Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Race Report Part 2: Racing in Bavaria

Here we are... the main event. Race Day.

My running partner & I started off early.
On the train again...
We wanted to beat the crowds on public transportation & assumed there'd be a Starbucks (what a treat for us) or some other type of cafe to stay warm in & have a drink... & use the bathrooms. I think we were pretty smart; we had seats on every single train we rode & managed to find a restaurant attached to the bag drop zone. We stayed warm, had cappuccinos & croissants, & used the restroom. A lot.

The entire time we sat there, we were nervous about the weather. The longer we sat in the cafe, the more we thought it was freezing cold (to us) outside. We were so freaking happy when we finally got outside into the sun, approximately 1 hour before the start. We stripped off, repacked our drop bags, & set off to find the porta potties... because we weren't allowed back in the restaurant (which really pissed us off after ordering 4 cappuccinos & 2 croissants... & leaving a nice tip).

One thing I usually forget about pre-race is the idea of throw-aways clothes. I've notice my body likes to freeze before a race, which means starting off in a very uncomfortable way. This time, though, I made sure to bring a pair of Fat Pants.

My Fat Pants, as you can see, are about 3 sizes too big for me now. I'd set them aside awhile ago to wear as my throw-aways... & it felt awesome to finally ditch these pants. After that, it was time to head to the line...

Shoulder to shoulder... & photobombed!
...which we barely fit into. We squeezed into the area near the 2:15:00 pace group; I wanted to keep my eye on that balloon. The problem was the race crowd was shoulder-to-shoulder. We didn't get to start running until 11 minutes after the actual start...but it felt more like 20 minutes. And my favorite part of the race is watching everyone cross the start/finish & reach for their watches. I did the exact same thing. It makes me chuckle. Us runners...we certainly love our stats, don't we? I was super-paranoid this time because my last half marathon wasn't recorded properly on my old Garmin (no satellites), making it almost impossible to pace myself. I made sure I didn't have that problem this time around. The gun went off & it was time to run! 

But the thing is... when it's shoulder-to-shoulder, you can't run. You can trot, you can shuffle, but you can't really run. It took a good 3 miles before I was loose & away from the largest part of the crowd. There were some rolling hills at the beginning, but they weren't that bad & I was able to use the downhill to pick up speed. I knew I had some issues, though: I'd been battled stomach distress all weekend... & it reared its ugly head around Mile 6.
Before the crisis & looking good
I'd made the decision weeks ago to race with my Camelbak on. I'm used to it because of my training & it meant running MY style of race & being able to ignore water stations. The problem was that the stomach distress meant I couldn't tolerate my nutrition (Clif Bloks) or my nuun hydration. Every time I needed nutrition or tried to suck down hydration, I felt like I was going to vomit... or ... well... poop. We're all runners here so we can talk about these gross issues. It  was bad. So bad that I ended up taking water at refueling stations. At Mile 11, I called my husband (deployed, btw) to get some words of encouragement. At Mile 12, I knew I wasn't going to hit my goal time, but I kept trying to run as fast as I could. But the dehydration led to cramping, so I was just trying to get thru it & have it all be over.

And I hung on... until my watch hit 13.1 miles. And I still wasn't done. WTF?
Entering the Olympic Stadium
Turns out, the course was about 13.25 miles, according to my Garmin. So I had to keep running. I was in the Stadium & able to see the finish line by this point & I tried to sprint to the finish. I gave it all... which I know because the cramping afterwards was awful. I crossed the finish line & was awarded a medal by a dude in lederhosen. I managed to find a plastic coat to shield me from the cold wind, downed some water, & watched for my running partner to cross the finish line. Which she did!!
Crazy faces, awesome finishers!
We were FREEZING at the end, but we couldn't resist hanging out in the middle of Olympic Stadium. Which is where my stomach cramped horribly, so I forced down a bit of banana, an apple, & some chocolate milk. I skipped the finish line beer & pretzel because I knew it'd make me even sicker. Then we had to walk up stairs to get out of the stadium, a particularly cruel exit strategy for people having just run 26.2 or 13.1 miles. By this point, my teeth were chattering & I desperately needed dry clothing. We finally found the bag drop, picked up our stuff, & hauled butt to the bathroom to get changed. I have never been so happy to be naked in a public restroom before that moment!
Run & Done!
Once we were [mostly] clean, dry, & warm, we headed back to the center of town for dinner. I ate schnitzel with french fries & had a victory beer.
Hail the victorious runners!
And halfway thru dinner, I started to feel very sick. I think it was just too warm in the restaurant because I felt better when I got out into the cold. We hopped the train back to the hotel, where I showered, stretched, & passed out.

All in all, a victorious weekend. Sure, I didn't hit my goal time. But I didn't poop myself... & that's a WIN. And remember...

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