Tuesday, September 25, 2012

ZOOMA half marathon race report.

Alternatively titled: The good, the bad, and the gross.

This is a tough race report to write. I'd really been looking forward to race weekend and, overall, I had a good time. But I also had a hard time in the race and I've been trying to deal with that, which, admittedly, is not easy.

Anyway . . . 

I left for Cape Cod early Friday afternoon. It was a good trip -- a little traffic, but nothing major. I got to the hotel around 5, cleaned myself up a bit and headed down to the expo.

The view from my room.

I grabbed my packet and hit the SkirtSports booth to meet Sandra. We chatted about running and marathons and running skirts -- of course! Then I spotted Tricia, who is the director of social media for ZOOMA. I've known her in the virtual world for quite a while so it was great to finally meet her in person!

It was also super to meet Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea, the authors of Run Like a Mother (and frequent Runner's World contributors). Sarah was great -- we chatted about race goals and long runs and our shared love of Minneapolis. She's running the Twin Cities Marathon in two weeks and I'm feeling a little jealous!

After the expo, I met up with all of the other ZOOMA ambassadors for a cocktail party at the outdoor bar, which was so pretty. When we got there, the sun was setting and the view was gorgeous.

At the ZOOMA party: Brooke,me, Tricia, Amy, Michelle, and Brae (the ZOOMA founder)
After hanging out and having a nice time at the event, I decided to make an early night of it and I went back to my room, laid out my race gear and tried to sleep.

I didn't sleep all that well but that's to be expected the night before a race -- especially the night before a race when staying at a hotel! I woke up at 5:30 and ate my peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread, rested a bit longer and then got going.

Ready to keep going!

The race started right at the hotel -- so perfect! I found my friend and fellow Strong Running Mama, Sheila, and after snapping a quick pic, we lined up together.

That's me with Sheila before the race. 

Sheila and I had different goals for this race: Sheila was gunning for a PR (sub-1:48) and I was going for a strong run, with a finish of under 1:50 if I felt really good, under 1:55 if I felt just regular.

Right at 7:30, we took off. And starting running uphill. The course was described as having "rolling hills" but, you know what? After running it, I don't think those hills were so rolling. It was hilly. Period.

So, we ran. I felt good. Sheila and I ran together for about the first mile and then she started to pick up the pace a little and I knew that I needed to run my own race, so I dialed back a smidge and soon enough Sheila was a good 10 steps ahead of me, which was as it should be.

The first two miles were great. And then I got a side cramp, but it was no big deal. I can handle a little cramp. I kept running, poking my cramp now and then. After mile 3, the cramp seemed to go away. Only to come back with a vengeance.

Things get a little fuzzy around miles 4 and 5 . . . I felt terrible. I had goosebumps all over my body and felt like I was alternately freezing and boiling and then . . . it happened. I threw up.

Yup. I had to zip to the side of the road because it just came over me so quickly. (Although, thinking back, I know it was building for a while.)

Gross, I know.

I felt ridiculous. And angry with myself. And scared about what it meant. And then I wondered how I would make it through the rest of the race.

Remember my bracelet? The one telling me to Just Keep Going?

Well, thank goodness for that because I must have looked at it 100 times over the course of the remaining miles. And I kept going. You can walk, but you've got to finish.

I have to admit that I struggled and, like a fool, kept trying to push myself to get under that 1:55. So I'd try to pick up the pace, only to have the gawdawful cramp come rushing back. It was like that for miles. At one point, probably a mile from the finish line, I stopped. The cramp had gotten so bad and I felt like I was being stabbed with every step I took. I think I was a bit doubled-over when a fellow racer came up from behind and put her arm on me. I don't remember exactly what she said but it was uplifting and it helped get me started again.

I ran on. Up the hills toward the finish. As I got closer, one of the volunteers told me that if I hustled, I could break 2 hours.

So I hustled.

Squeaking in just under 2 hours!
The announcer had everyone cheer me in for the sub-2 finish. It definitely helped!

After I crossed the line, I was given my finishers' necklace -- which I LOVE!

Love, love, love.

And then Sheila found me (she also snapped the picture of me crossing the finish line) and we talked about the race. Sheila rocked the race and set a HUGE PR -- she finished in 1:46:41 and was 2nd in her age group!! I was really happy for her and quite impressed! I can't wait to see how she does in her marathon in two weeks!

As for me, well, the race didn't go as planned. Not at all. I walked around after the race and then went back to my room to lie down and take a warm shower. Within an hour I was fine. What a weird experience.

Here's my race stats:

Official time: 1:59:57
Overall place: 81 out of 245
Age group place: 11 out of 31

Before heading home, I spent some time with Tricia and even remembered to get a picture of the two of us. Nice frizzy hair I have there, huh?

Thinking back about what happened, I place some blame on my food choices. I think the whole wheat bread and peanut butter didn't sit well. I can't imagine what else it could be. So, for my next race -- the Mohawk Hudson half in less than two weeks -- I'll make some fueling changes. I don't need a repeat of my side-of-the-road antics!

All in all, I had a very good time in Cape Cod for the ZOOMA race. I would totally do it again! The race was well organized and it was a pleasure to work with the team as an ambassador. I recommend this race series, for sure.

And now, I'm back. My Sunday recovery run was good and I'm hoping that I can get a few more good runs in before the next race.

In the meantime, let me ask this:

Have you ever thrown up in a race? Had awful cramps? 
What did you learn from the experience? What changes did you make?

I'll take all the advice I can get!

Thanks for reading. Have a good day!

~ Felice


macnic said...

UGG! The only time I ever threw up while running, I was pregnant. Good to keep going for under two hours! That's awesome. Could be just a weird thing.

Becca Lund said...

I had a 10k a few weekends ago where I got a wicked cramp (well, my entire stomach was a giant cramp) about 10 seconds after I started. I blame it on that I was going crazy trying to get my nike+ to turn on on my phone, and my tunes going. Had I just breathed, and relaxed, maybe I would have been fine. But, it ruined my race and I was sick the entire time.

Michelle said...

Oh Felice I'm so sorry you had a tough time out there! How impressive that you still came in sub-2 hrs!

It was great meeting you! Good luck with the Mowhawk-Hudson!!

Anonymous said...

Looks like an amazing time, and cant beat that view!

Bridget said...

You still ran a sub-two marathon despite puking! You go girl!!!

Melissa said...

Amazing! I can't believe you puked and still had such a speedy time. You are one tough runner!
Despite the puking this sounds like a great race and I am adding it to my to-run list!

Sandra Laflamme said...

YOu are such a strong woman to have completed the half while having difficulties during the race. I have never thrown up during a race but have had issues with not enough fuel/bonking and dehydration. None of it is fun. I would definitely practice fueling with different foods during your training. Sometimes I find on race day it is best to stick with bland foods, banana, bagel with cream cheese pre-race because sometimes the nervous stomach and the wrong food can=disaster. Hopefully your next race will be a totally different experience and just think how fast you will go when you are feeling good! Congrats on the sub 2-hour finish despite feeling crummy.
It was so great to meet you! Hopefully we can hang out again at another race sometime!

fancy nancy said...

Oh no Felice!!! I had no idea this happened!!! What a rockstar you are though to still finish in under 2 hours!!

I have had side cramps that have killed me before but I always thought they were from not hydrating enough. Good luck with your next race and it was AWESOME to meet you!!

J said...

Ugg that sounds horrible! So sorry your stomach was upset. I have totally been there and it is a miserable way to race but it happens sometimes. Hopefully it wont happen again!

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