Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Don't Go Cramping My Style (Race Recap)

O hai there!

Thanks for bearing with me as I play catch up on everything after being away for a few days. If you haven’t read it yet, Natalie got her ODDyssey race recap post up in record time.

Getting ready to leave the house. I carried my tutu so it wouldn’t get crushed in the car. I was going for "Black Swan", maybe it was more like "Ugly Duckling".

It was really easy to get the race and there was plenty of parking near the start/finish line at Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park. I arrived there nice and relaxed, and figured if I finished in 1:45 it would be a good day.

The lines for the porto-pots were too long before the race, so I didn’t get to go before the race started. The starting official gave the 5 minute warning to all the racers in line and assured everyone there were plenty of pots along the course. Balancing pre-race hydration with bathroom opportunities is always a tricky proposition.

I didn’t have big expectations for this race, thus I didn’t have the typical surge of raceday adrenaline catapulting me off the starting line. This was to my advantage since I’d normally want to take off like a bat out of hell. The first few miles were nice and controlled.

By mile 4 those promised porta-pots still hadn’t materialized, and I said screw it. I had to go. I ducked behind a bush and instantly felt 10 times better. When I jumped back onto the course, I received round of applause and a thumbs-up from a group of guys running by. Leaping on and off the course like that could only mean one thing.

Hey, when you gotta go, you gotta go. At least I looked for ample coverage first!

Aside from that, the first 8 miles felt surprisingly comfortable. The flat course, cool breeze, and overcast skies really made a difference compared to what I’ve been training in. I was thinking to myself hey, you’re actually doing this! Everything was going well until mile 9. The out of nowhere came the calf cramp of death.

Still feeling good

I can’t think of a single race where I’ve had a muscle cramp so bad I couldn’t work through it. I stopped, stretched, massaged, walked, repeated….again and again. After about half a mile of this I began to lose my composure. What the hell was I going to do? Take a DNF and ride the SAG wagon back? No I’d come too far not to finish. Walk it to the finish? Walking still hurt and meant another hour on the course wallowing in my misery.

As I watched my time go down the drain, of course I did the smart hard-headed, stubborn thing. I started running slowly with this weird, choppy stride. It still hurt, but at least I wasn’t seizing into Charlie horses anymore. By mile 11, I realized I still had the chance to squeak in under 1:40, and that finally got the adrenaline flowing. It blunted the pain enough that I was able to lengthen my stride and pick up the pace again.

I knew it was going to be close. I held my breath as I looked up my official time at the computer kiosks they had set-up in the finish area. 1:40:24. Bummer. My garmin must have auto-paused somewhere along the way without me realizing it. I don’t know how I ended up with such a big discrepancy.


1:40 is now the benchmark by which I judge a half-marathon to be a success or not. So yeah, it dills my pickle I came that close and didn’t break it, but it was still a much better race than I anticipated.

Mmmm beer. Toasting with Natalie

Like Shelby, I learned there’s always a first time for everything. I did a lot of icing on Sunday, and wrapped my calf tightly in an ace bandage for compression. It’s still sore, but feeling much better. I’m going to give it couple more days of rest before I try to work out on it again.

Flight back to Atlanta. The kiddo was spent after the weekend too.

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary before the cramp started. My first sips of carbs/electrolytes weren’t until mile 8 (I’d had some water, but didn’t see Gatorade at any of the aid stations prior to this). However I never eat/drink during training runs and it wasn’t particularly hot out, so that didn’t strike me as being potentially troublesome. I don’t want to repeat this next weekend in San Diego.

Hit me with your advice. Has anyone been plagued by random cramps like this? How do you handle it during a race?

Time- 1:40:24
Pace- 7:40
Overall- 118/1538
Gender- 30/943
A/G (30 to 39)- 7/302


  1. I love the costume! Having "to-go" in public is my worst fear! I guess if you have to go you have to go, and its not like a porta potty is any better! Great race, your so fast!

  2. You rock mama! Love the recap and adorable picture of the baby girl in your lap!

  3. AWWWWW!! best race outfit!!! love it. AND you killed with an awesome time! (even if you weren't quite happy with it hehe)

  4. Sorry about the cramps! The costume is great though.

  5. I'll be in San Diego too! I'm coaching the race with Team in Training. Will you be wearing a costume there too?? I'll be one of the hundred plus coaches in purple....walking and running backwards on the course! :) Congrats on the race...even if it wasn't the time you were aiming for!

  6. Yay! I guess correctly on your costume! LOL

    Dude... you run crazy fast.

  7. Very classy race outfit! And I must say you still ran a killer time in spite of that awful cramp. Sorry you just missed your sub-1:40. It's seems odd to get a cramp so out of the blue like that, but compression and ice sounds like the best plan to me.

  8. Hehe. I'm not sure about classy, but it was fun.

    After the race, one guy said it was a big blow to his ego to left behind in a trail of feathers. Guess I was moulting along the way, lol.

  9. Well you get an A for the following things:
    * Your costume
    * Pushing through the pain and not getting on a wagon to leave
    * Going to the bathroom in the bushes

    You rock!

  10. I definitely wonder if it was a hydration issue. I had the SAME thing happen to me in my marathon and it was right after I skipped a water station. As soon as I had water/gatorade, I was fine. My running buddy knew that this was a classic dehydration symptom and got me to water quickly. Anyway, great race, regardless!

  11. That's one of the best race costumes I've seen! What an eventful race...bathroom stops, cramps, costumes...and still managed to come in at an awesome time! :)

  12. Awesome costume!

    Way to brave the outdoor bathroom! Haha. :-)

  13. If it wasn't for the cramp you would have beaten the time, no doubt.

    With all of those feathers, why didn't you just fly for the remainder of the race? ;)

    (Sweet pic of your baby girl).

  14. I used to get calf cramps all the time and they told me I needed more potassium in my diet. Maybe a banana before the race next time!

    Love the costume!! Haha I love Gina's comment about flying!

  15. I think it might be a potassium thing too. I went running tonight and MORE charlie horses. Our kitchen is now stocked up with powerade zero, tomatoes, bananas, strawberries, spinach and cantaloupe. Thought I ate a lot before, but now it's my mission to leave no fruit or veggie behind!

  16. Hehe, I was more like an ostrich...awkward and earthbound.

  17. I think it might be a potassium thing too. I went running tonight and MORE charlie horses. Our kitchen is now stocked up with powerade zero, tomatoes, bananas, strawberries, spinach and cantaloupe. Thought I ate a lot before, but now it's my mission to leave no fruit or veggie behind!