Sunday, April 15, 2007

Race Report

I haven't posted about my training for a while, partly because I've been busy writing poetry, but partly also because the training posts were getting a bit repetitive. It's not that training started to go badly. In fact, training has continued to go fabulously well. I'm still pushing myself harder, faster and further than I ever have before, and I'm still having great fun.

I've been alternating between hard weeks and easy weeks as needed, and progress continues steadily upwards, if not with the same dramatic swing earlier this year. My main worry now is that I now want to push myself to keep at this high level, and that in itself puts me under a lot of pressure. Pressure is the last thing I want. Enjoyment is the goal.

After running the 2.4km I injured my sacroiliac joint again. The same ache in the hip, the same pinch in the right buttock. The same IT band ache and the first hint of a pain in the knee. Oh we've been here before, and the physio is going to tear strips off me. I can imagine telling her that I'd done everything she told me to, that I'd built the running up slowly, that I'd worked on my technique, that I'd been running pain free... and that I'd only done one stupid little thing. As someone who sometimes lurks on this blog might say, "ARSE"!!

Not much running over the last week then. A 75 minute RPM on Monday, lower body weights and Balance on Tuesday (followed by Jog Squad shopping at Shoe Clinic that night), a half hour run on Wednesday, Duck's lunch time RPM at The Terrace on Thursday, and a half hour on a treadmill on Friday morning followed by some ab and upper body work and a lunch time Balance.

Then there was today. The Moonshine 10km, around Moonshine Park in Upper Hutt. I spent yesterday hydrating, ate Minestrone from the Moosewood Cookbook for dinner (some of my best runs have been fueled by Minestrone lunches), got an early night...

Woke up at 6am and spent the morning, as usual, running to the bathroom. With apologies to those with weaker sensibilities and a desire to avoid all knowledge about my digestive system, I don't get the runner's runs when running races, because I've already evacuated everything, as it were, beforehand. The nerves to it to me every time.

At 8.30 I was in Northland picking up Sarah, and we arrived in plenty of time to pick up our registration packs and prepare for the start. Both Ingrids (runner and walker) were there, as was the English Karen, gym staff-member Emma, and a couple of the newer Squaddies.

This was a smaller event, and not chip timed. The weather promised to be warm, despite the lateness of the season. We got stuck between a large group of walkers who had positioned themselves at the front of the startline (with mountain buggies even), and it took a little while to weave our way through the plodders.

The first part of the course weaved its way around the boundary of the park. Running on grass around the edge of sports playing fields reminded some of us a little too much of school cross-country. However we all agreed that we felt ok at this point. None of us felt like we went out too hard. We were running fast, but no faster than we'd pushed ourselves on our training runs.

After a kilometre or so the track dipped down onto a zigzagging bush trail. We all agreed this was the best part of the race. We were in the shade, running on a firm dirt track, and maintaining a good pace. We were starting to settle into a rhythm.

And if that's where the story ended, then this would be a happy tale. Unfortunately we eventually had to exit the bush and run back out into the sun. Things started to get nasty! The worst part of the race for me came around the 20 minute mark, where we had to run up onto a high stopbank. The stopbank continued on straight and flat for an eternity. Psychologically it was the equivalent of running through the Mt Vic tunnel. No sense of making any progress. To make it worse, it was hot. Extremely hot

By the time I made it to the drinks station (which was apparently just before the 5km mark) I was feeling a familiar nausea. I walked the drink stop to ensure I got the water down properly, then jogged on again. I knew my pace had slowed, and I had already given up trying for a personal best. I now just wanted to finish.

The trail continued in the sun. Just before the turnaround I saw Sarah running back towards me. She wasn't that far ahead, which, given how slowly I knew I was running, really surprised me. I walked the turnaround, and then, battling extreme nausea that was sitting somewhere in my chest, I walk-ran the rest of the race. Finally I ran back to the top of the stop bank, not knowing whether I still had to run the bush track or the perimeter of the playing field. Two lovely older lady marshals told me that the finish line was close - just across the two fields. In fact, the finish line was only around 500 metres away.

I made it across the finishline in just over an hour. So much for scoffing that I thought I would easily do it under an hour. I wanted to do it in 55, 52 in my wildest dreams. I jogged slowly to the finish, smiling broadly for the official photographer, then sat down on the ground, surrounded by jog squadders, and begged someone to find me some Gatorade. I badly needed to vomit, and the feeling did not subside for a good half hour. Even after that I continued to have intermittent nausea. I can still feel the burn in my chest.

Amazingly there was no Gatorade, and the bananas contain potassium and would have made me feel even worse. I needed sodium, and I needed it quick. The answer came in an unusual form - free cans of Red Bull offered by rent-a-chicks who were more than welcome to take my photo. I was quite happy to sell myself to the corporation if it meant a free drink! The other good news, I won a $10 petrol voucher spot prize.

On analysis, everyone ran around 8 minutes slower than they'd expected. I wasn't more than a minute or so behind Sarah, who wasn't that far behind Karen. Sarah had to walk as well. So what went so badly? Why do I do well in training, and not in events? Walker Ingrid had the answer for me.

The only thing different for me about race day compared to training day is the early morning bowel issues. Put simply, it's likely that I'm getting dehydrated on race day mornings, leading to the nausea. Of course, the Addison's makes the dehydration even more of an issue, leading to even more salt loss and even more nausea. It has just occurred to me that, although my nose was a little runny for the first few kilometres, that soon stopped, and I wasn't sweating either.

So, apart from a good dose of sports psychology to stop me getting nervous, thereby preventing the bowel issues in the first place, if it turns out that I MUST spent the morning running to the bathroom, I'm going to invest in a good electrolyte sports drink to compensate. And I'm going to run another 10km event as soon as I can. In fact, I'm going to run the 10.6km Newtown-Bays loop as soon as I can. All of us can run a good, hard 10km. For varying reasons today wasn't that day for any of us. Frustrating, but a fact of life.

I will beat my event day issues. I NEED to beat my event day issues, if I'm ever going to run the Shoe Clinic half, which is my ULTIMATE running demon....

Oh, the other thing that made this event hard? No splits. There were no distance markers and the turn-around point was at more like 6.5 or 7km, not 5. And not knowing the course (and the map wasn't very clear), we had no way of knowing once we reached the stop bank that we were so close to the finish. All of us would have pushed on much harder from the turn-around had we known we were almost home.

It makes me realise how much more seriously I take this running business than I used to, when I start complaining about not being able to track my splits!

Oh boy. I got the sexy Addidas running jacket (a photo will now have to follow). Now I need a Garmin forerunner. Who ever said this running business was cheap?

Oh, and congratulations to my amazingly fit and fabulous mother-in-law, who turned 60 last year and at 5.08am this morning finished walking 100km to raise money as a team-member in the Oxfam trailwalk in Taupo. I think they started at 8am, so she did amazingly well, and deserves a good rest!

1 comment:

Catherine said...

What about a camelpack? All the top orienteers wear them, you can't run up and down mountains and rely on the drinks station..