In that moment, at mile 10-ish, I really wanted to just throw in the towel and walk.
Seeing my Garmin flash 9:30 (as in 9:30 per mile pace — a whole minute-and-a-half slower than what I had been running the rest of the race) was maybe not as dramatic as a dagger through the heart but I felt a lot of pain.
It was in that moment that I knew I would not be able to recover from the hill and the few more hills that followed. How can you redeem yourself after going that slow for an entire mile?
I was devastated. I was “on track” to PR.
It was in that moment that I mentally gave up. I didn’t mean to. I continued to trudge along but other runners slowly passed me. Once the 1 hour and 50 minute pacer passed me (with like a mile and a half or so to go) I was in a really bad place.
Suddenly, everything started hurting. My IT band felt wanky. I could feel a blister coming on below my big toe. My feet hurt. My back hurt.
Once I was done with the God-forsaken hills and was nearing the finish, the 10-K course and half marathon course met. I weaved my way past 10-K walkers and could hear the finish line music getting louder.
I saw Brent cheering several hundred yards?meters? from the finish. I couldn’t muster up a wave, maybe I smiled.
I kicked as best as I could down the chute and finally made it across the finish. I was not smiling. I was gasping for air.
A volunteer handed me a medal. I couldn’t get out a single “Thank you” or even “Thanks.” He motioned me to walk forward, to get my photo taken by one of the photographers. A photographer kindly said, “Look this way and smile.” I kept walking and waved him off with an “I’m good.” I did not want to remember this moment.
I immediately walked over to the medic tent because, you know, my IT band is about to im/explode! I’m in pain! A nice volunteer handed me an ice pack.
Five minutes later while waiting with the rest of my friends for a few other friends to finish, I realize that my IT band doesn’t hurt at all. It is completely fine. My old injury is just that — it is now an old injury, past tense. It’s not the same IT band that caused me to cry during the Chicago Marathon last fall.
I had imagined all this physical pain during the last few miles of mental negativity. (Well, that blister was real but not as bad as I thought!)
I wish the entire race had felt like this. But it had not.
I didn’t PR — heck, I was four minutes off from doing that — so the whole race felt like a failure. I’m proud that Joanna PR’d and got third in our age group. I’m proud that Brent got a big-time PR and got third in his age group. And I’m proud that Chris got a PR and got first in his age group. (Do you see a trend here? I have fast friends!)
It was fun hanging out with Jackie and Brent in Anacortes the evening before the race. It was a nice ferry ride back with Joanna and her friends after the race. I’m grateful to have a friend like Mo who was cheering for me along the course at mile 8.
I have to remember these things, even when I have a “crappy race.”
And, I have to remember that this was not a “crappy race.” It was a crappy last three miles. (Guess I’ll need to do more hill training next time!)
When you’ve raced 15 half marathons, you can’t expect to PR every single time, right?
I had no real IT band pain this race.
That’s a victory right there in itself.
I’m back, and ready to train harder and faster next time.