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A bad race is a good experience

Sunday, March 18, 2012

My first HM was in October and I got sick the week before. Was fine by race day and had a great run, had fun and finished with a great time 1:55:02. Since then Ive logged lots of miles. Even though this has been the mildest MN winter ever, I still ran outside every week. Something I'm proud of. 8 miles has become my easy run. Its week 7 of marathon training. Everything is going well.

I write a happy uppity blog on Wednesday morning, go for that hills run I mention, almost puke during it and the am sick the rest of the week. Uh oh. Is this mental? Do I do this to myself before races? I don't know. But it's sure not a habit I want to keep up. By race morning I am dehydrated, weak, not rested and nervous.

Of course I wanted to beat that 1:55. And how could I not with all the training I'd done all winter?! I knew it was a good time. I was aiming for 1:53. I started strong. I love the energy of a race. All the runners bouncing around and all smiles. It's such a rush. So, yes, yet again, I got carried away and ran the first mile too fast. Rookie mistake! When will I stop doing that? I was able to calm myself down after the first mile marker and find my comfortable pace.

Things were going OK. I start feeling pretty tired, worn out and ready to walk and look! We're only at mile 3. Uh oh. The rest of the race was a struggle.

It was a loop race so I'm at mile 5 and the leader comes soaring past us the other way. I thought it would be demoralizing to see runners that far ahead of me, but it was such a lift. His feet weren't even hitting the ground! Cool to see. And I got chills from my surrounding runners cheering for him. Luckily right when I hit a huge hill another group of elite runners was passing us and in it was the female leader. So beautiful!

Getting to the turn around was equal parts: yes! And oh sh#t! The 1:55 pacer was not far behind me at all. I tried to pick it up. I pushed as hard as I could. I thought about what I would want to write in a spark blog. And seriously, you,my spark friends, helped me push for another mile or so. But he passed me and I almost burst into tears as I tried so hard to keep up and just couldn't. It's an awful feeling watching your goal literally pass you by.

I wallowed for a bit. I even walked,which instead of helping just made me madder at myself. It was getting really hot and humid out. I was miserable. I took 2 waters at the stops and a third to dump on my head and then also drank a powerade. I was actually wishing for winter.

Around mile 10 a guy ran by me and the back of his shirt said: Do your best. Forget the rest. If I could've caught up to him I'd have hugged him. That shirt totally changed my attitude. I started repeating it to myself. I mean, isn't that the truth?! Do your best. Forget the rest.

At the last water stop I saw the 2:00 pacer. Ahhhh! Come on,now. My re-evaluated goal was 1:59. Now im gonna miss that too??! Pacer helped me push it through the end. Unfortunately she was a little behind schedule and had to pick it up for the last mile. Again,I couldn't keep up.

I ran as hard as I possible could that last mile. Came in at 2:01:18. (chip said 2:00:32) I felt a mixture of accomplishment and a little disappointment. Luckily, my running partner was right there at the finish to say lots of nice things. She said that this humid weather made it tough for everyone. No one is used to 73 and humid for a MN March race. It was 30 last week when we ran together. As I'm bent over saying, "that sucked! Missed it by a minute!" an old man stops and says, "chin up darling. It's good to have a bad race. Makes your next one better." we all laughed, I thanked him and I immediately felt better.

I feel good today. not sore, not tired. Writing this blog has been therapeutic so thank you for reading. I've thought a lot about why I didn't easily get 1:55 like I thought I would. Yes, I've ran all winter. But I have. Ran for distance. I've become a much better endurance athlete. I've done very little speed work and I know that is what is needed to get faster.

What a great experience. It has reshaped my expectation for my marathon. It wiped a time out of my head, which is a good thing. This year is about miles. Maybe next year will be about speed.

Do your best. Forget the rest.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Sorry I missed this back on race weekend. It was an ugly weather weekend for running - lots of the verterans I know were having issues as well. For a race like this, I use the exact mantra you closed with - as long as I'm under my own power at the finish line, I've won!

    Come run New Prague - lots of hills but a great course with good amounts of downhill for coasting :)
    2274 days ago
    Thanks for sharing, Maura! I hear ya about having a goal in mind and not meeting it, being disappointing. I think you figured it out though. keep on logging the miles this year. Your time is great and you are one fast chick...can you even imagine your speed after a few years of running? You're a-m-a-zing and I love your progression of running.
    2275 days ago
    Wonderful blog.
    Your first marathon shouldn't be about time; it will just mess with your head. I think this half was an amazing eye opener, and I think just over 2 isn't so bad for a 'bad' race!
    Keep up the great work; you are beautiful. emoticon
    2279 days ago
  • JOIE501
    You did awesome! Thanks for the encouragement also. I am just getting into running races and it is SOOO impressive that you can run for that long. Great job! Don't be disappointed at all. I hope I can work my way up there one day!
    2279 days ago
    What a great motto! I know I'll be chanting that to myself while I'm running. I'm sorry you didn't hit the time you wanted, but it's great that you can still say you learned something from it and that's what really matters right? Great job on your time!
    2280 days ago
    tears and goosebumps is what your blog just gave me! Thank you! Love Do your best and forget the rest! making a poster of it right now!!!
    2280 days ago
    It may have not been what you hoped for, but you still did AMAZING. I can't imagine coming in at 2:01. That is just seems crazy fast to me.
    I do know how you feel though. I ended up dehydrated during my HM. The thoughts of "I could have done so much better" just beat us up.

    I love the quotes. "Do your best. Forget the rest". "It's good to have a bad race. Makes your next one better."
    I'm going to remember those.
    2280 days ago
    Love you blog! You are so inspiring and just make me want to go out there and log mile after mile. Way to go!
    2280 days ago
    Its too bad teh race didn't go as planned, but remember, YOU JUST RAN A HALF MARATHON! That ALONE is something to be proud of. Im glad getting it out has made you feel better. Congratulations on completing your second HM, that is impressive!
    (and seriously man, 1:55 on your first one, you are a machine! my time was 2:13)
    2281 days ago
    I am so sorry the race didn't turn out as you had anticipated, but I'm still super proud of you for running it after being so sick, and I'm glad that the man helped you see it all from a different perspective. Thank goodness for wisdom! And I know YOU think it was slow race, but I still think you're speedy... I'm hoping to be able to finish my 10-mile in under 2 hours and here you are talking about 13.1!
    2282 days ago
    You should be very proud of your results! Way to go, especially after being so sick. And he's right, you can use this to capitulate your speed work training!
    2282 days ago
    You did fantastic! I'm so inspired by you, Maura. You rock!

    emoticon emoticon
    2283 days ago
    You are so awesome, seriously! Just the fact that you went out there and ran a half marathon after being so sick is incredible! And not only that, you finished it in such a great time! You really are amazing and inspiring! emoticon
    2283 days ago
    Thank you for writing this! I was kinda feeling sorry for myself after my race today. I ran an 8k today and I think it was my worst 8k time ever. I live in Michigan and we have been having unseasonable HOT weather also.

    BTW, I think 2:00 finish time is awesome, but espcially in the warm temps!!!
    2283 days ago
    "Do your best ~ Forget the Rest!" What a great mantra!! - You did a great job!!! Lots of us haven't even gotten the nerve to do a half! Keep up the Great Work! - You are AMAZING! - patty emoticon emoticon
    2283 days ago
  • HEIDI-25
    You did great because you did not quit. Proud of you!!!
    2283 days ago
    Oh this makes me feel so much better about my 16miler time! I know how you feel! My training runs are all PRs really but its disappointing to have a bad one! (I ran in 83 degrees) to hot, to little water! 17 will be nothin' I told myself! We got this Friend! Go you and you zero soreness! ATHLETE! emoticon
    2283 days ago
    Way to rock that race! If I have a bad race or a bad run I just remember how far I've come and how 4 years ago I couldn't even run a mile. You couldn't help being sick and did the best you could with the hand you were dealt.
    2283 days ago
    what a wonderful lesson in expectations and experience. thanks for sharing. a good AHA moment in the middle of your training. keep rockin those miles (at any speed)!!! emoticon
    2283 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/18/2012 3:12:56 PM
    I did the same thing in my 5K first 3/4 mile were at 6:45 min/mile pace, which maybe that gave me the side stitch!!!! I am going to have to force myself to start slower next time!!!!
    You did awesome, Maura!!!!
    2283 days ago
    Well I think your a rockstar! I wish I could run that fast! IT IS ABSOLUTELY true about the warm temps & humidity, I live in Texas and depending on our sometimes life threatening temps my running group coach would adjust pace for the temp/humididty. Jeff Galloway talks about this too in his book, how to adjust your pace for weather.
    2283 days ago
    Uhm 2 hours is a GREAT time in 73 degree heat. Was it that worm for your race in October? Heat plays a major roll in how fast some one runs.

    2283 days ago
  • LADYBUG1107
    Congratulations on finishing the race!
    2283 days ago
    Congrats on finishing another HM! Great job! Don't worry about your finish time - running in heat and humidity when you are not acclimated to it is VERY difficult, so I think you did FANTASTIC!
    2283 days ago
    Awwww, I'm sorry you had such a hard race. But I still think you did awesome, and you should be proud! Heat and humidity are sooooo dang hard to run in! I know, I live it everyday. Plus you were already not feeling well. So with all of those factors combined, I think you did AMAZING!!
    I wonder if that guy was wearing a P90X shirt? That is one of Tony Horton's mantras: "Do your best and forget the rest!".

    2283 days ago
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