On Friday afternoon I was totally excited to hear that I would be able to run in the Dallas half marathon after all. My favorite events are last minute things. I find last minute plans incredibly exciting.
Every race I have run up to this point has taken place on a Saturday, so it was a little strange to run a half on Sunday. Mostly because, as a general rule, I don’t do much on Sundays.
That’s okay. It was last minute, and I will do *anything* last minute.
So I ran the half and true to it’s name, it was hot. I’m always surprised that Dallas is hotter than Shreveport. I’m not complaining because if I didn’t want to challenge myself, I would have just stayed home and ran on the treadmill – or not at all.
This did mark, however, my first – and hopefully only – time to vomit on a course. I won’t blame the heat. I will blame the heat, combined with the fact that Target had a really great sale on fresh apricots and I ate no less than 34 of them on the drive to Dallas and during the evening. I was so excited about fresh apricots (i can’t find them much) that I ate *only* apricots all day long and for dinner as well. Can you guess what I had for breakfast Sunday morning just before the race? Yes. Apricots. Oh. And a stomach that was already making some very unsettling noises. At the time, just before the race, I found this slightly funny.
What was I thinking? That it was just going to settle down once I was running a half marathon on an unshaded gravel path in 100 degree heat? Sure.
Anyway. I ran.
Here are the things that I learned yesterday and I am happy to pass on to you:
1. Eating ONLY apricots – in fact, ONLY apricots in great abundance (and possibly some red wine) the day before a race is ill-advised.
2. Standing in long porta-potty lines (with the other shamefaced runners who probably only ate the marked down apricots from Target all day too) every three miles will hurt your time. It will hurt it a lot.
3. Vomiting on the course can cause other overheated people to vomit if they are already on the brink. This leads to an ugly chain reaction.
So, moving on from the lessons I learned yesterday, here are some tips I can pass on from my own experience with more successful racing attempts:
1. There will be a point, somewhere around dark thirty in the morning when you are sitting there in your car just before checking in. You are wondering what you are doing there and why you are up so early to run so far. Maybe you are not a seasoned runner, or are just beginning to get into shape – and you doubt yourself and your sanity. Your panicked face may look something like this:
Here is what you do at this point: Get out of that car. Go steal all of the post race bananas that you can right now. Do you know the cost of bananas these days? Steal the bananas, check in and have a few apricots. It’s going to be okay. I promise. It’s 13 miles. This is a few hours out of your life. I promise you won’t die, and you’ll be really happy to take all of those bananas home. It’s okay about the bananas – you probably overpaid for the race, so the bananas are a gift. You are allowed to try to snipe an extra t-shirt too. These are your rights as an American. It is what we do. Go forth and steal bananas, t-shirts and run your race.
2. Put on sunblock. Trust. Use the stick kind so it doesn’t run into your eyes and make you hate life when it gets behind your contact lenses. Stick sunblock is your friend. I have very sensitive skin and Banana Boat Baby (it has to be the pink stick, i do not know what magical property that one has that negates the stinging of the other sticks, so just go with the pink one) sunscreen stick is the only sunblock for me on race days. It won’t run, it won’t burn, and honestly it seals in your moisturizer so nicely.
3. If you have hair past your ears, it is going to get sweaty. Sweaty has salt and will dry out your hair. That’s terrible. Go ahead and take advantage of the heat treatment the blazingly painful sun is providing you and apply a liberal amount of oil to your hair pre-race. I use Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine oil treatment, or when I can find it, One and Only Argan oil. Yes, your hair will be oily. But in 15 minutes it will be soaked with sweat, so no one knows if it is oil or sweat. Go with the conditioning option and protect your hair.
4. Struggling? Make a friend. Yes it is a race, not a team event (sadly, because team events are so fun) – but I promise you are not alone. Someone else is struggling. In fact, most of the people out there are struggling because it’s hard. If it was easy – well, you know…
So make a friend with someone who has kept basically your same pace through the run. If they are pacing with you, likely they are hurting around the same time you are. Take off the earbuds and talk through it. Make a deal: neither one of you walks or vomits anymore or quits. You can vomit again after you get your medal. Run together. Take unflattering photos together. Turn a tough experience into a nicer one.
(I don’t know his name, nor did I have permission to use this photo where he looks great and I look very strange. If you are him, please accept my ap0logies and know I think you are rad)
5. Drink the water. You may not *feel* thirsty, but you are. Drink the gatorade. Just drink it. I get it, you don’t want the calories, or you don’t ever consume things that have ingredients you can’t pronounce – but just today – so you don’t die from an electrolyte imbalance, let’s have the gatorade okay? Also? It is perfectly acceptable in these circumstances to reach both hands into the community ice buckets and stuff ice cubes into your sports bra.
If the boys can spit every two seconds then you can put ice in your bra every three miles. Fair is fair, boys. Quit spitting and we’ll quit putting our dirty hands into the ice bucket. You first.
6. Have fun. No really. You paid for this. This *is* fun. You are doing something awesome with an awesome group of people from all different backgrounds. This is an exciting day. You get free bananas, you can steal toilet paper, you made a friend probably, and you get to eat a whole lot of anything later on. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy the run and the people and the festive atmosphere. It always reminds me of a party. A really screwed up party where everyone is smelly and some people are hurt, but a party nonetheless.
7. Are you traveling for this event? Well then! That makes it even more of a party, doesn’t it? (YES) Enjoy your trip there and back. Enjoy your hotel. Jump on the bed. It is not your mattress.
And if you want to know, what all of the porta potty breaks and vomit pauses cost me in terms of time yesterday (;
I wouldn’t change even one second of it. Not even the vomit.