Kaiser Half: A Race Report

This morning I ran the Kaiser Half Marathon. It was the 3rd half marathon I’ve ever run: the first being this race 4 years ago, which was the first time I’d ever even run 13 miles, and the second being the half at the end of the Big Kahuna “Duathlon,” where my kidneys failed me.

I figured today had to be better than either of those.

My goal was 1:30, which honestly I had no idea if that was a good goal or not. But it sounded reasonable. I just needed to run 6:52s and that’s only a little faster than 7 minutes, so? I also had no idea when it would start to hurt — preferably not too soon?

The first couple miles (I just wrote murders on accident — yeah, Law and Order is on) were fine. 6:45, 6:42 and I felt good. I ran into a guy from my team and we were talking. When I started to drop him, his friend decided to come with me. This guy (I’m sorry, I forget your name! I was tired!) was awesome. I could not have asked for someone better. He said ‘you want to run a 1:30, ok, let’s do it.’ And we stayed exactly on pace and he cheered me on and asked me how I was doing.

In case you were wondering: it starts to hurt by mile 3 and you’ve got 10 more to go. But I took a gel, kept it together, and it didn’t hurt any worse.

By mile 8 we were still running 6:46s and I felt solid. I felt so good, and we were more than halfway, we were practically done! I started getting optimistic — this was great! I was going to run a 1:28-1:29! What could go wrong!

Lots can always go wrong.

From mile 7 to almost the end, you’re running out and back on the Great Highway. It’s just straight and windy and it sucks. We were running and I was determined to keep up with my guy. But I don’t know how it happened; he went one way around a guy and I went the other and he slipped ahead of me and I slowed down I guess just a little before mile 9. All I know, is I got discouraged and dropped back about 20-30 seconds that mile. I was still on pace overall, but I had lost my guy.

That slowing down screwed me up, I think. It changes your pace and stride and rhythm and sucks. Right after that, I got a stitch in my side. The stitch turned into a cramp and got worse and worse. I was trying to hold it, trying to breath slowly, but it hurt to the point that I could barely stand up straight. I started walking and trying to stretch. I tried running some more. I did some more walking.

Once you start walking it’s all over. Your body thinks the race is done. When I would try to start running again, everything was seized up. My stride shortened. I couldn’t bend my legs much and was still bent over at the side. One thing just leads to another. Even when I tried to run faster at the last couple miles — just telling myself it’s almost done — I couldn’t. Pump your arms and pick up your legs! But no.

As soon as I was done, I could barely walk. Everything was seized up.

Steve says 1:35 is still not bad and at least I kept it together(ish) and if that was blowing up then it wasn’t too bad.

But, it sucked. I’m not sure what I did wrong. I had the one gel and one drink of water at an aid station, but that’s not enough to give you a cramp. I didn’t go out too fast. So. I don’t know. Ideas? Maybe I should have just held it together longer and then I wouldn’t have had the downward spiral. Maybe I just need to be tougher. Either way, I’m glad this training block is done. I am bone-achingly tired and my legs hurt too much to even fall asleep now. I am ready for a rest week.

5 thoughts on “Kaiser Half: A Race Report

  1. I was hoping I wouldn’t be the first to comment because I’m useless re: reasons why your body did what it did.

    You ended up close to your goal so that’s pretty sweet. Sorry it had to be rough last 6 miles though. That sounds painful.

    I’ve filed the “don’t start walking or your body will think it’s done” statement in my brain for future reference.

  2. I never thought about it that way – that once you stop you’re F’ed because your body thinks the race ended.

    I lost about 4 minutes in the last two miles of the women’s marathon in that damned wind on that not-so-great highway. Steve’s right, 1:35 is still good.

  3. I don’t get cramps, so I don’t know. Actually, cramps are very mysterious things, hard to pinpoint, hard to predict – your best bet is to do this kind of intensity in training, or slightly harder, and eat/drink the same things in training and at the same rate that you will in races.

    good effort though. you’ll feel much better with more training and more rest. doing a race at the end of a training block is always really painful.

  4. I love half marathon race reports. I think in my spare time I’ll spend most of my day just reading them because I can’t run right now & I’m trying to get over a case of pf in my foot.

    Basically, what happened with you not getting your 1:30 is you just didn’t WANT it bad enough. Don’t you love that reason? It’s so simple – but that’s a guy answer.

    Now, for the rest of the story… two things/suggestions helping side stiches (1) you actually got a bit dehydrated (never mind that we’re in winter). If all the fluid you took in was what you mentioned… it wasn’t too much drink that troubled you, but not enough. I have trained quite a bit in hot weather and the only times I got side stiches was during the hottest periods when I didn’t bring enough water. (2) Actually the second issue is a remedy, not a cause. When the side stich comes on, what you want to do is try to breath rythmically. By this, you want to blow out/exhale somewhat forcefully the same instant as your foot strikes, and this should be on the same side as the stitch side. It totally works, either it has something to do with forcing you to exhale more completely and expell the CO2, or it takes your mind off the pain and gets you to concentrate on something else. Just don’t do it ever other step – that’s too often. Say the pain is on the left side -then when that left foot strikes the ground forcefully blow out like the impact of your foot hitting the ground is pushing the air out. Do this every other left foot strike, and usually in about 100 yards, you’ll feel a release from the stitch. I run into this problem mostly at the Oceanside half Ironman as it really warms up by the second half of the run, and I’ve usually failed to hydrate enough.

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