I’ve run countless road races, of many distances. I’ve struggled to get to the end of some. Others were smooth like butter.
Saturday’s race was definitely more of the former.
A lot more.
So much more, that I can say, after it was all said and done: It was my absolute, worst run ever.
It was “only” a 5-kilometer race. The course was mostly flat in spots, and had slow rising grade in a lot of places. I was using the stroller (because my son insisted on going with), so the headwinds in a few places really grabbed me. Overall, the short route should have, despite all of that, gone better than it had.
I started way behind the eight-ball on this one before the day of the race even came. I ate like crap the day before because we were traveling for my nephew’s last quarterfinal playoff game ever. That also put us up late, home late. My son fell asleep in the truck on the way home, so he was up at his usual time.
Behind on sleep, feeling rushed trying to gather everything needed, get him ready, get myself ready, and be there in time for registration.
Then I made the mistake of starting out hard. I’ve gotten really good at pacing myself, and kicking it up a notch or two every half-mile or mile when I run. Going for indurance, and hoping for speed at the end, when it counts the most.
But my brain, having been fueled terribly, running on little sleep — blanked, and while I didn’t go all-out, I went hard when “Go!” is shouted.
About a mile in is when it hit me. My stomach started to roll, and I knew it was going to take a lot of me to push through it. Focusing on my strike, making sure not to lean on the stroller, and keeping my breathing steady, I felt like I was running absolutely nowhere that next mile.
When my watch buzzed for mile-three, I had everything I could do to keep my guts from coming up and splashing on the sidewalk.
It’s even harder because, since it was an early race, my son was awake for the whole run. He was asking questions, talking to me. Sometimes, I couldn’t answer. I didn’t trust opening my mouth, afraid I would finally throw up. Other times, I only trusted one or two word responses.
“It’s all downhill from here…”
Thankfully, that home stretch was down a long, sloping road. The end in sight, I wanted to push-push-push and get there. I picked it up a bit, but made sure to keep it steady. Worse than puking would have been getting so caught up in my racing footsteps, I collided with the stroller and dumped us both.
Nearing that line, I unhooked my wrist strap from the handle, pushed my son into my husband’s hands, and instantly dropped to the ground.
I was miserable. My legs hurt. My stomach hated me. And my internal temperature was so high, my face felt like it was melting.
I’ve gone ahead and tested my lifts pretty unprepared in the past before and still fared okay. My lifts trended on gaining, and the only harm being unprepared caused, was less of a gain than would have happened if I had been prepared.
But running unprepared?
Complete and utter misery.
My lesson was learned.
I don’t know what my overall time and placing was. I didn’t hit the stop on my watch until a few minutes after I collected myself and got back on my feet (and as of blog publishing, the race results hadn’t been posted yet). But it doesn’t really matter. What matters is, I still got to the end. That I know what not to do in my next run.
And, that overall, nothing beats the pat of the back and “Good job, momma” that I got from my son after.