Sunday, September 11, 2011

Running the Denver Half

Warning:  This post is not for the squeamish of heart or body.

Derek helps me finish my first half-marathon, while Addie, Nolie, and E cheer me on.  I would have died otherwise.

Here's the good news:  I ran the Denver half-marathon this morning.  I did this four weeks before finishing my actual training, and I ran the whole time (except when I walked for a few seconds at water stations to have a drink).  My time was around 2 1/2 hours.  I've never thought of myself as a runner, and certainly never thought I'd run a race like this one.  So I'm proud of myself and happy I did it.  I sharpied "Run with Love" on my arm, and "9/11:  13.1" as motivation, and those mantras really did help, especially at the hardest parts of the race, when the mantra changed to "love is running you."

The bad news is that for the forty minutes after the race I was sicker than a frat boy during pledge week.  I threw up and shat out everything in my body.  I'm still marvelling at how much waste one body can contain.

Lest you think I'm exaggerating, let me tell you that between 5:30 this morning and noon, I lost 7 pounds.  The last time I lost that much weight, I shot a baby out my hoo-ha.  I feel fine now, twenty minutes after throwing up six gallons of yellow gatorade, but would like to do a postmortem to figure out why this happened, because I want to do more races and want to be able to enjoy finishing rather than spending my celebratory time destroying a port-a-potty.  Here is my analysis:

1.  I wish I had had the few extra weeks to train, not just because I could have used some more endurance under my belt, but because it would have given me time to work on and think about some of the dietary/fluid issues that ended up being a real problem, and to do some more research about what actually happens at a race (this was my first race, other than that impromptu 5K at the girls' school last spring).

2.  The race-diet mantra is "don't do anything different on race day."  I knew this.  I read it a million times.  And yet, this morning when I woke at 5:30, I drank a cup of coffee.  You all know I've mostly given up coffee.  I usually have a cup of decaf green tea before my long runs.  But for some reason I thought I could use the energy boost a cup of coffee would give me, and I also thought it would be great to ensure that I'd poop before the race, which I was worried about.  Because trying to run with a brownie playing peek-a-boo sucks.  This worked as planned, and I was happy, innocent, even.  Then, after the race, I drank a bunch of yellow gatorade.  Also not what I do after a long run, usually.  I usually drink a water bottle full of water, take a shower, stretch, and then have a bottle of red gatorade later in the day.  But I was really dehydrated when I landed on the finish line, so I hastily drank like a camel after crossing the Sahara and then inhaled way too much yellow gatorade, thinking it would help with the nausea.  I fucking hate yellow gatorade.  It makes me sick even when I haven't run a race.  So I think these are the two big culprits for the subsequent shit-and-spin.

3.  I didn't bring my own hydration to the race.  Big mistake.  According to the pre-race map, there were water stations every two miles.  Not so on the actual course.  Plus, I didn't stop at the stations and actually drink the whole cup of water (or two).  I'd take a gulp and keep running.  Dumb.  I should have slowed down, walked for a while, and had a bunch of water.  Or, better, run with my camelbak, like I usually do.  I think I would have been able to keep my 10-minute mile pace had I done this.  But I didn't, and I slowed way, way down the last five miles.  Plus I had the post-race dehydration problem to contend with, which led to me throwing up an insane amount of yellow gatorade and pooping out everything I've eaten in the last four days.

4.  Salt.  I need to find a way to incorporate some salt into my runs.  Probably just bringing a little bag would do it, but I didn't want to do anything new on race day that I hadn't done on a training run.  Ha.

5.  Experiment with different training styles.  A lot of folks were doing a kind of 6-1 split, where they'd run for six minutes at a pretty good clip, then walk a minute to recover.  I hung with these folks for most of the race, pace-wise, but I didn't see them lining up at the port-a-potties afterwards, so perhaps they're on to something.  I'll experiment with some of these approaches next time I train.

Now that I'm sitting in bed, having showered and thus fully cleansed my system from the inside and out, I feel much better.  I'll stretch soon, keep hydrating, and hopefully go for a mellow walk later.  It was awesome having E. and the girls show up at mile 9 and at the end of the race, even though I couldn't even look at them because I was trying not to hork.  I'm so grateful my friends Derek and Esther ran with me.  I couldn't have kept running that last 2 miles if it hadn't been for Derek running with me.  And I'm really, really excited to run the Bourbon Chase in a few weeks, another half-marathon in the spring, and maybe a marathon in the fall.


  1. the egg nog late that you had back in December shows its ugly face 9 months later

  2. It's time for the Pumpkin Spice...but nonetheless, CONGRATULATIONS my friend. I can't explain or hypothesize the purging but I think you can consider yourself a runner already! Have a blast at the Bourbon Chase, I will be there in spirit. Stick with red or orange I say.

  3. Amazing Jen, just amazing!! "love is running you." That will stick with me for a long long long time.
    xoxo your fan, meege

  4. As always, I LOVE reading your posts. This one, though, topped...i almost spit out green tea at my computer, twice, and you can guess where those points were if you just consider my potty brain. Congrats on finishing your first 1/2 marathon, Jen. I'll be looking forward to reading more of your exploits on running.
    -another big fan-Julie S

  5. Catching up on the Spit. So amazing that you did this, and I love the post-mortem. My one question: Katie tells me she's doing the Denver Half in October. She dropped by for some water on a 10-mile training run last week. So I'm so confused: are there two Denver Half Marathons? Did I not listen to something?


    _Proud Nanny