First things first, this was the most mentally challenging race I have ran. I’ll get to why a bit later but just understand that finishing those 13.1 miles yesterday was so incredibly hard.
I wake up on Sunday morning in our hotel in Annapolis. My clothes and equipment were laid out and ready to go. When I open the curtains I notice something…it’s raining outside. There was no mention of rain in the forecast and it really surprised everyone. I get ready and walk the half mile to the start line. All the while, it’s still raining. I get to the start line where there is no cover and there are huge puddles everywhere. So I stood around for 30 minutes in the rain trying to keep moving so I didn’t get too cold.
The race started promptly at 7 and we were off. There was a huge puddle right at the start line so it took several minutes for me to actually cross the start line because everyone was trying to avoid the puddle.
I wanted to run the entire race with only a couple of short walk breaks to take in Clif Shot Blocks. I did so well for the first 5-6 miles. It continued to rain until about 45 minutes into the race when it stopped.
I ran with my iPod for the first couple of miles but because it was raining I was having trouble keeping my earphones in and then my cord got all tangled and messed up. Close to mile 3 I turned the iPod off and wrapped the cord around my sports bra so it wouldn’t get even more tangled.
At mile 6 I needed to listen to music. So I stopped and walked as I untangled my cord and got my iPod situated. Just to give you an idea of how tangled the cord had gotten, it took me nearly 3 minutes to get it untangled.
After I got my iPod going again I went back to running. About this time my feet started hurting so badly. All the rain had made my socks get wet and I was now getting blisters on the bottom of my feet. Every time one of my feet hit the ground it felt like a thousand needles going in to the bottom of my feet.
Close to mile 8 I was done. I felt like I couldn’t take another step. I started thinking of excuses I could tell the volunteers at the next aid station…my knee hurts, I think I twisted my ankle…so that I could stop running and be carted back to the finish line. A few minutes after coming up with my excuse and getting prepared for a “Did Not Finish”, I thought about what I would tell everyone when I was asked about my race. I knew I couldn’t tell them I quit because I was tired and my feet hurt.
I also thought about the phrase on my Road ID…”Pain is temporary. Quitting is forever.” I knew that if I didn’t finish the race I would regret it.
At this point, I told myself I was going to finish even if I had to walk the rest of the way. My time didn’t matter but I was going to finish. I had to keep telling myself, “You can do this. You can do this. You’re tough, you’re strong. You can do it.” I did not let myself think about how bad my feet were hurting…I just put it out of my mind.
The last 4 miles was excrutiating for me mentally. I was so mentally and emotionally spent. I felt like I didn’t have any fight left in me at all. I didn’t walk the entire last 4 miles but I did a lot of walking/running intervals.
But I finished. My time was 2:31:21, a pace of 11:34 minutes per mile. Not my fastest time but not my slowest. I have pictures and I’ll post them once I get them onto the computer.
Now for a rant…
This race had the rudest non-paying-attention runners in it. I was pushed and ran into at least 3 separate times (not once did the offending person apologize). I was ran off the path and almost fell into bushes (no apology there either). It is courteous when running that if you’re going to pass someone or change your position to look around and behind you to verify that there is no one there! People were just running all over without looking around. So annoying.
And also the paths we ran on were too narrow. We ran for miles 5-11 on a bike path. The turnaround point was on the bike path so there was 2 way traffic. The bike path was way too narrow to have two way traffic! It was ridiculous! I felt so claustrophobic. Very poor planning on the part of the race officials. 3000 runners are going to need more room than a bike path, especially if there’s two way traffic.
Why was it so mentally hard?
After thinking about it, these are the reasons why I think I had such a mentally challenging time:
1) Standing around in the rain before the start of the race. I don’t mind running in the rain as it’s actually refreshing but standing around for half an hour in the rain before I started running was the worst. My socks got wet and that caused my feet to really hurt 8 miles into the race.
2) The 3 minutes it took me to untangle my earphone cord was too long of a walk break. If I take too long of a walk break when I’m running, it is so hard to get my muscles back into running mode. This was too long of a walk break but I needed my music so I’m not sure I would have been able to do anything differently.
3) I’m burned out. 3 races in 7 weeks was too much. My body needed a break and I mentally needed a break. This week will be a light running week (if I feel like running at all)…maybe a couple of 3 milers but no long run over the weekend. I’m taking the weekend off! Stephen and I will be heading to Atlantic City for a weekend away and we’re getting massages!! My body needs some R&R and I’m going to listen to it.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a very inspiring running post but sometimes running is painful and hard. But the thing with running even when it hurts and you scream “uncle” is that you still learn something about yourself. I know that I’m much more mentally tough than I thought I was. Even though it wasn’t fun, it was a good reminder for me that I’m not always going to set a new personal record every time I run and sometimes I’m just going to finish.
Some great quotes from the course
My favorite: “I have met my hero, and he is me.” ~George Sheehan
(Many thanks to Roni for remembering this.)
“Tough times never last but tough people do.” (Thank you Google!)