So what happened? To be honest, I'm not exactly sure. I got to the race about 45 minutes early and met up with Stephanie, who was also trying for a new PR (she did it!). We got our numbers, used the bathrooms, got ready, and were on our way. The start was down the street a little ways from where we parked. It was a little chilly, so we very slowly jogged to the start to warm up. We lined up by the 8:00 pacer and waited for go time. I stretched and tried to keep moving as much as possible to keep my muscles warm. After a few minutes I noticed a little bit of a burning feeling in my legs. I didn't think much of it and figured in would go away once I started running again. A few minutes later, it was time to go.
Miles 1-5 were great. The plan was to be consistent and stay as close to an 8:00 pace as possible. Mile 1: 8:02 (perfect!), mile 2: 8:01 (right on!), mile 3: 7:57 (yes!), mile 4: 8:00 (on top of the world!), mile 5: 8:14 (uh oh). That's where things took a sharp turn for the worst. Suddenly my legs felt very tight and my muscles were burning like crazy. I don't know what happened, or where I went wrong, but my legs decided they no longer felt like running that day. I thought maybe if I stopped to stretch that it would offer some relief and I could somehow salvage this race. I was wrong. Very very wrong. Every step that followed was painful. This time my mind was saying go, but my legs just kept saying no.
I wanted to quit. I wanted to throw in the white flag and give up. I think for the first time ever I shed a few tears during a race. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe after feeling so ready, how horribly bad I felt from mile 6 to 13.1. In that moment, I had absolutely no desire to cross the finish line. I was mad. I was mad at running. I was mad at my body.
There were many bad thoughts that went through my head after the race on Sunday. There were also many more tears shed on the drive home. I felt defeated. I started to question everything. Why am I doing this? Maybe long distance running isn't for me. Maybe I'm just not cut out for this. Maybe I'm not strong enough. Maybe I should just give up. I can be pretty good at negative self talk some times.
After a couple of days of thinking and reflecting, I'm ready to move on from this bad race and look forward to the next one. I received many words of encouragement and support, and reminders of why I really do love running, which I am so very thankful for. I was reminded that one race does not define a person, we need the bad races so we can fully appreciate the good ones, and there will be more races, and more opportunities to be great.
This race taught me the importance of respecting running for what it is. It is hard. It's a challenge, and that's what makes it so exciting. Good races are good races for a reason, everything clicks. All of the training and hard work pays off and you have a moment of greatness. Those moments are what make it all worth it. Those moments make the bad races forgettable. Those moments are what I will continue to run and train for. Those moments make it all worth it.
|beautiful sunrise from the morning of the race|