I knew I was going into this race with the odds against me. I was coming off an injury, had spent very little time training (let alone training on hills), the forecast was projecting the hottest day of the year, and it was already well known this wasn’t going to be an easy course.  It was obvious that this wasn’t going to be an all star performance. I repeated it in my head over and over, even as I stood at the start line. But I’m human after all and that means that as much as I knew what the odds were – there was still a tiny part of me that wanted more.
It wasn’t so much that I wanted to have some record breaking run. A PR of even a few seconds would have been so incredible to me. But more important than anything else I wanted to prove that I could beat my most constant barrier- my mind. I knew that despite everything else that day that was the one aspect of my race that I could improve on. That I could show myself and others that I had defeated it. As I stood at the start line, my heart racing as the countdown began, I repeated over and over to myself my internal goal. Don’t stop. Don’t let your brain take over your feet. You are stronger than you think.
photo (5)
And I felt strong, for a few miles anyway. The early miles were relatively easy, it was hot but managable, and I was just so happy to finally be out there running with my buddy. When I started to feel tired and noticed that we were barely at Mile 5 I got worried. But I told my brain “Stop thinking that way. You’re fine. 5 miles is nothing”. And then the hills started. The sun got even higher. It was brutally hot.The three sport beans I ate felt like I had swallowed a spoonful of peanut butter. I knew things weren’t going well.
And then, just like in my first half marathon, things got hazy. When my hip couldn’t handle the uphills I finally gave in to walking them. My legs felt heavy, my fingers felt prickly, every part of my body hurt. I tried to listen to the jokes and the advice but it hurt to even process what was being said to me. As much as I tried to remind myself how hard I had worked to get myself to this place, I just wanted to be anywhere but on that course. Instead of repeating my positive mantras my thoughts started to turn to “Maybe you’re just really not cut out for distance running”.
photo (4)
Somewhere around Mile 10 I declared that I was done, I wanted out. The plan was to leave me with our support crew the next time we saw them on the side of the road. I huffed along in silence, trying to decide what would make me cry more- continuing on to the finish or hanging my head at my first DNF.
By some weird twist of fate they ended up being further along the course than they were supposed to, so we barely had a mile left by the time I spotted the sign. and I knew I couldn’t live with myself if I cut out a mile to the finish. As painful as it was, I pushed on.
Eventually we started to hear cheering, music, all the signs that mean the end is near. I heard my name announced as I crossed the finish line and instead of that feeling pride at what I had just finished I felt shame. As I hobbled down the finish chute to claim my medal I knew in my heart I didn’t deserve it. I had done nothing medal worthy that day. I had wanted to prove that my legs could out run my mind and again, I was proved wrong. It was the most disappointed in myself I have ever felt after a race.
photo (6)
I came home after the race and declared that I was done running. Why was I putting myself through so much pain? By the next night I thought maybe I would go back to running just 5Ks. The next day, I was searching the interwebs for my next challenge. I am determined to beat my mental game, even if it kills me (and Sunday was a pretty close call). I know that it will happen… at some point. The only way I’m going to get better is if I keep on trying. so I’ll get back out there. And I’ll hang up my medal and my bib with all my others. At some point hopefully I will realize that I earned it.
photo (3)

About Kathleen

When your legs get tired run with your heart.

Posted on June 11, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. You totally earned it 🙂 You should be proud that you finished (it doesn’t even matter that you thought about quitting. I’ve been there, too.)

    I’m always amazed at how much the heat takes out of me. I know running is harder when it’s hot, but I feel like it slows me down even more than other people.

    I know how frustrating it is when you are determined to prove something to yourself and you feel like you let yourself down instead. I’ve definitely been there (actually feel like I’m living there sometimes…)

    We’ll get over it eventually 🙂

    Congrats on finishing!

    • You’re not kidding about the heat! One positive about the day though? I learned the amazingness of ice cubes in your sports bra.

      A week later I’m finally getting over it… And ready to get onto something else 😦

  2. Girl, we ALL have those days. The mental game is the hardest part (and what makes it the most fun.) You know this one was miserable, and you still made it happen. IMAGINE HOW MUCH FUN IT WILL BE WHEN YOU AREN’T MISERABLE! Pick your next race and go into that one adjusted to the weather, not coming off injury, and knowing that if you can finish the worst race you can ROCK the best race. Boom.

  3. That 1.2 kicked everyone’s ass – My facebook feed was full of people who were lamenting that race, even people who have run tons of 1/2s. I ran the 10K – my first- and I had some of the same thoughts of quitting, wondering why the hell I run. I was so close to walking,something I have never done – I took one step and kept running. My Garmin and the mile markers were so off at one point – I was convinced my Garmin would say 7.0 when I crossed the finish line. I was also seriously reconsidering my 1/2 in October because I hate the heat so much.I know that 80 degrees in June and 80 degrees in October feel very different (and for me I think it is the sun versus the actual heat that make me feel so awful). But the thought of having to do all the miles in the summer makes me nervous. But I will push through!

    You finished and you should be very proud – The negative thoughts from Sunday was one race, one heck of a race, and does not define all the great work you’ve done and you will do in the future.

  4. You finished. And even if you hadn’t, you still trained, you recovered from an injury, and you got out there and did something that other people didn’t. You are a runner and an athlete no matter what. And remember, this is supposed to be FUN. So “try” to let go of the mental baggage and make it fun again 🙂

  5. You are SO beyond deserving of that medal. I understand completely where you are coming from–I felt the exact same way when I ran my race on Sunday. In fact, your first paragraph of this post sounds like you literally went into my mind and stole my thoughts and words. The mental game is the hardest, but once we get that down we will be able to do anything! Above all, never think that you AREN’T deserving of that medal! YOU RAN A HALF MARATHON!! Do you know how amazing that is? You go girl. Just keep keepin’ on….we’ll get there 🙂

  6. I literally cried while reading this post… I’ve been there… the I don’t deserve the medal because…..(whatever the reason)…. but you know what, you totally do deserve it. You should definitely hang that medal and bib with pride. You DID finish it. You DID earn it. What you have to remember is that you are doing something special… not EVERYONE can or will do it (that morning I only ran a 5k and I know some people who probably didn’t even get out of bed until that race was over). They aren’t all easy. Not every race goes down as the best race ever but you SHOULD be proud, disappointed I understand, but you should also be proud!

  7. THIS experience is exactly why you ARE cut out for distance running. As terrible as it was, you did it! Running in the heat is miserable. Running with an injury is miserable. Hills are miserable. You overcame all of those things and finished; it wasn’t pretty, buy you finished. End of story. [hug]

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