a bittersweet race weekend recap

Monday, May 07, 2012

What I did/What I ran


So, I didn’t PR.

As I’ve shamelessly noted on this blog countless times, my current sub-2 hour PR is 1:54:56 and I missed that time by about 8 minutes on Saturday. (a PR is a "personal record" if you're new to the blog.)

I finished my fourth mini marathon with a time of 2:03:46.

And to say that I’m extraordinarily disappointed is a complete understatement. By all accounts, my training runs and training times would leave anyone to believe that I was going to crush this race, and to put in all that work and not get what you expected is a major letdown. Like, major

My feelings about the race are selfish feelings to have. I mean, I can’t expect to PR every time, right? Do I really think I’m so awesome that I’ll continuously beat my previous mini time race after race for the rest of my life? Do I really think I’m immune to having a bad race?

The answer to all of those questions is a resounding “no” …

… So why do I still feel so bad?

I asked my mom no fewer than 3 times if I looked fat that morning ...
... because that's clearly a priority on race day.


Special thanks to the creeper in the background.
And I'm obviously more flat-chested than I ever realized. Sorry, Clayton.

The truth is, I got sick. I got sick by mile 6 and felt all of the energy and excitement rapidly leave my body with each bead of sweat that rolled down my splotchy face. I honest-to-goodness believe that the heat and humidity are the primary culprits for my poor performance … That, and my amateur of starting out this particular race way too fast. About 35,000 people were registered for the One America 500 Festival Mini this year and that is a LOT of people! This is the largest mini marathon in the country and the starting corrals make me feel incredibly claustrophobic (I don’t like touching people and that’s all that was happening to me while I waited for the race to begin—I was being touched by strangers. Ew.). Last year I was in corral P and thanks to my sub-2 mini time from November, I was fortunate enough to get seeded and start in corral E this time around. I figured being that much closer to the front would ensure that I could make some headway through the crowd and not feel so trapped in a sea of people. 

I was wrong.

For the first 2 miles I was an obnoxious darter, weaving in out of people, desperate to get some breathing room and not have a major panic attack. 

And then it got really, really hot.

The humidity was ridiculous, and I was sick to my stomach in less than an hour.

As I ran the 2 or so miles around the Indy Speedway, I didn't feel the same burst of pride that I did last year. Rather, I kept taking deep breaths and thinking, "Get me off this godforsaken race track right now!"

Feeling dizzy, faint, and having to keep my eyes trained on my shoes so I didn’t vomit, I managed to finish the race. But as each mile marker took longer and longer to reach, I felt my dreams of another PR slipping away just as fast as my energy levels. My goal was no longer to beat 1:54:56; my goal now was to just to finish without dying. Heck, who cared if I died as I crossed the finish line, the willful girl in me just wanted to finish … somehow!

So I did it; I crossed the finish line and I made it the entire way without stopping. I’ve never had to walk during a race and I sure as heck wasn’t going to start then, sick or not. As I ran (or in this case, pathetically jogged) over the finishing mat, the man who crossed with me started to faint. Fortunately, I didn’t faint myself, but I only had the strength to take about 2 pictures with my family before I had to bolt to a restroom. (And no, I will not be posting those pictures because nausea and intestinal distress are not cute looks for me.)

Needless to say, I was down for the count for the rest of the day. After showering and scrubbing the feeling of defeat off of my skin, my mom, Clay and I went to The Cheesecake Factory for lunch. I managed to eat my meal and indulge in some chocolate mousse cheesecake (I am human after all), but I had to excuse myself from the table for several visits to the bathroom. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that I spent most of my day in the restroom. When I felt like I had nothing else left in me to offer to the porcelain throne, I just sat feebly on the couch shaking and sweating. 

A lot of people reacted just as poorly to the heat as I did, but at the same time, many others still managed to have a great race. After perusing Facebook later that afternoon to check the status of those who I knew were running the race as well, it was evident that just as many of my friends finished under 2 hours as those who finished over 2 hours.

I sure wished I could have belonged to the former group.

I know that I should be proud that I finished despite feeling ill, and I am. And the truth of the matter is that whether or not I matched or surpassed November’s PR at the Monumental Half, I still beat my time from lastyear’s 500 Festival Mini by over 8 minutes. Last year I finished in 2 hours and 11 minutes and hey, progress is progress right?

Saturday’s race was a rude awakening, but I’m definitely going to take advantage of the lessons learned. I’m not going to get a personal best in every race and the sooner I can accept that and not let it defeat me, the better off I will be. As one of my runner friends so sweetly put it on my Facebook wall: Powering through a bad race says as much about a runner as a PR

So, I’m going to take this race as a bittersweet lesson in how I define my successes. I wasn’t the fastest girl out there, but I didn’t let exhaustion and sickness beat me. I toughed it out, ran through it and did the most important thing any runner can hope for—I finished.

I have to let go of my perfectionism if I ever have a prayer of being happy with myself.

My modest medal collection. 4 minis down!

But I guess some more good news is that this mini helped me shatter some of my lame race superstitions. On Friday night I was just not feeling the disgusting food court spaghetti, but I made myself eat it anyway, convinced that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t get a PR at the race. Well, I clearly didn’t PR, so now it’s bye-bye crappy pasta! 

Quite frankly, I just wasn’t feeling the whole “race vibe” this weekend, and I wonder if that was some kind of internal foreshadowing of what was about to happen. On the drive up to the race expo on Friday, I was in a sour mood and caught myself wondering why I wasn’t acting like the spastic ball of nervous excitement I usually am the night before a big race. It honestly started to concern me and after all that transpired the next morning, rightfully so!

I even kept telling Clayton, “I don’t know why I’m in a bad mood. This is so strange.”

And I’m probably the most stubborn person on the planet because I stupidly attempted a recovery run on Sunday afternoon. Why, I don’t know. I think I felt the need to prove something to myself, but whatever the reason was, I made myself sick again. Even at a slow jog, the simmering 86 degree weather got the best of me and I had to stop for a few walk breaks. By my second walking break I was in tears, and I kept asking myself, “Why are you such a failure?” (I am clearly the purveyor of self-hatred.) My pride had taken a sucker punch to the stomach and my ego was about as bruised as my toenail after the race.

But after another minute of petty self-loathing, I got ticked off. I was sick of hearing myself think. I was sick of being an obsessive narcissist who expected nothing but perfection at all times. Who does that? You know what a good runner does? A good runner pulls herself up by the shoe laces and moves on. They don’t get trapped in a downward spiral of belittling thoughts and they don’t feel sorry for themselves. I would never dare call an athlete who powered through a race when they were sick a failure. Why am I doing this to myself?

“Whatever, I’m fabulous,” I said out loud to no one in particular and jogged back to my car. 

I went back home, collected by husband and beagle, and went for a relaxing hike in the woods.

At least Joey had a good run.

What I baked

Obviously the only thing that makes you feel better after a bad day is baking. So Sunday I took to the kitchen and made a batch of Oatmeal Scotchies. I read about the recipe on one of my favorite health and wellness blogs, Carrots N’ Cake, and apparently this recipe is on every bag of Nestle Toll House butterscotch chips, but I’ve never craved butterscotch enough to actually buy a bag. But the recipe sounded yummy, and I was more than happy to try a new cookie!

Of course my butterscotch morsels were off-brand.

I’m a super star when it comes to baking cakes and breads with my gas oven, but I have yet to master the perfect temperature/time combo for cookies. It’s becoming increasingly frustrating and I’ve had to throw away several pans of cookies because they’re a crumbling, soggy mess. The edges tend to cook while the inside stays gooey, and this makes it almost impossible to pry the cookies off the baking sheet with ripping them to pieces. Buying a baking mat has helped a bit, but I’m still constantly fighting my oven to not over or under-cook my baked goods.

It’s getting better though. I’m optimistic. I’m sure I’ll get the hang of this gas oven one day … probably right before it’s time to move into a house that has an electric stove.

Such is life.

But a cookie is still a cookie to Mr. Joey.

How was your weekend?

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