Wednesday, June 8, 2011

On the Run: DX-A2 1/2 Marathon 2011

Sunday was the Dexter-Ann Arbor ½ Marathon.  Last year I ran the 10k because the ½ was full.  This year I made sure to sign up early because I’ve heard such great things about the run (and then they didn’t cap it so everyone could enter).  The course is basically Huron River Drive from Dexter to Ann Arbor and it is quite beautiful.  It’s a paved road with some ups and downs but nothing too challenging in terms of terrain.  There are lots of trees on either side of the road and glimpses of the water here and there. 

Although my last race left me feeling less than pumped up about running, I was still looking forward to this run.  My friend Katie was running, too, which helped.  The weather was supposed to be gorgeous – a bit on the hot side but sunny and dry.  And at 8:30 in the morning, how hot can it really be? 

Turns out it can be VERY HOT.  Not only was it hot but also it was humid, so already breathing was difficult.  Then around mile 2 I started to get a stomach ache.  Nothing too bad, just a little bloated.  By mile 4 it started cramping up.  By mile 6 it felt like there was a conga line working its way through my large intestine and I was so bloated that I could hardly breathe.  I thought my chest strap was going to burst off.  My heart rate had been at a steady 195 for the past few miles.  I thought I was dying.  My stomach pain made every step more unbearable than the last. I didn’t know how I would ever finish.  I was imagining myself as Simon Pegg in Run Fatboy Run, the scene where he is bloody and bruised, limping along the marathon route, refusing to get in the emergency vehicle so he can finish the race.  Although I was neither bloody nor bruised and would have flagged down the emergency vehicle in a second if I had seen it.

Finally I did something I have never done in any race – I walked.  I pulled over, slowed down, and I walked.  I felt like such a loser.  I was only halfway to the end and I was walking.  I walked until my heart rate dropped into the 170’s and then I ran again.  When my heart rate was up again and I couldn’t take it anymore, I walked until it went down.  I ran/walked/ran/walked the rest of the race.  I stopped and walked too many times to count.  At that point I didn’t even care.  I didn’t care how long it took me or how many people passed me.  I just had to get to the end.  And I did…but it wasn’t pretty.  There was no sprint, no real feeling of triumph.  Well, triumph that I didn’t throw up or pass out, I guess.  When I met up with Katie I found out that she, too, had contemplated hitching a ride back on the emergency vehicle so I felt a little less wimpy.

It was my slowest time for a half marathon ever but not by much. Considering how much I walked, I was surprised my time wasn’t worse. Not that it even mattered.  I survived.  I did what I had to do to take care of myself given the conditions of the weather and my body, so I learned an important lesson.  At the end of the day it’s only a run and it’s not worth killing yourself over it.  I also learned a few more things: 

- Running more in the heat would probably be helpful if I ever plan on running a summer race again.  Also running at least once in the past 2 weeks might have been a good thing.
- Drinking water and Gatorade can actually be quite beneficial, even if you have to slow down and walk to do so.  
- “I’d Do Anything for Love” by Meat Loaf isn’t quite the power ballad I hoped it would be and may actually have done me more harm than good.

So I'll chalk this up to a good old-fashioned (and quite humbling) learning experience.  I have another race in a few weeks and if I'm smart, I'll be a little better prepared.

*Sorry there aren’t any pictures.  I was too miserable to take any or have my picture taken, but you can check me out at (bib #2891).  I actually look way less miserable than I felt.  Go figure!



Toasted Nuts and Cranberry Luna Bar, soy yogurt, banana


Good Day / Tally Hall
Pumped Up Kicks / Foster the People
Telephone / Pomplamoose
Song Away / Hockey
Born This Way / Lady Gaga
Float On / Goldspot
(Don’t Fear) The Reaper / Blue Oyster Cult
Misery / Maroon 5
Under Cover of Darkness / The Strokes
Shut Up and Drive / Rihanna
Charlie Mix / Otto Vector
100 Miles and Runnin’ / N.W.A.
Our Time Now / Plain White T’s
A Matter of Time / Foo Fighters
That Someone is You / R.E.M.
Bad Romance / Lady Gaga
Kick Drum Heart / The Avett Brothers
Selfish Man / Flogging Molly
Ours / The Bravery
Second Chance / Peter Bjorn and John
Discipline / Nine Inch Nails
I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That) / Meat Loaf
Chop and Change / The Black Keys
Eye of the Tiger / Survivor
Run This Town (ft. Rihanna and Kanye West) / Jay-Z
Fighter / Christina Aguilera
Not Afraid / Eminem
Power (remix ft. Jay-Z and Swizz Beatz) / Kanye West
The Underdog / Spoon
Black Swan / Thom York
Long Walk Home / American Mars


  1. Hey Amanda,

    I know plenty of people that would be proud to run a time anywhere around 8:47 min/mile pace for a half.I'm honestly surprised with your time considering the amount of walking you said you did.

    I'm going to throw you some advice even though you didn't ask for it and hope you don't mind. Anyway, when you have digestive type problems like you did, not a side stitch,I'd recommend heading for the nearest bathroom or porta potty. I give the same advice if people have the need to urinate during a race. I'm convinced that the down time spent purging is easily made up rather than suffering to hold yourself and slowing down tremendously just to deal with it. This may sound gross but I'm betting you would have felt a lot better if you had done so early on.

    Also, practicing drinking and eating while running is something that many people struggle with because of a somewhat sensitive stomach. You're sucking in lots of oxygen or at least trying to which can cause some bloating issues. This is where you have to find what eats and drinks work for you ahead of time before the race. Walking while taking in fluids and gels can somewhat help and it sounds like you did some of that. I know too much Gatorade can cause stomach problems so I always mix it with 50 to 75 % water.

    If you get a chance check out my blog and say hello. There might be some posts that you would find helpful.

    Good race summary too.


  2. Ken,
    Thanks for taking the time to read my post and give me some suggestions. I definitely need to work on the whole hydration/nutrition thing during races. My sensitive stomach makes me hesitant to ingest anything but in this case, forgoing the first few water stops was not a smart idea. I'll be sure to check out your blog in the next few days!