Let me tell you all about the race that never happened. This particular race didn't happen yesterday morning at 8:00 a.m. It was called Haulin' Balls 10k and if it had happened, I'd have run it with Heather.
We decided yesterday that Haulin' Balls never happened.
It sucked. And I don't mean my typical "oh there's something good about every race!" b.s. I mean it sucked.
I got up at 4:00 a.m. and drove to Heather's house in Wichita to leave for El Dorado by 6:00. We reiterated our hatred of running with her hubby before we left, and then we hopped in her car to head there. We arrived, and there weren't that many people around. I mentioned that I had to use the bathroom before the race was to begin (we were quite early) and noticed there were two porta-potties in view. Two. Porta-potties. And while heading over to them, the porta-potty cleaner people showed up and hoovered out the portable johns. Like this couldn't have been done before now? But I digress. As we walked around waiting for the beginning, we noticed how out of place we were in our sparkly skirts. (I'm gonna toss in here that the after-race "party" if you will, boasted a mountain oyster feed.) A few of the men there were nice and normal, making comments such as, "I knew I forgot my skirt today!", and another saying, "I wish I'd brought my kilt!" There actually was a guy wearing a kilt too. So these three pretty cool folk are dismissed from this race rant.
This race featured a 2 mile and a 10k. We, of course, chose the 10k. In the lineup for the start we chatted with the woman behind us who I'll call 'Cassie' (not her real name) and recognized a sole sister, so we made then the determination to catch up with her at the Finish Line.
The race begins, and here, I'll drop down to my personal story of this race. Within the first few steps, the dull aching in my shins and calves told me I was screwed. I hit the first hill, which was probably a half mile in, and that baby was fucking steep. I made it up the hill, somehow, and kept running. Slowly. My legs didn't feel any better. I was coming up on Mile 2 and my brain's internal monolog was discouraging. My legs hurt, I couldn't get my breathing right, it was blazing hot (at about 68°) and one side (the logical side) of my brain was telling me if I walked I'd regret it and that I'd run through worse, while the other side (the self defeating side) was arguing that I was miserable and it's "ok to walk just a little". Somehow, I honestly can't say whether the logical side gave in or the defeatist side won fair and square, but I, without thinking - took a few walking steps. Immediately, my motivation and Mojo were shot. Up ahead was the first water station that I hadn't seen before I started walking, and my brain berated me for walking now when I should have just waited till the water stop and walked a little longer than I normally would have. At least then I could have said, well I only walked at the water stops! I ran the very short distance to the water stop, grabbed the cup I was handed, walked and drank. Then I ran again.
I didn't even make it a 5k distance, hitting a massive wall at Mile 2. Again, I've never walked in a race (other than water stops in the summer). I have friends that do a run/walk ratio in races, and it seems to work great for them (their times are better than mine!) but it's not for me. I run.
I don't know when I started walking again, exactly, but I did. Then I ran, then walked, then ran.. and the distances I ran between walks were pretty short.
My brain was brutally kicking my ass. I tried, oh I tried, to boost myself with statements like "at least you're going to finish!", and "it's OK to walk sometimes", and "so you're having ONE shitty race!" but they weren't helping in the least bit when counteracted with, "you fucking walked now you're always going to think it's ok to fucking WALK", and "what the FUCK is wrong with you?!", and "well, you've failed this fucking race". (My brain cusses a lot.)
Shortly after the turn around, halfway point, I ran into Heather and I slowed, took out my earphones, and began to walk to talk with her. She was having a shitty race as well, and her complaints were about the horrible volunteers (who were mainly teenage boys) and their rude comments. I tried to get her to just turn around and head back with me but she said no, she was going to finish despite the crappiness of this race! Rock on, Sister! About that time a couple walked past us and told her to come along and finish with them. Awesome!
I continued my miserable walk/run method, trying to convince myself to run the last 3 miles.. and when that didn't happen, to run the last mile. I kept passing a woman in red when I was running, and getting passed by her when I was walking. At the end, I finished ahead of her and this didn't make me feel remotely better because she had RUN the ENTIRE thing, and that was something I used to take pride in myself.
I didn't have this problem personally, but Heather stated that the volunteers at this race absolutely sucked. I found them to be very, oh what's the word? Lackluster.
This race is definitely not on our next year agenda.
I finished this race in 1:19:01, 10 minutes slower than my last couple 10ks and 14 minutes slower than my first and best 10k. I was (and still am) not happy.
After getting my medal, I turned around and walked along the race path to meet up with Heather and her two new-found friends and joined them to the Finish Line stretch then fell back as they finished together. We all talked a bit, were joined by another girl, and together we decided to meet up with Cassie on the trail so we all headed back. We found Cassie, who I felt was genuinely happy to see us, and ran her to the Finish Line stretch, where we stopped and cheered her the rest of the way in. Cassie's mom was waiting for her at the Finish and that was too cool! Remember though, readers, some people have NOBODY at the Finish Line. I will give this race one bit of credit when I say that the Finish Line was pretty enthusiastic with noise makers and cheering.
When we reached the Finish Line with Cassie, everything but the Finish Line was vacant. The tents were empty, no goodies available (if there ever were any, I'm honestly not sure), and most everyone was gone.
I tried and tried yesterday to find some good out of this shitty race, and I have. Here's what I learned:
1) I now know what it feels like to be a "back-of-the-packer". It's a combination of suckage (I'll explain why in a moment) and crazy pride.
2) When I needed the encouragement most, I received it from other runners. I was passed by so many people were heading towards the finish when I was still heading for the halfway. I got "keep going!", "great job!", "you're doing great!", lots of thumbs up and waves. This rarely happens for me when I'm my normal "middle-of-the-packer".
I've always been annoyed, somehow slightly "hurt" by runners that finish early or in a "reasonable" time and then they're too busy partying, or eating, or have already left before the last people have finished the race. I understand that not everybody has time to hang around, etc., but it's bullshit that some people finish these races with nobody at the end. We ALL cross the very SAME Finish Line, people!!
Likewise, you race officials that start tearing things down before everyone finishes? This is bullshit. I get that sometimes streets have to be reopened at certain times, etc., but if you need to impose a time restriction, then DO IT during sign up. If you don't, or if you say four hours (for example) then by god you keep everything set up until the clock ticks FOUR HOURS. This is simple. You keep the Finish Line up (yes, I've been to races that they took down the very finish line before everyone had crossed), and you make sure there's enough post-race goodies for the last runners. You keep the tents up, you keep the party going. Again, we are ALL crossing the very SAME Finish Line!!
I continue to believe, and allow me to reiterate, that runners are some of the best people I've EVER met. And though I don't know their names, and they will never read this, I am very thankful for those that encouraged me when my race was clearly going so badly.
Some good came out of this race. Most importantly we made four new friends. And I now have personal experience as a back-of-the-pack runner (and it wasn't all bad!)
No Runner Left Behind!
Afterwards, Heather and I stopped at a Spangles in El Dorado for breakfast. When we were leaving I wanted to stop by the restroom. On our way in, there was a fat man (and I DON'T typically body shame, but am making an exception this time because it pissed me off so badly) sitting across the restaurant that was going out of his way to gawk at us. We were dressed in our compression shorts and sparkle skirts which is understandably not normal attire for most, and a glance, or even a double-take is expected and acceptable. This was neither. This fat man pig-eyed us. And then he twisted and gawked around a pillar to follow us with his beady little pig eyes with a, no THE, smirk that women get far too often.
Now, I don't consider myself a "feminist", nor am I a violent person by any real stretch of the imagination. But look here, you pig-eyed, perverted fat man: we are NOT here to add material to your spankbank. You're disgusting and rude. And because I'M not a violent feminist, I hope that you meet someone that IS and she puts you in your place. Asshole.
And THEN in the bathroom, we ran into the woman Pig-Eye came in with. She was pretty large and wearing cut-off shorts. Nothing wrong with this, of course. BUT, these mid-thigh length shorts were slashed/torn/cut at bottom of butt cheek length. And she had nothing underneath but her bright red underwear. Whoa, sister, seriously? Do you not own a mirror? This is NOT ok. No wonder we got pig-eyed.
I spent most of yesterday.. angry (as you can surely tell by two paragraphs up) about everything. Angry about the race, angry about Heather's interaction with shitty teenage boys, angry at myself for my "failure", angry at my legs and lungs and determination for letting me down, and angry at Mr. Pig-Eye (which isn't even something that proves to typically make me angry, just disgustedly annoyed).
Let me finish by saying that I don't know WHAT my problem was during this race. All I can gather is that even though I've run with pain, in the heat, and been winded before, (I mean seriously, I ran a 1/2 marathon with virtually no training on sheer willpower alone) I can't recall all three of these things happening at once. I am admittedly now worried about an upcoming 15k we've decided to do and my next half marathon in October. For the first time since I began running, I'm seriously doubting my abilities.
So what can I do? I can give up, never run again. Or I can simply say "Never Again", and never allow me to disappoint myself again.
I guess it's time to get my shit together.
Have you ever had a race that was just awful?