an under 2:00 Famous Idaho Potato half marathon next year… If I can’t get one this year at the Fit For Life half in July, or the City of Trees half in October.

Chip Time: 02:21:48 (Half Marathon PR)
Age Group (30-34 M) 74/88
Gender Place: 519/592
Overall Place: 1,054/1,364

Event page: http://www.ymcatvidaho.org/famousidahopotatomarathon

Course map: http://www.ymcatvidaho.org/sites/default/files/imce/Races/Famous_Potato/2013/Half_Marathon_Course_2013.pdf

2013 race results: http://results.bazumedia.com/event/results/event/event-3202

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