You know, a dreaded racing mistake. Surely, I'm not the only one?
In a perfect racing existence, none of us would make any mistakes...we'd always have a picture perfect race day, with optimal fuel, a good night's rest and no worries about chafing or porta potty fails.
Alas, with no mistakes to be made, no lessons would be learned.
Anyways, here are a few racing OOPS that I have made, and what they taught me.
**Don't experiment with a new "fuel" on a 26.2 course.
Let me set the scene....Grandma's Marathon 2015. The race was in mid-June, and I had had a horrific spring in terms of weather, family obligations and numerous non-running commitments. In other words, my training was sub-par and my long runs came up short (pun intended).
I had been having issues with gels, so I got the idea to use fruit snacks instead. That may have worked alright, but I also was slamming water and a lot of Gatorade at most of the water stands along the route. If I would have had the opportunity to play around with the fruit snacks in my training, I would have learned that all of that sugar (and Gatorade mixed in for kicks) would do a nasty number on my poor, unsuspecting tummy. I'll spare you the explicit details, but miles 15-22 involved lots of porta-potty stops. And all of that starting/stopping wreaked major havoc on my legs. Although I enjoyed the scenic race course, I had several miles of "porta-potty" anxiety in finishing that race. And that was the last time I ever tried a new fueling strategy on the race course without first testing it out during a training run.
|Whew! I made it to the finish line unscathed...|
**Do not discount the DOMS during race week.
We've all experienced the Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. The crazy thing about the DOMS is that they are different for every person, and they usually vary with the intensity of workout that induces them. This past summer, I did a HIIT workout on a Tuesday morning. It didn't seem that intense,but there were a lot of squats (in various positions) and some stair work, as well as several different kinds of lunges. I had been training all summer, and felt like I was in decent shape. I did a 5-mile run the following morning and felt fine. The nest morning, though, I could barely lift my tush off of my bed.
For the next couple days, every time I sat down or attempted to stand, I winced in pain. My race on that Saturday morning was pure torture. Ouch, those DOMS certainly kept me humble that week. Never assume the DOMS will happen at the exact same time following any given workout...and never assume they will only last for a day or so.
**Read the fine print on your medication labels.
Prior to Park-to-Park 2013, I had been on antibiotics for a few days. Not (usually) a big deal. Race day was a very hot and humid, early September day. I'm no stranger to such weather, and the route of the P2P Half Marathon was predominantly on well-shaded trails through a couple of parks.
The thing is on race morning, I was not feeling like myself. I could barely eat any breakfast, and my entire body felt tired. About half way through the course, my tummy really started to feel weird, and not in a good way. A disadvantage to such a beautiful trail through the wilderness is the lack of porta-potties. Not usually an issue, but on this very morning, I feared I'd be needing one long before the finish line. My tummy kept cramping, and I was a sweaty mess in the heat. I felt so exhausted, I finally gave in and took a brief walk break around the halfway mark. I pressed on, but had to take another walk break a short ways later. And again, And yet again. Around the 9-mile mark, my calves started seizing up every time I'd run, causing me to need more walk breaks. And the tummy continued to ache...and then my head started pounding. Although I never felt like quitting, I had so many frustrations in getting to the finish line that morning. Eventually, though, I made it.
I later read over the fine print of the medicine label...and it cautioned that two of the side effects of the meds were loss of appetite and diarrhea! Bingo. I had not eaten much in the days prior to the race (because I had not been very hungry), and well, you already know what my tummy was feeling. Thankfully, I never had any porta-potty emergencies, but it was pretty scary in those final miles.
|Crisis averted, and another finish line victory|
**Be honest with your abilities.
Back in my early days of running, I knew nothing about pacing (or even what my pace should be). I knew I could run three continuous miles, so I registered for a local 5K. I also didn't know the first thing about lining up based on your pace. The race started, and I found myself in the middle of a herd of high school cross country runners....and was so thrilled that I could keep up with all of those youngsters. We made it through the first mile, and as the second mile began, we had a hill to tackle. And, let's just say I was served a very generous piece of humble pie. My body was shot from the much-too-fast-for-me start, and I had to walk a generous portion of that hill (as well as the rest of the race) while all of those cross country youngsters sprinted on ahead of me.
**A favorite pair of old, trustworthy shoes may not be your best option on race day.
On a whim, I took my trusty Mizuno Wave Inspire 8's for a short run in early July 2016. These were THE shoes to beat all other shoes. I'd worn them for my first two marathons (Quad Cities 2013 and IMT Des Moines 2014) and they had served me well. In fact, they felt so good on that spontaneous run, I decided to wear them again for my 4th of July 5K a couple days later.
That weekend, I wore a different (old) trusty pair of shoes for a muddy trail run. That evening, I also had a 5K/10K combo on tap. My hips and hammies felt tired and strained, but I attributed it to the morning's trail race. I made it through the 5K, but it was a major struggle...everything hurt and it felt like I was running in slow motion.
Then, I barely made it through the first mile of the 10K (about 30 minutes later), and decided to take my first-ever (and only) DNF. My gait/stride/form was so compromised, and it felt awkward to even breathe. It actually was more of a relief than a disappointment surrendering my timing chip. I was not doing myself any favors by trying to run when my body was putting up such a struggle...and I would be risking major injury by continuing a race I should not have even started. Lesson learned : no matter how comfy those tried-and-true shoes may feel, if they are past their prime, keep them on the shelf and off your feet.
|Sitting curbside....waiting for my friends to finish the race that I just DNF'd|
Now it's your turn....have you ever had any similar experiences whilst wearing a racing bib?