August 20, 2005
how not to dnf
Today I ran another personal worst half marathon. It was a lot warmer than I thought it would be, and I made some of the usual mistakes and a few new ones too. I'd decided to try for 7:10s for a few miles and see if I could pick it up any after that. The temp was only 73 at the start but the humidity was 93%. You'd think I'd be used to that, but there's a reason why we don't put on half marathons in Florida this time of year. Anyway, my first mile was 6:46. My second had a long grinding uphill and was 7:14. I learned that my usual way of going uphill (high cadence) was going to wear me down quickly, but I couldn't get up the hills any other way. By 4 miles or so we were running into the sun, and we started seeing early dnfs (Kenyans even) by the side of the road.
I trudged on, pace veering between 6:52 and 7:30, finally stopping for water around mile 8 because I felt some chills and worried about dehydration. I pulled over and walked but couldn't catch my breath enough to drink. By this time my brain wasn't working too well and I actually turned around and walked a few steps back along the course because I thought I needed to drink within the cup-throwing-down zone (has anyone else ever thought that? please, somebody say yes). A guy running by said "c'mon, I was pacing off you" and I said "so you were going slower and slower too?" but the fog cleared and I started running again.
Minutes later I had a bad cramp or stitch in my side, and at the next water stop I finally pulled off for good. Or so I thought. I stopped my watch and asked a volunteer how I could get back to town. He said there wouldn't be a sag wagon for a very long time. I pondered this while I drank some ice water, then asked another volunteer, who said the same thing, then gave me some directions back to town which essentially followed the race course. I realized they weren't kidding about a ride back to town so I decided to run back at whatever pace I could manage. Of course all that ice water was murder on the cramp, and I had to stop and double over once.
Eventually I found some legs again, and during the last 4 miles of the race I ran progressively faster, ending with 7:20-somethings. I ended up with 1:41:01 chip time and 1:39:10 watch time (because I'd stopped it while hanging around the water stop not dnf-ing). My left leg is very sore along the shin just above the ankle, so I really blew it today. I ran a lousy race - just a few seconds faster than my 16-miler last weekend, and much much slower than my MP (ha) run a few weeks ago. And I may be looking at an injury that will interfere with the rest of my training. Shit.
Posted by joe positive at August 20, 2005 2:06 PM
First I hope the leg pain is something that goes away quickly. Assuming it does, you're going to be fine. You're training so much (so you can't be very well-rested), and the weather sounds like it was awful. I have realized this summer how much humidity matters (and how much temperature, as long as it's below 90 doesn't really). I don't know whose idea it was to hold a half-marathon in West Virginia in August, but that's your problem right there. Your fitness is there and you probably would have easily run a PR in good conditions, despite the hilly course.
Good luck with your leg and don't take your performance in this race as any indication of your fitness, because you've proved in training that you can run a great pace, even in the midst of high-mileage weeks.
Posted by: Alison at August 21, 2005 7:39 AM