Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Segunda Parte or Wishing a Time Isn’t Enough

I woke up just as happy as a clam at 5:30 am on Sunday morning. The truth of the matter is I just love an early morning sporty activity: race, hiking or bike trip, you name it, it puts me in a giddy mood. I had coffee, loads of water (this would come back to haunt me), and toast with pb and honey. I wrote my splits on my hand and by 7 am, Charles and I were out the door and on the way to the train station. The commuter train, at 7:29 on Sunday morning, was filled with two kinds of crazies: runners and drunk people. That’s, of course, to be expected, but what I didn’t expect was for the drunk kid in front of me to turn green and start puking about five minutes out of the station. I’m proud to say that I had my nerves so under control that I didn’t even wretch when he puked, I just got up and moved to another seat. Charles kept reading his book as we got up to move. I love that man!

At 7:59, we arrived to Castelldelfels and used the underpass to cross the highway safely. I went to the bathroom twice and then Charles and I headed to the start line, which was at the top of the Canal Olimpic and yes, along the highway.
It’s Spain so they don’t have corrals: everyone (10k, half and full) just squished in there together with all their family and friends pushing and elbowing to their heart’s delight. I do often fear being smothered to death in a Spanish crowd, but somehow all the mothers and children and cousins always disappear and the gun goes off and everyone starts running, pushing, running, pushing and no one (knock on wood) ever dies.

During the first km, I saw a girl wearing a Baltimore t-shirt and decided to talk to her once the crowd thinned out. By km 2, I spotted my friend Anna who was running the 10-k. We chatted and I pushed on. I felt absolutely fantastic and ran up ahead to the Baltimore girl and her mom, whom I chatted with for a bit and then (this would come back to haunt me) I cockily pushed ahead of them as well. According to the plan on my hand I should have run the first 5k in 29:37. I did it in 28 minutes and thought, “Great, I’m banking time.” By km 8 we were at the beach, running along the dunes and I felt like I had to piss yet again. I contemplated stopping off in the dunes, since so many men were, but I decided to wait for a spot-a-pot at the 10-k marker. But, despite the information I had dutifully read on the race's website, there no spot-a-pots at km 10 or anywhere else along the course.

By km 10 I really had to go and I began to feel another sort of pain: period cramps. The Baltimore girl and her mom trotted by and asked how I was doing. “Great!” I lied. They looked very fresh and very fast, and I felt like ass.

I had just done the 10k in 57 minutes, 2 minutes ahead of schedule, but suddenly my body wasn’t cooperating and I was having trouble staying focused. Also, I was sweating like a madwoman, a clammy cold sort of sweat that I get as my period comes down. Carrying the Nathan handheld was becoming excruciating and when I saw Charles at the 12-km mark I gave it to him. I considered stopping at a bar along the beach highway to go to the bathroom, on the one hand I thought I could run so much faster with an empty bladder, but on the other I was terrified of stopping. (Do you think it’s better to stop in this case or just push through?)

We reached a turnaround and the first aid station with Gatorade and food and I was delighted. I ate a little bit of banana, took a few sips of Gatorade, and ate an orange slice. My watch read 1:29 so I was still on track to finish in 2:05!

I slowed down to swallow, I enjoyed the crowds, I smiled,I squinted, and then I realized that the 15-km marker was up ahead. This food station had been around 14.5, not 15! “God damn, it,” I thought, “Get back in this race!” I tried to run faster, but my gut wasn’t having it. My legs weren’t tired, but my body was. Km 15 through 18 were really bad: a lot of people passed me and that’s not a good feeling. I lost my concentration here, let my period woes get the best of me. By km 19, as we were approaching the last hill, a steep bridge, a guy came up behind me and said, “You’re still strong, GO!” I thanked him and ran up that hill pretty fast, even cheering on the full marathoners. I was happy! (It is so important to interact with other people as you race. I’ve been thinking about that a lot. I did talk to a guy for a while at km 16, but he wasn’t so friendly. For the next half, I might go I-podless and really make friends!)

But, even as I climbed that hill and despite that little guardian angel giving me that extra push, I knew my goal had slipped away and I didn’t keep the speed up for long. This weird sluggishness is hard to describe—it was as if I didn’t have a higher gear. I sprinted at the end, but I wasn’t destroyed, I wasn’t gasping. I felt somehow, that I hadn’t given it my all, that I had lost focus somewhere back there. Nutrition, I suspect, has something to do with this. I’m very low-tech in general: I don’t have a Garmin. I think Bodyglide is just fancy marketing for Vaseline. My running heroes are George Sheehan and Domingo Catalan, but maybe I need to pay attention to gu’s and gels and all these things you all talk about. These questions will be addressed in a post—tomorrow most likely—once I put away all this disappointment. Bottom line is I want to run four or five times a week for the rest of my life. It makes me happy and although I do want to get faster, I mostly just want to keep running.


  1. Sorry you didnt run as well as you wanted but honestly any race finished is well done

  2. Nice job despite all the issues! Good luck figuring out the nutrition - it's a biggie.