February 1, 2010

My Whiny Race Report

I mentioned briefly that the run didnt go as expected, in order to completely explain I think I need to back up a few days prior to the race before I even explain that day.

Two days before departure I have a horrible nights sleep. I am literally awake all night tossing and turning. I perhaps get about 2-3 hours of sleep. I am worried about leaving Brooke for the first time, about what to wear for the trip, about traveling, etc. But the biggest thing that kept me up that night? What Brooke would eat over the weekend. I was trying to plan out her meals and figure out what I needed to do on Friday to make sure she had food for the weekend. I guess I assumed if I didnt plan out all of her food my husband would let her starve or something (or like my 30 lb toddler would let herself go hungry). It was a stupid concern but nevertheless kept me up all night.

I posted around 10PM Friday that I still wasnt packed or ready for my trip. I looked at all of my warm weather running clothes and hated all of them. I spent about an hour trying clothes on and feeling bad about myself for looking dumb in all of them. I picked the lesser of evils and tossed them into my bag. I got all my stuff done and was in bed by 11:15. Actually not far off from a normal night for myself! Brooke had some food prepared for the weekend, my bag was packed and my alarm was set.

Saturday - Departure Day
I was up at 6AM and planned to leave my house at 7. I showered and grabbed my stuff, then just waited for my friend (and fellow runner) Gina to arrive in the cab. Brooke sleeps in past 7 and I knew I wouldnt be able to see her. As I waited for my friend, I cried. I was excited for the trip, but it was hard to have to leave her.

The flight went well and we arrived in Miami without a hitch. We went to the cab line and were told which cab to go to. We walk up to it and the airport worker tries to open the door. It wouldnt open. So he pounds on the window and tells the guy to open the door. He opens the door, but not the trunk. I just stand there with my suitcase. Nothing. So I hop in the back, suitcase and all. The airport worker yells at the cab driver and tells him he was required to get out of the car and get my suitcase or get a fine. For the rest of the drive to the hotel the cab driver complained about how the Miami Police were all up in their business and spent all of their time trying to ticket them. Also how they get ticketed for everything and anything at the airport. "How am I supposed to open the trunk and put in a suitcase and also open the car door?" It just wasnt fair how hard his job was...

We get to the hotel and checked in. The hotel wasnt bad, but wasnt great either. This (to the left) is the view out of our window. Pretty sweet, huh? The one thing we later realized was that we were in the back/corner of the hotel. While we might not have had much of a view, it was really quiet. When you are staying in South Beach, this is pretty unusual!).

After dropping off our stuff we went to the expo. The expo was totally packed. We couldnt even look around. Combined with the runners and random locals out for free stuff it was a free-for-all zoo. We pretty much grabbed out stuff and left.

Gina and I walked around for a bit then met the rest of the girls for dinner at a local Italian restaurant - Da Leo. We essentially at dinner and head back to the hotel to turn in for the night. We hopped into a cab who promptly turned his music up to the highest level, we couldnt even think (let alone talk). We tried to roll down our windows and he rolled them back up. We got close to the hotel and he got into an altercation with a guy walking on the street who appeared to be some sort of valet. They yelled back and forth at each other and the valet-guy pounded on the cab as we slowly rolled past him. What a delight.

When we got into the hotel we asked the front desk on the way to our room about getting a cab at 4AM and they said it would be easy - just call down to the desk 5 minutes before we needed a cab.

Sunday - Race Day
The race started at 6:15. We were taking a shuttle that departed between 4:00-4:30 (so we targeted our arrival for 4:15). I wanted to shower before the race so I set the alarm for 3:00. (With the time change and fact that we had not adapted to local time with only a few hours in Miami, that would be 2AM Chicago time). When my alarm went off I had essentially had 3 or less hours of sleep. I got ready and we called the desk a few minutes to 4. No answer. Called again a few minutes later. The guy who answered told Gina that it would be a 20 minute wait for a cab. We freaked, ran down to the lobby ... and found it empty and desserted. A guy standing outside hailed us a cab in about 2 minutes.

We got to the shuttle at 4:15 and despite a long line were boarded fairly quickly. We arrived at the start about 4:40 or so (maybe 4:50) to find that they hadnt even set up gear check yet. There were no volunteers anywhere. No signs. No directions. After going to the bathroom and meeting up with the rest of the girls we eventually head to the start line. It was a zoo, much like the expo, but on a grander scale.

The race actually started a bit late, and it took us about 15 or so minutes to cross the start. Not that unusual for a race. The first mile was so jam packed that it took us almost 13 minutes. Mile 2 went better and was on pace, 11:06. And it all went down hill from there.

I didnt feel right the race morning. Leading up to heading to Miami I didnt feel 100%. On Saturday, in Miami, I had trouble breathing. I am assuming this was allergy related because I seem to have a lot of problems in humid climates. I woke up on race day with pretty bad cramps (ladies, you know what I am talking about). The morning of the race was really humid, by the end of the 1st mile I was soaking wet. The first water station came at about mile 2.5. I was already feeling dehydrated (hadnt had any water since the hotel - about 3 hours prior. The water station ... and every station after ... was a mess. Kids were the only volunteers on the course (looked like high school age). They apparently didnt have any training. The cups werent stacked high, there were variations in where the gatorade vs water was (some stations had both on each table, some had water first, some at the end, some in the middle). The kids were standing out in the middle of the course handing out water (instead of close to the tables). In addition, at pretty much every station they were pouring water/gatorade glass-by glass because their supply of premade cups was out. That meant that you had to stop and WAIT at each station for a glass of water. Add to that the fact that they werent properly spaced. Some of them were just a few blocks apart, then you would need to run for 1.5 miles (maybe more) until you hit the next one.

I got through the first water station and starting thinking I had to go to the bathroom. We got to the restrooms and the line was crazy. I decided maybe it was just cramps making me think I had to go to the bathroom and kept going. The next line of restrooms looked the same, so I kept going. Soon I realized that I definitely needed to go to the restroom. Conveniently the course passed right by my hotel so I went into it about 4.5 miles in and used my own (personal and private) restroom. By this point I was already tired and not feeling so great. I was questioning whether or not I was going to be able to make the whole distance. I assumed that I would start feeling better so I tried to keep a positive attitude and kept going.

Unfortunately, things didnt get better. My legs never felt fresh. My head was never in it. Each mile was slower than I thought it actually was and my pace was like nothing I had ever seen. Even when I felt like I had gone faster and had a decent mile, it was still slower than I thought I had done. As the miles passed I continued to get more and more tired. I took shot blocks only 6 miles in, hoping it would give me a boost ... no luck. And by mile 8 or so I started having chest pains, that continued through the rest of the race. I slowed down even more and took some time (while resting here and there) to snap a few pics.

I actually debated here and there whether or not to stop for medical attention. I've never had anything like those chest pains before, and I've actually never had a race (or even a regular run) that went this poorly. It was physically and morally defeating.

I did finish, but wouldnt say I finished very strong. I pushed myself to run the last 2.1 miles, though perhaps "running" wouldnt be the right word for it. When I finished my chest was still hurting, but I walked around and tried to rest and calm down. The finish line was like the rest of the race - chaotic. They filtered us through tiny areas like cattle. I couldnt find the food and the area with the pics (which I opted not to take) ended up in a dead-end with buckets sitting out collecting donations or something for a charity. I squeezed out through a small area in a fence, saw some people with food on the other side, and then had to fight traffic the wrong way to get back into that fence and grab a bagel. I then had to fight the crowds back out and try to find my friends somewhere in the mess of people.

Finish time - 2:42:56

Sunday afternoon and early evening Gina and I just hung out and relaxed. We were back in the hotel early due to the fact that we were exhausted and had an early AM flight.

Monday - Home
I had a decent nights sleep on Sunday night and we woke up Monday morning ready to head home. Caught a cab easily and didnt hit any traffic. Found the airport to be confusing and lacking in food options - and our gate was in some random wing we had to take a bus to. The only food option was Starbucks ... which I dont normally complain about, but we were really looking for some real food. The flight home was turbulent and I spent most of it pretty sick. I didnt puke (lucky for Gina) but it was close on several occasions. I have spent the rest of the day with a spinny head and sick stomach, but it was worth it to get home to see my family. I dont want to leave it all on a negative note, the experience wasnt all bad :) A few positive things:
- I wouldnt have even finished without my friend Christina. She ran every slow mile with me. If it wasnt for her, I would have likely crawled into bed when I was doing my hotel pitstop around mile 5.
- It rained all night Sunday and was raining Monday when we left. We are really luckly the weather held up for the race.
- I enjoyed having some quality "girl time".
- My hubby and daughter survived, and I'd say even thrived. They had a good bonding weekend and the first thing Brooke said when she was me was "DaDa". I think it was good for all of us to mix things up a bit!


Kristin said...

So sorry about the difficulties and all the crazy things that happened...but congratulations for sticking it out and not just going to bed at your potty stop! Next time will be better! :)

Bethany + Ryan said...

awww, sorry things didn't go as planned but i'm proud of you for sticking with it. Are you worried about the chest pains? or do you just think they were stress/anxiety related? i hope everything is ok. That was the ING half right? hmm, i would have thought it was more organized then that. jeesh!. glad you are home. hope ur feeling better!

kilax said...

Ugh! What a nightmare of a race! I cannot imagine running on only 3 hours of sleep, but also being a bit dehydrated in an unorganized race?! I am happy you didn't feel worse! Be proud of yourself for pushing through it, and being smart enough to stop if you needed medical attention. The next one will be smoother!

Jess said...

Sorry the race didn't go very well for you.

I carried my own water, so I never stopped at the water stations, but in passing them, I could see that they were a zoo, and I was thankful I didn't need to stop at them.

I think Miami has grown so big so fast that the RDs haven't really had the experience that larger cities' RDs have in organizing, (plus, there's almost something cultural about Miami that must mean tossing things together haphazardly), so I agree with your complaints. The race has some work to do in order to accomodate such a growing crowd. That, or they need to cap the participant field at a smaller number.

But, congrats on the finish! Sometimes, when you have a bad race, just getting through it is a major accomplishment and feat of endurance!

And, it WAS humid. But, just think, this is winter! In the summer, we have that humidity + 90 degree temps!

Kerrie T. said...

My worst fear, which will probably come true for Mercer Island in March: cramps/girl stuff for a race. So sorry you had such a hard time. Hope you can schedule a redemption race soon!

Lisa said...

OMG, I am so sorry this happened,. But you were a TROOPER and pushed through it and FINISHED. That is not something to knock.

The race does not sound like it was very organized.

Lessons learned for the next time for sure.

MCM Mama said...

Good job on finishing! Some days that's all you can ask for. Sounds like a crazy and stressful race! And I here you on girl issues during a race. I had some issues during the marathon I ran and it was not fun at all.

Glad you made it safely home and that Brooke and daddy did great!

Iron Jayhawk said...

My coach likes to remind me that they all can't be great races. Days like that happen in our sport. Just have faith that things will line up for you the next time. I can't believe how crazy the race itself was...and hopefully you're back up and running at 110% with no chest pains. How scary that must've been.

Regardless...welcome home! And I"m glad the weather held out for you :)

Jamie said...

I'm sorry you didn't have the race you hoped for. Unfortunately that happens on occasion. Great job on sticking it out and finishing despite everything. At least the next one will be better and you had a girls weekend in some non Chicago temps :)

Rachael said...

Sorry it wasn't as you anticipated. Probably because you weren't feeling well to start with.

I thought it was a fantastic race! The weather couldn't have been more perfect (for Miami running.) BUT...I didn't train at all. Totally lowers your expectations. lol. So there's a tip for next time! =) (Kidding...) AND, I finished slower than you. I was just glad to eek in under 3 hours. And even at that I was SORE for 3 days and just now starting to feel normal. So, on second thought, I do NOT recommend the no training approach, perhaps.

Hope you recover fully and soon!

robison52 said...

I'm getting to the point where I'm not enjoying those mega-large races with the crowds and mess, taking a long time to get into a rhythm due to the slow start...I'm thinking about finding a very small race of a couple hundred people rather than a couple of THOUSANDS of runners.

Adam Culp (Crazy Floridian) said...

Hi, I did Miami also. See my post at http://www.crazyfloridian.com/archives/421

I found you through other blogs I follow. Keep up the posting. I am following you now.