With a name like "The Hottest Half" and my love of punishment one would imagine that this would be a great race for me. WRONG!!!! To start with, it was in the upper 80's and maybe lower 90's during the race, it started at 7:30 so the sun wasnt beaming down on the course, there was actually a little light breeze, and the course was a nice smooth barefoot friendly cement pathway with a few gentle elevation changes. So conditions were perfect for me to set a good PR around 1:35 or so....
Before the race I met up with 2 fellow barefoot runners from the Runners World barefoot forum (TalonRaid and Pilot Runner) which are the other 2 goons in the pics with me (Im the one in blue, Talon in grey, and Pilot in red) and we hung out for a few minutes before the start of the race.
As usual I mosey'd on up the the back of the pack at the starting line just as the gun went off. So after a minute or so I make it to the starting line, hit start on the Garmin, and take off only to apply the brakes. The first mile to mile and a half were just a huge conglomerate clusterfuck of people running all different paces and directions. Since its a public park there were cyclist and runners out and about coming the opposite direction of the race traffic, most were courteous and friendly,but I almost caught my left elbow on some fat bitches handle bars.
After fighting my way through the throng of people I tried to pick the pace up some and came across the first 5k mark around 22:30ish, which is where I wanted to be. I wanted to hold as close to a 7 minute mile pace, so I was doing good. The course ran on a cement path around some lake, which made for a pretty course with a little breeze coming off the water. There were a few bridges that were either worn down wooden planks, or cement suspension type bridge which would bounce up and down and totally throw you off as well as make you trip out because you couldnt visually see the movement, just feel the bridge either dip down or rise up and slam into your feet unexpectedly. Running around this lake also made for some quality scents, like dead fish, through some parts of the course. Somewhere around mile 5.25 the first place guy came flying past on his way back in (he finished in 1:07:54 gun time, WOW!!!) And at about this time I started to hit the wall. No biggie, I thought, second wind will kick in here in a few minutes and Ill be good to go. WRONG! I made it to the 6 mile water table and grabbed some water for the first time and ended up snorting half of the cup up my nose. So I stopped running to try to avoid drowning mid run (funny, "man drowns in biggest drought in history" sounds like a good headline) and I found that I couldnt make myself start running again, so I walked for the first time ever in a race. I only walked for about 50 feet then took back off hoping that it would be enough to feel revived. Wrong yet again....
I made it to the turnaround point and the guy working there said I was the first barefoot runner he had seen yet! Great, I get to be the example everyone sees first! Sorry fellow BFRs for giving you a bad reputation. I dont remember my exact time at the turn around, but I do remember thinking I was behind and that a PR probablly was not in the works. On the return leg I see another BFR a good ways behind me, some little Asian guy, no clue who he was. Then I saw David Repp sportin some fancy lookin huaraches, and PilotRunner lookin like a stud. Shortly after that, around mile 9 I had to stop and walk again. I tried to keep it short and sweet, so after a hundred feet or so I take off. At this point I see TalonRaid, so we cheer for each other as we pass, and after a little bit Im back walking again and wondering if Ill be able to finish. I just felt like I had no energy left in me to burn, but after walking for a quarter mile or so I started mile 10 at a 9:30 pace determined to run the rest of the race and finish under 1:57 since thats what I ran my first half marathon in.
The last 3.1 miles sucked! I was suffering through alot of mental anguish from having to walk, and now I was struggling to keep a 9:15 pace for 3 measley miles. Needless to say, it wasnt a pretty place inside my head at this point. I rounded the last corner and saw the finish chute up ahead and heard my wife yell my name. Apparently I gave her a bad look based off her reaction, lol. I hit the stop button on the Garmin as the announcer calls my name and I step on the timing mat, but dont lool at it at first cause Im sure it will just make things worse. I see a bunch of kids handing out cups of water, so I go and down about 10 of them all while feeling like Im going to fall flat on my face, which would have been perfectly fine at the time since it felt like I was floating in the air about 3 feet off the ground and spinning around like crazy as if I was in one of those gyroscope rides at a carnival. My wife finally makes it over to me and asks what my time was, so I finally look at my Garmin as I go to show her what it says. 1:54:49... Well, not my worst, but still very dissapointing. So we walk over to the free stuff tents and some girl hands me a chochlate Muscle Milk. I drank half and remembered that I hate those things so I threw it away and went off in search of water. We find little kiddy pools full of the little 8 oz bottles of Ozarka. I bent over to grab 2 of then and when I stood up everything was much brighter than I had remembered it being. I opened a bottle, closed my eyes, and downed it. When I opened my eyes I was facing the ground, which was a strange mixture of floating silver sparkles and bright yellows and oranges. Thats strange... Another bottle chugged, more silver specks and brighter yellows, but oddly enough duller oranges. Not sure exactly what was going on I decided to just keep walking to the car. After what felt like 15 minutes of staggering around I am finally sitting in the passenger seat of the car with the AC blowing full blast and heading back to the hotel to shower and change before hitting up good old IHOP!!!
So Im not 100% certain of the direct cause of my poor performance, but heres a few ideas of what I think could have caused it....
Firstly, and I think this is probablly 90% of what went wrong. Nutrition. The night before I had some shitty fast food burger and fries and a bunch of water. Then for brekky I had a bananna and some more water. I dont think I had any fuel for the fire and thats why I bombed so early.
Secondly, Ive taken the last 3 weeks off from any real training. Where Ive been averaging 25~30 miles per week I maybe ran 30 in the past 3 weeks combined. I felt like I had the speed in my legs as the first 4 or 5 miles felt fine at just a hair over 7 minutes per mile.
So what lessons I learned from this experience.
1) Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition!!!! I need better meals the day before and the morning of the race. Ive heard many times that input = output, so if Im using shitty fuel then Ill have shitty performance.
2) 3 weeks for a taper is waaay too long. I usually do a week of taperage, and maybe 2 weeks would work well too, but 3 weeks is not going to cut it.
3) Hydration. After the race I had orange piss. That is not a good thing since all I had drank was water. I need to learn how to drink on the run without drowning myself....
I had planned on this being my last race for the year, but I cant end the year like this, so Ill do the last race of the 4 seasons of texas which will be in the fall. Hopefully it goes better for me!!
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