Saturday, March 21, 2009

Worst Race Ever.

The Canyonlands half marathon was a race to discourage me from all other races. Fortunately, I had already registered for another half and a full marathon before I had experienced this race, otherwise I may have never wanted to race again. The experiences I had with the SLC half and the St. George marathon was so pleasurable. It would seem a little oxymoronic to think of running for 13.1 or 26.2 miles as pleasurable, but I actually did enjoy it. Time when by quickly; the miles seemed short; I had plenty of breath and energy. The opposite seemed true of this race.

First of all, the race started at 10:00. I've never done a race that started so late. The latest a race had started, that I've done, was at 8:00, and that was just for a 10K. So, for the slower runners (i.e., me) that meant that we were still running at noon! It was ridiculous. On top of the late start, it was hot day. I was so sunburned! What I think happened was that they forgot to compensate for the earlier start of daylight saving time. So, compared to last year it was like we were starting at 11:00! I was not used to the heat, and with water stops only every 2.5 miles, I was dehydrated. At mile five I felt the same way I felt at mile 23 of the St. George marathon. I didn't want to finish. I wanted something to happen as an excuse not to finish. But, finish I did, but not a a good time. I was kind of humiliated with my time. It was a humbling experience. The other races had been so easy that I thought that this would be the same. I knew that if I wanted to improve my time for the SLC half, that I would have to amp up my training. Now, I know I need to push harder.

Now, I can't blame everything on the late start. I will admit that I had not trained for a certain pace. For the last two and a half months I was running at a lower intensity hoping to lose weight, since you burn fat most effectively at a certain target heart rate, which for me happened to be a slower pace. In addition to that, I had the stupid idea of donating blood a week and a half before. Before they take your blood they have you answer certain questions that will determine your eligibility to donate. During that time, I took the opportunity to ask the phlebotomist about the effect of donating on metabolic efficiency. I learned that it is the iron in the blood that carries the nutrients and oxygen to the muscles. By donating blood, I lost a lot of my iron. I knew that donating might have an adverse effect, but I donated anyway because in the past I hadn't notice much of a difference a week out. The next day is obviously a little more taxing, but usually I feel back to normal within three or four days. I also asked the phlebotomist how long it takes to recuperate the lost iron and blood. She said that the reason you can donate only every eight weeks is that doctors believe that it takes that long to replenish what had been taken. That must have played a part in the lack of energy. On top of those things, I did not start off well. The course began downhill so I started faster than I was used to. Plus, I happened to start with a friend who ran faster than I did. I felt like I needed to keep up with her. When I ran the Deseret News 10K, the same thing happened. I started too fast and I wore myself out. I couldn't make it all the way without stopping to walk for a brief time. When I did run, I ran faster, but I couldn't last as long. When I had done the other two races, I started well after the shotgun (because the lines for the bathroom were so long) so there weren't many other people around to influence my rhythm. I have learned to start well after the crowd has started and just do my thing. I think that will help me in the long run.

There were two bright spots to the experience, though. One was that the post race party was great! They had all sort of food: bananas, oranges, apples, bread, chocolate milk, cookies, chocolate, pretzels, peanuts. They didn't have ice cream, but it was still good. Chocolate milk never was so refreshing. And they actually had plenty left when I finished. (When I finished the St. George marathon, there was hardly anything left for me. I did get some ice cream though.) The other good thing was that I took advantage of the Arches National Park. If it weren't for that I would have considered it a waste of a trip. I would have like to have stayed longer, but I was please with what I was able to do.

My friends (Tricia, Heidi, and Phil) and I and another group hiked up to see the Delicate Arch, the arch that is displayed on the Utah centennial license plates and on much of Utah propaganda. The sign at the beginning of the hike said it was 1.5 miles. It felt more like 2.5, but after the days activities, that shouldn't be surprising. It was a little more strenuous than I had anticipated, but I am very glad I did it. I would have missed out on one of the amazing natural creations that many never have a chance to see. And my camera battery lasted just long enough.

Overall, it was a great trip, humbling but fun.

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