My First Race: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (but mostly just ugly)
Posted Apr 03 2011 9:52am
Yesterday I ran 14 miles and to be honest, it was one of the best runs I have ever had. The weather was nice, the trails were clear, there were so many other runners/bikers on the trail, my legs felt good, my stomach felt good, etc. I stayed steady at 10-11 minute miles which I was happy with. I also had my first Gu (usually I stick with Sport Beans or Clif Shot Blocks):
I really liked the Gu! It tasted good and gave me a little boost around mile 7 which I needed!
After hanging my race medals yesterday, I decided that I’d like to stroll down memory lane and tell you all about the races I have completed. These posts may be pretty long winded, but I promise there is a super short, edited version below. If you don’t want to/have time to read my long story, go ahead and skip to the end. You won’t hurt my feelings too much.
First some background: I had been attending college at the Univ of MN-Duluth for the past couple years, but moved home Dec 2005 to live at home during my last semester of college, which I completed at the Univ of MN-Twin Cities. I had basically dug myself into debt so much that I had to move back home. To be honest? I was really sad that I moved back home. I had friends in Duluth and no friends back home. I wasn’t really close with anyone, so I sulked around at home quite a bit. I was lonely and bored.
My Dad mentioned to me that I should train with him for the half marathon. I thought he was crazy but for some reason said yes. I started running and hated every single second of it. At the most, I would run ½ mile and walk for ½ hour and then come home. I never looked up a training plan, I never asked my Dad for help, I never asked anyone for help. The most I ran was 3 miles and that was with plenty of walking breaks.
In May 2006 I went to Germany for 5 weeks – it was an intensive study abroad program (my minor was German Studies) and a fun (and super expensive) way to get 8 credits towards my minor, which I needed For some reason I thought I would have time and the desire to train in Germany. I didn’t. I ran 1 mile maybe 3 times when I was there, and 5 miles one day. I thought I was going to die. I was so out of breath and felt so out of shape. Eating tons of bread, cheese, meat and ice cream (seemed to be my diet over there!) and beer was not a good mix with trying to train for a half marathon. That, in addition to the lack of sleep, time difference and cigarettes probably didn’t help either!
I came home from my trip and had 2 weeks before the race. I ran a few miles with my dad here and there, but the most I had ran was that 5 miles in Germany.
I did everything I wasn’t supposed to do: I bought brand new clothes and socks for the race. I never tried running in them. I didn’t practice eating certain foods, so I had no clue how my running body would be affected by certain foods. I never asked for help!
Finally it was the day before the race – my Dad and I drove up to Duluth (about 2 hours north), went to the expo (which was so cool I thought!!! So many vendors and cool people all around!) and ate the spaghetti dinner (I ate tons of spaghetti, garlic bread and too much milk – eek!) and had barely any water! We picked up our race packs (sweat bag, bib number, instructions, race rules, granola bars, lotion, band-aids, gloves, sweatband and flyers from sponsors).
We stayed at my friend Janee’s house – my Dad got the guest bed and I slept on the couch. I don’t think I slept at all!
We woke up at 4:30am – got dressed (in my brand new clothes, remember?) and had some oatmeal and orange juice that my dad brought. We then drove into town to catch the shuttle bus that would take us to the starting line.
The bus was fun – it was full of excited runners! I was so nervous. I can’t even describe how nervous I was. But I just had a horrible feeling in my stomach.
We get off the bus and start walking to the starting line. There were vans waiting for you to throw your sweat bag into. (If you don’t know what a sweat bag is – it is a plastic bag that you get at pickup that has your bib number on it. That way you can wear sweats over your running clothes on the bus – it is cold at 5am in Duluth! – but then throw them in the bag and pick them up at the end of the race).
We make our way to the starting line (there are now thousands of people all around) and I start doing some static stretches – that is what you do when you exercise, right? No. I had no idea I should warm up first, then stretch. Right about now my heart is beating out of my chest.
Finally the race starts. I run with my Dad for a while, but then he said “if you feel good, go ahead!” So I started running! And I mean, RUNNING. After 2 minutes I was wiped out. I had no idea how to pace myself! I stopped and walked so many times. I immediately regretted my clothing choice – my shorts kept riding up and my legs rubbed together the entire time. That plus sweat equals chafing and it was so painful.
Around mile 3 I realized I needed to pee. Really bad. We were still in the wooded areas of northern MN (around mile marker 5-6 you get into town) so I did what tons of other runners were doing – jumping into the woods and peeing in the woods. So I did that too. Except I wasn’t smart. I don’t know how to pee in the woods.
TMI – I’m pretty sure I peed all over my shorts but I couldn’t tell for sure – they were already soaked with sweat. I started crying. I really wanted to stop at the medical tent and just call it quits. But I thought of my Dad who was out there running and I thought “if he can do it, so can I” So I started running again.
Eventually the pain of the chafing went away. Ok that is a lie. It only got worse.
Eventually I got a humungous blister on my pinky toe. I’m not surprised – I hadn’t ran very many times in my shoes, I was wearing new socks, and this was the first time I had ran over 5 miles.
Around mile 10 the blister popped. Blood literally soaked my shoe. I was mostly walking at this point.
My Dad passed me around mile 11. I tried to run to keep up with him but couldn’t. I had to stop and walk some more. There were hundreds and hundreds of people watching this race – all cheering me the other runners on.
I stopped at every water station and there were a few stations where they handed out ½ bananas or orange slices. I stopped every time. The oranges weren’t a good idea, since I ended up with citrus juice all over my hands and it felt so sticky and gross. I just wanted to be done!
Even though I felt like I was doing terribly, it was so exciting to run through Duluth and see all of the people who came to watch! It was fun and also the worst experience of my life at that point!
I finally crossed the finish line at around 2 hours 35 minutes. I don’t know if that is the correct time. All I know is that my Dad finished 10 minutes before me. It was nice to have him there when I finally crossed the finish line.
They gave me a rose (hurray for being a female, the men don’t get flowers at the end) and my medal. I cried. I was so hungry and so tired. I went to the food area where they had tons of food: bagels, chips, pop, water, fruit, granola bars, Clif bars, Powerade, etc. Tons. And I stuffed myself to the gills! We walked around for a while (my legs were so chafed that I walked around with my finisher t-shirt between my legs – no lie)
We picked up our sweat bags and eventually drove back to my friend’s house to shower, pack up and go home. After getting all our stuff packed up, we stopped at McDonalds for lunch. Sounds good, right? Come on, after running 13.1 miles all I wanted was a Big Mac, Fries and a Coke!
Short version I didn’t train. I peed on myself. My legs chafed. Badly. I got a blister. Said blister popped. My shoe filled with blood. My Dad finished the race before me. I cried. I finished the race. I cried some more. I got a rose, a t-shirt and a medal. I ate tons of food. I cried. I ate McDonalds. The end.
So there you have it! My first race experience. For some crazy reason I decided to keep entering races. But you’ll have to wait until next week to learn about my second half-marathon.
*If you’ve been in a race/event before, how was your first one? Wonderful? Or will it scar you for life like mine did?