Saturday, March 28, 2009


So I haven't been very diligent lately with my running. Understandable, of course. I needed to take a little break after the 1/2 marathon, and there has also been a lot of drama going on at home / with my family, etc.

It was a tough week and I went out last night for a few drinks with some friends and had a fantastic time. As I was headed home I remembered that there was a 5K in the morning in Foxboro that earlier in the week I had considered signing up for. I laughed to myself that I was even thinking about getting up and doing a race the morning after a night out.

But, when morning rolled around and I realized that I didn't feel TOO out of sorts, I figured what the hell? I just did 13.1 miles three weeks ago, surely I could handle a mere 3.1 miles with practically zero preparation!

I went to the race, signed up literally 2 minutes before it started, and when the horn sounded I was on my merry way. Ok, on my not-so-merry way.

I was REALLY struggling. Perhaps I WAS a bit hungover. Or simply dehydrated. Oh yes, and also I haven't been running on a regular basis these last couple of weeks. But still, though I always find mile one to be my toughest mile, I was really, really struggling. That is when I decided I needed to focus on something other than how I was feeling. So I started to look for the mile markers.

Basically, what I try to do in a road race (or even on a training run) is to see where I am at come mile 1 and then make my necessary adjustments. I have never, ever been a fast runner, and so I sort of use 10 minute miles as my benchmark. If I hit mile one and the time elapsed is 10 minutes, then I don't make any adjustments. But if it is over ten minutes, I will try to speed up; under ten minutes, I slow down because I need to leave something in the tank for the end of the race.

Well, I kept running and running and running, waiting for mile one to come. We passed a water station, which perhaps could have been the first mile, but there was no sort of mile marker to indicate anything. And there was no one anouncing split times, so I assumed it was just a water station, maybe half a mile into the race or something. So I kept running.

By this point I am starting to get really discouraged, because I can't believe how tired I feel. My God, I have REALLY fallen apart since the big race, I thought to myself. That's the last time I go out drinking the night before a race, I scolded myself. I felt miserable and just wanted to finish one damn mile so that I could see where I was at....but that mile marker never came.

Finally, finally, around the next bend there was a gentleman announcing split times. As I ran past him he called out the time on his stop watch. "Sixteen Minutes."

I groaned out loud, and a few people actually turned to look at me. It was my assumption that, since this was the first announcement of time, that we must be at the halfway mark. If I was running a nice, even, steady pace, I should be at Fifteen minutes at the halfway mark, but I was behind by a minute. I couldn't believe it, I was absolutely WIPED OUT and was running too slow? How could that be?

I spent the rest of the course beating myself up. I can be so hard on myself sometimes, it is pretty bad. My brain was yelling at my legs, saying "You idiot, you ran 13 miles three weeks ago, and now you can't even run 3....that's what you get for slacking off, you SLACKER!" etc etc etc. (Side bar: I need to practice being kinder to myself).

Finally I gave in to my exhaustion. I was running slowly - much slower than I wanted to be running for the second half of a race - but I was just physically spent. Up ahead I could see the right turn leading back into the parking lot of the Middle School where the finish line was. At least I would be done soon.

When I turned the corner and saw the timer above the finish line, I had to do a double take. It looked like it said 25:something. It was hard to make it out because it was still pretty far away, but yes, that definitely said 25:something as I watched it click over to 26:00. At which point I started laughing - out loud - and people turned to look at me AGAIN. (People thinking "What the hell is wrong with this woman?)

I was laughing because it was at this point that I realized that the guy announcing the split time of "Sixteen Minutes" was at the TWO MILE POINT, not the halfway point. I had not been running too slow; in fact I had done the first two miles both in 8-minute miles. No WONDER I was exhausted!!!!! That first water station must have been mile number one. If someone at that point had announced the time and if I had realized I was only eight minutes in, I would have adjusted and slowed down. Instead, I killed myself for the first two miles and struggled during mile three.

I crossed the finish line at 26:55 - my best 5K time ever.

From now on, I am going out drinking before EVERY road race!!!

(just kidding....maybe!)