I have been training for the Oak Bay Half-Marathon for the past 17 weeks. I put so much pressure on myself to get a Personal Best (PB) at this race. Even though I have been running for a few years now, this past year running has been really hard for me. I was essentially starting over. Originally my race goal time was extremely adventurous (11 minutes faster than my first half-marathon in 2016), and a few weeks ago I made the decision to rain in my expectations and come up with a more realistic goal. A goal I knew I would smash….or at least I thought I would.
Saturday I was feeling iffy after having a juice (pineapple, apple, orange, and ginger) which had WAY too much ginger in it. It burnt my lips, my tongue, my throat, my stomach….but did I stop drinking it – nope. Saturday afternoon/evening wasn’t fun, I felt very ill and even puked a wee bit – I didn’t actually think I would make the race. But after a surprisingly great night’s sleep, I woke up feeling alright…..until I wasn’t. It’s perhaps TMI but my period started this morning, which was the worst possible time. I knew I was going to be in a world of pain today, not great when you wanna smash a PB. Oh well, here goes….
Given the early start, we opted for a taxi to the start line rather than walking the 3k. Despite arriving 50 minutes before the start, the time flew by. We were disappointed to see there were no race pacers, nor corrals. The race started at 8am, and even though it wasn’t a big race there were a lot of people to weave past, which is why I prefer races with corrals.
My race plan was to go slow for the first 5k. The first km was a good slow pace, the 2nd and 3rd were way too fast for going slow. At this point I knew my race wasn’t going to be the race I had hoped for. I was in quite a bit of period pain, I was far too hot, at times I couldn’t control my breathing, there were more rolling hills than I had anticipated, and my paces would go from slow to fast – there was no uniformity to them. It wasn’t all negative, the views were absolutely incredible. The sky was so blue and shimmered like diamonds. Had this been a training run I would have absolutely stopped for many photos!
Overall, it did feel like the kilometers went past fast, but that being said, I felt every step. My legs were so sluggish; lifting my knees took all my effort. Even when I tried to pick up the pace, I could only manage a couple of strides before falling back into my slow pace. It didn’t take long for me to realise that the race goal I had, the one I thought I was going to smash, was quickly slipping out of my grasp.
Had my husband not been running with me, I would have given up and walked way more than I actually did. He kept talking to distract me, told me about points of interest on the course, fed me gels and water when I just couldn’t stomach it, and generally was a god-send. I felt guilty that he wasn’t running the race that I know he was capable of, but no matter how many times I told him to go on without me, he wouldn’t, insisting that he wanted to run with me. And man, I was so glad he did.
The turn-around point at 13k felt pretty good; well, until at the water station where I took a Gatorade by mistake and choked not expecting the disgusting sweetness. I became more and more pathetic, between 13k and 18k – I was ready to give in. I had convinced myself that I was a complete failure, and that I shouldn’t be running. The emotions got too much for me. Crying and running never works well for me….and on this occasion the mix of the two restricted my breathing. This escalated quickly, and ended in me having a kind of panic attack – I couldn’t catch my breath, so I panicked more, stopping me from getting air, so I panicked more. After about 5 minutes I was back to breathing normal-ish, but from then on I was running extra slow; the smallest push on my pace freaked me out a bit when my breathing got hard.
Thankfully I had a buddy volunteering on the course; it was so lovely seeing her at around 19k. She ran with us for a bit giving words of encouragement. Normally during the last few kilometers of a race, I wouldn’t think about stopping and walking, but we did today; twice in fact, between 19k and probably 20.8k, with a controlled sprint to the end.
So in the end I didn’t PB. I was heartbroken during the race. But that didn’t actually last long. We sat with friends after the race, and I think their chatting and support helped push me out of my pitty party. Yes I am upset, but I know that I did everything I could in the circumstances – I was in too much pain and far too hot. My mental strength definitely needs to be worked on, but that wasn’t the main culprit in today’s race.
What I learned from this race – eh, life doesn’t always go to plan, you need to roll with it and not be too hard on yourself. There is always a next time.
So what’s next for me? Foam rolling and a hot epsom salt bath for starters. I will create a training plan for the Seawheeze half-marathon in September and SMASH that one.
There seemed to be LOADS of races going on this week – did you run? I’d love to hear how your race went.
As always, thanks for reading,
Want to read more?