Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sometimes things end badly, but at least they end. A race report.

Dear diary,

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 I did. I went back to the road and started running down the road. But I didn't see any more markings. So I turned around, and walked back down to where the volunteer was, and this time, she was with a man who was a bit, eh, portly. I said to Portly, "there's no markings down that way, no people, nothing."

"No markings," he asked, surprised. "There should be.  So-and-so should be down there."  he said a name, like Bob or Bruce, or something like that. 

"Nope, nothing," I said, and I turned and headed back down the road.   He watched me go, and said nothing. 

About a half mile later, and I was hurting.  By this time it had been several miles since I had run out of water, and I was tired. As you can see by the profile above, there was a bit of climbing, and my hips hurt, too. Then another volunteer pulled up next to me on some sort of gas-powered golf cart, and asked if I was okay.

"I just have this awful feeling that I"m not on the right course," I said, accepting some water.

"Oh, no, you're not on the right course at all," she said calmly, putting water into the back of her cart.

I waited. And then, "Well, where is the course?"

She motioned to a line of trees about 50 yards to my right. "Over there. Just cross that meadow."

So I did. Dammit. I added about a mile of distance to my run, and after the part that was an unnecessary climb, I was exhausted. The cramps wouldn't stop. my hips hurt. There was just no running to be done. I crossed the finish line over 4 hours after I started. Baboo, who had started the full marathon 10 minutes earlier, was 15 minutes behind me.


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.



  1. Anonymous7:45 PM

    I've found that while my speed is "generally" faster on short runs, I slow down considerably for long runs....they say something like 2 min slower from your 5K run time to a half-marathon, and almost 3-4 minutes to a full? Or something like that. (Not sure who "they" are but "they" say a lot of things like that...)

  2. wow....I probably would have DNF'd except that on those trail runs, there aren't sag wagons so you have to finish anyway.

    I guess the best part is that next year will be a PR!


  3. FYI-that whole smoke/dust thing almost did me in too if Courtney had not lent me her inhaler. Then Michi lent me hers at the end...(note to self-bring own inhaler next time)..also those flags were TINY and not so noticeable in places..the cramps...yikes, was it the "heave"? (heed)?

  4. God, I am sorry. I would have written this race report during my depression/quit0-fucking-doing-anything phase, but I was not 'man' enough to even show up to races I had registered for. You toed the line, you pushed through and you finished. Great job.

    (WTF? on the course marking and course directors that do not know how to direct people? That can be pretty dangerous on a trail run)

    Here's to a less stressful summer of you regrouping and starting to enjoy running and racing again.

    It am finally getting it back, but it took a long time. I am still not sure how I will feel about the marathon distance or if I can even do it, but I guess we will find out on July 25th.

  5. You plowed through it this time -- next year you'll kill it!

  6. I think it's awesome you finished in spite of the frustrations. You looked mahvelous, too. Seriously. Pink is a smashing color on you.

  7. I would have gotten in the cart - you done good.


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