Surf City Half Marathon (1:37:51)
I don’t have the typical racing nightmare, the one where you don’t make it to the starting line on time, so when you get there (fully clothed Uh um this is a runner’s nightmare, not a Freudian one), the field has taken off without you.
The one I have is the one where you are one or two miles into the race and you cannot, for the love of god, hit your desired race pace; and you have 12 or goodness forbid, 25 miles to go.
That’s the one I have.
When I show up to a race feeling healthy and strong, the worst problem I want to have, is the one where I am effortlessly running a full minute faster than race pace during the first mile and I have to hold myself back. (So many miles to go! Wee hee!)
That’s when I know all is well.
But back to the nightmare.
It happened. In real life.
Reluctantly I lined up for the Surf City Half Marathon yesterday, even though it probably wasn’t a good idea. I came down with what was most likely the flu on Thursday. I rested all day Friday, yet still had chills and night sweats on Friday night (hello fever).
But having spent a fair amount of income on the race, and also having looked forward to spending a few days away from home, I went ahead with my plan to run.
All that was left of my illness was a fair amount of congestion and some lingering body aches by Saturday afternoon.
So I did what any optimistic mother runner would do: I chose to race.
You guys know that the buildup (what an elite way to describe a few weeks of training) to this race was less than ideal, but my speed work had been great, and my long runs better. I knew that under the right conditions I could run a personal best at the 13.1 distance.
I gave it a shot.
But, as I should have expected, it only took about a half of a mile of running for me to face the harsh reality that I was, in fact, living my worst running nightmare.
I could not hold pace, my chest burned, my nostrils were clogged, and my legs were heavy. On the first mile! By mile two, I was looking for a way to quit and planning the sob story I would tell the nice person who volunteered to drive me back to the start. (I had a fever just two days ago and my throat has been burning since Thursday!)
(I also wondered if they would allow me hang out in the beer garden if I DNFed, but that’s another story. The things we do for beer.)
I scanned the sidelines for a savior, but none came.
All around me women with booty shorts revealing unassuming buttock cheeks bouncing along in rhythm to their every step, pushed on. Men breathing heavily and sweating profusely pushed on. (Shouldn’t someone tell these ladies about these wardrobe malfunctions, or is this the secret to success?)
Anyway, my mind fell into a deep darkness around this point, and I struggled with every mile to not stop and walk. Honestly, I would have if I wasn’t faced with the fact that I would be aimlessly walking along a four-lane highway all alone back to the finish line if I didn’t just put one foot in front of the other and bounce along with the unassuming butt cheeks all around me.
Mind as well finish the damn thing.
I blew a few snot rockets, got water and Vitalyte (what the heck) at every stop, and pressed on along with the heat and high winds on the Pacific Coast Highway.
I cursed running. I decided to find another sport. (Piloxing? Tennis?) I decided that marathons and half marathons are stupid and unnecessary and a huge waste of money. Training for races? A poor use of my free time. I could be penning the next Great American Novel instead!
I stopped caring about my form, my pace, or gasp! whether or not my heels were hitting the pavement before my forefeet.
Who gives a f#*k.
Such a stupid hobby, running.
I put my head down and tried to pretend that I was just doing a steady state run, or a long run, or a fun run or anything fun.
I tried changing my mindset and congratulating all the runners around me who were having a good day. As I watched the 1:35 pacer pull away from me, I felt happy for the ones who were still hanging on to him.
But I won’t lie. It sucks to run a race sick. And I won’t do it again.
For even though I may have felt slightly badass for pushing through an inordinate amount of pain and suffering, I paid dearly the rest of the day with a pounding headache and the return of my fever.
So this is the takeaway:
Enjoy the good races. The ones where you struggle to slow yourself down to your planned race pace during the first few miles.
Those are the days you want to remember.
And also, enjoy the journey. Know that you can suffer through all the miles, hit all of your paces, do all of your strength work, and BOOM, you get sick.
Or you wake up to a horrendous weather prediction. Or both! (That’s what happened here.)
Because even when my thoughts were their darkest, I knew that I would still run. (Piloxing does seem slightly appealing.)
I don’t know that I will ever run Surf City (bad memories, man) again, but I will run.
Give me a few days to recover, and I will be back.
Have a good one!
Race photos to come.