You can tell by the title that I did not run my best race ever this past weekend. I will get into that in a little bit, but I wanted to share some stories about Alabama first.
We had an easy, four-hour drive to Talladega, Alabama. When we got off the exit, I could not believe how different this place was from anywhere I have been before. I have never in my life been somewhere so rural before! I live in the suburbs and its only natural to have restaurants and movie theaters everywhere. Well, the only places to eat in Talladega were Shoney’s, Country Buffet, City Buffet, The Golden Eagle….all buffets with foods I wouldn’t recommend eating the night before a race. There was a movie theater that looked like a large trailer that showed three movies a day, none that we wanted to see. However, we counted six Baptist churches, two John Deere warehouses (right across the street from each other, but two separate businesses) a few tractor supply stores,
and Wal-mart. I can’t forget the best place to get your donuts…
So needless to see we were in the middle of nowhere. But then there is this:
The race track is absolutely enormous. One lap around the track is about three miles long. There is tons of room on the infield for spectators to camp out and park their RVs during the racing events. The stadium seats 175,000 people. I know nothing about car racing, but this was really cool to see up close.
We picked up my packet and laid around our hotel since there was nothing else to do. We went out to the nearest Italian restaurant, Olive Garden, 35 minutes from our place. We had a yummy dinner of salad, bread sticks, and pasta, stuff I have gotten in the past many times.
We walked around a couple of stores and Jordan found a pair of pajamas that looked really nice on him.
So all night I had some stomach pains that I tried to ignore and before I knew it, it was race day morning.
Every time I walked around for more than a minute or two, I got the absolute worst pains in my stomach. It felt like someone was digging a knife into my stomach and it hurt so bad I had to bend over and stop walking. This continued all morning….along with visits to the restroom every few minutes….sorry.
I warmed up for the race, feeling very dehydrated from the morning’s activities. My legs felt great, however. I was wondering how I was going to race if I had to double over and take a break every few minutes walking to the start…I decided to hope for the best and get excited to race. Some pre-race pictures:
Bill Rodger spoke before the race and he walked right by me! I was pretty excited about that.
The gun went off and I was feeling pretty great. I was averaging 6:45 pace, which is just a few seconds faster than my PR pace. My legs were feeling good, and I worked my way up to third place.
Mile two the cramping started and I tried so hard to not worry about it. At mile 4 the pain was honestly unbearable and I stopped a few times to visit the restroom. I started up again feeling even more dehydrated and very lightheaded. I couldn’t stand straight up because the cramping was bad again. At this point I realized I could either shuffle through the next 9 miles, or drop out. I decided I could not put my self through the stomach cramping (I just wanted to lay down flat on my back) and not have to worry about finding all the restrooms along the course. It was a miserable 2.5 miles of a jog to find Jordan at mile 6.5 and call it a day.
It really was disappointing to drop out of a race, but I realize runners, even elite athletes that are getting paid to race, do it all the time. I could have ‘sucked it up’ and shuffled through the last half of the race, but I wouldn’t be proving anything to myself other than, yes you can run 9 minute pace for 9 miles, and I was worried about my health at that point.
The friendly people of Talladega took me back to our car on a golf cart so I could get the heck out of there sooner. I was so relieved to lay down in the car. We left and went to McDonalds, where Jordan got breakfast and I started hydrating with a mix of Powerade and some Sprite. The rest of the day, I was as sick as a dog! I was so relieved to finally be home, and I was able to eat some soup for dinner.
I looked up my symptoms on the internet (so obviously I can diagnose myself now) and it seemed that I had all the symptoms of food poisoning. I have no idea where I got it from (if my internet diagnoses is correct) but I don’t really care.
I’m bummed this trip to Alabama results in a DNF, but I’m not dwelling on it. I have a 10k coming up soon and I’m hoping to redeem myself there and move on.
So, if you have had food poisoning before, do you think that’s what I had? I kinda hope so, because I’m not sure what else could explain those horrible abdominal pains! Thanks for reading!