My Weekend 10K… and Side Stitches!

Well, I sure did have a busy weekend.  It was a good kind of busy though!!  Monday mornings feel so much better to me when I’ve had an active weekend (if not I’m usually sitting here at the office scowling over endless cups of coffee until quitting time.  hehe).

On Saturday, I ran my first 10K of the year!  10K is my favorite distance to run.  To me, it’s more enjoyable to run a slower pace for a longer distance than to run as fast as you can for 3.1 miles.  So I was pretty pumped!

The best part of a 10K for me– I feel like it’s completely acceptable to non-Paleo carbo load the night before.  So, on Friday night I went on a double date to my favorite Italian restaurant with my wonderful boyfriend and two of our closest friends.  I ordered a basic penne/marinara/grilled chicken pasta dish.  I don’t have pasta often, so to me it was extra delicious.

{A picture of my dinner would have been appropriate here.  But of course I forgot to take one.  I promise I’m going to work on getting more snapshots for my posts!!}

I did, however snag a picture of my pre-race breakfast for everyone.  I’ve learned that a Paleo pre-race meal only works best for shorter distances (for me, at least), so I had my classic pre-race meal before Saturday’s 10K:  Ezekiel toast with almond butter.  Delicious.

Pre-Race Fuel

Pre-Race Fuel

It was a beautiful day for a race.  The air was cool, but not too cold– I believe the temperature was in the mid to high 50’s.  And there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  The 10K itself benefited a foundation set up for a local state trooper who was killed by a drunk driver, and they started the race off with a very moving tribute to his life.  There were many uniformed officers and officers in running gear there to honor and support the cause.  It was very moving.

I don’t always use a heart rate monitor when I run 5K’s because I’ve run so many and have a pretty good idea of my ideal pace for one.  I do like to use one to pace myself for longer runs like 10K’s and half marathons, though, because I haven’t run as many.  If not, I inevitably end up going too fast and feeling burnt out before I make it to the finish line.  My HRM is a few years old, and lately it hasn’t always been working.  Well, it finally kicked the bucket on Saturday.  I had to run the race without my HRM.  I wasn’t sure how my pace should feel.  I started the race off feeling very strong.  I picked a pace that I felt like I could sustain, but once we hit the hills in the course my body told me otherwise.  At mile 2, a racer’s worst nightmare occurred– I started getting side stitches.

I’m not sure if my pace was too fast, if I didn’t time my pre-race meal properly, or if my ever-misaligned spine caused my discomfort.  All I knew was that I had to make the side stitches stop ASAP if I was going to finish the race as a runner (during my last 5K, my side stitches caused me to walk MOST of the last mile of the race).  I focused on my breathing and my pace and was fortunately able to keep my pain under control for most of the race.

When I say “most,” I mean all the way until the mile 6 marker.

I sped up for my 5th mile because I was feeling great.  Then, with .2 miles to go, my side stitches came back with a vengeance.  I had to walk most of the .2.  I was so very disappointed.  I finished with an official time of 57:25.  I was only 30 seconds away from getting a PR– and I lost those 30 seconds (and then some) because of side stitches.  I estimate that, if I were able to maintain my 8:18 pace for the last part of the race, I would have finished at 55:46.  A whopping 1:11 faster than my current PR.  I was both happy and disappointed with my time.

Here’s a screenshot from my Endomondo app showing my splits.  I started the timer way before the gun, so my 1st mile is exaggerated.  Check out my pace during the last part of the race– that’s when I had to walk off my side stiches.  Miles 2 and 5 had a big hill to climb, so they are a bit slower.  Overall, I was pretty happy with my splits.

I’m taking a few things away from my race this past weekend.  One is that I need to find out what has been causing my side stitches– they have crippled two PR’s for me so far this year– and I need to do whatever it takes to counteract them.  Two is that I need to get a new heart rate monitor.  Three is that I have to do both of these things before Sunday– I’m running in my third Pittsburgh Dick’s Sporting Goods Half Marathon.  Nothing like bad timing when it comes to race issues!!

I know that many runners have struggled with side stitches at some point.  Have you ever had side stitches during a race?  How did you cope with them?  What do you feel caused them?? 

I’m in dire need of answers here! =)

Happy Monday everyone!!

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2 thoughts on “My Weekend 10K… and Side Stitches!

    • I’m thinking that may have been my problem, too! I guess I need to get reacquainted with my HRM for all of my race distances… Thank you! Good luck to you too!! It’s one of my favorite races. =)

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