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In Which We Actually Go Halfsies!

Posted Oct 19 2009 10:06pm

Gooood Monday morning!

I hope you had a fabulous weekend! My weekend was pretty much all wrapped up in, oh, a little 13.1 mile jaunt!

Ah, but there was a bit more to it than that…

I headed to Ann Arbor Saturday morning to meet up with my friend/fellow blogger Leah aka Your Nutritionista. We had lots of big plans for the big weekend. First we headed to the Cobo Center in Detroit to pick up our race packets. Usually I love the Expo, but we were short on time and there wasn’t as much free stuff as I would have liked. Also, the shirts, while really good quality, were two different colors. Men got gray and girls got pink. O RLY, Freep? Come on now. I would have loved gray or blue or even red.

However, there were some Big Losers there! Turns out quite a few of the former contestants are MI residents — which is cool until you realize we just have a very fat state — and they were running in the races. Helen (who won the last season), Mike, Carla, Shellay, Amy, and a few others were at the Expo! We stalked from a safe 4 foot distance, but didn’t wait to chat or pose for pics with them. Still…very cool! (The Freep covers what brought them there in this article.)

After the Expo, we headed to Leah’s parents’ house in Ann Arbor to work on some top-secret blog-related stuff (not telling just yet, but we’re pretty excited for our own Big Reveal in a couple weeks) and then headed to her place to hang out and get ready for dinner at Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor.

Leah had raved about this place, so we met there with her boyfriend and another friend. After checking out their menu, I was so excited to try. Everything sounded fantastic. It’s sort of too bad we had to consider, Oh, hey, we’re running tomorrow morning! because otherwise, it would have been balls-to-the-walls. Their menu is great — everything is home-grown, homemade, and super fresh, but it’s also not a raw/vegan/lettuce/lentil extravaganza. It’s just real food.

After much contemplation and consideration, I chose the Grilled Carolina White Grits. “Organic grits, cooked, cooled, cut and then heated on the wood-fired grill. Topped with Zingerman’s 2-year-old Vermont raw-milk cheddar, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, roasted New Mexico green chilies, and freshly-cut corn sautéed in cider vinaigrette.” Umm…don’t mind if I do!


I had them bring the cheese on the side. I had a few tiny nibbles, but I knew it would give me a stomachache if I ate more. However, I can imagine that with the cheese melted into the dish, this would be even better.

Leah ordered “mac and cheese” which was actually “Fresh Georges Bank cod, sea scallops, Dungeness crab meat and Prince Edward Island mussels poached in a rich broth of caramelized vegetables, heirloom local tomatoes, fresh herbs and white wine.” Not a bad way to carbo load…


For dessert, we ordered the donut sundae. What’s that you say? Where’s the picture? Oh, well I was too busy reaching for my spoon, NOT MY CAMERA. A donut sundae, people!! It was a homemade donut, topped with ice cream, lemon glaze, and peanuts. We split it four ways and all enjoyed a few bites. So, so good!

Then, unfortunately, it was time for bed. We had a 4:45 AM wake-up call, after all. I stayed up a little later reading The Non Runner’s Marathon Trainer and then called it a night. Luckily, I fell right asleep.

When woke up and it was still dark and very cold! Luckily, I was feeling pretty calm and didn’t have nerves. They say you shouldn’t do anything different on a race day or try anything new, so I made my typical breakfast: oats and coffee. The problem was, there were a few slight changes to the way I usually make it (really just carelessness on my part) and this set me up for some problems later on.

Then it was time to go! After a huge traffic jam and some very lucky “Thank God for GPS!” moments, we got a great parking space, found indoor bathrooms, and made it to the starting line just in time!

We arent cold or tired at all...

We aren' t cold or tired at all...

It was dark and about 30 degrees, but I love running in cold weather, so I was actually excited about that. The energy was good…music playing, everyone getting pumped! The first wave started within about five minutes, so we ended up starting around 7:30.

The first mile went by so fast, and around that time, the sun came up! We were having a great time, and I was feeling great, getting nice and warm, and just loving life.

The second mile took us up a big hill to the Ambassador Bridge which connects Detroit and Canada. The view is awesome, but as we entered the bridge, I had the overwhelming urge to vomit…which, to make a long story short, did not go away for the Next. Three. Hours.

I am really, really grateful I read my marathon book Saturday night and read some inspiring things about bad runs, because otherwise, I would be a lot more upset right now. The fact is, some days we have those runs where everything goes wrong: we hurt, we can’t breathe, we’re tired, we’re too hot. This was one of those runs. It hasn’t happened to me since my first attempt at 10 miles in September …maybe I’ve just gotten spoiled. Honestly, if it hadn’t been a race, I would have quit and called it a bad day at 10 miles. I stuck it out, and I really don’t know how. I was going so slow and then I started to get upset about going slower, so then I just got more and more emotional…bad, bad, bad!

So, what happened? Well, in hindsight, I think it was a few factors, but all can be summed up by saying, I made a few careless changes in my routine!

  • I went out to dinner Saturday night. This isn’t a huge deal, but I rarely go out to dinner. Even though I got something carby and pretty healthy, I just didn’t have as much control over my ingredients as I would if I had made a meal at home, as I’ve done before all the long runs. And, well, I never eat donut sundaes. Did a few bites do me in? Probably not, but as a whole, the meal may have thrown me off. I think in the future, I’ll save dinner out for after the race.
  • I made the same breakfast I’ve been having all week, but I made two minor changes. First, I put dark chocolate chips in the oats. Yes, I’ve been doing that all week, but I’ve never done it immediately before a run. They aren’t horrible, but they have more sugar and fat than I was probably able to handle.
  • Second, I didn’t have my standard coffee. I like my coffee very sweet, so I do about a tablespoon of sugar-free Hazelnut and one packet of Splenda. I forgot to bring them along, so I used milk and then agave in place of Splenda. And I used too much (it’s even sweeter than sugar). I remember drinking it and thinking, “Hm, this is really sweet,” but I also could tell that it was too sweet. The pure sugar + the chocolate chips was just, I think, too much.
  • This all happened at 5 AM! Lack of sleep tends to make me queasy anyway, but have you ever chugged caffeine on an empty stomach because you’re up really early for something? It usually doesn’t leave you feeling great! Honestly, I felt bad as soon as I got in the car, but I ignored it, thinking it was just nerves. I think it was nerves…plus the food.
  • I wore my jacket and a tank top on my last long, cold run, but I was worried about getting cold at the race, so I wore a long-sleeved cotton T-shirt. Within 20 minutes, I was covered in a cold sweat and felt totally clammy. Clammy is not how you want to feel when your stomach seems to be sloshing around at 8:00 in the morning.

The second half of the race seemed never-ending. My stomach felt like it had a Charlie Horse, which is just bullshit because I’ve never gotten stomach cramps on a run. I drank water, hoping it would help, but it didn’t. I didn’t take my energy gel; I knew that would have me on the side of the road with my hands on my knees in a second.

When the physical self goes, the mental self often follows. I think I got overly-upset because I was thinking, This isn’t even my big run. I have to do double this. I don’t even care about today…this is just a training run. Once Negative Nancy starts talking to you like that, it’s hard to stay positive.

When we finally hit the spot where the marathoners split from the half-marathoners, I was so relieved. The finish line was in sight a few minutes later, and once we hit that point, I just put the thoughts of puking in the back of my head so I could finish strong. My chip time ended up being 2:27, which isn’t bad for a very bad day.

Leah had a great race, so I’m happy excited for her, because she’s been training hard for a really long time, and all her early pre-work hill runs definitely paid off! I was so out of it at the end, I could barely think straight. It was freezing, and we were wet and unbelievably stiff. Oh, and my Blackberry ceased to function during the race. Awesome. But actual tragedy…three people died during the race. That puts allllll my problems in perspective!

I forced myself to eat my recovery snack, and then we drove back to Leah’s place. Then I had to drive the hour back to mine. Needless to say at that point, mind and body had shut down. I made a bowl of pasta with a little olive oil, salt, and Parm, and had a big apple. That helped; I was actually able to chat with Verizon for an hour and get them to send me a new phone!

A nap never happened because I found myself both ravenous and nauseated an hour later. It’s an odd combination — I wondered if I had accidentally gotten impregnated somewhere over on the Canada side. All that sounded good was more carbs (this is definitely the result of lack of sleep; I’m never this hungry on long run days), so, before I inhaled a can of Pringles, I made more oats. This time I did a little almond butter and a half of a banana, and it was way more mild than the pre=race bowl. I think the very hearty snack (I have to eat so much on long run days, it’s sort of ridic) was the turning point. After that, even though I was tired, I stopped feeling depressed/foggy/incoherent. Dinner at Panera helped… I hate cooking after these long runs. I can handle a pasta lunch, but by dinner, Panera it always is! But given the insane amount of healthy calories I need to consume on these days, Panera it shall be!

Now that I am warm/showered/rested/articulate, I can say, I am glad I hung in there because I really did care about today. If, God forbid, something were to happen to me and I couldn’t do Disney, I’d be so upset that this was the end of my running career! Thirteen (point one) miles is not nothing…even when it’s partially done at a jog.

And I got a medal, which is now on the Vision Board!

I’m not at all worried for the next month either. I’m excited for these runs…my last two were so good; I know today was the fluke. For the next three long runs I’ll be straight chillin at 14 miles, and, well, I like the even numbers.

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