I recently had my first running competition in the mountains and basically “covered” all mistakes you can make on your first REAL running competition. But let’s start at the beginning. I was so excited to see my friend Bernadette, again. She lives in the Chiemgau Alps, close to the Austrian border and was born in the mountains. I try to visit her as often as I can in order to go on a hike or just do some fun stuff in the mountains. This time, we decided to sign up for our first running competition in the mountain area.
Actually, it is not THAT important how much sleep you get the night before a big race: it has not been shown to affect the race performance. What is important, though, is how well you sleep over many nights leading up to your race. And, well, what shall I say?! Since I have been working a lot, I’ve been suffering from chronic sleep deprivation, which does affect my general fitness and overall performance. Chronic sleep deprivation affects both your body’s ability to recover and your ability to concentrate during the race.
“You should load up on carbohydrates for one to three days leading up to your race, so the role of your pre-race breakfast is to top up your liver glycogen stores and maintain your blood glucose level. Your pre-race breakfast should typically contain 100 to 200 grams of carbohydrates and be low in fat and fiber with a moderate level of protein. Several studies have found improved endurance performance after pre-race meals with a low glycemic index; however, this seems somewhat variable between athletes and personal food preferences and tolerance seem to be the most important factors. If the race is early in the morning or you are too nervous to eat, then a high carbohydrate sports drink or liquid meal replacement is a good option.” (sourc: runnersworld.com)
Well, I came down with a stomach flu, just one day before the race and could not eat at all. Huge mistake! Especially since I wasn’t able to drink enough, either. Usually you should drink enough the day before the race so that you are already well-hydrated and only need to maintain your hydation level on the morning of the race.
But I was too stubborn to cancel it, so that I decided to take the train out to the mountains, anyways. I felt sleepy, tired and got more and more nervous by the hour, since I did not wanna feel like a total loser. – SOOO stupid! Next time, I will take enough time to prepare and will only join a race when I am as fit as a fiddle.
The big race
My friend and I were so freagking nervous. When we arrived at the race location, we saw all these (former) professional athletes, who have been running for ages and already won several competitions. Since I still felt a bit dizzy from the stomach flu, all I could think of was: “Just don’t throw up, don’t pass out and don’t finish last.” I was praying to get it over with – actually not a good sign at all, especially since I usually love to run!
Not that all signs already indiciated that I should not go on this run, the weather god wanted to have a say in it as well. A huge thunderstorm with heavy rain delayed our starting time and I felt like everything was in slow-motion.
Then, a few hours later, we finally made it to the starting point and just wanted to run. I was already so tired that I could have fallen asleep right away, but I still needed to do this race, since it was the reason why I came here in the first place. It was still raining, extremely humid and sticky. For me personally, the worst weather conditions, especially for my asthma.
When they fired the starting pistol, we all started running. And what did I do? Instead of starting relaxed and easy I ran as fast I could, to get out of the crowd and enjoy this. Well, too bad that I did not know the area. Then I would have done more hill training beforehand. Running hills when you are not used to it – I usually just run along the riverside – is tough. After 2-3 k, I already felt tired and needed to slow down, since I started way too fast. And that was the moment when all the other runners started passing me and I felt like a total loser. I felt like I was running in slow motion. Everything got so blurry and I suddenly wished it was all just a nightmare.
Along the running route were plenty of people chearing for all the runners and I gotta admit: that was the only thing that made me pull through. I felt like a real loser, wished I had trained better, was better prepared and felt like I was running as slow as a turle – I was in my own bubble. But these amazing people and other runners chearing for me made me finish the race. They gave me strength and confidence and even put a smile on my face after crossing the finish line. I was running slow, very slow, but at least I finished my first mountain run.
In the end, I found out that I wasn’t too bad. My friend finished 10th and I finished 13th (and no, I wasn’t the last one :D) – so, I guess, the weather and mountain conditions had an impact on other runners as well and it was not as easy as I thought it would be. Boy, let me tell ya. It was my first race experience and probably my worst at the same time, but I am still glad that I did it. Will I do it again? Yes, but definitely much better prepared. Now I’ve learned from my mistakes and know how to take better care of myself.