Monday, November 17, 2008

Rock and Roll – Lessons Learnt

I ran the San Antonio Rock and Roll Half-Marathon yesterday. It was my 1st major race since the Austin Marathon in Feb earlier this year. I was pretty excited about running this race with my Asha crew and also made some new friends sign-up as well! There was a lot of excitement leading up to Race Day, including planning accommodations for my friends, the pre-carb dinner party etc etc. And I felt like this might probably be one of the best races of my lives!

I was wrong.

It ended up being a really mediocre race experience. I had a lot of fun planning for the race – but barely any fun on race day. Here’s why:

1. I started the morning with an upset tummy – and this pretty much persisted throughout the race day and ended up bothering my quite a bit.
2. The race logistics in terms of transportation to and from the race was quite a nightmare. The shuttle lines at the parking area were never-ending and the actual journey to the race village was pretty long as well. This mentally tired me before the race.
3. I had eaten a decent breakfast in the morning – but by the time we actually got to cross the start line (almost an hour after the gun start) – I was starving – starving to a point where my stomach was growling! I was saving up the supplies I’d brought along with me to the race for much later in the race, but had to consume them earlier because of this!
4. I got a stitch attack close to Mile 7 and those darn stitches did not leave me at all right till the end of the race. I tried salt tablets, drinking more Gatorade, stopping for a bit and taking deep breaths – but they just refused to go away – and really made close to half my race very incomfortable.
5. My ITBs started hurting a little again – I thought I had seen the last of my ITB issues – but looks like there are still some issues left! Time to maybe go back to AR again!

I finished the race – but in a very mediocre time – I knew that I could have definitely run better! I was reviewing all these different reasons in my head after the race – and realized that the real reason why I did not have such a great race – was that I had been training very poorly this season. I have not been consistent with my marathon training at all. I have had valid reasons for missing some of the long runs and QWs, but I have not been good at all for coming up with backup plans in case I have to miss a long run – and neither have I been good about making up for missing those long runs on my own. I’ve also not been good about the “on your own” runs. The lack of proper training for a long race will definitely show on race day. Sure you might finish the race – but it will definitely not be your best finish. Being consistent with training not only helps you physically, but also mentally, and half the challenge of getting to the finish line is mental! This might not to apply to everyone – but it definitely does to me. I am not naturally athletic and in order to improve my running abilities, I need train and practice.

This changes from today. I guess I needed a real “kick in the butt” to get me back on track – and this race was just that. I have downloaded the schedule for the rest of the season and pinned it up on my whiteboard at work – and have already planned my workouts for the rest of the week. Can’t wait to get started!!

Having said this – I have to thank everyone who helped me get through the race yesterday. Sha – you were an excellent running partner and really helped me push through those initial miles!! Savi+Varsha, you guys were so so sweet to drive up from Austin yesterday morning to cheer us on! Varsha, you were an A-star pacer and I don’t think I would have gotten through the last 5k without your support! Vish – thanks for all the moral support! To everyone who wished me luck for the race – thanks so much! To the rest of the Team Asha runners who ran the race – congratulations on your excellent race finishes!

I got forwarded a race report this morning from a friend about the Team Asha Bangalore runners. A lot of them ran trail races over the weekend – and 2 friends ran a 100-miler and 100K respectively. While I was reading their race reports, I felt ashamed at myself about listing reasons like “long shuttle bus line”, “late race start” etc as reasons for not having a good race day. We are so spoilt racing here in America – race organizers and volunteers really do SO much for us here – and still we are not satisfied and find something to complain about. Santhosh and Shumit ran through the night in the trails and all the organization for the race was done by just the running groups there and supported by all their teammates and families. They did not have any fancy race organization – but ran excellently and cheerfully with the support of all their friends and families! And really – that’s what truly matters! I have all that here as well – and should really not complain about anything else!

I am extremely motivated about my long run this weekend now! 16-miles. Mount Bonnell. It will be challenging for sure. But I cant wait!


Anonymous said...

It can only get better, think of it as a bump in the road. It has made you realize that you might need to fine tune some things. Having said that, don't be too harsh on yourself. Somethings like shuttle service, lines, etc are out of your hand. When things like do happen then you have to get your focus back on the race and not on things that are out of your hand. Anyway, back to the drawing board! :)

Amit Bhutani said...

hey sis!! glad to see that you are acknowledging that in this country, we (me included) have come to become a part of a "generation of whiners". we do have a lot to thank for to these wonderful organizers and especially the volunteers who donate their w'end time so selflessly so you and i can race.

as for the disappointing race and all the mishaps along the way, i think many of those were unavoidable and for the ones that were avoidable, glad to see you are jotting LL for them :-)

what you do on race day as a part of the actual race pales in comparison to the numerous hours you have *already* logged, donated to creating awareness, organizing, recruiting and motivating newbies to indulge in endurance events like Half and Full Marathons and helping them fund raise. so, don't be too hard on yrself, you have a lot to be proud of (especially this year as Team ASHA Lead organizer) :-)

Anonymous said...

Juz curious ..... sooo what was your timing for this half marathon ???

Charanya said...

Dante...My pace was 13:21.

vishy said...

Well sorry about the way ur race day went. But you got it figured it out - you Training sessions were messed up. I had a friend who did a full marathon and then struggled to do a 3mile run as he had taken a break for almost a month.

Do you plan to do the Austin Half Marathon next Feb. That would be my first big run. My training is messed up too. Let see.. have 2 more months to get back in shape.

comfortably numb said...

Hey Charanya,

You did great! The tough run will only help you get to your goal. There are surely positives from your run. You are right about just sticking to the schedule. I did that a few years back and didn't really care about how fast I did the workouts - just went out and did them - that made a world of difference. Trust your coach and "Screw it..just do it!"

Sharanya said...

Cha, I feel your pain! I felt exactly the same way about the race. It was one of those races where everything that could go wrong DID go wrong. Haha. Cest la vie. Things can only get better, babe!

The important thing is that we kept at it inspite of mishaps, aches and pains.

Don't forget the lighter moments of the race - sharing a donut, waving at the bands, giving high fives to random cheering squads & reading inspirational slogans! :)

Charanya said...

Santhosh! I absolutely love the whole "Screw it..just do it!" motto!! Readit in your blog! Awesomeness!!

And Sha - I said, the crowd support we had the race was quite phenomenal!! Which is why I felt like an idiot cribbing about all this after the race! :)

Unknown said...

Dont worry about the half marathon man. All of us go through our running PMS and we need to live with it as runners. Very proud of you for organizing the whole thing.