Friday, October 19, 2012

Personal Worst

There is nothing better to kick-start your drive to really buckle down to stick to a training program like going to watch an endurance race.

On the weekend of October 12, 2012, I took a redeye home to Connecticut to see my brother-in-law kick butt running his first marathon at the Hartford ING Marathon. His calmness before a major race was amazing, and I believe it is due in large part from his experience running track for a Division 1 college. Navigating some of the logistics of any big race held us up & my sister and I caught clothes as he stripped while he slowly sprinted to the start. (Mind you he can do a sub 7:00mi and my sister and I feel good if we do an 11:30.) He got to the start & ended up having to jump into the 4hr coral, which was a full hour slower than where he should have been.

My sister & I, along with my niece (in the jogging stroller) sprinted to the 5k start. The gun time was the same time as the marathon gun and despite it being less than a block away, by the time we got there, there was not a runner in sight. We were so late the volunteers were already rolling up the starting mat. They were kind enough to plug it back in so we could have the official chip time. There is nothing more demoralizing than starting a race and having to stop to ask for directions. Well, there’s almost nothing. It become more demoralizing when fast people showed up. Now, we really felt like we had gone off course. We kept going & finally found an officer that told us, “Yes, the half marathon and 5k briefly share the same course.” We continued slowly, with some trepidation until we saw another “runner.” Well, she really wasn’t expending that much energy while going up the hill.  My sister leaned over and said, “let’s pass her.” So, she, I, and baby scurried up the hill. When we continued past the crest, we saw more 5kers. We weren’t going fast, but we pushed forward. My sister and I never wanted to walk a race and we never wanted to finish last; it looked like at least finishing last was a possibility.

We continued to maneuver through walkers. Our guts were a little upset, but we bypassed the porta-potties. (For me, in larger part this could have been a result of my travel problems and the accompanied stress eating and feeding my mostly-vegetarian body turkey sandwiches.) We were slow, but we didn’t want a worse time.  Our end almost came when we saw a Dunkin’ Donuts and actually discussed how great a coffee and donut would be on this 47* day. We concluded that would just be giving up too easily. We finally stopped at some porta-potties that were literally in the path of the race course. We did our slow turtle run to the finish, passing walkers, cell talkers and texters. It wasn’t a great race, in fact, she and I each dubbed it as our Personal Worst. Somehow, despite our bad start, walking a little, and our extra-long stop at a porta-poty (somebody had to wait with the baby) we passed and beat 87 people! 

We had time to get back to the finish to go cheer on her husband who finished his first marathon in just over 3:19, despite cramping up at mile 22. From the leg cramps he got, it’s a miracle he was able to still do so well. It’s still too early to know if he’s going to do another marathon just yet, but from talking with him after I am reminded again why I fell in love with the sport of endurance running. Despite the fatigue and pain (and wall), reconnecting with the race makes me want to stop giving myself outs for running and "Just Do It."

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