Sunday, March 20, 2011

New Bedford – a PR in… Puking?

Today was the New Bedford Half Marathon, which I by my own admission had not trained well enough for.  Due to my sore foot and painful stomach I hadn’t logged a long run since Hyannis, so the best I could hope for was that my base would be enough to carry me most of the way, and grit would fill in the blanks. 
                Luckily I carpooled down to the race, which was great since I probably never would have found it.  The race was well organized and volunteers were ready and eager to help runners whenever needed.  What made this race different for me though is that I’m a simple country girl.  I have this weird expectation that there’s a starting line right in front of the packet pickup, along with a sprawling parking lot to store each and every one of the 2,700 runners’ cars.  New Bedford is a city, so the starting line was a couple blocks up and the parking was wherever you could find a spot.  Again, luckily I carpooled with a seasoned veteran of this race so the logistics were out of my hands. 
                It seemed that everyone from the city was out cheering on the runners.  They treat the runners like celebrities and I couldn’t help but get swept up in the excitement.  Most of the races I’ve run have very few spectators, so this was my first glance at what a big race feels like.  Now I see why people are so obsessed with Boston and NYC.  I wish I could say that my performance wowed the crowds, but today was just not the day.  The course itself was interesting and the scenery definitely helped pass the time.  Yesterday when I mentioned to someone I was running in New Bedford his reaction was, “Where will you be packing your gun?”  I had wondered the same exact thing.  Indeed, shortly after the start of the race we went through some questionable sections and passed pawn shops, thrift stores, and even a church set up in a strip mall (prayer needs no steeple apparently).  But there were also beautiful sections, and a very scenic stretch along the ocean with piers and lighthouses. 
                My body just wouldn’t cooperate with me today and it was pretty frustrating.  Knowing that I wasn’t in top condition, I expected to have to work a little hard and feel a little soreness.  But today, I had nothing in the tank.  Even starting the race I didn’t have energy.  I started off slow, at about a 9:20 pace, and expected to maintain that until after the first big hill (around mile 4) and then pick up speed to an 8:30-8:40.  Unfortunately I just didn’t have it in me to pick up the pace, and the best I could do was about a 9:00.  I started feeling nauseous around the 9 mile mark, which came in waves, and got pretty unbearable at the 12 mile mark (which coincided with a tooth-kicker of a hill).  I had to talk myself up that hill literally one step at a time, while trying to control whatever was going on in my stomach.
                I finished the race in 2:02, which is my slowest half marathon.  Although I wasn’t thrilled with my time, I wasn’t really disappointed either because the two hills on the course were bigger than anything I had in my previous half’s.  My only real frustration stemmed from my nausea, which got progressively worse after the race.  I had been really looking forward to sampling the fish chowder available to the runners after the race, but instead I was trying to hold in the water I had just gulped down. 
                We left immediately after the race, where I turned green and had cold sweats all the way back home.  (Actually, I wasn’t sweating because I had nothing left to sweat, but if I could sweat, I would have been clammy).  My poor pal Hiroshi thought for sure I was going to make a mess all over his car.  I’m pretty sure I won’t be invited to carpool again anytime soon!  I got sick the minute I walked in my door, and then after that I felt pretty good.  I had a small dinner, but there was no post-race victory, no celebratory wining and dining this time around.   I’m sure I will spend the next two months analyzing what caused my stomach to get into such a tizzy.  I ate my normal pre-half marathon breakfast (3/4 cup fat free cottage cheese and 4 oz black coffee) three hours before the race, and a snack (20 almonds, 2 Tums, and 8 oz water) two hours before the race.  My mother thinks I ate too many almonds.  I think that’s possible, and maybe I didn’t drink enough water.  Maybe today just wasn’t my day.  On a positive note, the rest of my body held up wonderfully.  No foot soreness, no muscle soreness, and as a bonus I got my first sunburn of the year!  (Yes, you can get a sunburn when it’s 35 degrees!) 
                I’ll be taking a couple days off from running and replacing it with yoga and kettlebells.  Then I’ll be back on the pavement, vowing to train harder and seeking out all sorts of advice on pre-race food for the weak of stomach.  Maybe I’ll sample the advice each day before my lunchtime run with my buddies.  I’m sure they would love to be witnesses to this experiment! 


  1. Oye... what a way to experience a race... but the stories you have to tell! Given all the obstacles presented to you, I think you still had a good race time.

    I must say, I'm jealous that you have 2 halfs under your belt already, especially considering the weather you have had. I signed up for 2 legs (9 total miles) of our Brew-to-Brew relay race that will take place in two weeks. There might be some vomiting in that, but it won't be running related ;).

    Everything is a learning experience and I hope you figure out what tripped you up this time. I can't imagine that pre-race meal giving you issues... well, maybe you should check the expiration date on that cottage cheese. :)

  2. Wow! At least is wasn't raining and thundering like it was here for my sister. Next week for my half they are predicting snow!
    You are really an inspiration! I am hoping to finish in 2.5 hours, slow poke that I am.
    Keep running, keep writing!

  3. Ha! I was wondering who Hiroshi ditched us for at the New Bedford Half!!
    (I knew it had to be a woman!)
    He is one of my training partners. We carpooled down to Hyannis together in February.

    You know, I was suspicious that you might be a member of the Tri Valley Front Runners when I saw your race schedule. Are you?