Sometimes you wonder why things unravel the way they do. After any race, the immediate dissection begins, just to find an excuse for why things didn’t go the way you planned.
But first, hats off to Garima. She didn’t have an ideal day either and still managed a PR of 1:49 for her official time! Her cheerfulness always amazes me. Great job, partner! I’m so proud of you!
My time was 3:10. My goal was 2:59. Needless to say, a spectacular fail! LOL. Unlike the horrible calf cramps of last year that took the blame for my 3:09 in 2012, no single blatantly obvious excuse stands out to me this year.
Well…except the fact that both Garima and I caught some stomach bug sometime this week (either the pool, or some food, who knows…) and we visited the loo 5 times EACH in the 18 hours preceding the race. Our tummies hurt from being so empty. Of course, that means dehydration. And total stomach shutdown during the race, refusal to accept any calories and/or hydration (We saw this coming, see yesterday's post.)
With that mentioned, I should’ve known better at the start, but I just kept my thoughts to myself and kept optimistic.
I felt off right from the start, and knew I had to revise my goals, that’s probably the only wise thing we both did during the race….as that prevented an epic blowup two-thirds of the way through.
I tried to stick to the 3:05 pace bunny, but that only lasted till 30 kms. But even between 22-30 kms, I was struggling at 4:30-4:40 min/km pace. I knew if I had to beat my time from last year, I just needed to do this pace till the end instead of trying to speed up till I exploded. This revised my goal to 3:09. So I tried, and there was a lot of HTFU involved in getting the most out of my legs on this day. But its hard when your liver is empty and you can’t take in any calories.
Simple truth: Diapraghm pain = cardiovascular system is limiting. Duh. The legs just weren’t there, so the pace drove my HR up 10 BPM right from the start. I’m used to a HR of 155-158 BPM at 4:15 min/km pace but today I was always at 166 BPM.
So like I said, you just HTFU and bide time until that catches up to you and bites you in the ass. That happened at 39 km. 5:10 pace, diaphragm hurting, but not my legs. It was now a battle of attrition and will.
Everything went into just trying to come under the 3:09:44 that I did last year. Missed by 30 seconds. Drats. Crawled home at 4:40 min/km pace. That's usually my "I'm too lazy to run"/ Zone 1 recovery pace (130-140 BPM) but today, it was all I could muster at the end.
Strangely, I placed better in ranking this year and it seemed everyone was slower. Hmmm. I came 74th overall, and 12 in the M25-29 age group. Only 25 people broke the 3:00 barrier. A half downhill course sounds easy, but its not.
This being my first half marathon, I wasn’t sure what my goal time should be. But I wanted to set a goal instead of just finishing the race. So Parichit set one for me: 1hr 45m! To give you a little background, this time last year I couldn’t even run for 5 km thanks to my shin splints (which turned out to be compartment syndrome…but that another story for another day). I used to run 10 km/hr pace by summer last year in my races and didn’t really run over 15 km. So a 12 km/hr pace was a huge goal for me and I wanted to put in every effort to meet it.
So… as Parichit mentioned above, lady luck wasn’t with us and we ended up with some stomach flu the day before the race. Oh man, what a pain in the butt (no wait…pain in the stomach). We managed the pre race with brave smiles telling ourselves it will be fine by tomorrow. I went to see off Parichit at his start time (an hour before me)..wished him luck and hoped to god our stomachs don’t act up.
An hour later…my race begins...the first 2 km are going alright (except for the fact that my shorts kept falling down lol)…and then pain in the diaphragm...I’m tensed thinking I have another 19km to go. But I was determined to try to maintain my 5 min/km pace. Drank some water...big mistake… the stitches came back, tummy hurt and it felt like I was doing situps with every step. But luckily things got better in the next few kms, and I was keeping goal pace till 15 km.
That’s when the pain came back and I just wanted to stop and walk. I was getting slower by the km….by 17 km I changed my goal = FINISH THE RACE! Lol. I had never wanted to to just stop and walk so bad ever in my life. The best part was my legs were fine but my stomach was giving up, making my body shudder. The only thing that kept me running and searching for the next km marker was...shame! I wanted to run the whole race and be able to say so.
So like searching for oasis in a desert, I looked for the next km marker, then next and on & on till we reached 20km. Alright, I said to myself: Time to look like a runner…! I picked up some speed, and forgot about the past 20 km. Seeing the finish line had never felt so good. And there I was, crossing the finish at 1hr 49 min and immediately feeling better.
Soo... in conclusion, inspite of the pain and suffering, it was a great feeling to do my first half marathon under 1:50 (I couldn’t dream of it last year!). I came 909 overall, 80th in my age group (not so bad after all! Okay….its not like I came first…but I am proud of us both, nevertheless). Yes, things went downhill (hehehe sense the pun???) but on the bright side, my next goal wouldn’t be as hard as beating 1:45 which means I may actually live through another half marathon if insanity took over and I registered for one!
PS: I give credit to Parichit for helping me train and actually making me believe that I could do this!
No pain, no gain!
We both saw Pulkit right before the finish! Yay! Thanks for coming, Pulkit. It feels good to have some support and for someone to actually see what we do on a nearly daily basis and for us to get back some visual feedback.
My diaphragm is sore. Here’s the funny part, post-race: my legs are fine. Like they just did another random training run! Quads are also a bit sore, but that’s expected. BUT, as soon as I stopped, I couldn’t move my left shoulder. Yup. Ran 42 kms and the thing that hurts the most is my shoulder. WTF. Goddamn work ergonomics.
Now that I figured out my calf heart attack issues (hopefully) from last year, this shoulder/neck pain took its place in 2013. I literally had to hold my left arm and couldn’t lift it or put any sort of weight on it for like 1 hour.
The culprit is primarily dehydration, but it’s just bringing out my underlying shoulder trigger points and tendonitis from poor work desk posture and well, sitting at a desk for 7-9 hours/day.
Anyway, we all walked part-way and took a cab on the way home to get refreshed. Then had our usual post-race feast of eggs, bacon, ham, sausages and peanut butter toast! W00t! After rejecting food for the last 4 hours, my tummy still didn’t feel hungry.
Had a good talk with Pulkit over brunch on a lot of random stuff, after which I saw him off as he headed back to the airport to continue his journey back home to New Delhi. Sucks. Wish he could’ve stayed longer.
Now I’m hanging out on a patio at a local Starbucks enjoying the sun and walking around just fine. This random woman sitting next to me looked at my race shirt from today and exclaimed:
Woman: “You did the marathon today?! Shouldn’t you be like…lying on a couch with bags of ice or something?!”
Me: “Nah! It’s a nice day, we’re just walking around and enjoying the sun.”
Woman (clearly impressed): “Wow, you guys are amazing!”
...And here I was feeling sorry for a 3:10 marathon and not meeting my 3:00 goal. Perspective, eh?