Race Report: Surf City Half-Marathon

Short version: Really, this is a race report of the weekend. Summary: it sucked. And that suckiness culminated in throwing up all along the Pacific Coast Highway as I eventually finished the second slowest 13 miles I have ever completed, ever, in my life.

Long version: I’m tired. Sometimes, it seems like I say this a lot. I am often tired. There is often a lot going on. But, I’ve been worn out lately from life and school and things happening. And, I haven’t felt well. I got really sick about a month ago and again about a week ago. And, since then, I just haven’t felt good with any real consistency. (This is foreshadowing, fyi.)

Mostly, though, I felt fine this weekend. I got up at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday to ride with The Kids. The two-hour ride took almost three, which is fine, but I had promised Steve and Justin I’d meet them so Steve could use my bike for a ride. That meant that I sort of had to rush because I was already late, and my ride was sort of harder and longer than I wanted for racing a half-marathon the next day. By the time I got back, I was sort of tired and hungry. But, it was fine.

Then, I hung out while they rode, which is when I had a nasty run-in with two middle-aged white guys in Malibu. You can read the whole string of the interaction on my twitters, because I had nowhere else to put it and nothing else to do about it. In summary, though, I just wanted to get some work done in Starbucks and then I was going to chill out, read a book. But, these two guys next to me were espousing on the Middle East, women, religion, Ireland, their own brilliance. For a long, long time. And, it was gross stuff. Eventually, it got really gross. There was some stuff about women dressing the way they do because they want the attention, and Bill Cosby just using a little pill to have sex with women because he was just insecure (it’s not his fault), and women want to be sexualized. It pretty much can be summed up with this quote:

Yes, typos. Sorry.
Yes, typos. Sorry.

And, they started blatantly looking the women in line up and down. And, there I was sitting in tights and a t-shirt, about which they clearly had opinions, and I felt gross. I felt like I was being made to feel gross and like I didn’t belong and like the public space wasn’t mine too. And, I didn’t intend to say anything to them. I sat there for an hour without saying anything, but it ebbed and flowed and it was harder and harder to do work. So, all of a sudden I was telling them to take their bullshit opinions outside, because they were making it impossible for other people, who also had a right to the space, to sit in peace.

Shockingly, that didn’t go well.

The older man started yelling at me about why did I think Viagra sales were so high. And, when I said, “Oh my god, can you just not inflict this on people here,” he got really hung up on what God was I referring to. He was pretty proud of this, because I didn’t really know how to respond to that crazy, so he was pretty sure this meant he was brilliant and right about everything. The slightly-younger man just kept yelling (yes, actually yelling), “FREE SPEECH! FREE SPEECH!” over and over, as if his actual rights were in actual danger of ever being infringed upon.

And, it was all so white rich male privilege, so convinced that they had the right to do whatever they wanted, so sure that they were speaking truth to power, when, from there on out, they were mostly just harassing me—and I, clearly, had so much power in this situation.

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 1.24.20 PM

It was what it was. There’s a reason I, generally, don’t fight with stupid people, don’t pick arguments online, etc. You can’t win and even winning is losing. And, I don’t care that much about idiots. But, I just wanted them to feel as gross and bad as I felt, even for just a second. I wanted them to know they were assholes.

It didn’t work. They didn’t know anything at the end that they weren’t sure of at the start. I never got to say any of the things I wanted to say, to explain why they were wrong. They just felt vindicated and I still felt awful, worn out, and vaguely angry.

So, naturally, then, I had to drive two hours down to pick up my race packet for the half-marathon on Sunday. It was supposed to take an hour, but (#LA) it took two. That meant we got there 15 minutes after packet pick-up ended. This is not usually a big problem at races; the bibs were still sitting on the table and volunteers were starting to pack up. But, they just kept insisting I was too late. I got directed to an official, and then another official, and another tent. They said I’d just have to pick up my stuff in the morning, before the race.

“Wait, that was an option?? If that was an option, I wouldn’t have driven two hours down here today.”

“Well, it’s usually just for VIPs, or you have to pay $25.”

“I’d have paid $25 to not drive down here.”

“Sorry,” sad-face-not-sorry. “You’ll just have to do it tomorrow.”

And, I lost it. I mean that genuinely. I lost my damn mind. I flipped out. I think I started slamming my head against the table.

The only good thing about this was when you completely lose it, things get taken care of. The race director came running from across the expo tent—she did not want people to see a crazy girl going crazy at her race—and found my bib, which was just sitting on a table 10 feet away. And, everything was fine.

Everything was fine Sunday morning. I barely kept down my oatmeal and was swallowing back throwing up in the car, but that happens sometimes before races. I was weirdly stressed about how this was going to go, but that’s ok too. I had some Gatorade, warmed up, found a spot in the corral (even if it was pretty far back from the start), and everything was going to be fine.

And, it was for a little while.

I ran a 6:20 and some 6:30s. I dropped to a 6:50 going up a small hill, but pushed it to get back down to 6:40s. It was ok, but it was never good. By the time Steve joined me right before the 6-mile mark, I was fighting to hold on to the pace. Shortly after that, I ran another couple 6:50s, a 7:00. I don’t know why.

Here are some observations in retrospect:

– I was thirsty from the beginning, sucking down water at the first aid station.
– I forgot to stick a gel in my pocket. Somehow, I forgot this. And, with not managing to keep much down before the race, I was sort of hungry, but it’s only 1 and 1/2 hours. I wasn’t too worried. I’d improvise at the aid stations.
– With that, I was also getting slightly light-headed.
– Running up into the back of the marathoners is awful. It was all weaving and running into people, and it messes with your head.
– My hamstrings were not happy.

To me, in the race though, not in retrospect, it felt like I just couldn’t hold the pace. I was trying to. I was trying to go with people and I just couldn’t. What the hell is wrong with me? I’ve been feeling pretty fit lately, nailing workouts, and I had been so sure I was going to PR. I even thought I might be able to run a 1:26. I thought, for sure, I’d run sub-1:30. No problem. Maybe I forgot that running the fastest you’ve ever run isn’t a guarantee, no matter what. But, I was sure I’d dig deep and find something. And, then, here I was fighting to even hold on to sub-1:30 effort. And, I knew it. I knew it wasn’t there.

Then, around mile 9, I veered to the side of the road and threw up. I didn’t feel nauseous before that. I just felt like my body was rejecting the whole experience. I pretty much only threw up the water and sports drink I’d just swallowed at the previous aid station. It wasn’t anything crazy and Steve was with me, so we started running again after I swore a little bit. Obviously, I wasn’t excited about running again. But, sometimes, there’s value in still finishing and maybe I’d rally. We ran another mile about 7:30 pace and then I threw up again. So, then, we started walking.

Do I look like I'm about to throw up? Because this is pretty much right before that fun started.
Do I look like I’m about to throw up? Because this is pretty much right before that fun started.

I threw up once more during the walking, but there really wasn’t much to throw up. Eventually, Steve went to get the car and I decided to finish only because my stuff was at gear check at the finish line. I jogged/shuffled the last two miles, with a nasty high heart rate for 9:50 pace. And, I eventually finished the 13.1 miles in 1 hour and 58 minutes, I believe.

I was trying to think if I’d ever even run 13 miles that slowly, even in training or long runs or in a marathon. I think the second half of my Ironman marathon was slower. But that’s it. Even when I’ve blown up before and sucked, it was like a 1:30-something sucked.

And, no, I don’t know exactly what was wrong. I have some ideas, but I don’t know. Mostly, though, I just haven’t felt good. (I still don’t feel great.) I’m hoping that goes away before the marathon and that I don’t get in my head about having a really bad race. I’m hoping I’m not just a mental mess and that everything gets better. Because, man, it wears on you, everything.

10 thoughts on “Race Report: Surf City Half-Marathon

  1. OH MY GOD reading about that coffee shop interaction just about made me lose my mind. Assholes! And like, of course it didn’t end well but sometimes all the rage just has to go somewhere.

    Your slowest-ever 13.1 is still faster than my fastest-ever, and I wasn’t even puking! But I get what it’s like to just have a shit race. I tend to think they’re either a) random or b) actually completely sensical based on a combination of factors that you can mostly arrange to not repeat, the latter of which sounds like it might be the situation here.

  2. God, sucky race. I feel for you. Shake it off. My dad used to have a saying “Bad day at black rock”. We’ve all had them. 😦

  3. Ugh. That sucks. Like, all of it.

    I once ran a particularly ugly half that was also on a hot day when I’d been sick & not sleeping well & generally stressed out, so I’m sure all of that played a role. But I also know that knowing that still doesn’t make it feel any less shitty.

    Wishing you more sleep, better health, & fewer entitled assholes in your path in the very near future.

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