What is it all for?
I know I have asked this before. Seemingly all too often. My sister said I ask that because I race too much. Could that be true? Has racing lost it’s thrill? I think, kind of. Which would explain why I went and registered for a 70.3. Running alone wasn’t doing it for me anymore. I haven’t been getting that high…I’m searching for the high I got during and after OKC Memorial Marathon last year. It eludes me. I thought I would find it again this year, on the half course. I did not find it. I found misery…Here is my story.
I have two options for you:
The short version:
They said go. I went. It was raining, the temperature dropped significantly. I couldn’t feel my legs or my face. I wanted to quit. I didn’t but I slowed down. I wanted to walk but I was afraid I would slow to a crawl if I did. I willed myself to finish. I crossed the line. I was frozen and miserable. The end.
The less short version:
I don’t know what happened during this race. I think it was 60% mental and 40% weather. It is true I was poorly prepared for the weather. I didn’t have my coveted capri tights or my trusty white shirt that has served me well through countless rainy races (Seattle half twice, Jock n Jill 1/2, Tacoma City 1/2, Portland Full…just to name a few of the races I have worn in it). I did have my hat and my CEP socks. I don’t like running in my compression socks. I feel like they suck the life out of my legs but it was cold and I wanted warmth. Bad choice.
I started out the race feeling pretty good. Wet but good. I wasn’t really cold yet. My jacket was keeping me warm but it was soaking up the water. I felt strong and good and thanked all the volunteers and officers at road crossings. I was trucking along and actually enjoyed myself, for a while. I came to the first hill, an over pass. I remembered last year laughing at the hill and bounded up it passing people left and right. This year I did not laugh. I did not bound. I am not in hill shape. The hills throughout the race that I did not notice last year were like Mt. Everest this year (ok, not quite but I noticed them).
Just before the first water stop I noticed a wheel chair racer pulled off to the side. She was having trouble fastening her helmet. I turned around and asked her if she needed help. She couldn’t hear me above the wind, rain and crowd. I signaled with my hands fastening a pretend helmet and she stared at me blankly…I guess not. Ok. That was random. I started to run again.
I was taking in the course and remembering my first full marathon, a year ago, on this course. It was magical. Amazing! This was a completely different race. 180 degree turn from last year in every way. My mind went crazy. I got lost in every detail of how this race was so different from that race. How much worse this one was, how awful this weather was, how cold it was, how stupid it was and on May 1! Whoa is me…wah wah wah…I saw my old downtown apartment and the small church on the corner a few blocks away. I thought about how on September 11, 2001 I walked to that church and sat on the stairs. Then I thought about how it seemed a lifetime ago that I did that, and a lifetime ago that I lived there in that small apartment. How different everything was…but yet how I was kind of the same. I was still me…and then back to running. A full circle.
I was mentally exhausting myself. How much energy can your brain use? Apparently a LOT.
It wasn’t until later that I realized that I had completely sabotaged my entire race. Some things do not take energy to think about. Something take all your energy. I have experienced this before on runs with RED and Tall Mom. A training run can be going just fine until
you I start talking about a heavy topic them BAM! Your My pace drops, your my calves start hurting, you’re I’m tired, your my breathing becomes labored… you are I am dying to walk. Does this happen to you? Or is it just me? So from this I became aware that I need to steer my thoughts clear of heavy topics, topics that are emotionally difficult, during a race. Training runs are an ok time for this, since running gives you such clarity at times, as Jill pointed out. Training is when I can work through my thoughts, medicate I mean meditate…(Ha! Real type-o there!!)and just put life in perspective. A race is not the time for that. My mental game was OFF.
As I became more and more aware of the weather and my pain I started to think:
- Who needs a sub 2 anyway?
- What is the point?
- What does it matter?
- My fist half above 2 hours in a year. Oh well.
- The Hubs had said nonchalantly to take this run as a training run since my half iron is less than two weeks away. I can start racing to win after that…okay. I kept replaying that in my mind. This is just a training run, no need to go all out…just a training run
- ….how ‘bout that 70.3. Is it going to feel like this? This is pretty bad…
Lots of negative thoughts. Lots of thoughts that flowed down to my legs and caused them to weigh a ton each. My thighs felt frozen, literally. I could hardly bend my knees. My legs were so cold. My hamstrings began to tighten up like I had never felt before. I took water at nearly every water stop. I wanted to badly to walk. I almost did. But I willed myself to keep going. I was afraid that if I walked I might not be able to run again, and more realistically I might DNF. I might not be able to keep a walking pace and just slow to a stop. It was a real possibility. And this was a half. I was beating myself up! I was filling with self-doubt about my preparedness for my fast approaching half iron! Self-doubt was attacking me! I slowed to a shuffle…a snails pace, actually if there had been a snail on the course it may have passed me.
At mile 8 (HA, yes, I was only at mile 8….) I kind of snapped out of it for a second and picked my pace up from 9:25 (mile 7) to complete mile 8 at 9:09. But the wind picked up, lightening flashed…I wished that a course official would pull up in a huge van and tell me I had to get in. I daydreamed myself pretending to throw a fit but dying of relief on the inside, putting up a fight for show knowing full well I would fall into the van and take my ride to the finish. Another flash of lightening caught my attention and began to look around. I am tall. Everyone else was shorter than me. Great. I wondered what it would be like to get struck by lightening. Not cool I am sure.
With every turn I was met with a cold wind in my face or a cross wind. It never died down. I never escaped it! It was crazy!
I got passed by a dude who’s shirt said “Come Run a Few Steps With Me.” Really cool man, I would love to but YOUR RUNNING TOO STINKING FAST! JERK. That just ticked me off. Who wears a shirt like that then runs 7 min miles? Someone who just wants you to feel slow…someone who wants you to run really fast to catch up with them and run a few steps just to die and have to walk the rest of the way. Jerk. (Ok, if you are reading this, I don’t really think you are a jerk, I just wanted to run with you…but I just couldn’t will my legs to move. I was mad).
At mile 10 I thought about the last three miles. Impossible. They seemed to be out of the question. I wanted to be done. I couldn’t help but to think about Portland and how I ran the last few miles of the marathon with RED. RED, my rock. How she alone got me through the last mile of Portland. How I cried to her, “I can’t.” How I cried to her, “Just go.” How I wished for a Mac Truck. How she told me “No. You can do this.” How she sounded so certain, no doubt in her mind. She believed in me. I heard her voice telling me, “No. You can do this.” I ran the last three miles of this race with RED by my side.
My jacket was soaked thoroughly. I took it off and tied it around my waist. My shirt was soaked. I was cold. I saw what I thought was the occasional small ball of ice, or sleet, falling from the sky. It was very sparse but I am certain it was there. I tried to thank the volunteers and race officials and the many people cheering along the way but my face was literally frozen. My mouth could not form words. Thank You came out “ang ooo.” It was pathetic. I felt like maybe I had had a stroke, I seriously could not move my face. It was weird. My legs were numb. I couldn’t feel them. I couldn’t tell when my feet hit the ground.
I hadn’t really been checking in with G. Money much. I didn’t care. I took a peek to see where I was distance wise and saw .8 left to go. Hallelujah. Longest. Point. Eight. Of. My. Life.
I finished the race with G. Money reading 13.28 miles 2:04.04. I walked to get my medal. I put a space blanket on but it did no good. I was soaking wet. I grabbed a water but was unable to open it because I could not feel my hands. I could not grasp the space blanket closed. My hands were numb and frozen. My fingers were also so swollen, at least to twice their normal size. I took my phone out of its arm band and tried desperately to turn it on. I couldn’t. My hands were frozen. Finally a nice man turned it on for me. It was working, it wasn’t broken (I dropped it before the race). Just as it came on it started to ring…it was my cousin! I tried to answer but dropped it. My hands were frozen. I bent down and tried to pick it up but like a monkey trying to pick up a credit card I couldn’t get it. It seemed like eternity but another guy must have seen me looking quite disheveled and came over and picked the phone up for me and swiped the answer key. My mouth was still having trouble forming words but I managed a short conversation and made it to the meeting point.
The rest is history. We made it to the car and had to sit there for a while so my sister could warm up before driving. We were all a sad sight to see. I was receiving texts and phone calls but couldn’t manage to work my hands. I could not believe how swollen they were. Thank goodness I had the sense to take off my rings before the race or else I may have had to have them cut off. Seriously. It was that bad.
A few people asked me if this was as bad as Portland. Maybe. It was twice as cold but half the distance. But I don’t feel emotionally scarred from this race like I did after Portland. Portland was a true test of mental and physical endurance. OKC half this year was a test of mental endurance. I have none. I need to work on that. And maybe it is because I had the best race of my life on this course a year ago, but I will do it again. I’m already thinking OKC full next year? But no way on earth will I EVER EVER EVER do Portland again. So there you have it…I survived and I realize I played a huge part in my own demise on this course. I mentally beat myself down and I was not dressed for the weather. Portland was different.
There you have it. My OKC Memorial Marathon race recap is not one to be proud of. Will I ever learn to reign in my thoughts and focus on racing? I don’t know. but if ever I do May 14th would be the day…less than two weeks to my half iron man and I need to shake this past race, regroup and come back with a mental game plan.
Bet you wish you would have stuck to the short recap, huh?
Here is my BIL and my nieces before the kids 1.2 mile run! they are all smiles and totally excited to run!
And check out these cool stats! I hadn’t seen this before and had to go back and check out last years for my full! Pretty cool!!