A Simple Running Log

May 23, 2016

St. Michaels Half Marathon recap

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 9:48 am

The half marathon at the fifth annual St. Michaels Running Festival this weekend didn’t go quite as well as I’d hoped. The running part went just fine, but unfortunately, it got interrupted up by no less than three in-race bathroom breaks. I really have no idea why my digestive system was so upset Saturday.

Friday afternoon, Pepper and I rode over to St. Michaels so I could pick up my bib and this year’s race shirt:

shirt

Don’t think this one will ever see the light of day again.

At home that night, we had spaghetti for dinner. I even skipped the salad I’d normally eat with it because fiber is supposed to contribute to digestive distress during running. In fact, I’d been good all day – no sugar or alcohol, which seem to be my biggest triggers.

I set my alarm for 4:45 a.m. Saturday. As soon as I woke up, my stomach felt weird. Kinda crampy. WTF. Not a good sign. Maybe I was a little dehydrated? So I downed two big glasses of water first thing, ate some cereal, took some more water and black coffee with me and was out the door by 5:20.

It wasn’t raining when I left home. Off to the east, the sky was a dark pink, almost red. “Red in the morning, sailor’s warning.” Well, we have radar for that now, so I already knew what was coming. I hadn’t even made it past Federalsburg when I ran into the first sprinkles.

The rain picked up as I drove west toward St. Michaels. I didn’t really care though. As long as I had my hat, which I knew was in my bag as I’d triple-checked for it before I left, I would be fine.

I ran into the traffic backup on the one road into town less than three miles outside town, but it moved quickly enough. When I got into St. Michaels, the volunteers directing parking sent me into a neighborhood and then down to the very end of a cul-de-sac, seemingly as far away as possible from the race start at the elementary school. It would be even farther from the race finish. Oh well.

It was about 6:30 when I parked, 45 minutes until race time. A steady light rain was falling. Might as well go get used to being wet. I took two Imodium, got my stuff together and jogged the half-mile to the race start area, used the bathroom (only had to pee, much to my chagrin) and then ran another 1.3-mile warmup through the side streets near the school.

About 15 minutes before the gun was to go off, I ran into TK’s sister, Kari. Kari had decided at the last minute to run the half, but she did something pretty clever. Instead of paying the registration fee, which the day before the race was up to $110, she hung around packet pick-up Friday until she found someone who’d paid to run but got injured, and was just there to get their stuff. Then she paid the $10 fee to transfer the injured runner’s bib to her own name, saving $100 but still running as a legit, registered runner! Most races don’t offer a bib transfer at all, let alone at the last minute like that, but she found one that did and used it to her advantage.

They called us to the starting corrals. I got in the first one, between the 1:40 and 1:50 pace groups. This was the first year this race had pace groups. I didn’t run with one, but having them in the corrals helped everyone sort themselves by expected pace before the race even began, which was nice.

st michaels 2016 start

First starting corral getting ready to go.

We got the starting gun at 7:15 on the dot, and we were off!

The first mile ran down the main street through town. Before the race started, I’d set the virtual pacer on my Garmin to 8:00 pace. It let me know I was right on it. The first mile was 7:58, and felt comfortable. Perfect.

2016 st michaels first mile resized

First mile.

We left town, ran a little ways up the road and then turned into Harbourtowne, a waterfront community with a golf course. Mile 2 was 7:57.

The next few miles wound through Harbourtowne. Mile 3 sped up a bit to 7:48, and mile 4 was 7:52.

2016 st michaels mile 3.5 2 resized

Running out toward the U-turn between mile 3 and 4.

2016 st michaels mile 4 resized

Coming back after the U-turn, almost to mile 4.

Right after we passed the mile 4 marker, I felt the first gut pangs. Dammit. I hoped this would be a one-and-done thing, and started looking for a port-o-potty. About three-quarters of the way through that mile, I spotted a couple port-o-potties, both of which were open. I ran in one and took care of business.

For some unknown reason, I paused my Garmin when I stopped. Force of habit, I guess. So I don’t know how long it actually took me to run the fifth mile, but I know it was longer than the 7:35 the Garmin recorded.

I felt a thousand times better after the bathroom break. Mile 6 was 7:55. I saw a water stop coming up, so I ate my one GU just before we got to it and then washed that down with some water.

Past the water stop was the halfway timing mat. I crossed it in 52:52, an 8:04/mile pace even with the bathroom break. I thought I was right on track.

The rain, which had been picking up in intensity since the race started, seemed to take it up several notches as we left Harbourtowne. I really felt bad for the volunteers at the water stops and directing traffic. It didn’t feel bad to me, but I was running. It was only about 55 degrees Saturday morning, so the pouring rain probably felt pretty damn cold if you were standing still.

We were running down the shoulder of that main road again, heading back to town. This guy running near me said something about how great his race was going, because he’d been hoping to run a 9:00 pace, and here he was past halfway running closer to 8:00. I would’ve been happy for him, but the gut pangs were coming back and I was busy inspecting the tree cover off the side of the road. I was trying to decide if I should make a run for it or hold on until we got into town and maybe I could find a port-o-potty. Mile 7 slowed to 8:07 as a result.

My gut made the decision for me. There was no waiting! I made a 90-degree turn and bounded across a ditch and then through the trees. No briars like the last time I had to use the woods on this road, at least.

Once again, I paused my stupid watch. I don’t know why! It’s not like they were pausing the race clock for me every time I had to use the bathroom.

That break took longer. I wasn’t feeling so great. I emerged from the woods and rejoined the race. We ran into town, turned off the main road and made a couple quick turns to head out toward another waterfront neighborhood. Mile 8 – the running part, anyway – was 8:00.

Now we were running out toward a loop through that next neighborhood. I tried to maintain goal pace, but I knew I was slipping. (The virtual pacer on my Garmin kept beeping to let me know I was slipping too.) Mile 9 was 8:11.

Near the end of the loop through the neighborhood was a water stop, and then the mile 10 marker. I took some water and walked a bit, trying to quiet down what felt like a third impending bathroom break. Mile 10 was 8:32.

I started running again. And the gut pangs came roaring up. There was no quieting it down. I made it back to the woods and ran in for my third and final stop, which, again, took a little while because I wasn’t feeling good. That time, I didn’t pause the watch.

I hopped out of the woods and again rejoined the race. Well, my guts were finally quiet, but I will admit I gave up on goal pace after that final bathroom break. What was the point?

There was one last out-and-back on a back road. Not long after we turned onto that road was the mile 11 marker, which I passed in 11:37 (because of the stop in the woods.) The U-turn was about a half-mile down the road, and then we passed the mile 12 marker just before turning off the road again. Mile 12 was 8:14.

2016 st michaels mile 12 resized

Not sure exactly where this is, but it’s the best shot of the rain.

The final mile ran into town and made a few turns before we got to the finish line.

2016 st michaels mile 13 resized

Somewhere in the final half-mile.

2016 st michaels mile 13 2 resized

Making the final turn.

I ran mile 13 in 8:22, and finished 13.1 officially in 1:53:06.

2016 st michaels finish resized

Finish line!

medal and bib

Finisher’s medal and bib.

I was 25th of 195 in the F 30-34 AG, and 244th of 1,547 total finishers.

The Garmin, which I’d paused for two out of three bathroom breaks, had recorded 13.23 miles in 1:49:57. I’m assuming I lost about a minute on the first stop and at least two on the second, so I think my actual running time was in the 1:46 area. Not quite my goal time, but closer than 1:53!

As soon as I finished, I saw my friend Melissa on the sideline. She’d finished in 1:38, a new PR! While I was telling her about my bathroom woes, TK found me. She and her mom had run the 5K, so they’d finished a while earlier, and had moved their car close to the race finish, which meant I didn’t have to walk back to mine. Thank God!

We walked straight through the runners’ village, where the post-race party was supposed to be held. I didn’t care about the one free beer I could get with the ticket on my race bib. (It was probably Bud Light anyway.) It was pouring rain, and now that I’d stopped running for three minutes, I was freezing cold.

TK drove me back to my car, and then we drove into Easton. TK dropped off her mom at her own car, and then TK and I drove over to her office, so I could change into the dry clothes I’d brought. I felt so much better once I got out of my soaking wet running clothes. I’d even thought to bring a second pair of shoes. The ones I wore in the race were just as soaked as everything else. (But I didn’t get any blisters, so that’s good.)

Once I was in dry clothes, I was starving, so TK and I went to Victory Garden Cafe. I got pancakes loaded with peanut butter, banana slices and chocolate chips; eggs over easy; sausage links and home fries. I had to take home some of the pancakes, but the rest of it went down.

When I got home, it hit me how tired I was. I took a nap that afternoon.

I am trying to figure out what is causing all the poop problems I’ve been having in races this year. So far, I’ve run two marathons and two half marathons, and have had to stop in every one but the Shamrock Marathon.

Maybe it’s coffee. I didn’t drink any coffee the morning before Shamrock, because there was nothing in the hotel room but decaf, and I felt 100 percent fine through that entire race. I definitely drank it before St. Michaels and Ocean City. I’m not sure about L.A. though. I think I did.

The only other thing I can think of is timing. Shamrock started at 8:30 a.m., less than a minute from our hotel room, so I didn’t have to get up any earlier or start running any earlier than normal. My routine was able to stay the same. L.A., Ocean City and St. Michaels all required pretty early wake-up calls. If that’s the problem, I guess I can just count on stopping in 90 percent of the races I run, because Shamrock’s timetable is the exception, not the norm.

Oh look, the spam in my work email just now has a theory:

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 10.35.02 AM

Hey, if Dr. Oz thinks my gut is infected, it must be so! He’s definitely not a quack who has been accused multiple times of peddling “snake oil” purely for financial gain. Seems legit!

Anyway, Saturday night, Mike and Natasha came over to watch the All-Star race. I think we settled on a hotel and flights for Sonoma, but nothing actually got booked.

Yesterday, I was pretty lazy. I wasn’t that sore, but every time I thought about maybe getting up and going for a short run, I’d look outside at the never ending rain and… nope. Best to stay on the couch and, uh, recover.

Clark got in some good Eagleman training though. He rode 33 miles and ran 8.5. The triathlon is three weeks from yesterday. I think he’s going to do pretty well.

Last week, I signed up to volunteer at the Eagleman finish line from 9:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. I once volunteered to work at packet pick-up for Shamrock, but I’ve never before been involved in an actual event as a volunteer. I’m looking forward to it! I’ll be handing out the finisher’s medals or hats, or water bottles or something. It turns out TK and her mom both volunteered for the same time slot at the finish line too, so I’ll even know some people there.

Now that St. Michaels is over, my next racing goal is the Seashore Striders’ annual summer series, which kicks off this coming weekend with the Masser 5-Miler. Today, I’m taking Pepper for a short run and then doing strength training.

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