Monday, April 25, 2011

Utrecht Half Marathon - Race Report - Cruel and Unusual

I'm going to go all Dutch on you (aka direct) and tell it how it was: this race SUCKED! Obviously, it wasn't the race director's fault that it was 25+ degrees (77 Fahrenheit). BUT, the weather forecast has been showing high temperatures for more than a week, so it was absolutely INEXCUSABLE that the first two aid stations were out of water!
At least the color of my face matched my top

Now that's out of the way, let me say the following. THANK YOU to the ambulance personnel and Red Cross for being out in force on the course. Every time I saw an unconscious person by the side of the race, they were receiving professional help. Sadly, some of these people seemed to be doing quite poorly (at least one was out cold and at least on one a defibrillator was being used...). I hope they all make a full recovery (good vibes their way).

Also, a big SHOUT OUT to all these kind Utrecht residents that opened their arms (and sprinklers and hoses) to us. I very happily took advantage of every single opportunity to turn this race into a wet t-shirt contest. Fortunately, I was wearing pink!

Finally, THANK YOU to my hubby and our buddy Steve who interrupted their lovely long bike ride to wrestle the streets of Utrecht to meet me at mile 8.5 and hand me a fresh bottle of water (saved my day) that would lead me to the end. 

Now that's been said. Overall, I think I did a great job running this race. My preparation (in quantity of miles) was definitely not up to par with Egmond aan Zee. So, either way, it would not have been a stellar performance. I used this race to practice preparation and nutrition, and I think I did a great job with that. I ate breakfast at 8, then a sandwich at 11am, and then a luna bar 1/2 before the race. I also drank 2 glasses of water every 1 1/2 hours or so. I was definitely properly hydrated going into the race, but despite drinking at least two full water bottles and quite a few water cups left and right, I think I got dehydrated about 2/3 into the race. My back was hurting, something I have never suffered from before.

I ran the first three miles as planned (09:20 instead of 09:40; 09:20 and 09:00), thinking I was being conservative. I never picked up the pace... It was just too freakin' hot. I was taking a few sips of water every 1/2 mile or so, and took my first gel right on time at mile 3. At the first aid station (mile 3.X), there were three tables, but no water. I repeated the water sipping and gel taking until the next water station. Still no water. I got very mad, not so much for me, but for all those people that were working hard, trying to do their best, and being failed. The race director's chatter over the PA made it worse. What I think he said was that they were sorry there wasn't more water, but they were doing their best, there would be water later...

Approaching the hand over...
My heroes... (hubby on the right)
By then I had decided that if my hubby wasn't there to meet me at mile 8.5, I would quit. I usually am not a quitter when it comes to races (I quit a lot of my workouts instead), but being safe is much more important than finishing. I saw too many people laying on the side of the road. However, hubby was there, and I got to continue. As soon as I was out of sight though, I started walking... I was just toast. I walked for about three minutes and then started running. My splits after that point got even slower. I stopped one more time to untie my shoe laces even further, my feet were swollen beyond my usual lace allowance... 

The last 3 miles of so were pure torture. It really is cruel and unusual to put an out-n' back at the end of a race. Every 250 meters or so it looked like were were nearing the turnaround, but no. Also, in those 3 miles I had to stop twice(!) to let ambulances through and witnessed a defibrillator being used on a runner. This really scared me and made me realize that the finish time, or even finishing is not as important as being able to walk away. It's easy for me to say, I never really care about my time anyway, but I now care even less about finishing. 
Starting up again after the stop was HARD!!!
And yes, I did finish after 2:15:27 of sweltering heat (2:12:03 chip time), making me #290/491 in my category and 1650/2102 overall ( I was told 3,700 had signed up for the race). The time is my personal worst (PW), but I cannot stand heat very well (never have, even as a kid), so the fact that I was able to pace myself and drink enough was quite an achievement. Also, I was told 3,700 signed up but only When I got home and got ready for the shower, I found a forgotten water sponge stuck in my bra...

PS: Don't you love my new running outfit? The skirt is from skirtports.

1 comment:

  1. Alinda I'm very proud of you that you pushed through, been there as you know and know how hard it was. I'm so like you: I can't stand the heat either and never have too. I decided next time it's this hot I won't even start again.

    Reading your post I know I made the right decision of stepping out. You're in a better shape than I am.

    My colleguea said this morning he watched the results and hoped I stepped out because it was too hot to run, he's a runner too.

    It was nice to meet you but too short. Let's try again in Breda (by the way isn't that on October 2nd?) or Amsterdam. Going to try again for a half in Amsterdam.