Saturday, August 22, 2009

Disappointed (Race Report)

Might as well cut to the chase: I did not have a good race tonight.

I started ambitiously, hoping that I could pull off a 2:50 finish (equivalent of 4:00 marathon pace) with hubby by my side.


It was still humid to start, but we were right on pace and I was feeling pretty good. This section of the route was rather boring and industrial, but we knew that it would be short-lived.


We arrived at Tommy Thompson Park, also knows as the Leslie Street Spit. I hated this section of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon route, but it was more bearable tonight without the sun pounding down. We enjoyed a beautiful view of the Toronto skyline during this section.


We arrived at the end of the spit (and saw the lighthouse) around 11K and made the turn-around. There was a long section where we were running on loose stones,making footing impossible. I was happy to get back on paved trail again. Shortly thereafter, I got hit with a brutal cramp deep in the lower left side of my abdomen, which hurt so much I could hardly breathe. I rarely get cramps so it was hard to cope with and extremely frustrating. Fortunately, it passed after 10 or 15 minutes and we slowed down only slightly, just a few seconds off pace.

And suddenly I was exhausted! My energy was fading and fast. I did not feel good at all and I knew I was in trouble. I made a deal with myself that I could take a short walk at 15K.


The walk break helped a little, but I found it very difficult to get moving again. At least we were half way there!

The next few kilometres were pure agony. My ears were ringing for some crazy reason, I started feeling dizzy and had goosebumps all over. It didn't make sense for me to be dehydrated (I'd been drinking plenty, taking gels and eload tabs on my usual schedule), but it certainly felt that way.

We took a walk again at 18K and I had a conversation with hubby in which I very nearly decided to quit. I have never been so close to quitting a race. We were both worried about my health and safety and since this wasn't my goal race, I had to ask myself 'Is it worth it?' I just couldn't stand the thought of a DNF and decided I would continue on to the next water station to see how I felt. If I hadn't improved, I would stop and get a lift back to the finish.

We started running again - slowly. I actually felt a little better. Still exhausted, but not dizzy or worried that I could pass out. At 20K, I convinced hubby to run ahead. I knew that my slowing pace was painful for him, and it was only making me feel worse. He resisted, but eventually complied after I promised to get help if I needed it. [He went on to finish in about 2:45 and enjoyed passing people for the remainder of the race.]


I trucked along as we ran along the water in Ashbridge's Bay Park and then on the boardwalk along the beach (open to public and busy). I tried not to walk until 25K, but I think I sneaked in a short break at a water stop. I was moving slowly and trying not to feel too defeated. I knew I could finish, but I also knew I was way off my target. I was having flashbacks to my first marathon where I fell apart in the second half. How could this be happening again?


Eventually I made it to the final turnaround (woohoo!) and could sense that I was running toward the finish. I felt like I was shuffling along, but only took one short break at the last water station.

With about 500m to go, I spotted hubby on the side of the road. He ran with me for a couple minutes before sending me off on my own to finish this thing. I somehow found a kick to bring it home, running that final kilometre in 5:33. Where did that come from?

Was I ever happy to cross that finish line!

30K = 18.6mi
6:10/KM = 9:55/mi

Post-race thoughts:

That pretty much sucked.

At least I finished.

Respect the distance - even if it's "only" 30K.

Based on this performance, I am not capable of a 4-hour marathon right now.

And that's okay.

Can I blame it on being my first evening long run/race?

Sleeping in this morning was pretty awesome, though.

Didn't exactly carbo-load over the last few days.

Probably should have if I expected to run as strong as I'd hoped.

I need to start much more conservatively on September 27th.

Better to suck now than then.

Could have been an off day?

But I can admit that I started too fast.

I think I'd run this race again.

Now I need 30K Redemption, too.

I've had a few severe, debilitating cramps in my quads/inner thighs since getting home. What does that mean?

I have a few pics on my friend's camera, which I'll post when I get them. For now, here's a quick one that hubby took when we got home: race shirt, mangled bib, medal and stainless steel water bottle handed out at the finish.

And now it's bed time.


ShirleyPerly said...

Sorry your race didn't go as you hoped. Could have been a nutrition/dehydration issue, which is not uncommon when racing at an hour you are not used to, as well as going out too fast given the humid conditions. A 2% or more loss of body weight fluids could cause all of those symptoms you mentioned.

ShirleyPerly said...

PS - Better this happen in training than during your race. Congrats on completing the 18-miler!

Lily on the Road said...

First off, CONGRATULATIONS! You've come a long way baby!!

Despite what you feel you ran a very good race and I agree with you that it is not the best route to run.

With the cramps and continued cramping, if I were you I'd check with your doctor to make sure nothing else is going on and check with a sport nutritionist about how you are fuelling.

Don't forget, you've given yourself a very hard schedule to follow this year and you've upped your mileage A LOT~

chris mcpeake said...

Dont be too hard on yourself. Chalk it up to a day when you just didnt have it going on. Its not that uncommon, happens to me all the time.

Last half of this course can be dicy to say the least. BTW just over 3 hours for a 30k is nothing to sneeze at.

Rejoiceint the fact that you toughed it out in and didnt end up DNFing. Plus just think your longrun is done for the week!!

N.D. said...

you are so hard on yourself! It is good to reflect though and see what you might want to change for the big day.Great job sticking it out!

TNTcoach Ken said...

U got the bad race out of your system and you learned something from it(I hope).

Mark said...

Character building! You did best your C goal! Sorry about the cramps.

Erika said...

Sorry it wasn't the race you wanted, but it happens sometimes. Glad you still managed to finish and with a respectable time too. Sounds like you have some ideas on how to prevent it from happening again, so if nothing else, it was a useful learning experience.

Good job sticking it out!

MCM Mama

Unknown said...

Chalk it up to one of those learning moments. Find the lessons, apply them, and move on. :-)

(I know it wasn't a good race for you, but I'd be jumping for joy if I could run that far at that pace. someday if you want to see what it's like to have a really bad race, run with me. LOL)

yumke said...

Hey Marlene, I'm sad to hear it didn't go well.

Looking at your splits, yes you were hitting about 5 seconds faster than pace on some splits, which COULD be a factor in you hitting some sort of red zone.

A likely cause of cramps could be the running surface of the spit, it wasn't pleasant to run on.

Finally, fuelling, it's a good time to examine what you drank, ate before and during the race. I'd like to hear more about your fuel plan. I brought extra water/gatorade as a buffer as the water stops were pretty spaced out. Also, a humid night like that, we sweat a lot, or at least i did.

Blame it on cramps though, those can really defeat you mentally which causes everything else to break down.

Sarah said...

First, and most importantly, you DID better your C goal.

Races as training runs.....ugh. The time of day, fuel beforehand, race surface......all could have contributed to the cramps. And I agree with yumke, cramps cause mental breakdowns that just turn everything else off.

You finished, you DIDN'T quit and I am very proud of you!

Marky Mark said...

It's a tough race. Among other things it's a different time of day and that is a huge factor which may explain the cramping.

You did it. Good for you.

FYI we had very similar full Scotia times last year and you were a fair bit faster than my 30K last year so one way to look at it is you're much faster than last year--whether sub four or not is unclear but that's not the be all and end all. Knocking off 43 minutes from a marathon time is a huge thing. Maybe line up with the 4:15 pace group and see how it goes? Time to start thinking about how you want to approach it.

But feel good-you've made a ton of prgoress and four hours may well be within your reach right now, especially if the weather is optimal that day.

Denise said...

Way to tough it out and finish!! That's a huge accomplishment in itself considering you were feeling so rough. I'm glad you're ok. Rest up and get ready for that redemption!

A Toronto girl out West said...

You are a star no matter what but remember to take care of yourself! Rest up and be proud!

Mel -Tall Mom on the Run said...

So sorry pretty girl....I know what it feels like to lose it early in a race. I am guessing that your GOAL race WILL be better. GOD willing it will fall on a good race day.

Hugs and love!!

PS.. Don't blame it on the Blizzard LOL

J said...

I think you have the ability to run a 4 hour marathon right now. Just based on this doesnt mean you can't. Racing at night can be so different from the usual racing and training. Based on what you said about not carbo-loading that could be a result too and starting out too fast. I am sure when you get to the marathon you will be mentally going through the steps that you may have missed for this race! You raced a 30k girl and did great! Its one more step towards that marathon so keep your head up!

Heather said...

Sorry the race didn't go as well you hoped, but you still did a GREAT job! Be proud of yourself for pushing through that desire to quit. You will be much tougher mentally because of it.

Anonymous said...

Sorry you had such a tough race. But, I am glad you are ok. Way to dig deep and finish. I bet with a few tweeks you are going to do great on the 27th.

Jamie said...

I'm sorry it didn't go as you hoped but you still did great. Way to stick it out and finish strong! This wasn't your goal race and I'm sure you'll learn a lot and be able to make the necessary tweaks to have that 4 hour goal marathon!

Jess said...

Sorry it didn't go as you'd hoped, but you still finished and you did an awesome job! I wouldn't discount the possibility of a 4 hour marathon yet; this was just one race.

Marci said...

Hi Marlene, I know your race isn't what you hoped
but you still beat your "C" goal.
Sometimes following a pacer or
prescribed pace works (especially for short distances) but for longer distances you really need to listen to your body
(If only I did this more too!). You ran a solid 30K, another solid training run done!

Zorbs said...

I hated those loose rocks too! And I also hated the boardwalk - blame it on a combo of preggo hormones and rapidly lowering blood sugar, but seeing those boards pass by under my feet for km after km made my head spin something terrible.

yumke said...

Hey, a few other thoughts that occurred to me.

I've come to grips that overhydrating (with fluids that include carbs and electrolytes like Gatorade) is never a bad thing. Taking a 1 minute pee break is better than imploding before the race ends. I think the rule is usually to drink up until about 2.5 to three hours before race start (and use the porta potties while you wait for the start). Then down a bottle or 500 ml 15 minutes before the start of the race to top off your stores.

Also, I tend to stick to the rule that a 'breakfast' three hours before race is important. So I had a bagel and a banana smoothie in the mid afternoon yday.

The humid conditions had a factor but aslso remember that you're in the middle of heavy training. I'm not sure if you really did a mini taper but when you enter marathon taper, you'll have rested all the tired muscles and will be sharp for Scotia. Don't adjust your goals too much, but maybe select a slightly slower first half (5:45 to 5:50s?) and then finish strong 5:35 - 5:40).

Mel-2nd Chances said...

Sorry to hear it was a tough race, but you dug deep, proved your strength and finished the race! I agree with the others, you're very hard on yourself, give yourself a pat on the back and be proud. Better now than during your marathon and I'm sure you've taken away a few things. All said, I still think you're a rockstar!!

RunningLaur said...

Sorry to hear that the race didn't go as you wanted, but I think that you gutted it out pretty well! My evening race this week went pretty much the same way, but I was even more off my goal pace than you were. It's such a different beast to race in the evening. You still made a great showing, and it's fantastic preparation for your A race!

Laurel said...

First off, congrats on sticking it out and finishing. I hate those moments in races where you just want to takes a lot to keep on going.

Don't be so hard on yourself. You could still probably do a 4hr marathon. I know so many people that had perfect training, right on target, and got to the race and it was just too humid or hot and that was it. People underestimate that hot weather so much.

When I lived and trained in Miami I was so much slower. It wasn't because I wasn't running as much, it was simply because it was hot and humid ALL year. Since I've lived in Philly (1 year) my pace has improved by over a minute per mile pace, all because I run mostly when it's cool out. I'm sure you would do great in a fall race.

Also, I used to get those goosebumps and cramps ALL the time in Miami and I used to drink constantly while I ran. Again, that heat really does a number on you.

Good luck for next time and congrats again on the race. You are totally tough for sticking it out.

Lindsay said...

"now i need 30k redemption" :) you're too much! i'm sorry the race didn't go as well as expected. it's hard to see things fall apart and feel so crappy when you've been training hard and doing all the right things.

personally i think the pm race does make a big difference. more so if you are used to running in the morning, but also because all day before the race is just funky. throws you off. the important thing is you still finished, logged some more training miles, and learned a few lessons to implement for race day!

you are still quite capable of a sub-4. :) keep your head up!

Being Robinson said...

whoa, what a race. i have a feeling it was just an 'off' running day. 30k redemption.... marathon redemption... you will have them!! :) congrats on finishing such a rough race.

No Longer Using said...

wow that is a lot of post race thoughts! and it just goes to show what kind of a sport this is. we are constantly evaluating and also constantly running into challenges. i think you really did a great job with a tough night and crossed that finish line - i know just the feeling- so happy to be done! i am honestly in stomach cramps now thinking about running a marathon.

Runner Leana said...

Oh no Marlene, I'm sorry this wasn't a great race for you! (Can I say that I can relate??) Night time races are tough...especially one as long as 30K. It is easy for nutrition over the course of the day to throw things off. Plus the humidity is a bear too.

Not quitting is huge. You gained a lot of mental toughness out there that will really help you on the marathon for when the going gets tough.

Toni said...

Sorry to hear about your race. Great job finishing, and I hope you figure out what went wrong.

Jen Feeny said...

Don't let a bad run get you down... at least you still fought through it! I say that in itself is a huge accomplishment!

B.o.B. said...

Tough race lady. But you were tougher. At least you stuck with it and finished. Some races are just like that. It's the same with long runs you know? Keep training hard and you'll be ready to tackle the next one!

Nicole said...

Way to finish it and with a great attitude to boot. I think we all have "good" and "bad" runs...just tell yourself you got your "bad" run out of your system and you'll be all set for a "good" run on Sept 27th!

joyRuN said...

Congrats on the finish!

I think running in the late afternoon/evening is tougher in the summer with the heat/humidity.

Very smart to listen to your body & not push the pace perilously.

macnic said...

You have a great attitude and did a GREAT job! Way to stick it out!

Chic Runner said...

at least you finished! :) I know it sucks, but it's over, and MEH! :) You'll move on. And yes, respect all distances. Learned that one too! Good lessons learned!

Road Warrior said...

I think Shirley is onto something there. If it's that humid, you may not have consumed enough fluids. But this is a training run, more than anything, so you just need to work out the kinks (somewhat literally, I guess).

We all have off days and that may very well be what it was. You need to allow yourself to have bad days.

runwuf said...

Congrats you stayed strong to the finish!

I had my disaster night at the hot humid midsummer night 30k last year as well. Both of my calves started to cramp before the 20k mark. The last 10k I had to stop and stretch every 200-400m then run again, repeated this silly process all the way to the finish... :(

Unknown said...

Oh Marlene, so sorry to read that you had a crummy race. That heat and humidity added to maybe just an off day can really wreak havok. I hope you're not too bummed about it, it's just great that you were able to finish. Great job for persevering!

Felice Devine said...

Nuts! Sorry it was an off race. But, you learned some things and I'm sure that will help you with the next race.

Good for you for not quitting -- AND for having a kick at the end!

Aron said...

congrats on pushing through and finishing.... no matter what you learned a lot during this race. i dont think this means you arent in 4 hour marathon shape at all, sometimes that marathon pace just feels hard during training. you still have a month to go AND you have tapering to do. stay confident and focused and take what you learned here into your marathon.

i definitely agree though, get that bad race out of the way first :)

and do you think it could have been something to do with nutrition/hydration? i would think being an evening race it might be hard?

congrats girl :)

Anonymous said...

welll I'm a little late in reading this report - BUT! Still wanted to say that I think it's beyond amazing that you pulled it out to finish this. Completely agree with Leana up there "You gained a lot of mental toughness out there" - my perspective is that when we're training - thats Almost as important as our endurance gains! You have to know in your mind that you can pull through the tough spots. For the marathon? You'll be Ready to take it on!! :)

RunToTheFinish said...

ok I read your other post first and dude you were so dehydrated going in to the race!! I hope you are feeling better about things now.. I mean what you learned from the race will make your next one millions of times better.

it always stinks to have a bad one, but boy does it make the others sweeter

SDrunner said...

30K sounds like a really tough race, don't be too hard on yourself. That's still quite an accomplishment, great job!!

Irish Cream said...

I'm so sorry you had such a disappointing race! But look at it this way . . . you hung in there, which took a TON of strength. And that speaks volumes about you. You are now ten times stronger ;)

It was probably just an off day--we all have them. And I bet you were just getting it out of your system, which means that you'll have a GREAT race on September 27th! ;) Hope you are recovering well!

Cindy said...

sorry that your race didn't go as hoped, but don't be discouraged. there are so many factors that go into a race, maybe things were off that day. it was still a great distance and pace! think of it as a training run, gather what you learned from it, and prepare to ROCK the next one.