Its been an extremely busy week. Thursday, my daughter had a rehearsal for the American Girl Fashion Show that she was participating in. Friday night, there was a school-wide celebration, followed by a parent get-together at another's house. Saturday morning, I wake up at 4:45am, and immediately feel "off" ....not sure if I was still simply exhausted or if it was something more. Seriously, I felt tired and just not up for it. But, I kept telling myself that once I get there, I will be ok. I drive the house, eating a PR Bar on my way, along with a ton of water (I was thinking maybe I wasn't feeling too well because I was a tad dehydrated), park, walk to the start line, make the requisite trip to the porta-potties.
The race starts...I was fairly up close and it still took a good 55 seconds for me to reach the starting line. The first mile was ok, but at that point, I feel just awful. I stop and walk a bit, and then try to run it off. I thought for sure that once I get into my groove, the yucky feeling would pass. This continued off and on until I was at mile 3. I moved aside from the runners and just sat down on the curb. I must have looked awful, as several runners asked if I needed any help. Honestly, I'm sure I did look awful. I was a tad nauseous, felt exhausted, was disgusted with myself for considering walk the 3.5 miles back to the car. It was bad. For the next .5 miles, this repeats a few times. At this point, my eyes are all watery (and honestly, I could have cried at that very moment) and I'm just upset with the whole thing. I should have just stayed home when I didn't feel it happening today.
At this point, the 11.5 minute/mile pacers have passed me...and I contemplate if its even worth finishing if there is absolutely no chance of me not getting a decent time. But, then I look around me. The 12 minute/mile group is passing me now. I weight the options. Walk back...taking me a good hour. Run the rest of the course, which (if I was in a decent run mood) would have taken me about an hour. There is no way I would finish the 6 mils in an hour today though...none.
I decide to finish what I had started. I did intervals...running 4 minutes and walking 1 (or thereabouts). I didn't really pay attention....but within 2 miles, I really did feel better. Maybe it was because I was no longer feeling nauseous, or because I knew the half way was finally behind me. Either way, my mood picked up.
While I never thought I would be in the back of the pack, I was doing more people watching than ever before. There were a group of runners all wearing monkey costumes and just taking pics every now and then. Some had bananas, some had tails...they were just there to have fun. There were some runners that I couldn't even fathom why they would put themselves through 9 miles when they were certainly not up for the challenge...and yet they were here, up for the challenge. While watching them push themselves way way way beyond their comfort level, I had to really give them kudos. I don't think I would have dared to try a 15k run six months ago...and yet if I did, I would have been right where they are....and here they are, doing it.
I know I'm a "middle of the pack" runner. I have no amazing innate talent, but I do have this desire to be better, faster, stronger. I know I can be at the top of the "middle of the pack" and thats somehow my goal...so seeing myself near the back was a bit demoralizing but also gave me some insight that I haven't had before. I was failing by all of my personal accords, and yet I was pleased that I decided to finish what I had started. Quite frankly, the race sucked...for me. But, I finished it, and I hope to never be in that situation again.
I'm not sure what drove this poor performance. It could have been the crazy busy schedule as of late. It could have been the 72 degrees out (at 5am, per my computer) that I was not mentally prepared for. I could have been dehydrated from the night before. I could have needed more sleep the night before. It could have been that I didn't have a meal the night before since i was rushing from work to the kids' school performance (and apparently, a protein bar doesn't cut it as "dinner" before a run).
And yet, most of these things were in my control...and I didn't do anything to change them. I could have said no to the parent get-together, but at the moment, that was more important than the risk of a bad run. I could have ensured that we got home early from the kids' school and my husband put the kids to bed. I could have ensured that I got a decent meal. I could have simply changed my race from the 15k (to which I had little desire to run) to the half marathon (which I knew I had a desire to run, but thought it would be too much to run with all the other runs scheduled). It could have been a long list of things I could have changed....both to ensure mental and physical readiness.
Now, the race overall was well-managed. I do wish they didn't run out of cups at some stations. I did like the water sprinklers on the runners later in the race to avoid heat exhaustion. I do think gatorade should have been offered before mile 7. I do think that non-runners should not have been able to get to the runners' food tables. But those are quite small things overall, I suppose. It doesn't really matter what I think about how well the race was run...since I don't feel that I ran it with purpose. I didn't approach it with purpose, and I certainly wasn't capable (that morning) of doing anything more.
So, I'm torn on what to do with the medal. I will keep it, but I don't believe it deserves any prominence. I will keep it to remind me of what my goals are...to make me more motivated to conquer this race next year. I will keep it to remind me to respect those penguins that typically run behind me.