October 23rd 2011 I ran my first 1/2 Marathon - today I ran my 3rd.
It was a good thing it was my 3rd because if today had been my first 1/2 I probably would have cut up my running shoes and never ran again :)
It was sort of a disaster.
The weekend started out good - I ran with my running partner and my brother-in-law JP who has worked very hard to get where he is today - as you can see from the photo below:
We were all very excited to be in Detroit and enjoy the wonderful Detroit Marathon Expo - my amazing parents drove all the way down from Sault Ste Marie and we were also joined by JP's wife, and my running partners family!
We spent the day crossing into the states (25,000 runners causes a bit of a delay at the border), checking into the hotel and scoping out the free samples at the expo. This leads to mistake #1 - usually on the day before a long run I try to drink 5-7 bottles of water, yesterday though I probably only got about 5 cups of water in.
We all were in our rooms fairly early trying to get a good sleep before the race - for whatever reason a good sleep was not going to happen to me - I finally fell asleep around midnight, but woke up 3 times between than and 4:55am when the alarm went off - mistake # 2 = lack of sleep.
We arrived downtown and parked at 6am, waiting around nervously until 7am when the race begin in waves - leaving us heading out at about 7:22am - in the picture above you can see the outline of the Start line waaaaaaaaay ahead from where we were in our corral.
I felt pretty good starting out, I was eager and nervous to get to the bridge, wanting to enjoy it but also wanting it to be not too painful - it was a gorgeous view, and a wonderful experience to run over the Ambassador Bridge - but just as I started to head downhill it hit - an overwhelming stomach ache and nausea that would haunt me for the next 16km.
I was sick, so sick.
I burped and gagged for 16km, I could not intake any fuel, no snacks and no water - mistake # 3 - perhaps I should have tried to force myself to take in some water and fuel but I could not keep anything down - which led to the absolute worst time for a 21.1km distance I have ever faced.
I finished in 3hrs and 22 minutes - though I had planned on finishing under 3hrs - I walked the last 6km, having to full out stop 4 times and either hold my stomach on the sidewalk or gag on some strangers front lawn (they must love living on a marathon route lol)
All I knew, was: I was not quitting - and that all I wanted was to be done, and to lay down - I could not listen to my music - that made me feel sicker so I spent my 6k walk trying to be encouraged by fellow runners and walkers and be an encouragement to others struggling to finish!
I walked across the finish line (first time EVER having to walk across a finish line in any of the races I have done) and as they gave me my medal I said "I need to sit down NOW" - well, Detroit has a gazillion runners coming in so I had to keep going to the medical tent and lay down in there - my running partner was by my side the whole time and when she text Stuart to tell him I was in the medical tent he turned into MacGyver; whipping out his hunting knife - cutting the cords holding the fence back (much to the horror of the lady beside him) and jumping to fence to come save his wife (i love him!) as him and my mother came running in I was laying in a bed with my legs being held in the air by a Medic who was scared I was going to either faint or puke :) - after a thumbs up, 15 minutes of being monitored by my Medic and a gravol later I was out on the street and heading to a hot shower!
So it now boils down to a decision, was Detroit dessert or disaster?
I partially felt it was a disaster - I was frustrated my body rebelled and did not do what I had planned or wanted - but after I spent some time reading stories of fellow runners who have had awful runs (Like an Olympic runner who couldn't finish) and some tips on How To Let Go Of A Bad Race I decided Detroit was dessert. I can learn from the mistakes I may have made, and think about how much better the next race may be.
It was a beautiful course, I fought my way through awful feelings both mentally and physically and pushed hard to finish. I could have quit, I could have chosen to call it a day after I realised I would be finish sub 3 hours - but I reminded myself of my previous post and thought - I did not wake up this morning frustrated I did not win a Grammy - so I will not be frustrated that I am not hitting a new PR - instead I will be grateful that I have a body capable of going 21.1km even when in pain, that I live in a country that allows me to safely run (and walk) between its borders, that I have family and friends who cheer me on and sit with me in the medical tent and that I have a Faithful God that reminds me of these blessings when I could easily be discouraged instead.
So Detroit was dessert.
And everyone knows, I love dessert.