I did the Valles Caldera half marathon yesterday. It was a nightmare. The first mile, I got a lungful of smoke from a brush fire, and from the rest of the time, my chest ached and I coughed. Then, mile 2, the cramps started--side stiches on the left and right. They stayed with me until mile 12. Nothing I did made them go away, and when I ran, they were excruciating.
They stopped when I climbed, though. Which was, needless to say, useless. The climb up to the top at about mile 6 was exhausting. Then, I couldn't take advantage of any downhill runs, because of the cramps. The climbs up were horribly slow, peaking at 8800 feet altitude.
After that, I was pretty happy to be going flat, and was doing a kind of half jog and half power walk.
The volunteers were awesome. Friendly, helpful, sympathetic, Except for one. That one would be the volunteer who watched as I went the wrong way. WATCHED. In fact, we had a conversation first.
First, I got to a section of trail that had 2 flags on the right and 2 on the left. I looked further to the left, and saw no more markings. I looked ahead: no more markings. I looked to the left, and saw a chalk arrow pointing me off the road, so I followed it, and the marking flags. I'd climbed about 250 feet when I came to a volunteer on her way toward me, and she informed me that I was going the wrong way - I'd already been this way once. Dammit. She said, "go back to the road."
So here's the other thing. I find that I have to start over again, for two reasons. First was the 2 months I spent being depressed and trying to get through 14-hours in graduate school and work, and not running.
The second is that the runs I did were so short, and intense, that I started getting faster...but now that I'm faster, I can't run as far as I used to. It didn't make much sense to me at first, but if you think about it, when you run faster, you're pounding your feet, knees, and ankles harder. You spine is under more stress. So I'll be having to start over again.
And by golly, when I do this again next year, you're going to see a completely different race report.