2015 Spring Prairie Fire Half Marathon a.k.a. The Worst Race I’ve Ever Run

Third half marathon is in the books. And it was disappointing. For the last 48 hours, I’ve gone over and over what could have gone wrong, but I can’t put my finger on the exact cause for my sad performance.

The week leading up to the race went as usual. I gave up wine, dairy, and donuts. I got 9+ hours of sleep two nights before the race. I stretched. I foam rolled. I stayed hydrated.

Race day was normal too. We woke at 4:30. I had PB toast and coffee. I flushed out the system. We picked up Mom, who was running the 5K, and headed to the start. I did some warm-ups, took a selfie with our resident queen of selfies, Angi, and got ready to line up.

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Here’s where I might have made a boo-boo. I didn’t make one more blockhouse stop at the porta potties. I usually do regardless of if I need to. As I was standing in the chute, my stomach felt a little funny, but I figured it was just nerves. I was running this half on my own after all.

Mr. Neon didn’t end up running with me. He made the wise move to drop down to the 5K to avoid re-injuring his healing knee and foot. He had a 25 second PR in the 5K with a time of 26:48. So not a bad move on his part. He also got an adjustment from our awesome sports chiropractors that work all our big races. He’s feeling pretty good right now.

Back to me. The horn blew, and we took off. I let everyone get swept up in the moment and held my pace back. I ran a 9:50 first mile. A little faster than I wanted. I also developed a side cramp. Maybe I should have had a small glass of water before the race. I got to the first water station right before mile 2. They were out of water! They apparently miscalculated how fast ALL the runners were coming and were frantically trying to get cups out and fill them from the jugs. My second mile was a 10:07, but my pace was probably closer to my first mile, factoring coming to a dead stop at the water station. The cramp subsided a bit after I drank the whole cup of water. I took my chews at mile 3. I did all my jogs, but they felt off. The water stations messed them up maybe? Mile 3 was 9:48 and Mile 4 was 9:52. My legs relaxed at mile 4 like they always do, but I wasn’t able to turn on the juice. My juice was gone. I actually looked down at my body at one point making sure it was still mine. It wasn’t performing the way my brain had played the race out.

I trucked on through deciding to forget the PR and just run. I tried to relax, but my body just felt off. Mile 5 10:12, Mile 6 10:13 (second half of chews), Mile 7 10:28, Mile 8 10:46. Somewhere between mile 7 and mile 8, my stomach said NO. It didn’t hurt necessarily, but I had the strong overwhelming urge to go number two. Do you know how hard it is to clench your sphincter and run at the same time? I’m pretty sure I’d rather get a pap smear or go to the dentist than clench my butt for 5 miles ever again!

I thought about stopping at a porta potty, but every time I got near one the feeling would subside. I texted my mom and Mr. Neon at this point and said walking was going to happen and to not expect me for a while. Mr. Neon and I texted back and forth while I held in the demons trying to escape inside me. I fartleked my way to mile 12, convincing myself to run to the next tree stump, the next bench, the next lightpost. Mile 9 11:27, Mile 10 13:12, Mile 11 14:05, Mile 12 14:13. At mile 12, I texted Mr. Neon “1 left.” He said, “Crush it!” My brain said ok, my stomach said no. And the 2:30 pacer, an Ironman hero of mine, came up behind me and said, “You have 5 minutes of running left. RUN!” So I did. I ran the last half mile and finished in 2:30:07.

Mr. Neon was waiting for me at the finish line with my medal. He put it around my neck and crushed me into his chest. I can’t tell you how good that felt. He told me later that he was more proud of me in that moment than he was at our last two halfs we ran together.

I grabbed a couple orange slices and sucked out the juice. My mom came up with my dad and Runner Boy and Tiny Boy. I got hugs, and Mom immediately asked, “Do you need to go to the bathroom?” I looked at her funny and said, “No! What the heck!”

We walked around runner’s village for a bit. I had brought a scoop of Vega hydrator in our checked bag, so I dumped it in my water bottle and sipped it. My stomach calmed down almost immediately. I had a couple more slices of orange, and we headed back to the car. I ate pretzels in the car and drank my Vega protein shake when I got home. After me cleaned up, we went for Chipotle.

All of that settled fine on my stomach. So what on earth happened?!

Beats me! The only thing I can think is maybe I had a small bug. Runner Boy had a tummy ache Sunday night, but we chalked it up to him eating too much while he was bounced between grandparents while I ran. I didn’t take my Vega One on Friday or Saturday, so maybe my body was missing those nutrients. I don’t think it was dehydration because I never got nauseous.

Either way, I need to just let it go. I’ve decided to just run for the next month or so until we start the training plan for our full in October. Just enjoy myself. Not put any pressure on myself. Just enjoy running to run. Run fast, run slow, run hard, run easy…just run for the feel of it. Lots of my fellow runners gave great advice, boosted me up, told me not to sweat it.

I still love running. I still love racing. I’ll get redemption soon. I always do. 🙂