The military has initials for everything; MP, KP, AWOL to name a few. Runners also have initials, two in particular, PR which stands for personal best and DNF which means did not finish. Unfortunately, I can now say that both sets of initials can be found in my running portfolio. Judging by the title of this blog, I bet you can tell where I am going with this.
Race day was upon us. The weather forecast was looking up. Storms were going to hold off until late afternoon, although temperatures were to be a bit warm during the race. Weeks of training were about to pay off…or were they. I had struggled in the two weeks leading up to race day. Plagued by lack of sleep, inconsistent workouts and pacing, climbing up and down ladders for hours on end at work. Even Apple appeared to have my number. On two occasions in the two days before race day, music and playlists just randomly disappeared. I had hoped that I was getting out all of the bad mojo and would end up having a great race. I was right…for a while.
The start of the race and the first half were great. I didn’t push myself too hard early and found a pretty decent rhythm early on. I even found a runner to draft behind which helped me to maintain pace. Approaching the halfway point, however, I had issues I hadn’t really had before during a race. Despite having used the facilities twice before the race started, I couldn’t shake the feeling that my bladder was full. I had side stitches, which I knew would eventually pass, and I had cramps. After passing the halfway point I thought that relieving myself would take care of the cramps and perhaps help me feel lighter on my feet. Not to be.
I pushed along and managed to stay on pace for another handful of miles before loosing steam at mile 16. By mile 17, I had fallen off my projected finish by four minutes and by mile 18 my body had chosen to turn onto Failure Drive. I had dropped to nearly ten minutes off and it wasn’t long before I saw the 3:15 pacer pass me by. I couldn’t get my feet going and decided enough was enough. So many things were going through my head at that point and I’m not one to quit, but ultimately, I knew it wasn’t my day. There were other races on the horizon and there was no need to risk injury or a long recovery period for a finish that most likely wouldn’t even match my PR. Ironically, I turned around at a point that was less than two miles from the course turn around and with no shortcut back to the finish, I had to trudge/run/walk another six miles back to the start/finish. All the while watching runners I had passed long ago, return the favor.
I’m not sure the disappointment of that race has sunken in yet. Quite frankly, there is a lot to learn from it. I raced really well for 13.1 miles and even up to 16 miles I hadn’t lost much traction. My post race recovery has gone well. I keep telling myself that even great athletes have bad days and now I have to build on this experience for the next race in May.