So here goes.
But first, a word of caution.
There may be some instances of TMI in this race recap. As the bumper stickers say "Running is Sexy," er, until it isn't. This recap will cover the good, the bad, and the ugly of the expected and unexpected portions of the WI Half, and I will try to warn you before you delve headlong into the ugly just in case you want to skip to the end.
The WI marathon and half marathon course wound through the nice parts of Kenosha and along the lakefront. It was a nice, flat run (thank you Jesus), and the route double backed on itself so us slower runners could see some of the pace booty at the front.
Buff guy in the yellow shorts with no shirt at the 7-minute mile pace...thank you, sir.
|Kitty likes it too.|
When I was looking for a birthday half marathon to run, I narrowed it down to three options: WI, Lake Geneva, and Cellcom. Cellcom was quickly thrust aside as this year's route does not include Lambeau Field. The Lake Geneva half marathon I'm sure will be gorgeous, but it's on the same day I'm celebrating my birthday and 13.1 miles and lots of beer do not generally mix well. The WI half marathon came out the winner mostly because of the medal. You can't quite see it in this photo, but Door County is a beer bottle opener...a most appropriate use for Door County if ever there was one.
I woke up in Milwaukee at 4:30 AM to rain and started praying the wet weather was confined to north of Kenosha. As I drove down to Kenosha I realized this wasn't the case and started praying it let up before the race started. This was the case. The temperature was a pleasant (in my opinion) chill that worked well with my long sleeves and only at the end made me wish I had brought gloves. I have no idea how golden shorted hottie at the front was running shirtless.
The Mile 8 Water Stop
Manned by my pals from Team Challenge. It's just the point of the race when you could use friendly faces, and there they were with Gatorade in hand right by the turn in front of Carthage College. I also really appreciated Darth Vader coming to see us all off at the first mile turn in downtown with a sign that read, "May the Course Be With You." Nice one, Darth.
I'm pretty sure it got colder as the day wore on because by the end of the race we could all see our breath. This did not bode well for post-race stretching or, really any post-race activity. Race organizers promised beer and brats at the end, but the line was so long and the wind chill coming off Lake Michigan so fierce that I abandoned the 20-minute wait (for Miller Lite, ugh) and hobbled three blocks away to my car (it seemed close enough at the beginning of the race, excruciatingly far at the end) to warm up and make my way home. You know it's bad when they're handing out the silver hypothermia blankets along with the race medals.
As I drove the 45 minutes home I kept turning up the heater in my car, and by the end of the ride it was blowing 85 but still feeling like 60. I grabbed a beer from my fridge (Lakefront Klisch) and drank it in a scalding hot shower that somewhat managed to warm me. I think I finally became warm enough once my heat was turned up to 70, I was fresh from the hot shower, bundled in sweat pants and a sweatshirt under a blanket, with a kitty space heater on my stomach.
Even lining up for the race I was wondering why I was doing this to myself. My mind was not in a good spot for this half marathon. I kept doubting myself and constantly had to overcome the mental tirades "My knee hurts," "I haven't trained as much as I should've," "What happens if I can't finish?" "If I quit I'll feel so disappointed," etc. This took place up until Mile 4 and changed when I pushed myself mentally to just get over it already "You're breathing just fine," "Your legs are strong," "It's the perfect race weather," "You're this far you might as well finish," "You can do it; you ARE doing it," "There's beer at the end," "The medal is a bottle opener," etc.
In truth I felt pretty dang good the entire race physically, but mentally I was a mess. Hey, it's a cliche for a reason. I didn't have my headphones with me (the forecast predicted storms the entire race time and after my 8th grade science teacher was struck by lightning when it was just cloudy out I don't take any chances), so I couldn't lose myself in tunes. It took me awhile, but once I dug in and found a few folks to run with, by mile 7 I knew it was a sure thing.
Disclaimer: Okay, kids. I'm going to get real here. You've probably heard rumors about what happens to your body when you run long distances, and heck, you may have even experienced some of them yourself. A half marathon isn't in the realm of super long distance running, but still things can happen and I'm about to attest. This is a no-holds-barred post mainly because I follow a lot of running blogs that are the same and appreciate when someone can be honest and let me know that these types of things don't just happen to me. So to those that want to skip the gory details: feel free (I'm progressing from least offensive to highest TMI). To those that read on: these things don't just happen to you, K?
The Muscles - Gross Out Threat Level Green
The last time I ran a half marathon my calf muscles gave out at mile 10 and I walked the last 5K simply because that was the only way I'd finish. I could barely walk hours later my muscles were so tight and sore, and I didn't have adequate pain meds and ice therapy available at the hotel. This time my legs felt pretty great the entire race, but my quads really started tightening up at mile 12. I pushed through to the end, and it was only standing in the bracing, chilly gusts off the lakefront at the after party that my legs really started freezing up and hurting. I hobbled home, warmed up, stretched, iced, and took some Advil. I rested. Standing up and sitting down were big issues the rest of Saturday, as was my cat's insistence on sitting on my lap (ouch). I spent most of the afternoon napping on the couch with a kitty heating pad on my stomach.
On Sunday my legs were feeling better. I met some friends for breakfast, and then spent a few hours watching The Avengers mostly because I didn't want to walk up and down my stairs again before I had to meet some other friends for dinner.
Every time my legs felt tight or started hurting throughout the weekend I would either ice or try stretching again. Walking around the mall and my neighborhood helped as well.
Compared to last time, my recovery is going much better, probably due to being more prepared and conditioned pre-race, but also better aftercare. I think I'm still going to sit out tonight's softball game and pick up running on Wednesday.
The Sports Bra - Threat Level Orange
You know how when men run long distances their nipples sometimes bleed from the constant friction with their race jersey? I didn't see any of that during this race (surprisingly...I mean, it was COLD), but I did feel a glimpse of what that must be like. Did I mention it was FREEZING on the lakefront? Well, what happens to your nipples when it's cold out? And sorry men, but you don't corner the market on this one. Even with a sports bra, t-shirt, and long-sleeved shirt on I still experienced some chafing until my body heated back up. Not enough for a gross out factor, but enough to be uncomfortable. No, the gross out factor came after the race.
You see, my sports bra's seam under the cups runs along the inside of the fabric. I had forgotten about this issue from my last half marathon. In fact, I have to wonder if it happens at all to smaller chested ladies. You see, when you run, no matter your cup size, things tend to bounce around a bit. Usually this isn't an issue. I mean, that's what sports bras are for, right?
Right. But while sports bras help prevent a lot of bounce, they can't eliminate chafing. Because what else happens when the girls are bouncing, even if they're only bouncing a little bit? Your sports bra undoubtedly rubs up and down a little bit. And what happens if your sports bra rubs up and down a little bit for a long period of time?
I won't entirely spell it out for you, but just know that it kind of looks like I might've had breast implant surgery done recently. And I only now remember this happening after my last half marathon. And I wonder if it only happens to us ladies with big girls, or if my sports bra is somehow to blame. I mean, I've heard rumors that when you run marathon distances your toenails can fall off from the constant abrading against your shoe (thankfully this has never happened to me), but people don't blame that issue on bad shoes, right? It's just that...it's a sad truth that at a certain cup size no sports bra can be expected to eliminate 100% of the bounce.
And yes, I watch The League. I've seen the bounce test episode.
The Un/Expected Visitor - Threat Level Red
I'm sure men can draw some comparisons to my sports bra issue, just, erm, in a more "southern" way. However, one thing they should feel lucky to know nothing about is a certain visitor who came to cheer me on on race day (all the female readers are now groaning). I knew she was coming and had adequately planned for it, just in case she arrived at mile 1, 5, 10, or even post-race, but usually when she visits me I get really sick. I'm talking lady pain, migraines, and nausea.
This I wasn't prepared for.
The WI half marathon was the first race I ever had to use the facilities. Again, I've heard horror stories from other runners, and thankfully have never experienced them, but at mile 12 I couldn't tell if it was leg pain radiating up or lady pain joining forces in my abdomen. I warded off two bouts of nausea at mile 3 and mile 6, but had to have a moment to myself at 12.5
Again, I won't entirely spell it out for you, but I don't know if the rest of the day was so bad strictly because of the thigh muscle soreness, or if it was also the lady pain that created one large conglomerate of punishment. Aunt Flo is a bitch.
Welcome back all of you who skipped to the end. You didn't miss much, I promise.
If you recall, I set a lofty goal of running my half marathon in 2:30, a realistic goal of 2:45, and a "don't want to embarrass myself" goal of 3:00. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I HAVE A NEW PR!
When I crossed the finish line, the clock said 2:47 and change. The official race results came in at 2:44:50! I even beat my goal by 10 seconds! Which, I realize, isn't much but, hey, the goal in running is to beat yourself not anyone else. So woohoo! Let's celebrate with a night on the town! Pub Golf, anyone?
____________________________________________________________ Current Couch Potato | Aspiring Runner
Mandi recently completed her first marathon! Her next goal is running a full half marathon (no walking!) by her next birthday (May 13, 2012).
Follow her journey.