Sometimes, we don’t have it. Sometimes even with tapering, we don’t mentally have the race we hoped. That’s exactly what happened to me last Saturday. While the Philadelphia half is not the most enjoyable race to blog about, you can’t have good races without bad ones.
To be honest, I’m also not surprised. Throughout the week I didn’t feel good or mentally ready for the race. My mind and heart weren’t into it. But I paid $130 for the race, and I wasn’t injured. I hoped by posting on my social media I was running that maybe I would motivate myself. Yet, race day morning came, and I was anything but that.
I got to the race at 6:30. While going through the security, they confiscated my Gatorade. I’ve run 30+half marathons and hundreds of races, and I’ve never had my Gatorade confiscated. So I was left without any fluids before the start. They had water near the start, but I didn’t water, I wanted Gatorade. I did drink some water, but the line was long.
So when I lined up at the start I was thirsty. I met up with my friend Paul and we started (and ended) the race together. The race went off and out we went. While I had a seeded bib, I started in the first corral. There was no need for me to be in the elite corral…I wasn’t going to fool anyone. I had qualified to be there, but I preferred to run around people my pace, not be left alone.
During the first mile, I knew I was in for a rough race. My calves were tight, and I looked down only to realize I had run half mile. We hit the first mile in 6:40. I felt defeated. Mentally I knew I was not in a good spot. I told Paul not to feel obligated to stay with me (not that I would expect anyone to ever sacrifice their race).
Mile 2 gave me a lot of hope. I got caught in a crowd, and I ran a 5:58. During the second mile. I didn’t feel any better, but I thought, oh maybe I will surprise myself…That feeling was short lived.
I ran mile 3-4 and began to notice my watch was clicking miles later and later past the mile markers. I started to notice the mile markers were off. I ran each mile at 6:19, 6:24.
My goal by mile 5 was to evaluate how I felt at halfway. By then I knew I was not going to PR. I got to the halfway point around 42:30. I thought I could maybe even split to a 1:25.
I thought wrong.
We climbed a small hill during mile 6, and I ran a 6:55. I thought: “that hill really wasn’t too bad.”
Even though I felt awful, I was proud I climbed the hill well and passed several runners.
I came back and ran the next mile in 6:24. I thought: “Eh it was the hill that slowed me down”. This is still a great pace for me.
We began to see the elites coming back, and they looked like they were in pain. I kept wondering: what exactly is back there? Is it hilly? Then came the hill. I had mistaken the course to go elsewhere, and I realized just how hard the course was. Because the hill was on an angle, you were running up sideways. I couldn’t get a good rhythm, and my quads were burning. It was one of the hardest “half marathon moments,” I’ve had. The hill ate me up and spit me back up. When we finally made it out of that section, I ran a 7:17 mile. I felt crushed and defeated. I haven’t run a 7:17 mile in a half marathon in a very long time.
For the rest of the race, I focused on getting to the end. I put my sunglasses over my eyes and just zoned out. I wanted the race to be over. For no reason, I wanted to stop. However, I couldn’t do that…I wasn’t injured, and I needed blog content…(kidding). The next three miles went by without much excitement, and I ran 6:36, 6:46 and 6:41.
The final two miles I ran alone. There was no one within 15 seconds of me. Somehow I found a pocket of abandonment in a huge race. There was nothing of note. I saw my husband around 12.5, and it motivated me. I ran a 6:32 and 6:46 final mile.
I crossed the finish in 1:27.44. I was 25th women overall and quite far off on any goal time I considered weeks before
Typically I don’t care much about GPS, but I ran a 13.3 race (which was actually much shorter than many people). I don’t believe the course was accurate and for a big city race that is unacceptable.
I ran 2 miles alone during the race, and there was never a point I wasn’t running tangents. I was lucky I ran as short as possible even though I still ended .2 long.
I haven’t had a “bad” race in awhile. After my ankle injury, I’ve been building and running well. In all honesty, this was one of the worst races I’ve had in the last two years. It “bad” because the course was hard but because I wasn’t mentally into it and my body didn’t physically feel good.
Bad races do come with the sport.
Am I disappointed because I do know I’m in much better shape? Of course but there are plenty of other races to come. I finished injury free which is the most important part of running.
So far my short runs recovering from Philly have felt more enjoyable and pleasant than the half so that is motivating. 🙂
Question for you: Have you ever felt mentally unexcited for an event or race?