Back in November, signing up for the Scenic City Half Marathon here in Chattanooga seemed like such a great idea. I was already signed up for the Publix GA Half Marathon in late March and this particular race coincided with a 12 mile long run. What’s one more mile right? Well things didn’t exactly go as planned.
Saturday morning started off relatively normally. I woke up when the alarm went off with a bit of a nervous stomach. This didn’t seem too odd as I usually have race stomach on race mornings. This is why my pre-race meal is usually just a protein shake. My husband and I got dressed and headed to the race.
This is a smaller, local race so there were not as many people there as I am used to. Most of the longer distance races I have done are in larger cities or a RunDisney race. I didn’t think this would make a big difference, but as I will explain later, this ended up being a bit of an issue.
So the race started on time and we headed out. I was doing pretty well for the first couple of miles though there was a pretty significant hill that I ended up walking. The scenery was beautiful. It’s one of the best things about Chattanooga. By mile 3, I was towards the back of the pack. I was walking a little more than I would have liked but at least I wasn’t feeling sick – yet.
Starting at about mile 5 or so, my abdomen started cramping. I can honestly say this has never happened to me during a race. But I had my energy gel and kept drinking my electrolytes and slowed down to a walk in hopes that it would pass and I could finish the race. By mile 8, I knew that there was no way I would be able to finish the race. I was in so much pain that I could hardly walk (though amazingly my feet were feeling great). So I called my husband and walked off the course so he could pick me up. My day was done and I had my first ever Did Not Finish.
This race had some issues. It was a small local race. Which is good if you are a faster runner who is trying to win your age group. Not so good when you are slower like me. By mile 4, I found myself in the back and completely by myself. I have a hard enough time running by myself for training. I love the bigger races where I can always find someone going about the same pace as I am at any given moment so I sort of see where I am. This race did not have that.
Also, the race had a 3.5 hour time limit. However, there was no one in the back to keep the pace. There was no sag wagon to pick up stragglers (that would have been nice when I realized I couldn’t finish). Which is why I was able to walk off the course and have my husband (who had a new PR for a half and had already finished) come and pick me up.
Lastly, I know that there was medical people there. I just never saw them. I have no idea where they were set up. With the bigger races like I usually run for the longer distances, there are medical tents every few miles so if you are injured or sick, you can be checked out. That was a big issue for me.
As with anytime there is a setback, there are lessons to be learned. So here is what I learned from my race experience:
- I need to stick to big races for longer distances. There are some good things about smaller, local races. They are just not for me at this point. If the race is over a 5K, I will be doing bigger races with more support and more people to pace with. Hopefully, I can continue to get faster than take up smaller races again in the future.
- I did not train enough. I will be the first to tell you that my training before this race did not go as well as I had hoped. Weather issues, sickness, life in general all seemed to get in the way. I now have one month to focus on my training before the next race.
- Ice cream the night before is not a good idea. I thought I had done everything right in preparing for this race. I had pasta and a small salad for dinner which is my usual. However, this time I had a small bowl of ice cream as well. I think that was part of the stomach issues I ended up with.
I love comments! Have you ever not finished a race? What did you learn from the experience?