I have always heard that it didn’t really matter what you ate the morning of the race, as long as you ate something that wasn’t going to upset your stomach in the next few hours. I have read that what you put in your body the day before a race is far more important. So in the past, I have always tried to drink plenty of water and eat a high carb dinner the day before races. For some reason, I decided that my pre-race dinner this time would consist of fried catfish at Mama’s in Montvale. This turned out to not be the wisest decision I have ever made (mistake #1). I will explain this more when the time comes.
I was looking forward to the Trail Nut race this year, just because I enjoy running on Bedford trails and I really like Falling Creek Park. Having run this race last year, I would have the opportunity to compare finishing times. This race would be my 5th Mountain Junkies race of the year and the last RNUTS race I would take part in this year. I am going to skip the last RNUTS race at Carvins Cove in June. The only race distances for that race are 25k and a full marathon. Having backed off my long runs over the last few months, there would be no way I would be able to get ready for distances like that.
So, I started my morning with my usual bread and banana breakfast. Although my Nutella was out of date, so I had to use peanut butter on my bread. I chased that down with a nice hot cup of black coffee and some water. Once I was showered and dressed, I headed to Falling Creek Park. It only takes me about 15 minutes to get to this park, so this is one of the closer races I will run this year. I got to the park about 20 minutes before race time. I had just enough time to do some light stretching, listen to the pre-race talk, and head to the starting line. I probably should have run a little bit to loosen up my legs because later in the race (mistake #2). My legs would began to tighten up later during the run.
After giving the half-marathon runners a 10 minute head start, the 10k runners were sent on our way. Even though I live fairly close to the park, I had not run on the trails there since last year’s Trail Nut race. Somehow, the course was still pretty familiar in my head. I had decided to push my pace early to get in front of some of the slower runners before we got into the wooded single track portion of the race. So I had about 200 yards to make a move. Once we ducked into the woods, I joined a group of runners moving at a pretty good pace. I wanted to average sub 8:30 minute miles for the entire run and after glancing at my watch, I realized I was going much faster than I had planned. The first 3 miles went by quickly while I was running in a group averaging around 8:00 minute miles (mistake #3).
"don't puke, don't puke, don't puke..."
After mile 3, I began to get very nauseous and my thighs started to get really tight. This is about the time I realized I had made mistake #1 and #2! I had to back off the pace I had set in the first few miles to try and make my stomach and legs feel a little better. This did improve my legs, but my stomach would never improve. It was the sickest feeling I have ever had running a race. At one point, I started looking for large trees to hide behind while I puked. I tried to concentrate on the trail and the next turn, in order to get my mind greasy fish sloshing around in my belly! I told myself that if I stopped, I probably would still feel awful. So there was no use in stopping at this point. The damage had already been done.
During the two miles of my worst issues, I clocked 10:00 minute miles. This would really hurt my goal to average sub 8:30 miles. Although at that point, I was just happy to not see my dinner again! Before I knew it, I was passing the 6 mile marker and I knew the last 0.25 mile was going to be a climb out of the woods. So I pushed myself to the finish in order to shave a little time off my time. Once I popped out of the woods, there was a nice 50 yard trot downhill on a grassy surface. I spotted Anna and the boys up on the hill cheering (that always makes it easier to finish strong). I came across the finish line with a time of 56:20.48. Since the course was actually 6.5 miles, that made my average pace 8:40 minutes/mile. So, I didn’t make my goal, but I did beat my last years’ time of 58:59.43 (9:26 minutes/mile).
After eating some food and drinking some fluids, my stomach and legs started to improve. This race turned out to be one of the more mentally challenging races I have run, due to my stomach and legs. I am definitely lying off the fried foods for pre-race dinners and warming up better next time. As I mentioned before, I am not running in the last Mountain Junkies RNUTS race this year and I do not have any scheduled races in the near future. I think I am going to run in the Lynchburg 10 Miler in September and I would like to run another half-marathon in the fall sometime. I guess I will figure out those races after I enjoy the summer with my family.
This coming weekend, my beautiful wife will be running in her first 5k ever! I can’t wait to stand on the sidelines and cheer her on for a change. I am so proud of her for putting in the difficult treadmill runs late at night, in preparation for this race. I will be writing another post that will cover Anna’s race, so stay tuned.