Monday, October 19, 2009

What Was I Thinking?

I ran in a 15K on Saturday and the only thing I could think the entire 1 hour, 18 minutes and 46 seconds that I was running was: "OMG Country Girl. You are OFFICIALLY INSANE. What were you thinking signing up for a HALF MARATHON and Holy Hell Girl - isn't 9.3 miles enough? You really want to run 3.8 MORE MILES AFTER?" Seriously y'all? It was kind of disheartening.

First of all - there is nothing like leaving your house before the crack of dawn, when it's dark, cold, rainy and generally depressing. That does not do much to inspire. Then there's the whole: "Seriously? There's traffic at THIS hour?" thing which just had me scratching my head because who the Hell is driving ANYWHERE before 7am on a Saturday except those of us already diagnosed as clinically insane?

You know what else sucks? Getting to the GINORMOUS shopping center where the race was starting from and NOT BEING ABLE TO FIND PARKING. OMG - who knew that it could be such a challenge and take 10+ minutes?

Then there's the whole "pre-race pee" because even though I rarely drink or eat anything before I run, I always get nervous and so I do what my Fairy Godmother calls the prophy pee. So after I finally parked I hotfooted it over to Harris Teeter only...the entire field of women racers was on line to pee and I still had to pick up my time chip. I don't like feeling stressed or crunched for time and I totally did which I hated but I managed to pee and then hotfoot it over to registration (and seriously knee and ankle - must you start aching during this minor little jog?) and get my time chip and then head to the starting line because I like to be towards the front.

Yeah. Banner morning.

Ok - so here's the exciting thing. For my birthday, my awesome brother, my fantastic sister-in-law, and my deliciously adorable nephew got me a Garmin Forerunner which is a very fancy schmancy GPS watch which basically does everything except run the race for me. It arrived on Tuesday and I gave myself a crash course in how to use it on Friday night at around 8pm. I didn't really care about all of the fancy bells and whistles - I mean I do care and I will eventually care or something to that effect - but I was most interested in being able to monitor my pace. This is why training on a treadmill is bad sometimes - your pace is perfectly controlled. But when you run in the real world? Well - not so much. And I noticed that during the race. My pace was all over the place. Sometimes I was running in the low 7s and sometimes I was in the mid 9s.

I had told myself that my Happiness Goal was to run the race at an 8:30 pace and that my Mountaintop Goal was to run it at an 8:15 pace. As it turns out, I ran it at an 8:20 pace which put me square in the middle and which I am happy with but during the race I was frustrated that I was so erratic.

And here's the thing - I am competitive. ULTRA COMPETITIVE. And it took every ounce of self restraint I had NOT to blow it out of the water early on and to keep myself at an ~ 8:30 pace for at least the first 4 miles because Holy Hell y'all - 9.3 miles is ALOT of miles. And meanwhile - I got caught in a pack of runners and these 2 women in matching Christian Audigier t-shirts kept passing me and then I kept passing them and then I'd slow down and get caught up in the pack and then I'd get annoyed so I'd speed up. And I couldn't tell if these were really better runners than me or if I was as good as them if not better. And the only thing I could judge on was the quality of their calf muscles and their accessories. Then again, a camelback doesn't make you a good runner. It just makes you a hydrated one.

(And a brief moment to digress here to say that for the record I think running skirts are STUPID. You're running ladies - ok? I mean puh-leeze.)

Anyways - I finally broke free from the pack and kind of sort of found my rhythm. I don't know. Maybe not. At one point it started to rain and I panicked about having some kind of electronic meltdown. I figured between the Garmin, my car key tied to my shoe and my iPod something was going to short out. And then when I hit mile 3 I basically wanted to smack myself on the head because OMG - why didn't I just run a 5K? I had a similar moment of zen at the 6-mile mark.

To make it worse, my right calf and my right hamstring were crampy and I've never experienced cramps while running before and I knew it was because I did a poor job of stretching but what are you supposed to do? Run through the pain? Stop? Stretch? NO ONE PREPARED ME FOR THIS PEOPLE.

Oh. And it was COLD. I mean - I couldn't feel my hands until somewhere after the 3rd mile.

And finally I sort of relaxed. I mean it was a pretty course through a tony subdivision by the Lake and we ran through a park and by the water and I was sort of back and forth in my head the whole time about 1) how insane I was and 2) how I could not possibly really think I was actually going to run a half marathon and 3) why couldn't I just enjoy the run instead of being so ultra competitive and 4) I need to get off the treadmill and start training on the road in order to better manage my pace and ultimately my expectations. Yeah - it's not always easy being me.

But then do you know what happened? At mile 7 I totally snapped out of it. Seriously. I realized I was 7 miles in with 2.3 left and Oh Yeah I can run 2.3 miles in my sleep. And I picked up my pace. And I started to pass people. And I felt a rush. I felt exhilarated. And the cramps disappeared. And I could feel the blood circulating in my hands. And the voices in my head finally shut the fuck up and I focused on pushing myself towards the finish.

And suddenly we were turning left at the fire station and heading back to the shopping center. And people were cheering us on. And then "Please Don't Stop the Music" by Rhianna came on my iPod and OMG that song makes me want to shake a tailfeather and I basically hauled ass the last 3 tenths of a mile even passing this one dude who'd been in front of me the entire time. Seriously - I put on a burst of speed and sprinted right by him to cross the finish line at 1:18:46. And then I went and got a beer because that's right - THEY HAVE BEER at these things which makes total sense to me. I think.

And while I was thrilled that I actually finished (especially in light of my shitty attitude during the race), I confess - I was also disappointed. I've been successfully able to conquer my recent Mountaintop Goals and to fall short was a bummer. And I was kind of mad at myself for being down on myself the entire race too. I wasn't my usual "I'm a Badass" self and that bummed me out.

I wish I could say that this post has a happy ending. That I bitchslapped the negative voices in my head and drop kicked them into the Lake. But I didn't. And even today there's a small part of me that's seriously, seriously questioning my decision to run Kiawah in December. I know what they say: if you can run 9.3 miles you can run 13.1. The bigger issue for me is: can I run them the way I want to and what is realistic to expect as far as the outcome and results and should I even care about those things or should I just be content if I finish? Sigh. As I said - it's not always easy being me.

And if I'm not a totally complicated pain in the ass...well - I am. So there.


Nancy said...

I think it's so amazing and awesome that you can go out and run road races like that! I'm so impressed and inspired and if it wasn't so God damn cold up here I'd get my ass back on the streets. But it is and I'm chilly out when it's 80 with no sun so I'm going to live vicariously through you until the spring.
I know all about the voices in your head because I have the same ones chirping at my on a regular basis. Sometimes I just try and go to a happy place in my head, or just repeat a word in my head to get them to go away.

debb said...

Um....I have voices in my head too and they can be a real bitch sometime. But, honestly, you do rock and are a total bad ass. No way I'm walking a mile let alone running 1 or 9 or 13.

So, you fell short of your goal? Doesn't everyone once in a while? Ummmm, Yeah!

Pick your badass self up and conquer your mountain next time and quit whining. You did and excellent job. Halfway between the two goals is wonderful.

Maybe, just maybe you needed this to keep you humble.

Shelly Overlook said...

I know you're disappointed you didn't go Bad Ass all over the place, but seriously, I am in awe of you. I don't mean that in a "oooh, I'm so kissing your ass" kind of way, I am dead serious. That someone could run 9.3 miles is beyond my comprehension. It is something I wish I could do, but I don't have it in me. I can't imagine even wanting to run 9.3 miles, let alone actually doing it.

Besides, if you got everything you wanted right when you wanted, where would the fun be in that?