Monday, September 24, 2012

A Tale of Three Races and Absenteeism

So, it occurs to me, I am rather surprised to say, that it has been over a month since my last blog post.  In that time a lot has happened running-wise.  I have participated in three races: two half marathons and a full marathon.  I have completed only two.  The third, while kicking my butt, was still amazing and a story worth sharing.

I don't know why I haven't posted anything in so long.  I think at the beginning of my month of absenteeism it had to do with nerves.  Hubby and I were getting ready to head overseas to Switzerland for the Big Goal Race.  I was wired more tightly than those little door stopper doohickies a lot of houses have attached to their baseboards wherever a door is present.  In fact, I was fairly freaked out - not just by the looming event, but also the logistics of getting over there, leaving the kids with Grandma and Grandpa (lovingly referred to as the GPs), and, well, everything.  I guess I didn't want to share that with anyone.  And, yes, while I realize there are relatively few of you who actually read this (probably fewer now that I haven't written anything for a while), I still didn't want to scare off my few readers with glimpses of what a basket case I can be at times.

Anyway, at least for now, I am back.  There is a lot to catch up on, and I will attempt to do that in the next few days.

So, what were the three races?  The first one was the Cheesehead Half Marathon, a local event that I have done before or somehow otherwise been affiliated with - either by doing the 5K or volunteering - for a number of years.  It's a nice race.  The route isn't too spectacular unless you like flat and fast.  Whereas I can see the appeal to that, it's not really a factor with me. Beyond that, though, the volunteers are amazing (remember, that's me sometimes), and the post-race food is phenomenal.  The Cheesehead was scheduled for two weeks before my "A" race, so I decided at the last minute to do it as a sort of confidence booster heading into my marathon.  Yeah, that didn't work.  As it turns out, fate had other ideas for me that didn't include me finishing the Cheesehead in a blaze of self-satisfied running glory.

In the days leading up to the race, I could feel that I had a cold coming on.  So, when race morning dawned, I wasn't surprised to find that I was tired, my throat was scratchy, and I just wasn't feeling it.  To add insult to injury, it was hot that day. Surprise!  It had been hot all summer, so why would I have expected it to cool down for my August race?  Silly me.  I just don't know what I was thinking.  Anyway, rather than rolling over and going back to bed, I sucked it up and headed to the start.

I wish I could say that I overcame what was ailing me and conquered the event, but I didn't.  Frankly, I sort of slogged through it.  My idea was to start out slowly and run for two miles to warm up, then go to a run/walk and hopefully pick up my pace a bit - at least through the run segments.  I had used this approach before in the past, resulting in a PR at the time.  But this time it didn't work.  It didn't help that somehow I didn't click to the right screen on my Garmin, so instead of looking at my current pace through the first couple of miles, I was looking at.... well, who knows what?  In any event, instead of doing the 10-minute-miles I meant to do, I started out at under 9-minute-miles, like closer to 8:30 at times.  With the sun already feeling hot on an unshaded course, a head cold in the making, and - the worst part - with my heart just not into it, I think that all but killed my race.  At mile 3, I was already asking myself if there weren't an easy way to loop back to the start.  Seriously, I was that done.  I had no desire to continue.  But, I did.  The race wasn't easy.  I wanted to quit for most of it, but I plowed through somehow.  My run/walks were really slow, and by the last mile, I was taking a lot of "unsanctioned" walk breaks.  I just didn't care.  I finished the event in 2:27:58 - a far cry from the confidence-boosting 2:10 I was looking for going into the marathon.

Looking back, I don't know if it was the heat and the cold (no pun intended) that destroyed the race for me, or the fact that I was already so wrapped up in worry for the marathon to come that I just couldn't relax.  I guess I'll never know.  Other than the run itself, the event was brilliant. I knew enough people either running or volunteering that the post-race talking and hanging out with friends was in itself worth the price of admission.

So, that was the Cheesehead.  Contrast that with yesterday's half marathon - the Fox Cities Half Marathon.  I also went into yesterday's race less than enthused.  No heat in the forecast this time, though, and no head cold,...just a lingering feeling of tired legs from my failed marathon and a weariness with racing in general.  Instead of trying to make something happen from nothing, however, I decided I would morph my goal into something else altogether, and so I purposely went for a slower time goal than I know I am capable of and opted to run with the 2:30 pace group.  And, I had a GREAT time doing it.  However, more on that tomorrow.

In the meantime, if you are still reading the blog at all, thanks for sticking around!  I will try not to let another month go between missives.  I do like writing a lot, and the interactive nature of blogging is in a way so much more rewarding than the alternative reality of me, a blank journal, and a pen.  By the way, what do you know?  This is my 150th blog posting since I started doing this a year ago.  Happy ... something .... to me.