Race day did not go according to plan. Just like my race goals had nothing to do with the time on the finish clock, my feeling about my performance also has nothing to do with the time on my garmin when I hit stop. I had high hopes going into this race. I felt pretty darn confident that I had a sub 2 hour half marathon in me. What I forgot to take into account is that I can’t control everything on race day. Temperatures were brutal for an early October race in Virginia. Last year it was cold and rainy. This year the sun was shining, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, the temperatures were well into the 70s, and the humidity was through the roof (97% at the start). I lined up in corral two ready to finish this race with a 1 at the start of my finish time.
The first four miles went by effortlessly. I knew I was too fast through mile 2, so I made a conscious effort to slow down.
9:08, 8:55, 9:00, 9:10
After mile 4, things started to crumble. The heat got to my head. I started to feel the effects of running towards the rising sun without any shade on the course. Mentally I started to check out too. I knew at that point (or at least I told myself I knew) that I wouldn’t run a sub 2 race. I tried to convince myself to run each mile, but I felt defeated. I let my head get the best of me. At mile 6, I let myself walk through a water stop. That walk extended way too far, and I mentally gave up. I quit.
As I rounded a corner at mile 7, I saw my husband. I was in tears at this point. I was so disappointed in myself and the lack of mental strength on race day to survive hot conditions. I stopped. I was ready to walk off the course and back to my car. Two wonderful running friends came around the corner after I few poor me moments. They made sure I was okay, and I joined them back on the course. They were run/walking at this point because the heat had got to them too.
10:12, 13:33, 13:42
When I hit the 10 mile marker, I had collected myself mental (well, kind of). I needed to put some sort of effort into finishing my run, so I peeled off from my friends. I ran a mile before my head caught back up to me again. I was just so frustrated with myself for not fighting for myself on race day. I was angry that I allowed the idea of running over two hours get to me to the point where I quit. I’m mentally stronger than my performance during this race, and I certainly beat myself up during my run.
I got myself back together for the final stretch of my run. The last half mile includes a bridge crossing. On the way up, I was running next to man who was hurting. I miraculous FINALLY found my running groove. I told him we just had to get up and over and the finish line was waiting for us. This started a little conversation with me doing all the talking (I did ask him if he wanted me to stop talking or to let him run. He said no. He asked me to stay to distract himself from all the pain he was feeling). He had a goal of 2:20 and was so worried about not finish. I had just tanked my run. I wasn’t going to let him tank his run. I talked him through the final stretch of the run. We both finished strong, and he meet his goal by more than 2 minutes. He hugged me at the finish line!
9:27, 8:10 pace
13.27 miles on my garmin 2:20:50
I finished the race a little angry, a little disappointed, and a little deflated. I gave myself permission to feel whatever I needed to feel for 24 hours. This morning I put my running shoes back on, and I meet my coach for a five mile recovery run. We worked through my race during the run. We identified a lot of areas where I can grow as a runner to make me stronger. We identified a lot of reasons why I fell apart on race day.
- I need more race experience. I have to learn to run at my edge. This will come with practice. I’ll learn to identify it and trust it. I’ll learn to know my body better.
- I can’t evaluate a run during a run (remember that race goal!). Writing this post is the first time I’ve looked at my splits from race. I wish I could have just accepted the race for what it was and ran the best that I could run. My actual running pace was good for me in hot conditions. I could have turned the race around if I didn’t let my head get the best of me. When I told myself my race was over (the race I was racing for a sub 2 hour run), I gave myself permission to quit. Sub 2 wasn’t happening on race day, but I could have still ran strong.
- Over the course of the race, I quit wanting it. I didn’t want to fight for the finish anymore. This is probably what bothers me the most. It’s so outside of my character to not fight for what I want.
- I connected this bad performance to so much than just this moment. In my head, I convinced myself that I didn’t want any race. I was ready to withdraw from Richmond at the finish line.
- I also need to learn how to run over the hump of a race. I’m pushing myself more and more so my runs are going to become more difficult. I have to learn to piece together a strong start and finish. This will come with practice.
My frustration from yesterday’s race is slowly turning into motivation. I’m not ready to throw Richmond out the window. I’m determine to make the best of Richmond on race day no matter what happens. I know that Richmond is going to be hard race for me. It’s going to test me. My goals from this race are carrying right on over to that race.
- Run with a light heart
- Run with clear mind
- Run with the strength in my body
- Be Brave
- Be Strong
- Fight for the finish
- Run in the present
I didn’t accomplish any of these yesterday, but there is no way in hell that I’m quitting before I learn these lessons. I’m recovering from yesterday (and for my friends how know me, don’t worry! I’m not beating myself up). It’s just a race, and I am truly thankful for everything it showed me yesterday. I have room for some real growth both on the race course and in life. I gave up when plan A wasn’t successful. I am on the path to learn how to adapt, embrace, and enjoy plans B through Z. This is going to benefit every single part of my life.
Nutrition worked great on race day! Hammer drink when I woke up. Gel 15 minutes before start, mile 7, and mile 10 (wish I had the sense to take one at mile 4).