What do you say about the runs that weren’t all they were supposed to be? I’ve had a couple of them this week. This is my ode to – well, let’s not call it failure…
Last weekend I ran a half marathon. It’s one that I’ve done now for the past three years, and it’s relatively convenient and I like the place and the race. I almost didn’t do this one because it’s gotten expensive and I also, frankly, didn’t know if I had it in me to do another half marathon two weeks post-Pig. I almost signed up for the 8k, so that I would know I could take my time and enjoy the after party. But no, I thought, go big or go home. And I worked my butt off at it. I gutted it out. I could not believe my pace. I had to pee, I didn’t because this was a pace that I didn’t want to lose. I didn’t want to lose it so badly that I was willing to risk peeing myself to keep going. (I didn’t pee on myself, I did keep my pace.) I crossed that finish line with the second or third best time I ever had in a half. Probably the best I have done since fall 2014, in ANY race.
My Garmin read 12.73 miles. Then it became known that everyone else’s read between 12.7 and 12.8, too. After some confusion, it was determined that the course was short – when it was set up there was a loop we were supposed to take, and we all missed it.
There was a lot of drama. A LOT. On the one hand, I understand. It was an expensive race, even without the hotel, gas, food, etc. And for people who were using this to qualify for Half Fanatics, corral placement at another race, etc., I don’t know what they do. It was… almost. So I hope they can be accommodated and their results not just voided. But for me… I’m going with a big ‘whatever’. I love this race. I had a fantastic experience. I felt joy. Real JOY. Everyone, from other runners to the spectators to the police to the hordes of volunteers to random people on the Boardwalk, stayed out and was so positive, even for those of us at the end (I did not finish last, however). There was still food and free beer even when I crossed the finish line! I know I could have gone on for another .4 miles or more, even, and I know my pace was pretty consistent and so for me, I’ll just add half a mile’s worth of time as per my average pace, to my finish time. Know what? It’s still a fabulous time for me, and none of it takes away from the experience. (They have offered discounted 2017 race for those of us who were shorted in the half, which is wonderful and I’ll take it – but I would come back and run that race anyhow. I’ve said it before… sometimes having a great time has nothing to do with the clock.)
And then there was Sunday. Sunday was not a race. It was a training run that was supposed to have been a 18-20 miler. I am three weeks out from my first marathon of 2016, and this is The Week For That Long Run. And… it did not happen that day. With luck, it will happen next weekend – a little too close, but better, I think, than not doing it at all. It didn’t happen because… well, basically because either I was not disciplined enough, or because I wanted and decided to indulge myself on a rare Sunday morning (indulge means, coffee, the paper, the political morning shows, relaxing). I didn’t get out early. My stomach was giving me fits. The dogs were really needy. It was pouring rain. Again. But, I went out. The first few miles are always bad, but these went a little better than the usual. I decided it was earlier than I expected, and I could try maybe not for 20, but for at least 16 or 17. It was crazy muddy and puddles everywhere, so I was slowed by a lot.
And then just after mile 3, I saw a man hanging out under the train overpass. And… I can’t explain it. It felt weird to me, and I thought about the pepper spray I didn’t bring – for the first time since I bought it in March, I remembered that I had some – at home. I realized that I had seen exactly one person on the trails that whole day so far – and that I was heading into an area with a swollen river, heavy vegetation, and the least populated part of the trail on a good day. No one knew which paths I’d taken or where I was heading, and I felt… off. Then thought, well, he could be a homeless person just trying to stay dry, in which case I feel bad – I would hate to be biased like that. I was also feeling bad because I didn’t want to let fear win, and I was wondering if maybe I convinced myself to be afraid so I wouldn’t have to do the miles. But whatever it was… I turned around and went the other way, following the trail to the waterfront park instead.
I ended up doing a little over 9 miles, which is still respectable, and in the pouring rain, which is still badass, but it fell far short of the 20. And really, physically and mentally, I felt done at 7.
I’m not sure what to make of this. In a way I’m proud I got out at all. Two years ago I would not have wrinkled my nose at a 9 mile run. But, it was still way short of what should have been. I can’t dwell on it, can’t beat myself up over it. I just have to leave earlier and do better the next time. Which is… in five days. Saturday. Wish me luck!