October 10, 2011

You know your race was bad when...

you have to check your pants afterwards to see if you crapped yourself. Yep, and there you have it- a one sentence summary of my horrible race. Here's the deep stuff, though.

Saturday was awesome. TP and I went to New Orleans and did a bunch of sightseeing. Then we headed to packet pickup where we met up with all of my running buddies, including Adrienne! We then headed to dinner where I ate a veggie panini, edamame, and salad. I ate a *few* of TP's fried pickles. I have had a history of fried foods giving me stomach problems, so I avoid them before LRs. This, however, was a very small amount, and I didn't think it would bother me.

Sunday morning I felt fine. I haven't been eating breakfast before races and LRs lately. For some reason, I have been feeling sick after eating my usual banana and toast w/ PB. I've been trading that for Gatorade Prime about 20 minutes before. This has worked well for a few months now. And the race began.

I felt fine in the first 3 miles, but not exactly speedy. I had promised myself to really evaluate the pace, and not push too much if 6:29 (target pace) was too difficult early on. It felt a little hard, so I settled in at 6:33-6:36. I was fine with this, considering current PR pace is 6:42. After the 3rd mile marker, the belly started feeling iffy. By Mile 4, I knew I had to "go." Before 4 was up, I was walking so I didn't have an accident. Yeah, that bad. Mile 5 had a porta- THANK YOU, JESUS! I stayed in there 3 minutes (awesome). When I came out, I met up with Sam & Daniel. Sam was aiming for 1:28. She looks at me and her face drops, "Oh, no."

But... my stomach feels fine after that, and I quickly fall back into 6:33 range, even hit some Sub 6:30s. This rocked on until Mile 8, which was an exact repeat of Mile 4-5. Up until Mile 8, I thought I could still PR, even with the porta stop. This time, the bathroom stop was so bad, I had to stop the Garmin. I came out and started running again. It was heating up, so I decided to take some gatorade b/c I worried about being dehydrated (due to graphic nature of bathroom break). My stomach was doing this threatening cramping thing; then my foot went number. I found that as an excuse to stop (again) and retie. Sam and Daniel were long gone. I started to cry. My PR was long gone, although I could still finish in Sub 1:30. Here's where I would like to take an intermission to discuss some very sad/scary thoughts I had while out there.

I wondered why we (runners) put so much pressure on ourselves to meet XYZ time. I thought about myself, and questioned why this running thing is so important to me. I kind of came to a sad conclusion. There are so many things I want out of this life, and so many things I have not accomplished or failed at. While I am not an elite, in my own way, I feel like I have succeeded at this running thing, like it's one of the few things I'm successful at. I thought about how I've always been a perfectionist- didn't make a "B" until 11th grade, and my first ever "C" was in college. I thought about how I have always wanted a husband and a child and a house and to be an excellent teacher. Three years ago, I realized I had chosen the wrong man to marry. He in fact, was not my soul mate, and in fact a major cheating ass. Unfortunately, because of my own dreams and goals, I put up with this unhappiness for a whole year past that. The thing is- those are still my dreams. Then I remember how all of these things seem so out of reach for me. Therefore, I run. When the chips fall in running, it feels like they have fallen in life b/c it's one of my only measures of success. THAT is why running is serious business to me.

Back to the race. TNT coaches have always put a sour taste in my mouth. In my racing experiences, they have only cheered for TNT people... until yesterday. I was stopped leaning over a cone, holding my stomach when one came up to me. He put his hand on my shoulder and asked if I was okay. I looked at him tearfully, and said, "My stomach... and my PR." He said, "Do you think you can finish?" I told him yes, and he patted me on the back and said, "Okay, don't quit then. You can do it!" I started jogging, about low 7 pace.

At Mile 10.5, my angel appeared. I saw the back of Sam. Her braid had come out, and her shoulders were hunched, something she does when she's super tired. I had never in my life been so glad to see someone. I sprinted (um, marathon pace) to catch her. Her goals had flown out the window, too. We both agreed that we were SO glad to see each other. We didn't really talk about much in particular. She shared some feelings about her upcoming marathon; then we took turns encouraging each other. The last mile was more like a regular Sunday run, only we were both really sad.

And then we finished.

I know you are supposed to forget about it in a few hours, a day at most, but I am still feeling down. I can't quite put my finger on it. I know people have bad races. I've had many before. I hope no one sees this as being snobby or self-centered, but I really feel like I *deserve* this success. I've worked so hard for so long, not just in running, but in life. It's true that I have a LOT to be thankful for- fantastic friends, a job, even the ability to run at all. While money is tight, I know I can always count on my family, and that I will never truly go without. I just want the whole package, you know, The Good Life.


  1. You make me smile. I get the importance 100%.

    But I also get that having to shit while in the midst of your big race will put a damper on the outcome. :) I already gave it to you, but just for fun, here it is again: There is no mixing fitness evaluations when poop stops. None. Zero. The fact that you had to take poop stops says you weren't healthy that morning. End of story.

    Love you, feel better, get your confidence back. You haven't been racing and running this well these last few months only to have it all be confused with poop stops.

  2. "evaluations with" poop stops, not "when"

    ...and why would anyone fry a pickle anyway?

  3. Ooooh, I SO relate to this post, and my heart goes out to you. You do "deserve" a good race because you worked hard to get your fitness to where it is and you know you are fully capable of it. I've also been thinking a lot about why I want so badly to have a good marathon and it goes back to that perfectionism. Yes, we all have bad races, but that doesn't make it any easier. At least you aren't injured and you have many more races in your future!

  4. Thanks for sharing. We all have down days. When I read about someone as fast as you having a down day, it makes me feel like I too can persevere and may experience success like you. Chin Up. Eyes up. That PR is coming, I know it.

  5. Anonymous10/10/2011

    aww, I'm so sorry that you had a bad day. Yeah... I feel like I try to pour myself into running and working out because meeting someone, getting married, etc. seems so impossibly confusing for me. For running, the path to "getting there" is so clear cut compared to "getting there" for everything else. It's a hard kind of faith to have!!

  6. Seems like a lot of people in the blog world had bad races this week. Sorry about your stomach. That sounds like a horrible way to have to try to finish a race!

  7. Ouch! Sounds like a rough day. I know there was a lot of that going around in Chicago on Sunday. Disappointing races can be hard to get over. I was a depressed mess for weeks after Chicago '09. You almost have to go through a grieving process. But it eventually gets easier and soon you'll start looking forward to going after it again. That PR could be just one more race away.

  8. That first line is the best hook I've seen in a long time. :)