It’s embarrassing to admit it. I did the unthinkable today, the absolute unimaginable – a first for me anyway. I dropped out of a race today. I don’t think anyone can beat me up as bad as I did myself on the drive home, however, I think I’m slowly recovering.
I don’t know what it was about this race. I had previously blogged about waking up in a panic. This was THE ONE. It was billed as a PR setter – a fast downhill course, but as it got closer to race day, it seemed like the description kept changing (though I’m sure it was my imagination). It went from a seriously, fast downhill course – to a fast downhill course with a flat stretch – to a mostly downhill course – back to a seriously downhill course with a “little” uphill near the end. Well which was it?
All week, I kept telling myself to just drop out or run the 5K. I didn’t. I went to package pick-up and while I was in the area, I went to take a peak at the starting line location and thought – that doesn’t seem like much of a hill…just drop out. I didn’t.
I had set up a fairly constant routine of running most nights, even if it was only a mile or two. The day the panic set in, was the last day I ran, basically I didn’t run for the entire week before the race. Not only that, I resorted back to late night stress eating. I know I was setting myself up for failure.
Last night, however, I was super-organized. I had everything laid out, including a change of clothes so that I could change and stop on the way home. That was probably the only good thing I did, because I made a ridiculous dinner. Fish and shrimp tacos (without the burrito, otherwise known as cabbage with fish and shrimp that were heavily sprinkled with chipotle seasoning). Well now THAT was a tummy burner, so I drank two bottles of water before going to bed. Who DOES that?
Finally, it was bed time. Sleep? After a tummy burner dinner and two bottles of water after 10 p.m.? Not a chance, I had to get up at 5, in order to dress, leave the house by 5:45 and be at the race site before they started closing off streets. I made good time, but between the lack of sleep and the tummy burner chipotle – my stomach was a vast knot of pain. I won’t even get into the port-o-potty discussion.
Since I was there early, I got to wonder around and talked to a few people, all the while eyeing what appeared to be a much steeper downhill then at first glance. If I didn’t believe it was possible to psych one’s self out of a race, I’m a firm believer now. One side of my brain was telling me to leave, the other said – don’t do that, think positive thoughts…positive thoughts.
Lining up for the race, I kept planning for an exit at any second, just take off the bib and casually get lost in the crowd, but it was time to go. I was in the middle of the pack and as we started out, but wave after wave passed me and my IPod would not play. I guess it had something to do with the earphones.
The problem with a seriously downhill race, when you’re not used to it, is the pace. It felt impossible to slow down and I felt the jar of almost every step as I flew downhill, as others flew by me. I tried to put on the brakes and stop, but it was impossible. It felt like the momentum alone, kept me hurtling down the street. I reached the one mile marker in 9 minutes. I don’t run a 9 minute mile. My best average is a 12 minute mile, I remember the congratulatory voice in my earphones when my app announced it was my fastest workout. Since the last half marathon, I have usually hovered between a happy 13 and a “I’m quite comfortable walking 15”. The fact that I hit the mile at 9 minutes, was crazy.
I went almost another mile, not really tired, but stomach on fire, before I pulled over. The funny thing about it, is that I don’t know why I did it. I just couldn’t finish. I sat on a bench for about 5 minutes and started back up the hill. It would have been quite funny had I been in a better mood, but it took me 30 minutes to go the almost 2 miles back up that ridiculously steep mountain of a hill.I kept saying to myself that I should have kept going.
I’ve come such a long, long way, for someone who could barely…just barely run a tenth of a mile a couple of years ago. This felt devastatingly like a huge failure. Why did I leave? I’ve finished a half marathon and I couldn’t finish a 10K? A downhill 10K at that!!! To make matters worse, I couldn’t navigate out of the town. My plan was to come home, crawl in bed and forget about it. Instead I came home and started searching for new races and pulled my training plan back out. With this defeat comes a renewed purpose to get it together and get back at it!