Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"Insert Title Here"

Tuesday, April 12, 2011  at 9:17 PM
I've waited till today to give my race report for a couple of reasons.  The first reason is because the results were supposed to be emailed to us by today, and I wanted to give you "official" results rather than just what I've got on my Garmin.  But, they still haven't arrived, and I'm feeling bad for not giving  you a race report.  The second is for embarrassment!  I thought of several titles for this post, and you can pick any one of them:
"Fail, Smitty, Fail!!!"
"Holy Half = Holy Hell"
"Hoorah for Run/Walkers"
"Bad Run, No Fun, Lots of Sun"

Any one of them will do.  It's just a matter of what part of the race you would like to focus on.  As you know from my last post, the weather for Sunday was very much on our minds this last week.  It kept changing and changing, and I wish it had stayed at 69* and T-showers.  Instead, it ended up being a blistering 85*.  Now, that's not really that hot, but it was such a huge change from all our training runs, that it cooked us!  I learned several lessons from this race, and I'll summarize them below.  But here is how the race went.

Jennifer and I woke up much earlier than needed to get down to South Bend, IN to the registration because we hadn't pre-registered.  We really wanted a race shirt, but we had heard that you could arrive on the day of the race and FOR SURE get one.  So, we busted our butts down there to be some of the first in line only to find out that the shirts were GONE!  What a bummer.  So now we had a couple hours to waste.  It was kind of nice to pick any port-a-potty that we wanted and be the first to use it.  We just people watched as the crowd began to grow.  Some of our friends, who had pre-registered and got a sweet tech shirt, arrived, so we got to hang out with them for a bit.  Nick knew his ITB's were not in shape for this race, so he came as the cheerleader for his wife, Taryn, who ran the 10k with one of her friends, Carolyn.  Josh, (you might remember him from when we worked on our aero position in this post), came ready for the race too.
We got all stretched out and ready.  I ended up wearing just a cotton t-shirt instead of a wicking shirt which was a bummer.  It was nice to have my new running hat to keep the blazing sun off my balding head.
 After everyone gathered behind the timing line, we heard the gun go off, and the Holy Half-Marathon had begun.  This was a much smaller half than my first which was the Atlanta Half-Marathon that Jennifer and I ran together on Thanksgiving day 2009.  There were about 1200 people at this one, but that might have been a few too many for the course.  We started on a road, but were soon directed to sidewalks.  I ended up running around people in the grass to get by them.  It was jammed!  The course ended up being a majority on sidewalks, some gravel trail running around the two lakes, and a little asphalt road running.  Here's what the two-lap course looked like:
People were everywhere, which I didn't really care about as long as I had a place to run.  I was super confident going into this race because I had smoked ALL of my long runs with great times and great paces.  All I had to do was run the pace that I knew I needed to get my goal of breaking 2 hours.  That's just 9:05's.
 As we were cruising along, I really was feeling pretty good, but as the sun warmed from the mild 65* when we arrived up to 85*, my body started to really feel it.  At mile 4, I was starting to feel a little drained.
 Jenn was feeling it too, but I'll let her tell you about it on her blog (HERE).  She'll be putting up her race report soon, so check back to here her side of the Holy Half.
 Taryn (on the right) and Carolyn (on the left) finished their 10k, and they looked strong...too bad I wasn't feeling so strong.  I was wasted and was just getting to the half-way mark.  Of course, I smiled for the cameras, but I was hurting!
I was already trying to figure out how much further I could go.  I had planned on the water stations and gatorade stations to satisfy and replenish me even though we were expecting such hot weather.  That was NOT happening.  I didn't have anything left in my body to burn up!  So I started trying to figure out what to do.  I had seen the back of this one guys shirt for most of the race, so I knew that he was running a similar pace to mine, so I decided to chat it up with him.  He went to Notre Dame, and we talked for the next two miles.  At mile 8.6, I basically ran out of gas.  What a failure!  I was totally jacked up in the head and didn't understand what was going on since I had dominated 12 miles the Sunday before.  I couldn't figure it out, but I had had about enough, so I decided to run/walk the rest.  I thought I might be able get a little recovery and then keep running.  My overall pace was about 8:44, so I had a little bit of time that I could recover with.  A really nice girl had stopped running at the same time I did, so we talked for a minute and then ran a solid chunk as we pushed each other along.  Again, I was overcome and slowed to a walk.  This went on for awhile.  Finally, I hooked up with a guy that was having the same trouble I was.  He had trained hard for this race but couldn't handle the crazy change in temperature.  Jenn and I had trained in 30's, 20's and even the teens, so this was insane compared to those runs.  This guy, Chris, and I pushed each other along, but I watched my goal disappear beneath the ticking digits of my watch.  It SUCKED!  I saw several people laying on the side of the road with paramedics and oxygen masks, and I felt lucky that I wasn't one of them.  Chris and I cranked up the pace for the last bit to rumble across the line with a sickening 2:12 at a 10:04/mile pace.  It was pretty crushing to have trained that hard and not even come close to my goal!
 Jenn was still on the course, so after a long drink, banana and bagel, I walked back on the course to find her.  I found her in about the same shape as me...walking!  We walked a bit and then ran on in to the finish line.  Josh grabbed someone's poster that they had made for another Jennifer.

 We grabbed another couple pictures with the runners (above) and the whole crew that came to support us (below).  What great friends we have!
 After a stop for something cold at Sonic, Jenn and I headed home to rest and recover from our grueling run.  I had been feeling a little pain at the end of my foot during the last half of the race, so I was interested to see what the problem was.  I found this when I took off my sock.




I found out that I pinch my toes every time I take off from the ground.  It's going to take some work to train myself not to squeeze my toes every time I lift off.  This blister, and the one under the nail of the next toe, were pretty painful.  They have gone down a bit now, but I've got to try something different.

So here's the deal...  Jenn and I have lost all confidence in ourselves to run.  We want revenge on the half-marathon, so we're trying to figure out what to do.  This Sunday is supposed to be a high of 46, which is just about right to run 13.1 miles.  We're thinking about just running a route here in Berrien Springs and calling THAT our half-marathon.  What do you think?


  1. Don't ever rely on the water/gatorade stations at any race.  ALWAYS bring your own and plan better for nutrition.
  2. Pre-register for events to get the shirt and avoid carrying around 5 extra pounds of sweat in your cotton t-shirt
  3. Don't be too confident going into a race, because the downer if you suck, sucks!

I hope that you all had wonderful weekends and rocked your races!  I was thinking about you all during the race and only ran as far as I did because I didn't want to report to you that I wussed out.  Thanks for the motivation to get that far, and thanks for reading!



Wow! I know you didn't reach your goal, but you had a great finish time. That kind of heat really has an effect on performance - the body works completely different. You will get your revenge on the half time! Congrats, and way to pull out a great race!,,,

kessia reyne

I say run another in Berrien! Stick to the Holy Half!

And you finished the race, which is more than a lot of people can say (read: those on the sidelines with oxygen masks). From what I heard, ND wasn't really prepared with their refueling and hydration stations. So: lessons learned, another notch in the belt, and on to the next thing!

GO, Smitty, go!

KC (my 140 point 6 mile journey)

OMG, i just left one of the longest comments in history and when i hit post comment, blogger errored out on me and lost it. I want to throw up now. I will have to come back later and try to remember everything I just typed out.....uuuuuggggghhhhh!

KC (my 140 point 6 mile journey)

I was thinking about you yesterday on my run. I wondered how the race went and thought that I hadn't seen your blog pop up on my radar with a race report. Anyway, chalk this one up as a learning experience Matt! You finished and that's what matters here. Congrats on getting thru it. The weather is just something you can't beat but you can adapt and manage it. First piece of advice (from a Florida native): if possible (somewhat challenging given your geographical location and time of year), try to get some training runs in during the warmest part of the day. 2nd piece of advice: blisters come from friction so lessen that friction by either putting powder in your shoes or socks, or bodyglide on your feet, vaseline or aquaphor work well too. 3rd piece of advice: no cotton anything. wear all wicking type of material when you run. Last advice: carry a handheld water bottle (the kind with the neoprene strap for your hand). I have done too many races where they run out of hydration (totally unacceptable but it happens a lot). Now you can take all of the lessons you learned and kick the next race in the butt.

Ironman By Thirty

Great job!! I know you didn't hit your goal, but you rocked it considering the conditions. I think you are being a bit hard on yourself considering the circumstances. There is pretty much no way (short of moving to FL for a month) you could have prepared for the weather on Sunday. The only way I made it through my training run was because Jennie came with on the bike to carry my water. I went through over 32oz water in 10 miles and was still dehydrated when I got home. Water stations ever 2 miles in not even close to enough for 85* weather. After we get a few weeks of warm weather, you'll adjust to it and won't affect you as much.

I agree with all 3 of KC's recommendations - she is running/tri sage. Like KC said, a handheld bottle is a great have. I have a 20oz bottle which gets a little heavy on long runs, so what I do is incorporate lots of out and backs into my course. That way I can ditch the bottle by a tree, run out a half mile or so and back, pick up the bottle and continue on.

You two should come to GR in the fall for the Grand Rapids Half Marathon! I've done the half once and the full twice and each year the weather has been perfect running weather.


Wow this race reminds me EXACTLY of my 2nd half marathon two years ago exactly. I was confidently trained in the distance and also confident I would break 2 hours. I had trained in nothing but 60 or below weather because it was still only April. Race day? 85! I finished in 2:00:10.

Training in cool temps and then hitting a race like that in those conditions is HARD. I betcha next weekend or the weekend after you could hit another 13.1 in cool temps and CRUSH it. Heat has a HUGE impact on running. I was running almost 1 min/mile slower this past weekend than I was capable of because of the heat.

You WILL get that sub 2 hour! Use this race as motivation to build that inner fire to NAIL the next one! It took me 4 tries to break 2 hours @ the 13.1 distance.

Caratunk Girl

You are being WAY too hard on yourself. You finished under some super tough conditions, that is a success. Things don't always go as planned in races, and having the ability to adjust and adapt is key. You both did that well. Heat has a tremendous impact on performance, especially if your body is not used to it.

I know, trust me, that it is disappointing to not reach your goal, but try to shake it off and go for it again. You will get that sub 2hr.

Consider this a "tool" for your toolbox of training/racing. I think we learn so much more from hard races (and training) that we struggle to finish than those that we rock and seem to come easily...

Oh, and +1 to what KC said. Keep rocking it Smitty.

Matty O

First comment, BODY GLIDE YOUR TOES! Put that stuff on top, below in between!!! Rule of thumb, anything over 8 miles BODY GLIDE!

Its a race. The way I look at it, if you hit your goal in a training run you hit your goal right? Why does it HAVE to be on race day? Dodging people always slows me down too.

I run with a fuel belt. I can't carry bottles when I run. The belt has a pouch for my gu packs and I use INFINIT nutrition drink in my bottles. I never trust water stops. I can run 20 miles in the heat with no water though so I am not a good person to recommend hydration tips haha.

Don't beat yourself up. This is a mere speed bump in your goal of a 70.3 this year. Take the lessons learned from it and build on it. Personally I love these failed races, I store them in my hurt locker (brain) and draw on them when I need inspiration to push hard through a workout. Trust me, when you are bonking on a run, think of this race and get mad, instantly you will hammer out some good splits.

Keep your head up, it will get much easier as the year goes on, trust me :)


Matt - don't beat yourself up!!! Your training was spot on and you were VERY prepared for this race. Then mother nature came in and threw a twist. You couldn't train for a day like that when you haven't had any to work with. We've all gone through it at some point (check out my story of Ironman Louisville last year - heat, humidity AND they ran out of water for 40 miles of the bike) and yes, it's not fun and totally disheartening. But, it doesn't reflect on your abilities at all. I bet MANY of the times posted that day were way slower than people expected. This race was not a true reflection of what you are capable of and hopefully you see that!

I agree with the advice that others have given. One other thing - head to Walmart or Target and get a wicking shirt. I know you were supposed to get one at the expo, but you can buy then for $10 and it will save you so much in terms of carrying weight, but also keep your body cool!

Gotta Run..Gotta Ride

crap - I just wrote this long comment to your post and it never posted. WEIRD.

Here goes again....
Your pictures are awesome! You have a great group of friends. Love the smiles and fun.

Cotton...are you kidding me. NEVER. Also, Matty is 100% right about the body glide. USE IT.

The heat was higher at my half this past weekend as well. i get what you are saying. We had station towards the end of the race that began running out of water. UNREAL! I GU every 30 minutes. You need calories. the body will crash everytime without them.

Great job on finishing. Keep moving forward!


lol @ CG and the smack:)
we have on days and off days...for me personally over the past 4 years my off days have pushed me harder in training and attempting to race again. Failed at Grandma's marathon two years in a row before completing a decent run there last year. Felt soooooo good
keep at it and keep up the good work


Amber @ Betty Meets Jane

Hey Matthew, Thank you for commenting on my blog. I really appreciate your encouragement.

Thank you for the warning on the toe picture. I still looked anyways :X Even if your race wasn't so good, your finish picture better than the dude next to you.

Happy Monday!

wesan michael

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