Part One (Eugene Half Marathon Recap)
I had a great race.
I beat my Vegas race time by 10 minutes. I beat my own record by a minute, achieving a new personal best of 2:19:31. I managed to pace myself nicely through the first half, although I still slowed up during the second portion of the race (remember one of my goals was to run slower during the first 10 km to preserve my energy for a faster ending).
The average time for this half marathon was 2:19:32. I am above average. If only by a second.
I made a last minute decision to not carry any water or liquids with me, as I didn't want to be weighed down by the big fuel belt. Instead, I purchased a nice little SPIbelt at the Expo on Saturday and just carried my gels on it. My plan to utilize every water/gatorade station along the way, whether I felt I really needed it or not, seemed to work well, and properly hydrated me to the end. I felt free without the water belt, and will definitely continue to race without it.
I enjoyed the run, was appreciative and grateful, and had fun. It was a beautiful sunny day. The route was fairly flat, but the few hills I encountered provided me with energy and motivation. There were lots of people throughout the course cheering and holding signs. The same people and the same signs kept popping up throughout the 2+ hours that I was out there. Most of them have the specific names of friends and family, helping to energize moms or dads, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons and friends. But some of them are more generic, like "There's tequila shots at the end." I can assure you that one didn't propel me faster (especially after my Palm Springs experience just a couple of short weeks ago...). One of them said "Quit reading this sign and get running." I found it kind of annoying and it made me want to punch her in the nose, not run faster. Another one just confused me: "Your donut looks tasty. Keep running." My donut? What the hell is she even talking about? If it was her goal to distract me from my running zone, she managed to do just that.
And then there was the sign that actually worked. The one that made me smile every time I saw it; that actually made me want to run harder. "I am so proud of you, complete stranger." I seriously teared up the first time I saw him. He was holding up that sign with such determination for every one of us, with the biggest smile on his face and I LOVED it.
I thank you, complete stranger! You moved me. (and my bowels...see Part Two)
It wasn't until I crossed the finish line that I realized that the marathon winner had entered the stadium just behind me, crossing the line at 2:22. The crowd was cheering for him, yet I had the good fortune of sharing in his moment. And despite the fact that he had just run exactly two of what I had done, I was pretty damn proud of myself.
Part Two ( I can't shit before a race )
The race may or may not have been better if I had managed to shit before the run, rather than during. I guess we'll never know. I mean, having to wait in line for the porta-potty and even getting to sit down for a minute or two (not once but twice!)...that's gotta have bought me some time, I figure; rested me up; and spurred me on. I'm sure I ran a little bit faster after the break, and after lightening my load.
Fortunately for me, and others around me really, the porta-potties were situated in plentiful and appropriate places and it wasn't a really distracting or negative experience. Only a few times did the need to clench my butt cheeks and avoid farting truly affect my run. Only a few times was I more focused on where the next potty was that I forgot I was even running. (which is something I strive for, right?) Only a few times did the feeling of touching cloth make me wonder if I was, in fact, going to lose this battle and shit my pants right there while I ran.
In any case, I lost some time because I can't shit before a race. I woke up at 4:30 am in order to exactly replicate my usual morning routine. Yet, still no success. The need to go hit me about the 4 mile mark and I waited until 7 miles in before accepting that the need to unload wasn't going to go away. I had to stop again at mile 12, knowing that I couldn't finish the last 1.1 miles unless I did. So I stood in potty lineups twice and probably lost at least 8 minutes combined. And I was surprisingly calm about the whole thing, even welcomed the break that it forced me to take. And, like I said, I bet I ran a faster race than I could have otherwise.
On race mornings, some people are business as usual, others' nerves and excitement make the job easy, and still others, like me, can't let the shit go if their lives depend on it. At least not until the horn has sounded and the body's motion starts to inspire a movement; while the clock is ticking away and lineups start to form at every pit stop.
I gotta figure this issue out. And I WON'T be getting up any earlier on race mornings to make it happen.