While still vacationing (and stuffing my face) in Europe last month, I decided it would be a good idea to try to get in another race when I got back to California, before I moved to Virginia. Bad part: I got back to California late on September 6th after 23 hours of traveling, add a couple days of jet lag and I’d be ok by September 9. I already had plans to visit family in San Jose September 9-12, and I left for Virginia early on September 20th. That only left 7 days to run a race – eek!
I found a race 2 exits from my parents on September 15, woo! I quickly signed up for the race – 1/2 distance – not thinking about the lack of running I had done during the 4.5 weeks I was in Europe (plus the eating!) and the fact that it was a trail race, something I’d never done. Needless to say I had NO idea what I was getting myself into!
I set out everything the night before like I always do, to make sure I don’t forget anything, and crossed my fingers that I’d be able to get a decent night sleep. Not so easy when you live down the street from a high school, on a Friday night during the fall when it’s football season!
I woke up bright and early and headed to the lake (start). Oh man, just staring at the hills close-up was enough to scare me! Not to mention the fact that just under 40 people were registered for the 1/2 and not everyone had shown up. I had only run road races, where your constantly surrounded by a million other runners and your race bib is in the thousands. The smallest at that point was about 600 people. My race bib number for today’s race? 12. Yes, you read that right, one two. I just hoped I wouldn’t be last!
It was about 65* at the start and the hills started just after mile 1. The elevation went from flat at mile 1 to 950ft at mile 3. WHAAAAAAAA. Death. Miles 1.5-4.5 were a snot-fest; no idea what was going on but it was slightly tragic. So glad I decided to bring a really small towel to carry my water bottle. It saved me. TMI, sorry guys! Woes of a runner, I know.
After mile 7 I was dead. Literally. Note to readers: don’t ever sign up for a trail run with uphill switchbacks/ridiculous hills when you’re out of shape. My legs were jello. I had to walk the steep parts. On the downhills, my jello legs seemed to flail about like I had no control over my body. It was 80*; I was exhausted, overheated, almost out of liquids and just done. I wanted to sit down at mile 8.5. I stopped, stretched my hips out, closed my eyes, took a deep breath and kept going. From that point on, I ran what my body would allow and walked when I needed to.
You have no idea how happy I was to see that finish chute. Yes they were beginning to clean up. No I wasn’t the last one to finish. WIN! in my book 🙂
I have never had to work so hard, dig so deep, walk so much during race, all for my slowest 1/2 marathon time ever. It took everything I had both physically and mentally to finish. But it was the most amazing feeling I have ever had after a finish, despite being 23 minutes slower than my slowest 1/2 to date.
Moral of the story: dig deep. When things are tough, find the mental clarity you need to tell yourself that you’re fabulous, fit and fearless, and can accomplish your goals!
1. What has been your toughest race? How did you get through it?
2. Any trail runners out there? I bow down to you! Trails are no joke! Is it hard to be out there on your own, or do you prefer the solitude?