Hey friends! Wow. this half was a MEGA-MESS and I should have known better. I was a dehydrated overovercaffeinated mess and I paid hard for that…. Let me get to it.
As you know, all year I wanted to PR at the Half but my hopes went down the drain when, in August, I did too much, strained my hamstring and had to take 6 weeks off speedwork. I skipped my goal half in September but decided to still do the Staten Island Half because, you know, I can!
Friday I really overdid it with the food. Like A LOT. A LOT of fried seafood and many other things that my stomach didn’t appreciate. It was so bad, I had to lay down when I got home and couldn’t even stomach any dinner. Zero dinner. Can you imagine ME, skipping a meal?? it was AWFUL.
Saturday, my stomach felt better but I had zero appetite. If I didn’t have a race the next day I probably would have not forced lunch down. Ugh. I tried to eat but it wasn’t happening.
Sunday Morning, race day!!! I am not a coffee-drinker, but always have coffee on race morning to, you know, take care of the business! It worked. Race morning seemed like it was going to be great! We met up Eric and Elke on the ferry… you can always count of finding many friends to travel to any race!
We got on the 7 am ferry so we were in Staten Island super early, just like we like to! We waited in the terminal for a bit, used the bathroom and I had my pre-race fuel. I don’t eat before races but I usually have a gel an hour before. I had a gel with caffeine, because we couldn’t find the non-caffeine gels… (keep track of the caffeine, will get back to this)
We left our clothes at baggage and headed to the corral, there I took out the new thing Juan had gotten me, the Run Gum. Caffeine Gum!! Why not? There were two pieces and I started chewing them both. Bitter bitter aftertaste.
In the corral, I looked for Christine to no avail. She told me she was going to do about 1:40 and I knew I’d be around 1:39 something so why not run together. I had so many numbers in my head… my PR was 1:37:35, which is 7:27 pace. I hoped I’d be around 7:30s and that would give me a 1:39… I get rid of the gum, the gun goes off and I find myself, alone, trailing Juan. He was going at 7:20 for the first two miles. WHY am I so close to him?? I SHOULD NOT BE RUNNING SO FAST!!!!!! I just couldn’t stop it. My heart was racing, my body was out of control and I couldn’t pace myself. Plus I was freaking out about all of the above. With a quarter mile in, Christine pulls up “we’re going a bit fast” “I know” would be our over and over conversation for the next miles… Mile 1: 7:20. SHIT. This is PR pace and I am NOT in PR shape. Plus… NO. I tried to adjust but I just couldn’t. I was right behind Juan until he hit mile 2 and took off (that was the plan for him). Mile 2: 7:24. CRAP.
The first 2-3 miles (as well as the last 2-3) are were most of the hills are. It wasn’t pretty at that pace. I was breathing extra hard and wondering what the hell was happening. Mile 3: 7:33. Still really fast for that uphill mile. And I was so so so SO hot… I could barely stand it. I am sure I must have told Christine I am so hot like 50 times a mile. I was throwing water on myself at every water station. I really wanted to drink it too but I didn’t want to slow down and lose Christine. Mile 4: 7:28. Still too effing fast. By Mile 5 I knew I needed to have the gel before it was too late. Because I was still going too fast. Mile 5: 7:17. CRAP!!!!!! So Christine kept going and I told her I’d catch up. I stopped to drink, and I ended up ingesting 3 cups of Gatorade, I was sooo thirsty. I sped up as much as I could to catch her as I could see her about 150 meters away, it took about half a mile!
I really like that long stretch of the course, but I missed the wild turkeys I had always seen, and I REALLY missed coming back on it. I always loved watching the runners ahead and behind me, it’s really entertaining to see all your friends. Plus, I don’t like running on boardwalks… I am always afraid there’s going to be some nail tripping me, or something. And there’s no bounce back! Mile 6: 7:31. That includes probably the 10 seconds I was going crazy on the drinks!
I am not gonna lie, I kept wondering if I could sustain that pace. Parts of me were telling me I was crazy and there’s no way. Another part (with a Kara Goucher voice) kept telling me to believe in myself. Mile 7: 7:13, still TOO EFFFING FAST. Actually, too early to run this fast! I kept doing the whole 7:20s vs 7:30s math in my head and I knew I was going to be this close to a PR. If I could sustain this mess pace, obviously. So I just told myself to keep at it, as it’d be a matter of seconds.
Mile 8: 7:27. I think I lost Christine around here. As soon as we got off the boardwalk it got really narrow, she got behind me and I never saw her again, though I turned around a few times. I was a bit disheartened but had to keep pressing. Then… OMG… THAT MOUNTAIN..!!
What was that? I really wasn’t mentally prepared for that there, and not even trained for it. Everyone around started walking. I was REALLY tempted but told myself about the seconds, the seconds!!… I kept running. Mile 9: 7:39. Not sure how that wasn’t a 15 minute mile, it felt like it. Plus I was so effing hot.
It was horrible.
There was another climb on the next mile too and I was just done. DONE. I was super hot and thirsty and my feet started seizing up, WTF! Like they wanted to claw up. I felt like they were going to break in half and I felt the pain up both my legs during some stretches. I really wanted stop and stretch but I wasn’t sure if it’d even help or if I wasn’t going to be able to keep running after I stopped. It hurt a lot. Mile 10: 7:53.
This is when I went indoors (in my head!). It hurt. My feet were SO stiff, I tried to land on my heels to bend them less, I tried everything, but I just kept checking off the seconds. Mile 11: 7:06 yey for downhills! I remember people cheering, my feet super stiff, a left turn on some overpass, my shins feeling like they were about to snap off, and a right turn where I high-fived Sid Howard and Asteria yelled for me –she’s one of the few people in the US that calls me Ely the Argentinian way 😉 I love them both so much!-. And kept going, head down, checking off seconds. Mile 12: 7:17. I kept trying to do the math and I KNEW I was going to be super close to my PR… just keep on, no more thinking, crazy woman!
And through this, the heavy heartbeat I had in the beginning got a LOT worst. By mile 5, that was the norm. After mile 9, I was breathing so hard, you’d think I was doing an 800 meter race. It was bad. I am sure anyone running around me must have been SO ANNOYED. It totally sounded like I had signed up for the 5K and got myself in the 13.1 course. UGH. Mile 13: 7:30. I was falling apart but keeping it up. The last bit was rough because you have to make that hair pin left turn into the stadium and there was a bit of sand there, which is quite slippery, so we had to go around it, while looking at my watch about once a second. I fought with all I had for that PR, thinking I might have it. That stretch… was rough
I run the last point one, at 6.02 pace. Seriously. See my face?
I crossed the finish line FOUR SECONDS TOO LATE. Seriously. FOUR.
Still happy to have gotten so close, after TWO YEARS AND A HALF. I was 38 years old when I set that PR, I am now 40.5!!! Plus, I thought I’d be around 1:39 so this is beyond amazing. To Me. I know two minutes is nothing for most people but to me, that’s a lifetime of difference sometimes. Some runners might get it. 1:39 was doable: 1:37 is amazing.
Then the worst happened. A few steps after the finish line my legs and feet seized up, it hurt SO much. I couldn’t move them, it felt like they were going to explode and my shins and feet turned really really HARD, and bulked up in my leg. I went on the floor like a rock. I couldn’t move. A fellow Whippet (SAVIOR!) came over, tried to help. I asked for water, as soon as I got it, I felt better. It hurt, but they relaxed a bit and I could move them… UGH!!!!
Turns out, I was “cramping” or something. I had never had cramps before, people!!!! Had them for the last 3-4 miles and because I wasn’t going to stop, my muscles kept shuffling the blood there. As soon as I stopped, they went berserk. Had some more water, it helped calm them down. Think about it: I had 1 cup of coffee in the morning, 1 caffeinated gel, and two pieces of run gum. For someone who doesn’t do coffee that’s a lot. Plus, I was hot and sweating a lot. AND, I only drank twice. VERY STUPID of me. VERY. ALL my FAULT. How on earth did I get myself so dehydrated???? Oh, and that amount of caffeine is why I paced like crap too!!!
Finish time: 1:37:38
Previous PR: 1:37:35 From: March, 2013
Age Grading: 69.68%
Overall Place: 667 of 8586
Gender Place: 68 of 3989
Age Place: 6 of 483
Top 10% of the whole field… good for me! And because I am older, this is the highest AG I ever got in a half, so… WINNING!!!
Here’s the official 5K splits. Not really so bad, I dropped it on the 15K part, but that was also where the stoopid mountain was so my pace would have slowed down there a bit anyway. Could have been worse!!!
Soon, I found Juan and he started heading home. My legs were a MESS.
I spent the rest of the day re-hydrating… I never thought I’d do something that stooopid!!! Such an amateur move!! But in between being sick Friday, not eating enough on Saturday, all the caffeine and the little hydration I did during the race, it was a mess.
My lungs hurt so bad all day Sunday… I was really breathing hard and pushing through the race. But now I see that a PR is just within reach. And that I should listen to my inner Kara Goucher voice more often.
NYC Half: I am coming for you.