Sunday, September 20, 2009

My So-Called Race Report

This SHOULD be a light-hearted description of a triumphant half-marathon performance. Instead it is another tale of failure. Yes, I dropped out of a race for the second time this morning after running all of 4 miles. It's the fourth bad race experience I've had in a row. I have to be honest. I'm not keen to sign up for another race at this point. Next week I get the pleasure of my annual performance review at The Office. I will be asked why I haven't finished my professional exams (which was my stated goal last year) and I'll be faced with the prospect of telling my boss I'm too busy playing make-believe-athlete to spend extra time on my career. In case you are really curious what happpend today I can't really say, other than that I felt fine in the morning. I arrived early to the race site. I warmed up and stretched dutifully before the start. I ran the first mile at my intended pace (8:33/mile) and expected to do so for all 13.1 miles. The pace felt a bit fast, but I kept telling myself I just had to get used to it. By around mile 3 I felt the need for a short walk break, hoping that just catching my breath would be enough to get me back on track. I started running again and noticed my time getting slower and slower. By the time I got to mile 4 it was clear that the only way I would finish would be at a 10:00/ mile pace. I was too upset to go on and decided I would rather not finish at all if that was the best I could do. Right now I'm not even sure I want to run any more, much less train for a marathon. I really wish I hadn't gone and told EVERYONE on the planet Earth I'm trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Who's idea was that?!? Am I feeling sorry for myself? Yeah, a bit.


d. said...

Hey Nicole,

Running is all about the ups and downs. I love it and I hate it at the same time, which makes it so complicated to understand why I continue to do it and set tough goals. I'm also (secretly) hoping to qualify for Boston. My next race is in Seattle and I hope to do a 3:50 which cuts 14min of my Detroit time. Then I hope to drop it by another ten. Going to be really tough, not sure if I have the desire to do all that training and work.

We should go for a run together soon. I generally go every Tues and Thursday during the weekdays.

Don't let this run get you down. Tomorrow is a fresh day to start again. :)


canmorechick said...

Whoa, girl. Whoooooaaaaa.

This was one race on one day in the life of a runner. You had a bad race. Period. It doesn't make you a bad runner or a bad person or bad anything. *IT* was a race.

Boston is still there and will be there next year and the year after, etc. Unless you're a whole lot older than you look in your pic, you have lots of time to keep moving towards this target. In the mean time, leave your watch at home and go for a run. Think about nothing but why, deep down, you love running.

Kristin said...

Oh lady. Seems to me like you're trying too hard to live up to this running expectation you've set for yourself and not just loving the run!

So what if you run a race or a training run at a slower pace? You're doing more than most people do!

Running isn't just about the numbers, it's doing something that you love and that makes you feel great.

Some races are slower than others, that's just the way it is. It doesn't mean that you'll never qualify for Boston. It doesn't mean you're not a great runner right now. It means that you had an off day.

Never, ever give up on your goals. If you want to BQ, YOU WILL! It may just take time. I know you can do it, you just gotta believe in YOU!

Ok, enough sap :) But seriously, don't let a 10 min mile bring you down this hard. I run all my long runs at a 10 minute mile (or slower) :) I know plenty of really speedy runners who sometimes get slowed down at races, it just happens! To all of us.

Hope today you're feeling better :)

somewherethereis said...
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somewherethereis said...
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jeannie said...

You can't quit running or your goals to qualify for the Boston
marathon. I am proud of you and for your marathon aspirations. I mean,
you've even put a little bit of hope in me about running a marathon
albeit a short distance one in the future.

I think there is something exhilarating about participating in a
marathon whether you are triumphant in the end. Defeat is part of the
training process of running and without it, how will you motivate
yourself to push harder, or perhaps rethink your training outline.

I'm not going to blabber on about a subject I have limit led
experience with but is hate to see you quit just because something
happened to you while you were running.

It sounds like you're really concerned about time. And perhaps there
is a bit of subconscious anxiety that is tripping you up because of it.

Don't give it up. I know you will overcome this obstacle.

Sorry If I may sound incoherent or all over the place.

JoeGarland said...

Deep breathe. You're sounding like me. If you read my blog it's littered with all manner of self-doubt and stoppage. I stopped three times in a five-miler last Sunday.

A few years back I was so mentally and physically exhausted in training that all I wanted to do was skip a run on a Sunday so I could ride my bike, but that passed. Those were dark days.

I have gone through very bad mental stretches. There was a time maybe seven years back when I finished maybe half of my workouts and then got so manic that I'd push the next one too hard and would stop in that one and it became a vicious cycle. I had trouble sleeping on Friday in fear that I wouldn't finish Saturday's run. I told myself one day to cut it out and in the years since I can count on one hand the times I've stopped for non-injury related reasons.

Mark said...

I know you'll step back and take a look at the big picture. You are a runner and you can run to your expectations. Maybe it's just a season? Plus, failures are really benchmarks on the road to success!

Becca Runs Sometimes said...

Nooo!!! This is NORMAL :) We have lives outside of being pretend athletes, and those lives sometimes just get in the way a little :) Do you ever run with a partner or a team? I know it's a pain in the ass, but it can do wonders when you're feeling like this. No joke. Also, you know, sometimes just some good old fashioned cross-training for a machine...isometrics, weight lifting, and the like, can be a nice break/motivation booster. Whatever you do, don't give up! And most of all, thank you for sharing your crappy experiences with the world because you wouldn't be a real human being if you didn't have them from time to time...

WYOTRI said...

Hang in there Nicole, you've just started into what will be the hardest part of your training; so you can't be expected to be running at top form. You still have eleven weeks to work out all the kinks. No sugar coating here; it is going to get HARDER.

The thing to remember though, is that you have a team behind you. You have all those people that you've let inside your goal, out here supporting you. Like everyone else has said, it was just one run. Take some time for yourself, catch up on sleep, and make sure you're eating right. The elevated HR could be a sign that you're over-stressing your system.

Pick yourself up, lace up your shoes, and go for a run!

On a side note, I'm looking at my schedule to see if I can take a road trip to LV in Dec to support you and Jamie.


Anonymous said...

Nicole, you are being too hard on yourself! Every athlete has a bad day. They pop always pop up from time to time. Adwag.

Ron said...

Hey Bebe, my suggestion is to set some smaller goals, then build up to your target race, that works for me. Allow time for natural progressions and successes, they will happen if you keep at it!

And remember running is about having FUN, so just go out there, relax and do what we love to do.

Anonymous said...

Overtired? Trained to exhaustion? Take a week or so off and come back stronger than before!!

DuffRunner said...

Nicole-I hear your pain. You're a great runner. A strong runner. You're not a WANNA-BE you ARE an athlete.
If you need to re-set your goals-that's fine-and not a reflection of your effort or how good a person you are.

Let us know if there's anything we can do for you. Are you getting enough iron?


Joe S said...

I don't do it because it's easy - I do it because it's hard!

Your words.

I know it's difficult as you are putting in all this training but are still having problems during races. I still think running is more mental than physical. You will be fine. I know it. And if the whole world knows about your Boston goals, well, we are all cheering for you to do it. And, we will be behind you if you don't and have to wait another year. We are rooting for you.

Sheila said...

So sorry to hear about the bad experiences you've had lately. In regards to running...sounds like it is time to take a break and re-think why you are doing it. Why did you start running in the first place? Was it to qualify for Boston or was it to be healthy? Maybe Boston is a long-range goal that will come with time (that's how it turned out for me). Instead of focussing on that goal so much, focus on enjoying what you're doing NOW and you just might find somewhere along the way that the rest of it happens. Don't be obsessed with the pace and finish time. Taking care of you and being healthy is what is really important.

Good luck and best wishes!

dirtdawg50k said...

We have all doubted ourselves after a bad run or race. However, it is in our DNF (Did Nothing Fatal) moments that we can cross that bridge and become a better person and as a result a better runner.

Putting your goal out there for everyone is not bad. Instead, it gives you focus and allows others in this amazing running community to encourage you and support you through the trials, tribulations, and yes, the achievements.

Believe in yourself, because there are plenty of out there who believe in you. You can qualify for Boston!

Ben Jr said...

Bad days with the running shoes are commonplace. To paraphrase a Death Cab For Cutie song, "Soul Meets Body", there are roads left in both of your shoes.
Keep at it! Boston is waiting.

Isela said...

We all have good and bad running days. Bag this one as a bad one and move on. You have so much potential that this one race cannot put you in the back of the pack.

Tomorrow is another day, get up and try again. Do not think back to yesterday and how this race went.

You can do it!

Stuart said...

Gotta have the lows to know the highs, we all have funks, this to shall pass!

robertoyler said...


Don't be so tough on yourself, everyone has bad days and bad races but it's not the end of the world. Take a week to sit back, take a deep breath and re-evaluate your goals, learn from the bad races. Perhaps Boston is still a couple of years away, it will still be there in the future. Training for long distance is hard work, do doubt about that, but it should still be fun, every morning you get up to run should be one that you look forward to, it should not become a chore,o.k. maybe the odd one :) overall though running should be enjoyable. Never give up on your dreams, set your goals to be realistic ones, don't be in a rush, let time be your friend. You will get there, albeit perhaps not as fast as you would like :)

Susan said...

Awwww - I'm so sorry.

I hope the review went well. If ANYONE understands the exams, it is me.