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?
omgosh,I've never had the issue where my tummy was threatening to explode (hmmm literally?) out the back end, but definitely have used fueling options that I hadn't tested that made me want to throw up!! NOT FUN. I won't use it now if I haven't tested it. Thank goodness we learn!!!ReplyDelete
Oh, it's so nasty when the tummy wants to explode LOL Thankfully, I've never had any accidents, but there have been a couple of times where I didn't think I'd make it to a porta-pot in time.Delete
Oh I love this post, how honest and brilliant.ReplyDelete
My biggest oops was in my first half-marathon. And it's why when I sat down with Bernice to discuss our ultra NEXT JULY, we thrashed out what to do if one of us has a very bad race and can't continue.
So I'd trained with Jen and we'd taught ourselves to run long distances and we were matched for speed and stamina yay. And we started our half together and then at mile 6 or so she started to fall apart. She needed the loo so we went to the loo, and then she had stomach pains and she wanted to walk and she wanted me to carry on. and for a MILE we argued, I'll stay with you, no, go on. In the end one of those army guys with the backpack said, "Look, you go on, I'll keep with her". So I did. And I cried for A MILE and then I saw her on the out and back and cried some more, and then some people dressed as doctors adopted me and cheered me up and then I helped a Sikh guy who'd run a half aged 18 and was now 48 and feeling it to keep going and I was in a big hug with a Sikh guy and some fake doctors at the end and it was just like every other race I've done since. And I waited to see Jen through and she was fine.
And now, whenever I'm doing a race with a friend, we have The Talk.
Oh, and with our ultra, we've agreed we'll stay with each other if we're struggling as there's no cut off and it's the only ultra we'll do, but if one of us has to stop, the other will get her to a marshal then continue to the end for both of us. All good.
That is a great idea about having "the talk" with a friend you plan to race with. It's so comforting to have someone along with you if you're struggling, but it's also guilt-inducing to hold someone back.Delete
Luckily I rarely have tummy trouble but tend to stick with drinking water on the course. I like to bring my own gels because I don't usually like what they have on the course. That experience with the antibiotics sounds awful. God lesson on the shoes! I always retire my shoes way before I am supposed to because I always find new shoes that I like.ReplyDelete
I seldom ever rely on on-course gels these days because I know my tummy will rebel once the race ends (if not before LOL).Delete
The most dramatic tummy issue I ever experienced during a race was in Vegas last year after the Toasted Marshmallow GU. I think not eating anything for most of that day and walking for all of that day were huge factors as well. Funny how we never forget races like that.ReplyDelete
That's probably very similar to my experience when I was on the antibiotics...I hadn't eaten much (for a few days), and I was also exhausted before the race even started.Delete
Antibiotics will really do a number on you. They also usually make you more sensitive to sun exposure, too!ReplyDelete
I have certainly gone out too fast in races, but I worked hard on it, and I sometimes have a tendency to go out too slow!
I am still trying to figure out hoe fast/slow to start a race...and I've been doing this for 13 years! Sometimes, an "easy" pace is actually faster than it seems, and other times a "fast" pace is barely above my usual pace.Delete
Tummy issues? I've got them and they are unpredictable. Mostly now I just watch what I eat the week before the race.ReplyDelete
I'm careful to carb-load the entire week of a race, and not just the evening prior; same with hydration.Delete
We have all had "race issues" before. I can't do gels. I have now found the best food to fuel a marathon for me is dried apricots and salty almonds. Trial and error!ReplyDelete
I have heard good things about dried fruit, and have thought about trying that myself.Delete
I try to follow the rule of not trying anything new on race day, but I've made some mistakes while out on the course like taking random snacks or drinks that sound good at the time. Luckily I haven't had any major issues from that. The shoe thing can be tricky...I'm always trying to monitor my shoes to figure out when they're past their prime!ReplyDelete
The shoes are tricky! I think, over time, we get so used to the comfy shoes that we don't notice our form being compromised (from worn-out shoes that don't give the right support anymore).Delete
All great points! I was so nervous about hydrating during my first marathon that I overhydrated and had to stop 4 times in 20 miles.ReplyDelete
Hydration is tricky....the weather is such a factor, and that can vary so much throughout training as well as on race day.Delete
Yup. Made mucho mistakes.ReplyDelete
Eating the wrong food the night before. Putting too many miles on the legs the day before. I could go on and on. I have a post on this for sometime in the future.
Thankfully, all the mistakes we make (usually) teach us valuable lessons, right?Delete
I definitely learn something from every race I run. My biggest racing mistake is probably starting too fast. Wish I could stop doing that!ReplyDelete
Starting out too fast is such a tough one to "fix." Whenever I get mixed into a group of runners, I (subconsciously) try to stay with them, to the point that I don't really perceive myself as going too fast...until I see my split at the 1-mile mark. Then, it's usually too late to rectify the damage.Delete
Ah, racing mistakes. We all make them. I laughed at your story of the cross country runners because my husband had a similar experience at the Boston Marathon (long ago when it was a much smaller race). Because of his qualifying time, he was lined up with some (older) elites, like Bill Rodgers. Someone warned him not to get sucked into their pace, but, as you know, it feels so good to "run with the big dogs," even if it almost kills you. He ended up at mile 10 in an hour! He was able to back off and finish with a decent time, but it just goes to show that we are all susceptable to that kind of excitement.ReplyDelete
Dang...10 miles in an hour??? I'd be gasping for air on a stretcher somewhere if that was me ;-)Delete
My biggest oops was probably eating a big lunch before my races in high school. Lots of throw up. But other than that I think I’ve faired pretty well even when Im not keeping all the rules on what not to do before a race.ReplyDelete
Some of the rules definitely have a little big of slack built in, but there's no guarantee when that will work to one's advantageDelete
I think we've all had few oops's! I've had the tummy issues and bladder issues where I'm too stubborn to stop for the bathroom and hold on for dear life, lol! For my first marathon my watch died with about 3 miles left...I probably should have charged it the night before, but once the watch died I pretty much walked the rest of the way, which I do regret!ReplyDelete
ha ha ha...as someone who has given birth three times, there's no "holding on for dear life" with a full bladder LOLDelete
Thankfully that hasn't happened to me. I've had rerace jitters and needed portapotties, but only needed them for #1 on the course.ReplyDelete
The porta-potties (or lack there of) can really be a deal breaker...Delete
Well you know about my bad race experience a few weeks ago. I'm so thankful I didn't poop my pants and become a meme, LOLReplyDelete
I've made so many racing mistakes that I can't even list them all lol
Well, I've made many mistakes, as well....this is only a few of the bigger ones ;-)Delete
Being honest with your abilities and not experimenting with new fuel are two big ones, espeically for marathons! I have been using Tailwind solely as my fuel for this marathon, coupled with a banana and peanut butter or a bagel in the morning. That's what I'll be using on race day. Gels have been upsetting my stomach.ReplyDelete
I tried Tailwind a few times and really liked it, but it was too much hydration for me. I had to stop numerous times because I nearly wet myself LOLDelete
I think we've all been there.ReplyDelete
I definitely mixed up my fluids on the day of a race once, and that led to a grand ol' time in the course port a potties. Whoops.
I've also broken the "nothing new on race day" rule. Sometimes, it's worked out, sometimes it's led to chafing or uncomfortable clothing choices. Nothing major but it could have been avoided.
I have been lucky the few times I've done the "nothing new of race day," at least as far as clothing. The fuel, though, is another story LOLDelete
I have made the mistake of trying a new fuel on the course when I forgot to pack my own - while I made it through the race, my stomach made me pay the whole way.ReplyDelete