A finish is a finish..yup, sometimes that is all you can say about a race.
There are races where I have a goal of getting a PR or a top place finish and others where I just do it for the experience or for training purposes. Usually I have my top priority half marathons in the Spring and Fall. After my racing season this past October, I started jumping in half marathons for the experience of just enjoying the races rather than racing hard. It was more of a way to train my brain and legs to race without going all out and learn how to just embrace the joy of racing. I have been stuck in this laid back state of mind for a bit too long, especially after a winter of little running. It has finally come and kicked me in the butt. I also think the Disney Princess Challenge got to my head and made me a bit too cocky. I was so impressed with my half marathon time given I had raced the 10k hard, had sore calves and little running throughout the winter. I started thinking I was capable of just jumping in half marathons even when not prepared. So with that mindset, I said, “Yeah sure, I’ll do the Crossfit Open Workout 15.3 two days before a race…I’ll be recovered by Sunday if I just do shakeout run on Saturday”…Nope. Not the case. I may have been able to run Disney with sore legs, but that is not something that should be a regular doing. After some mid-race tears, cramping and one of the most mentally and physically challenging races to date..I have learned my lesson.
Now, I certainly don’t regret my decision to take part in the Open Workout because I loved the workout and finally logged a great score in the Open challenge. I may have even won some cash if my score is still the top after everyone at my box has done the workout! But, it definitely affected my race and more importantly, it set me up for potentially injuring myself.
Now that the race is over, I have some clarity to reflect on what exactly happened during the race. I pretty much lost control of my emotions and broke down mentally and physically. The feeling of your body just shutting down and working against you is scary. Every half marathon is a fight and a struggle at some points, but this was different. This was a feeling of hopelessness. A feeling that my body would not fight with me and was ready to give up while my mind was trying so hard to put up a fight.
Mile 8 was where I experienced my first calf cramp and from then on, there were LOTS of stops to stretch and attempts to get my head back in the race. Stopping actually did the exact opposite. Looking back now, every time I stopped I worked myself up more. It is as if stopping gave me time to process just how bad my emotions were taking over ( I swear I am not this crazy!)
I kept telling myself, “I think my Mom is at mile 11, I just need to get to her. I just need a familiar face. A calming voice. I just need her.” Don’t ask me what I expected her to do about the situation, I still don’t even know. Sometimes just the presence is just what you need. By mile 11.5, there was no sight of her so I figured she was at the finish line. At that point, I just stopped..cried..walked…pretty much lost the mental battle. People running by were pushing me to keep on going but I ignored them until one guy said, “the best thing you can do is run it off!”…Logically, it didn’t make sense. It still doesn’t make sense. How can the cause of your pain also be the solution? Any marathoners out there to help me understand this?? But after a few deep breaths, I gave it a try. And I somehow managed to push through to the finish. You know when you hold in a breakdown and then it finally comes out? Well it happened at the finish. Right there. No control. I am all about sportsmanship and appreciating just being able to cross the line so that being said, I knew how I should have been acting. I should have gone back to cheer on my teammates. I should have said thank you to all the volunteers providing water and medals. I should have been thankful rather than having a pity party. The mental game got the best of me and I am not proud of my performance nor my actions, but the best I can say is, lesson learned.
But despite a rough day, my team, Western Mass Distance Project, did awesome and finished 6th while the masters finished 13th! They all put up such a fight and some solid PRs! Congrats to all of them and a special thanks for the encouragement.
Glen..you said you read my blog. Maybe you lied 😉 But if you do then, thank you. Thank you for getting us to New Bedford, for all the support and for witnessing crazy runner/female emotions. I will get a top 3 place soon so I can live up to the expectations!
Enough running talk, lets talk race recovery. Nothing like recovering from a mental fight with some trivia and burgers!
Despite everything that went wrong on Sunday, being able to finish, spending the evening with such a special person and just being lucky enough to have the opportunity to race is a victory in itself.