Monday, February 16, 2009

Austin Half '09 - The Sickest I've Ever Been at a Half, and I PR'ed!

I ran the Austin Half Marathon Sunday morning.  I got up and my stomach was a little queasy, just not feeling great.  I've never had this happen race morning.  By the time we got to the start line, I was feeling really sick to my stomach.  My friend Sarah and I lined up with the 5:00 marathon pace group (we wanted to hang with them for as long as we could at slightly faster than 11:30 pace).  I ran to use the portapotty right before the race started, but still felt awful.  If it had been a local half marathon and/or if no one knew I was doing the race, I would have gone back to the hotel - that's how bad I felt. 

Race Start to Mile 8

It took 10 minutes to cross the start line once the race started.  I told Sarah to leave me because I didn't even know if I could finish the race at this point.  I trudged along, walking and running as I could.  You pass a ton of restaurants in the first 4 miles, and those that had started their ovens and grills were turning my stomach even more than it already was. 

Anytime I really got any speed going, my stomach would feel supersick, a warning to "cut that out!"  Every aid station past the first couple only had TWO portalets.  The lines were excruciating, so I kept saying "Maybe I'll stop at the next one".  I dutifully took my Gus as I intended, at mile 4.5 and 9, but it was hard to get them down.  I only took Powerade (I so much more prefer Gatorade Endurance Formula) one time.

From start to mile 8-9, I can not tell you how bad I felt.  I just can't.  If you've done this before, I sympathize. 

My Celebrity Run In

By the way, at mile 4, I ended up chatting with two girls as I was passing them, and then I turned my head a little more and saw that one of the girls was the actress that played Katherine Heigl's best friend in "27 Dresses".  She seemed surprised and pleased to be recognized.  I told her she was great in that movie and that it was a wonderful movie, and then did the nice thing and left it at that so she could enjoy her race.  She's been in a bunch of other stuff too:

Meanwhile, I would later find out my friend Sarah was able to hang with the marathon 5:00 pace group until the 15K point and Dean Karnazes was in her group, "hanging out".  Too cool.  Do I need to carry an autograph book at races now?

2 1/2 Minutes I'll Never Get Back

At Mile 8, the line to the portalet looked shorter and I thought I'd give it a try.  I waited 2 1/2 minutes and the line just wasn't moving.  I say Screw It and got back on the road.

The Realization

Around mile 10, I pulled myself out of the painful fog I had been running in to see that my pace had actually been pretty darn good, even though I felt like I had walked the whole way there.  The hills were as bad as everyone said, but my stomach was starting to settle slightly.  So I started hoofing it, walking, up the big uphills, and then would sprint at a 9:30-10:00 pace during any downhills or flats.  That was a fast sprint for me, but I told myself and my tummy that I could see that uphill coming up and just had to spring until then.

As sick as I felt, by mile 11, I started yelling in my head "I WANT A PR!"  I was 95% to the way of having to shout it out loud to get the rest of my body believing it.

Pulled a hard sprint the last 300 meters, made the last turn, it's so close, and GAGGED.  Hard gag.  Stopped my sprint dead.  Walked about 10 seconds, and then jogged the rest of the way in.  Stupid attempt at a kick in my condition. :-)

PRed with a 2:50:34, an improvement of 3:51 over my PR at White Rock Half.  Splits were very even considering the hills the last couple miles:  12:24, 12:09, 12:34, 11:45, 12:51, 12:34, 13:09, 14:14, 15:27 (attempted potty stop), 13:43, 12:38, 12:46, 12:31.

A Chance Encounter

Rebecca Wallace, Run On! owner, yelled my name as I crossed and gave me a big thumbs up.  So sweet of her!

But the big chance encounter was walking the 9 blocks back to the hotel.  I'm behind a woman who asked another random women in front of me how far the packet pickup spot is from her.  The other women hmmed and hawed and I chimed in with "about 4 blocks".  The woman that asked the question turned to thank me and I said "Gauri?" and she said "Libby?".  A friend from high school who I hadn't seen in 11 years!  We chatted non-stop the next 4 blocks as her car was parked near the hotel!  What a small world!

On the Horizon

Cowtown Half in two weeks.  I'm hopeful this PR meant that I could be a little faster if I wasn't so sick and hadn't made that 2 1/2 minute wait in the potty line at mile 8, so I'll hope for another PR at Cowtown.  But if I wake up sick this time, I'm staying in bed!

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