Has this ever happened to you? You train and train for months to run a race, put both brawn and brain power into everything leading up to this event, and then race day comes and—for whatever reason—it ends in a big ol’ fail? Well, me too, and it sucked. And this is how I’m getting back to real life.
So you had a race fail…
Up until today, my worst race was not my first half marathon when I had a head cold and was not well-trained and it was unseasonably hot and it took me a million years to finish. And my worst race wasn’t the marathon I ran in the pouring rain, because that was insane and hard, but I finished and was super proud. No. My worst race was my pacer fail when I ran in much hotter and more humid weather than anticipated and I couldn’t keep up the pace because I was so overheated. I fell back from the pace group for the last couple miles and had to try super hard not to cry while I took my pace shirt off (free show, woo woo) and turned it inside-out. I felt like such a failure, and like I let so many people down.
Worst Race Ever
My worst race was my pacer fail when I ran in much hotter and more humid weather than anticipated and I couldn’t keep up the pace because I was so overheated. I fell back from the pace group for the last couple miles and had to try super hard not to cry while I took my pace shirt off (free show woo woo) and turned it inside-out, letting people know not to follow me because I was currently off the rails. I felt like such a failure, and like I let so many people down.
But I recovered. Lots of other people had a bad race that day because of the weather. I just rolled with it, knowing that you can’t control the weather, and I can’t control my body’s utter inability to deal with heat.
Then my marathon fail happened and it was a little harder to swallow. Unlike training for a half, training for a marathon was several months longer. There were so many more hours put into training. I lost my first toe nail! Every bit of spare time became about running.
Yo Dawg, I heard you like running
Yes, I had work and had household obligations. Yes, we got lots of quality family time together. But I couldn’t do other hobbies because I’d use my free time to run. And if I didn’t have to run, I’d be asleep because I was exhausted all the time. Or I’d be eating. Spent lots of time eating. I had fun training and running crazy distances, but it was really starting to take a toll. Honestly, the joy that I had running with friends and doing lots of races this year was tempered with disillusionment after too many late-night, last-resort runs on the treadmill, staring at a brick wall while I ran in place just to get miles.
I’m bored just thinking about it.
What ended up happening was that our family caught a stomach bug. Each of us experienced stomach problems a couple days apart and I was the last one to get it. Not nerves. Not heat. A frickin’ virus. I blamed myself, thinking that I could have avoided it with more sleep or better nutrition, but I knew it wasn’t my fault. There was no avoiding it. It was just damned bad luck.
People told me to do another upcoming race, and I said I knew I could and it’d be alright. The problem is that I really didn’t want to. I had built up to this big thing and it didn’t turn out, but that didn’t mean I was obligated to try again. Sometimes things just blow up or fall through and you can look at the mess and go, “Huh, that sucks,” and walk away.
There isn’t a lesson or a neat package to put this in. Just bad luck.
I just wanted to put this out there because I don’t tend to hide my shortcomings nor the disappointments that I experience. Whenever I talk about something that I messed up or something that didn’t work out, people are so supportive. And then they know that they can tell me when something went wrong for them, because I get it.
So here’s to my first DNF, may ye rest in hell.