Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Magellan Half Marathon Race Report (a/k/a) "Why You Should NEVER Sit on the Bus Stop Benches" (a/k/a) "Sweaty Belly" (a/k/a) "Puke Fest Finish"

*Updated, with newly cropped photos to give you the real sense of what it must be like to finish a race and puke in your hands.

The Magellan 1/2 Marathon's inaugural race was held last month (May) -- so I'm late with my post, but better late than never, right?

I wasn't planning on doing a 1/2 Marathon this year -- other than during Steelhead, but I actually WON this race entry. So I thought -- why not! It'll give me a leg up in training, and it's been two years since I did a 1/2, and I'd probably PR my time ... by a lot (last 1/2 Marathon was 2:19).
And so, I went about "training" -- but in the winter months, I usually run long, so it wasn't a big deal. Not a whole lot of speedwork, but I did do a few tempos, etc. I was hoping (a super secret special wish) that I could break 2:00. That's fast for me -- my body realllly likes 10:00 miles, so an average in the low 9:00s is asking her to do a lot.
Anyhoo -- the day of the race arrives. I wake up, get myself all psyched up, and get ready. I was sortof fluffing around the house, multiple trips to the 'lou, etc. Finally, I realized that, depending upon the parking situation, I might be running a little late. (I had planned on leaving about an hour and a half before the race -- the race site is only about 15 minutes from my house.) I grabbed my bread, and met SJV down at the car. We left at about T-1:20 from the race.

We got down to where the parking was supposed to be ... and holy confusing. The directions were all discombobulated, and we were left scratching our heads. Minutes were ticking by, and my anxiety level was through the roof. Which is sortof silly, since this was a chip-timed race. But, the mind does what the mind does, right? Luckily, buddy Carrie and I had run the route once before, so I had an idea of where we should go. SJV and I flew down Michigan Ave., where there was a nice-sized traffic jam -- cars that were packed with runners trying to get to the parking garage. SJV and I sat in that traffic jam for what seemed like forever -- me trying to downplay the fact that we were now 1/2 hour from the race time, and that I really, really had to go to the bathroom. Like, really.

*side note, and the rationale behind why I suggest you should NEVER sit on bus stop benches* As we slooooowly moved up the street, I looked over to my right, and saw a man who appeared to be high, or drunk, or a combination of the two (probably a combination of the two) bent over at the bus stop bench, trying to pick something up. Or wait -- he wasn't trying to pick something up at all.... wait a second .... are his pants down? His Pants are Down? What the ...?

There was the man, pants down and derriere exposed, straining with all his might ... to poop!! I kid you not -- the guy was taking a poo ON the bus stop bench. Or at least he was trying to -- in front of at least 100 cars, and racers walking about two feet from him. I gasped, and did a girlie *eek!* - and pointed it out to SJV. SJV's eyes got wide, and his mouth gaped open, and then he started laughing (it was funny, after all) and trying to take a picture (we did not get that photo -- in part because we didn't really want him to focus on us, as we were only about 10 feet from him). SJV also said that it looked like he had a rectal prolapse (sounds painful) so I hope he got some assistance for that. It was certainly an interesting way to start the morning -- for me and for the people who saw him from up close and personal as they walked past. (It was almost entertaining to see the looks on people's faces as they realized what he was doing.)
*end note*

Okay - so SJV and I were now sufficiently past the bus stop guy, but we were also about 20 minutes from race time, and about a 1/2-1/4 mile from the race start, and not even close to the parking garage. We decided that I should just jump out and get to the start so I could hit the port-o-pottie (I'm less interested in using a bus stop for my bathroom needs). I gave him a smooch, and off I went.

Once I hit the race site, I had about 10 minutes 'till the start. I got in a HUGE line for the port-o-pottie, and waited. And waited. There were hundreds of us in line, so I figured they'd wait -- but they didn't. The race gun went off, and we were still waiting in line. (SJV took this photo of the race start -- you might be able to see all the people in the lines by the blue port-o-potties.) *sigh* But, it was a chip-timed race, so I figured that I'd start when I was ready, and knew I'd be in good company -- a lot of people were still parking their cars.

Besides, I got to see SJV -- who I saw walking down from the parking garage. He snapped a few photos of me yelling to him...
See! There I am!
...and of me at the port-o-pottie line. So, after a smooch from my Sugar, I was ready for the start of the race. I had the starting line to myself, and I enjoyed it!

(Notice my start time -- 11:04.) My goal, as I told you, was to break 2:00 - but I wanted to be conservative, and to take it consistently. The race course is on the lakefront, and there can be a lot of traffic on that path, so I was going to Bring My Patience, especially since I was now started BEHIND the back of the packers. I had solid splits -- I was holding steady, and the weather was perfect for a race. Absolutely perfect. I saw SJV at about the three mile mark:

So far, so good!

And I saw him again at the 6 or 8 mile mark, where I gave him my jacket. When I did that, he snapped a photo that shows how sweaty Belly gets. It's pretty gross, actually, and SJV teases me (lovingly, of course, even though he's honestly pretty grossed out by it) about it all the time. I can honestly wring out a shirt after I'm done running or biking (a great parlor trick!), and my hair will get so wet that my ponytail will start to fling sweat drops from one side to another, in time with my cadence. Cyclists that ride too close to me have gotten a sweaty pony-tail lashing from me in the past, which I figure is a Good Punishment for being such a doofus and riding so close. I've grossed out folks at the gym, I've REALLY grossed out people at Bikram Yoga, and I've amazed SJV with it -- he's now adamant about me taking salt tabs because of my Prolific Persperation.

Exhibit A. Note the soaking of the shirt, after only 6-8 miles, and in high 60 degree weather. The hair's not yet soaked, but it's getting there.

Okay, back to the race report. So, other than having to dodge a person or two, and to slow my pace to account for some folks that were enjoying a leisurely jog, I was doing really well. My heart rate was pretty steady, and I was feeling good. I knew that the last three miles I was going to have to pick it up, and I felt like I could. So I did.

And I have never, ever felt like how I did in the last three miles during a race - I pushed myself to a whole new level. Every step of the last mile, or 1/2 mile, my legs were telling me that they wanted to stop, and my head was telling me that it was okay to stop if I wanted to, but my heart said that it was NOT going to allow that, and the rest of me should just be quiet for 5 minutes or so. And so, I put my head down, put one foot in front of the other, and went for broke. The last 1/4 or 1/8 of a mile went through a tunnel-ish thingy, and then up the other side. Wouldn't seem like a "hill" any time other than in the last 1/8 mile of a race, but let me tell you -- that was the hardest thing to see at the end. And I knew I was close -- I might make it, if I really hit it hard. So, the last 1/4 of a mile, I really busted it. I passed this person, and then that person, and then was running down the final stretch... Running hard -- all-out-sprint -- push-push-push!

And then I was done. And sucking air.

I wasn't the only one -- SJV said that there was a veritable puke-fest. He inadvertently caught it on camera:

See the guy on the right, with his hand by his face? Gatorade puke, I think. Here's a close-up to gross you out.

Nice of him to try to catch it, eh? I think this guy should win an award for a seriously hard core finishing photo, don't you? Now, analyzing it a bit, that looks like pure gatorade to me (rather than, say, pasta). Maybe they mixed it too strong that day or something (I bring my own) but SJV said that there was lots of barfing. I'm telling you -- that "hill" was a killer! Bravo, Mr. 1343, for being such a hard core athlete! Rock on, my friend. Next time, bring pepto.

In any event, I looked down at my watch: 2:00:42. Yay and boo at the same time -- I HIT 2:00! But I didn't break 2:00. Still, I'm super happy with my time, and I did the best I could do. Plus, I had almost a 20 minute PR. Not bad. Not bad at all, if I do say so. I'll take it...
So, there's my extremely late Magellan 1/2 Marathon Race Report. Good race, good spectators, lots of people -- so bring your patience. Other than the parking situation, it was a good race. Next year, I'd take a cab. ;)

Race well!

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