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.


  1. I have been wondering about you!!! I wanted to thank you again for the entry into Fox Cities, which is one of my favorite races to date, probably because it was the best race I've ever run, as far as personal goals and strategy go.

    Looking forward to hearing more about what you've been up to...wish we'd gotten the chance to meet up :)

    1. Yay!!! I am so glad it went well! I can't wait to read about it! It's funny, because I am so wrapped up in the Fox Cities Marathon that I am really looking forward to hearing an "outsider's" take on it. I am glad that it worked out well for you and you had a good time. It was great weather, that is for sure! Maybe next time we can meet up! I didn't even think about that! :) (Still a relative newbie at all this.)

  2. Yay, you're back! I have been wondering about where you wandered off to. Just a little place called Switzerland!!! So cool. I'm so glad the temps are chilling out so we don't have any more of those hot races!

    1. Yes, and Switzerland was AMAZING - even while the race was not so much. At least for me. lol I'll get to that. There are a lot of thoughts still churning in my head over that race, so I am hoping I can put it all down in a logical fashion. Anyway, definitely a "runcation" to remember. I'm looking forward to catching everyone up and catching up with everyone!

  3. Good to see you back! I was wondering what had been going on with you. Can't wait to hear all about your trip. Hope you had a wonderful time!