Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Race Recap- Texas Wine Series

How sweet it is to be writing this recap while watching the Boston Marathon! Houston was slammed with some nasty storms on Monday, so I penned this while watching the race live. Seriously, I love watching marathons. It is such a feat of human persistence and their times are astounding. But I digress...

Race weekend! Another one is in the books folks.

I tried to not get too excited, but I had really high hopes for this race. My tempo and long runs had been strong and I was going for the PR (personal record). I did my strength training, created a race plan that matched the course, and wanted it so badly. As a runner, I've never been particularly focused on speed. I love the process. I love the mental part of going into something knowing that it will be hard, knowing I will want to quit, and knowing that I can and will do it. But this time, I was selfish. just wanted to beat myself.

My hip had been giving me some trouble, but when I couldn't even finish my last long run (stopped at 10.5 instead of 12), I got nervous. I foam rolled, worked on nutrition, and skipped my last long run because I knew that if I pushed it early, I might not make it to race day.

It turns out that this time, race day wasn't my day.

The first 3 miles of the course were on trails and I had my plan. I wanted to run the first 3 miles at 8:50 and then slowly chip that time down to 8:35-8:40 paces when the course made it to the roads. I don't normally run on trails and knew that I needed to really focus on my footwork. That was my plan.

On race morning while running some warm up strides, my hip was just not having it. I tried to push the negativity to the back of my mind, but I started the race nervous. My hip wasn't sore or uncomfortable, it was painful. I forgot my plan and just went into 'get it done' mode. I ran too fast and the first 2 miles clocked in the high 8:20s. By mile 2, I knew today wasn't my day. 

I stopped to stretch, tried to loosen it up, but my hip was getting worse every step (I think the trails further exasperated that). I was so mad. I was so mad at my hip, so mad at my mental game, and so mad that it wasn't going to happen that day. Until mile 4, I couldn't get over it. We all have really cruel things (I'm going to assume this is a universal thing, okay?!?) that at some time or another we have said to ourselves. The thoughts that are normally so far back in the cobwebs of your mind that you never think. The things you would never ever dare to say about someone else, but can be easy to punish yourself with. Those were the only things I could think about. The first 35 minutes of the race, I don't know if I thought a single kind thought that was directed to me.

Prior to the start, I made a deal with myself to say a little prayer for a family member at each mile marker. I wanted to keep things in perspective and knew that the race would get tough (I was thinking at mile 11 not 2). Around the fourth mile marker, while reciting the prayer I realized how ridiculous I was being. Here I was doing something that I absolutely love and was making myself miserable over it. By letting myself obsess over this time goal, I wasn't having any fun. I wasn't thinking about the blessing it is to run. I wasn't thinking about how strong the body really is. I wasn't thinking anything other than horrible, dark, cob-webby thoughts.

So I stopped. Well, no I kept running, but I just stopped thinking about those things. I had fun. I crushed some intense (okay, for me) hills. I petted a horse (really, that isn't a weird euphemism). I joked with other runners. And sang some Michael Bolton at the top of my lungs. I haven't had that much fun on a course... maybe ever. It felt great.

After the half way point turnaround, I saw Andrew (we weren't running together) for a bit and said 'hey if we can, lets finish this together'. I slowed down and while my hip wasn't comfortable, after being on the roads for a few miles it started to feel okay. As much as I had actually wanted to race this course (run it in a way that you're really pushing yourself), running it was still a win for me.

A little before mile 10, the course looped itself back to the first 3 miles of trail running that then took you to the finish line. I looked at my watch and saw I could make my C goal (Goal A= PR, Goal B= beat my January race), but I also figured that Andrew couldn't be too much further behind. I texted him (oops...) and knew he was only a few minutes away. Now this is where I did probably the silliest thing I've ever done while racing. I stopped and waited on the course. Why not at least finish with my favorite running partner? I knew it was manageable for him to get a new PR and since I hadn't been pushing it, I had it in my legs to pace him in for that. So I just stopped and waited.

I felt absolutely ridiculous standing there on the side of the course. Some runners looked at me like I was delusional, some asked if I was okay, and some just tried to ignore the crazy lady who was cheering instead of running. Meeting up with Andrew was fantastic. He had been absolutely killing it and it was great to see him looking so strong. My idea to pace him to a PR was met with rolled eyes (rookie mistake to tell him the pace for the last 3 miles he needed to maintain), but it was nice finishing the race together. I turned off my watch at 11 and just followed his lead until the end. 

So on paper the race was the slowest I've ever run (other than a trail run that covered 1600 feet elevation), but in reality it was a blast. The course was beautiful, the weather was perfect, and the free wine at the end was definitely motivating.

And back to the PR. 1) I know no one other than me cares. 2) I hope that the next time I go all out for a new PR, I don't obsess like I did this year. Lets face it, I'm not even kinda fast when I'm going all out. 3) I don't know when (if ever) I will beat my PR. In 2010, I ran my first (and fastest) half in 1:55. That is 6 years ago. In the past 6 years, I've lived in 3 states/ time zones, graduated college, graduated with my MBA and MFA, had my first adult job, got engaged, ran a full marathon, married my best friend, bought our first house, and all the other mini-moments that make up the days. Maybe someday it will happen, maybe it will never happen. In the long run (get it), that doesn't matter. I'm thankful for this race and hopefully many more to come to remind me of that.

Back to foam rolling and googling hip injuries until my doctors appointment,


  1. It's funny how quickly your perspective on a race can change mid-race when things aren't going the way you expected them to, isn't it? But yay for being able to finish with your husband! Gotta know though - did he get his PR??

  2. i love this post! seriously. in 2012, i ran my 2nd half, but it was my fastest at 2:04. my previous one was 2:30 something so i should have been happy at a huge PR but instead i was like damn, 2 hours was so close! i have been chasing that sub 2 hour ever since, but i have gotten further and further away. but like you, i realised that in the long run (best pun ever) it does not matter. my life has changed dramatically since 2012 and i couldn't be happier, and why should i let a silly time goal make me hate something i used to love doing? i am still working on running for enjoyment and not beating myself up every time i see how slow i am, but it's a work in progress. congrats on the race and the shift of perspective!