Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Recap.

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. HallelujahLongest. 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 after…


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!!



  1. Ugh... sorry to read that your race was so crappy! Did you do Portland in 2010?

  2. I'm sorry you had such a tough race.. I do believe though that these experiences are essential to building that mental stamina. Best of luck in your tri!!

  3. Yep, Portland 2010...when the ocean fell on our heads.

  4. Good race recap. Its interesting though-mile 8 I felt like I was holding Steve together mentally. Mile 11, I began to worry about hypothermia, and my mental toughness went downhill. Its a different point for everyone, I guess.

    I'm glad you posted the kids' before/after pics. Perfect example of the mess that was OKC this year.

    We already miss you! I'm glad you made it home safe & sound.

  5. I feel like you are being maybe a bit hard on yourself. Being wrongly dressed for weather is huge. Not only were you underdressed, but the weather was exceptionally dreadful. Sure,your mental state was a bit heavy, but how much you wanna bet that was mostly from the weather. I think the cold and icy rain played a bigger part in this than you think. So glad you will be here for RnR. You can kick the course's ass all over the place!

  6. The pictures of the kids are priceless, love the before and after. You're a runner, you got the 70.3, no doubt- you will pass people left and right on the last leg, especially the swimmers who don't like to run!

  7. Oh Amanda...our brains can be evil little things that play a HUGE role in our training & races. You remember..you are a TOUGH cookie! Go into your 70.3 calm, confident and capable....because we all know you are!

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  9. Sorry it was such a crappy race :(
    I think you will bounce back from this and totally rock your Ironman!

    My mind always plays tricks on me. I'm still trying to learn to keep the negative thoughts out of my head too.

    I think Seattle RnR is just the half you need to run. Running for a great cause and with all your PNW friends!

  10. You made me think back to Portland countless times during this post -- I don't ever want to run that again either!!! I'm so sorry this was such a miserable half for you! The elements were totally against you :( I got cold reading this recap-- for being " mentally tired" you sure remembered a ton of details!!

    This means your half ironman will be SO much better!!!

  11. "Lots of thoughts that flowed down to my legs and caused them to weigh a ton each" BRILLIANT!! I read every word and this post was amazing...sorry but it was.. I could feel your cold, pain, bumbling, grasping for anything that would give you comfort...I felt close to the same in Boston but with good weather thank God..

    Love you and I am PROUD of you for fighting through and Finishing time and time again. 70.3 will be an adventure Amanda style..

    For the record when we run together in a lighting storm I will take one for the team.. :)

  12. That does sound awful! Glad you survived. Coach is totally in awe of you doing a 70.3, he says you are one ballsy chick, so don't forget that when you are out there! I hope to see you at RnR!

  13. I can't believe you said you don't have any mental strength. You completely do! What a tough, tough race. Sounded miserable. Come race in AZ and I promise you won't freeze and you can even hang out at the pool afterward :)

  14. The lightning was crazy, I never did regain feeling in my feet during that entire race.... My shoes may never dry out!! I'm still in pain from how tight my legs and ARMS were (of all things) because it was so stinkin cold!! The mental side was a little different for me because it was my first half... But my body hurt so much I definitely thought about quiting. Great job on finishing regardless of how you felt! You are such an inspiration to me (as corny as that sounds!!) but you help me realize not every run is great but to remember the great ones!! Oh and Iaughed at myself when I got my little running man stats... I am still SO slow so my person was WAY at the end (but not the very end!!) keep your head up Amanda!! You are a ROCKSTAR!!

  15. yikes, what a race! Nice job pushing through to the finish!

  16. Wow! That sounded like less than fun. But you powered through. And that does show your mental strength. Good job!

    Um, Those stats are awesome, but I am not sure I would want to know how many ppl passed me in the last 5.5 miles ...

  17. Crikey! That sounds miserable girl, I'm so sorry you had such a tough race. All the recaps I've read from that have the same tone, it was a rainy, cold, miserable, mess. Don't let this race get inside your head though, you had a lot to deal with and without that I have no doubt that sub-2 would've been yours.

  18. That after picture is priceless!

    I'm sorry it was such a miserable experience for you :(

  19. I'm new to your blog & training for my 1st marathon (on the 21st). I had my first 20-miler on Saturday & it was cold, icy, and horrid. I felt awful! I have been frustrated that it was so terrible, but your post has shown me that everyone has the bads- I'm trying to mentally prepare myself for them. Thanks for sharing your experience! I look forward to reading about all of them, good & bad :).

  20. This is a perfect example of mental toughness...had you not had that...you might not have finished. I so felt like this after Cincinnati last year except it was humid...and the heavens opened for the whole time...
    CHin up!!

  21. You are so much stronger than I!!

    Kudos to you lady >3

  22. Sounds like it was truly a challenge and fight in you. I think sometimes people put so much pressure on themselves to hit number that you do run the risk of taking the fun out of it. You've had a lot going on...take some time to rediscover the fun of running and what it brings for you! then things will click!

  23. The after picture of those two little girls is priceless!

    I read another recap about how horrible and cold that race was, it's a victory to just finish a race in those conditions!

  24. Crappy races make you stronger. Now put it out of your mind and go get that Tri!

  25. Brrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!! I'm SO sorry that Mother Nature crapped on you once again. (Seriously, you've run all those races in the rain??? How have I been so lucky to not have ever run a single one in the rain???) But you did a great job recapping it! You put all your misery into words quite well! lol I think you've used up all your bad weather luck. Nothing but rainbows and perfect temps for your Half Iron!

  26. I actually do think you have some pretty good mental stamina. You finished when your brain was telling you not to. You ran when your brain was telling you it would be ok to walk. And you dug deep and found things that would motivate you to keep running. Sorry for the crappy race and cold weather, though.

  27. Our Toronto Marathon in October provides those stats - neat to see!!

    That sounds like an absolutely freaking miserable day. :( The fact that you finished demonstrates that you DO have some mental endurance.

    After this, you deserve to have a GREAT day for 70.3! Fingers crossed.

  28. because my mind works that way is exactly why I took up running. and I'm not very good yet, at running or reigning in my mind. But both can be life long ventures. Or I may hit a few running goals and need to do something else. But I guess, I am proud of the fact that I'm able to let myself think negatively and positively - have good runs and bad runs. that I can admit that to myself feels like a kind of win. I like your blog a lot, just came across it. Thanks for writing


You're pretty much awesome!!


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