I’ve been waiting to write this blog. And perhaps haven’t been posting other events because this one hasn’t been published. Well, it’s time. I’m ready to race again on Monday and I want to get this race off my chest, checklist and conscience before I run.
I’ve been avoiding thinking about the half last winter. Avoiding writing about it. Facing it again. Let’s flashback to last fall/winter.
I’ve been chasing my 2011 St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon PR (1:47:36) since about 2012. Not in every race season, but at least once a year. And I decided 2015 was a good year to go for it again. Track work, tempo runs and long runs became the norm and I racked up those miles as the temperatures began to drop.
I was feeling really confident a few weeks before the half when I ran in the Tulsa Run, a 15k on much of the same course as the half. I hit it in 1:16:44 (pace of 8:13). So I’d need to turn it up just a bit for a few more miles to get my half PR.
In the three or four weeks between the Tulsa Run and the half, I backed off the tougher runs a little. Probably too much if I’m truly honest with myself (definitely too much slacking if I wanted that PR). But, I still never expected that I’d feel SO bad.
On race morning I went through all of my normal routine. Coffee. Banana. Water. Foolish Things to drop stuff off and get some energy from friends. Got a surprise walk to the start line from boo thing. Was ready.
Too ready. Started too fast. (This is all I remember 7 months later). Reigned it back in. So hilly. Cold chest, can’t breathe. Only mile 3. Slow down. Keep going. Plenty of time to make up distance. Why’d I start so fast? Need to walk. Walking. Feet hurt. Knees hurt. Why? Don’t usually hurt this early. People keep saying they like my pants (lace black Fabletics). I don’t give a damn if you like my pants. Crying, not even halfway. Still cold in my chest. There’s fella. Stop to talk, tell him its not going well. But must keep moving. Will not get a DNF. Knees. Knees. Do I need new shoes? Maybe I shouldn’t have had that all that pizza. And cookie dough. It shouldn’t be THIS bad. Mile 10. I don’t even want to keep going. Texting dad. Positive words, trying to believe him. Passed by friends. Cheer them on. Pass the marathon turnoff. Find Katie. Cry some more. She runs me in. Finally across the line. Moon blanket. Medal. Skip the food. Where’s Chap? Where’s a warmer blanket? Hug. Tears.
That’s all my mind can recall at this point. And feelings of major let down that lasted from mile 3 through the rest of that night. I probably put too much pressure and hope on that single race. I probably went out too fast. I probably didn’t take those 3 weeks between Tulsa Run and Route 66 as seriously as I should have. I probably did need new shoes.
Lessons learned: I have a great supportive network. From my mom and dad cheering me on in text messages. To my friends who ran me in on the final stretch. Friends on the course giving me kind words as they passed. And a fella and sweet dog to distract me afterwords.
One bad race doesn’t mean your training went to shit. I raced well shortly after this disaster. Sedona went well on hills and at altitude. I ran one of my fastest 5ks ever less than two months later.
One good race doesn’t mean the next will be good too. Especially if you stop the work.
What a journey running and racing has been, and how much it has taught me about life. I’m grateful for it, even through the times when I want to break up. It happens to all runners – stay committed and some of your best days will follow! ‘Til this year R66.