Saturday, May 10, 2008

FIFTH THIRD RIVER BANK RUN 25k, May 10, 2008 and Crappy 10k Race Reports.

The good, the bad, the ugly. First, the good. It was good to be able to again run this 25k race on a very beautiful day. The bad: the torture of running 15.5 miles. The ugly: numerous bathroom issues.

Race day started at 3 am, when I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. I tried not to think of the race and the details I had forgotten to take care of the night before, but my mind was racing. And, I was horribly stuffed up and congested, after spending Friday evening outside at Austin's track meet, where the weather was very cool and it actually started raining at the end. I should have taken something before I went to bed, but I forgot. I eventually got up at 4:30. As it turned out, had I relied on my alarm, it wouldn't have gone off anyway because it was set for Mon-Fri, not weekend time. So I lucked out there. A check of the weather showed it was going to be slightly warmer than predicted, but still low 40s at the start, so I had to make a decision on what to wear. I had more than one option ready, but didn't actually decide until later. My plan , was to get up, gather my stuff up, including food and drink, and head to the gym.

I arrived at the gym before 6 am. The good thing about this race is that it starts and finishes right at my work building (FifthThird Bldg.), and my gym is in the building. So all I have to do is drive to work, park in the parking garage, getting a spot next to the door, and bring my stuff inside. Then I can stay there until its time to leave, when I can exit the parking ramp and walk right into the race lineup. Its like having your own hospitality room or something. No porta potties, no lines, no freezing waiting for the race to start.

Jan arrived a little while later and we discussed what we would wear. She was planning on being all decked out in her usual way, this time wearing her 2008 Boston gear. I finally decided on long sleeves and shorts, and at the last minute decided on my pink vest and gloves.

A couple of things were bothering me that morning, one being the congestion, the other being the bathroom issues. My stomach had bothered me all week, from what earlier I didn't know, but on Thursday I did something stupid, had chocolate, and that seemed to cause a bigger problem. And it was still a problem this morning and beyond. What was I thinking, eating chocolate 2 days before a big race?? I haven't eaten a measurable amount in 5 months, so why do I lose myself here and indulge? Especially this close to the race. And to add insult to injury, I had to attend a retirement party that same night and had red wine and chocolate, for me a disastrous combination. You grow older, but don't necessarily get smarter! So between blowing my drippy nose and hitting the bathroom every few minutes, I was getting sore on both ends! Sorry about being graphic! LOL!

Going outside to join the waiting runners, I couldn't help but notice how less crowded the whole area was, even though they said there were more people than ever. I had no trouble seeing people I knew or walking through the crowds to line up, finding a spot behind the 11 min. pacers. When the gun went off, it wasn't even that long before we were moving, and I hit the start in about 3 minutes into the race. Chip starts are great though!

Even though the temp was still in the low 40s, upon starting running I was immediately too warm. Oh great I thought. I'm going to be roasting out there. I was feeling pretty good running though, and then reality set in when the 9 and then 10 min. pacers passed me. Okay, clearly you must slow down was all I could think. I will blow up by 5 miles if I keep this up. So I had to make a point to slow down. First mile ended up being 11:20. Right after that, a young girl coming up alongside of me suddenly tripped and went down, turning her ankle. I could see myself right there! I stopped and her friend helped her up, but she was limping, so I told them they should get over to the curb so people didn't trip over her. Another woman ran ahead to get help. Not sure if she was able to finish or not, but hopefully she didn't hurt herself too badly.

It was here too that bathroom issue (hereafter BI) started up again. There were porta potties right around the mile mark, but there were so many people here I didn't want to stand and wait that long. That meant trying to get to the next mile mark without anything happening. Fortunately here, the line was half as long, but it still ended up being over a 5 minute interruption. Surprisingly, I was still pretty much on a pace I could live with so didn't worry about it.

Then BI happened again, shortly after 3 miles. Between 3 and 4 miles, there were NO volunteers or spectators, and the numbers had thinned out enough that I decided to chance a trip into nature and found a dead tree to go behind that was down. Of course, this meant traipsing through waist high weeds that were in full bloom, and I nearly fell into a big crater that was left behind when the tree toppled over and uprooted itself. But this was nothing compared with the HUNDREDS of mosquitos that hungrily attacked me! I was just hoping for no mosquitor bites on my privates! I didn't even worry about the possibility of poison ivy!

For those who have run the GR marathon, the race course is on the opposite side of the river, covering miles 8-11 of the marathon course, so it is pretty shaded but deserted. It seemed like the numbers of volunteers were down through here too, but every aid station was fully stocked with water, ice, gatorade, and sometimes oranges. Both Gu stops were completely out by the time I got there though. Luckily I had my own.

So that's 2 stops and I was still thinking of getting to the 10k mark so I could count that down for the next one to follow. But once again, BI hits and I'm looking for another tree to duck behind! This was really getting ridiculous and annoying. And once again, I have to fight off the mosquitos out there looking for a meal! And wouldn't you know it? Less than a half a mile after this, I see the aid station signs and another 2 porta potties. I decide to use it again, for safety, since there was no line. This time, though, it was like I couldn't stop going. I was getting concerned, and not to gross people out, I was starting to wonder how long I could keep this up before getting dehydrated. I wasn't sick, as far as I knew; I didn't feel sick, but clearly something was irritating the stomach this week. So that's 4 times. I was at about 5 miles and was starting to fall behind on pacing, each stop eating up time. So I kept running, trying not to think about any walk breaks for a while. I wanted to get to 10k first, to follow the pattern I did at Louisville. But, once again, before 6 miles it hit again, but this time I continued on to the porta pottie. No more woods! There were getting to be too many people around now anyway. I really was starting to feel like I was going to need a Haz Mat dip when I got done running! And no way was I touching my face again until I washed!

I couldn't help notice though how nice those porta potties were! They had a shelf for your stuff, a mirror if you wanted to freshen up, and hand sanitizer, all fully stocked! Sorry, Marcy, no bathroom pics though! The mirror showed me still smiling though, so on I trudged.

At 10k or maybe a little farther, there was one more potty stop, and I was telling myself here that if I had to go again, I was stopping. I was starting to get really hungry! I took another gel, and so that's my Crappy 10k Race Report!

Just another 10k and a 5k left I told myself.

Once you get off the road along the south(?) side of the river, you cross a bridge and head to the north side, and through Johnson Park. I knew Don would be here somewhere waiting, and I'm sure he had been waiting A LONG time. When I saw him, it was just before 7 miles. Secretly, I was SO glad to see 7 miles. Almost half done. And the good part? No more BI! I told him what was going on, and he says, what did you eat this morning? This morning? This was from 2 days ago!

At about this time, there was a REALLY OLD WOMAN (ROW) trudging along, slowly but never stopping, and SHOE SCUFFLER (Scuffler). I also was at a point where I needed to start taking walk breaks, earlier than planned, but with all the chaos earlier, I was getting tired earlier than I had hoped. So here are the three of us: ROW would pass me when I walked, but I would pass her when I ran. Scuffler was driving me nuts with his shoes scraping the road with each step, and after a while it was like fingernails on a blackboard. Here too the sag wagon was making its rounds repeatedly, creeping up behind you and then blaring its horn so you'd move! I was getting really annoyed with this too, and I would bet it happened abut 10 times after that. Needless to say, I was clearly entering the bite me zone (BMZ). That's when I get annoyed by everything going on around me because I'm tired, sore, or whatever. I was both. I wasn't focusing any more. And I still didn't know for sure if I was going to finish this race. I knew I wanted to try and wasn't quitting unless something more drastic happened.

So on I trudged, with ROW and the Scuffler, and I did my best to go to another place in my mind to block out the distraction and get myself focused again. After the 8 mile mark, my entourage included another younger woman, and a man and his father. We continually traded spaces with each other, but I usually kept ahead enough on the running portions.

And OMG, at 9 miles a woman walking passes me, and I could not believe it was the Arm Flapper from last year, at almost the exact same spot! I thought for sure this woman was going to take flight she flapped her arms so much as she walked. And this year, she had a friend doing the same thing. And like last year, I didn't actually lose her until probably 12 miles, when she flapped on down the road and I couldn't catch her. Clearly I need to try this as a training trick!

Between miles 8 and 12.5 there are a series of hills, giving added value to the course. None of them are that bad, but they are relentless, and the downhills were killing my feet and toes. I had made a dumb mistake (another one, see I don't learn) and wore my new shoes. I knew last week on my training run that they were not broken in enough, but totally forgot today, so my toes were getting pinched and numb. But they still felt better running than when walking, but the last downhill at 12 miles killed. I ended up walking here longer than planned, but also took another gel here, and I'm telling you, I did not want to start up again.

The entourage (ROW, guy and his dad, and young woman walking) was getting away from me. We had lost the Scuffler somewhere and I wasn't unhappy about that. But then this woman in pink shorts and her husband had the nerve to blow by us all here, making me wonder where they had been all the race. I took 3 walk breaks between 12 and 13 miles. But then sweet revenge here: once I started running again, I caught up with the entourage and pink shorts and her husband, who were either all walking or running slowly enough for me to pass without effort. I just needed to get to that 13 mile mark badly!

I didn't make my half marathon time from 2 weeks before, but with all the stopping and going, I wasn't too far off the mark. Once I got to the 13 mile mark though all I could think of was the wise Forest Gump, who ran and ran and ran and one day he just got tired of running and wanted to go home. That's just how I felt. I wanted to go home!

We entered the zoo park here and mentally I was having a tough time. I walked through the entire park but then looking at my watch I knew if I didn't start running soon I might not even beat my time from last year. So I started running again, and after 2 blocks caught up with the entourage and everyone else who passed me. Then I walked again. I started bargaining with time here, knowing I could still beat last year's time, but the margin was dropping significantly.

I walked a block and ran again. Turning a corner, I could see the 14 mile mark ahead, but I could not force myself to keep running. So I walked to it. At 14 miles, I ran again for a few blocks and then walked again. Funny thing here though, I was walking quite a bit but still caught up with and passed all those people again. That's when I decided I needed to make sure I kept going long enough without a break so they would not catch up with me again. And that worked.

Once I hit the 1 Mile to Go sign, I turned another corner but had to walk again. Then one of the people did catch me, but she faded quickly after that. We were entering the college campus area, so then I had to come up with a plan to get me through that last horrific mile. I ran to the crosswalk signs and then walked a little, ran to the next crosswalk, walked a little. At 15 miles, some young girls started running with me, but I said please! No thanks! I need to walk again! Unless you want to run my number in! LOL! My toes here were so sore I could hardly stand it. I knew it would take me quite a few days for them to recover after this, but I had to keep going, obviously. Just another few blocks for that medal you know!

Then a woman I know came up behind me and was encouraging me, etc. I was walking here; she was out "cooling down." Um, yeah. How about you run my number in?? We talked some and then she said she had to get going. And me? Do you not think I need to get going??

There was one last incline up the street we finished on, and then I coul see the finish line ahead. I just put my head down and ran to finish. I was SO glad to be done. Finish time: 3:26:50. Last year: 3:30:00. I didn't make my 3:15, but at least I beat last year's time. And I beat all those people who had been with me from about 7 miles on. All of them except Arm Flapper. But I did beat her friend!

But I could barely walk through the finish area, so I hobbled to take off my chip, get my medal, and then to the food tables. Nothing looked good, and I didn't want to eat anything that would set me off again, so I bypassed that. I didn't use my beer tent ticket either because of the stomach thing but also because it required walking up 5 steps and then another 150 yards across the plaza. No thanks!

I hobbled back to my building, using the handicap ramp to get up to the level where the door was, got in the building, took the elevator down to the basement level, and I was done!

The weather was perfect today. The race is hard. Its never easy. I've had some good years, some pretty good years, some bad years, and some really bad years, but only once have I not finished this race. When I started running this in 1989, it was basically just a running event: no 5k, no 10k, no walkers. Numbers were probably less than 1000 participants. Over the years, the race has grown to be a community event, so now it includes the 5k, a 10k, a 5k competitive walk, and a 5k noncompetitive walk, with numbers this year over 16,000. In 1989, and for many years before and after, the "gold standard" for race time was 2 hours. Anything slower and you were considered not a serious runner. A few years ago, with all the walkers doing the event, they extended the cutoff time to 3 hours; last year it was 3:30, but they weren't strict about it. So its changed a lot, and has grown with the community, as a new focus on fitness has taken over! I'm just not sure I ever want to run this again! LOL! Its like having a baby though; you forget the pain soon after.


Lily on the Road said...

Sounds like a day that bounced from good to bad from bad to did it and lived to tell the tale.

Awesome! Hope you get over your GI issues soon yikes...and you still had a good time!!

Way to go girlfriend! Woooo Hoooo

Sunshine said...

Fun to read about your race course, because we have been there. Sure do like the idea of your own private space before the start.
Yea You!!

bunnygirl said...

Sounds like a pretty good run overall, in spite of the GI issues. Man, I hate it when I have a day like that! Do you ever try taking Immodium before a big race? I find that taking one 24 hours before and another on race morning really helps.

Of course, it takes nearly a week to get back to normal after that, but at least one can skip the porta potties.

Lisa - Slow & Steady said...

I know you were struggling out there, but I couldn't help but smile while reading the report full of all your acronyms and nicknames for folks (BI, ROW, Scuffler, Arm Flapper, etc).

I probably wouldn't have started or would have quit early on if it was me with BI. Good job for staying with it to the finish line.

WADDLER26.2 said...

Great race report and way to hang in there.

I thought that I was the only one giving others special names.

Fe-lady said...

Your race reports are informative, funny and lady I could feel your uncomfortable-ness ducking in the weeds and behind the trees.
Hope you didn't get too any mosquito bites on your bum!

Anne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anne said...

Sorry 'bout that...I screwed up the first word in the previous message, thus it made no sense (sort of like me).

Reading this at times harrowing (is your butt bumpy with misquito bites?!) and at times hilarious (your description of the unofficial pack had me truly laughing out loud), I would never have expected you to finish under last year's time. Just imagine: you likely would have beaten that 3:15 goal if you hadn't had the GI issues or found yourself surrounded by arm flappers, ROWers and shoe shufflers. Next time.

Anonymous said...

Way to stick with it...I know it was hard, especially with the BI problems!

Hey, that porta-potty sounds like a nice one :)

I must try the "arm-flapping" technique.

Non-Runner Nancy said...

Nice work Vic. Thanks for thinking of us. I think you had a great day despite the yucky stuff. That's what the club is for!


chia said...

Hello fellow 53rd participant :-). Great tale and great job!!!

jahowie said...

You are a real trooper. Way to get to the finish line.