Let me first preface this post with this: Failure is not a bad thing. Not in this case. Not this time. Not ever, at least not if you learn something from the failure.
After Nashville, I kinda didn’t feel like running again. At least not for a little while. I was spent, having laid it all out on the hills of Tennessee. However, before I had even run it, plans were in the works for the next big race. I told my friends I would not decide NOW, before I ran Nashville, if I would do another one in the fall or not. I mean shoot, I might die! So while Chicago and/or GR half marathons were on the table, no decisions were being made until post-Nashville. Immediately after finishing Nashville, I looked at Leann and told her “NO!! I am NEVER running these crazy distances again!”
So that was my thoughts and attitude when The Fifth Third River Bank Run was presented to me as a possibility to run a mere 2 weeks after Nashville. This run is a 5k, a 10k, or a 25K. For those of you who don’t know…a 25k is 15.5 miles. Of course Ben, Esquire, Holly and Katie were all planning on running it…so why shouldn’t I?
Ummm I don’t WANT to. Remember…I didn’t want to run again for a little bit. I wanted a break. I wanted to rest. I didn’t want to drive across the state again so soon.
But Kim, You can totally do it! They all said. You just ran 13 miles of hills..its only a couple of miles further but it is much flatter! Come on Kim, we will see you there, said Esquire!
But I don’t WANT to was my response…and yet a seed was planted.
I headed to SALTS having decided…no I will not do the River Bank Run. I will not run 25K.
After SALTS, I realized I was still thinking about the RBR and telling myself I would not do it and yet wondering if I could. I have finally come to recognize this pattern of thinking…as TROUBLE!
I found myself talking to Esquire, who OF COURSE said “Yes Kim, you can!” Then I called Ben and talked to him quite a bit about it. Ben, is an experienced marathoner. So I valued his opinion on this particular thing quite a bit. He asked me all sorts of questions and gave me all sorts of things to think about. He never said I should. He suggested it was absolutely within the realm of possibility to do it and said it would be FUN to run the RBR with me if I decided to do it. This was on Monday night, before the race on Saturday.
On Wednesday, I couldn’t get it out of my head so I decided, Yes I would do it. I mean seriously, If I CAN…then why not? Well, it was coming down to laziness. I didn’t want to DRIVE? Seriously? Besides that…I was going to be doing the drive anyway. I failed to mention that Adam was coming home from his ski patrolling winter in UT and I missed him like crazy, so I was heading out there anyway to see him. In my mind, if I am gonna be there….I can hardly sit on the sidelines and WATCH a race. I considered the 10K or even the 5K…and decided, why would I do less than what I know I can do….yep…I am sure I will eventually do a marathon with this TROUBLE thinking….
ok, so I am now about to do a 25K in 3 days and I have not run since Nashville and now is hardly the time to start running. To add to the mix, on Tuesday G.I Jess KILLED my legs in a “welcome back” workout since she hadn’t seen me since before Nashville and at that time I wasn’t planning on RBR.
So I went to sign up online and to my great disappointment, online registration was closed. The only way to register at this point is to go to the Expo on Friday and sign-up in person. Unfortunately, since I work in Detroit and the race is in GR, there was NO WAY I could make it there before the Expo closed. Suddenly, this girl, who barely wanted to do a race and was doing it because I had no good reason NOT to, was very disappointed. I didn’t realize that something in me REALLY wanted to do it, until the possibility was taken from me.
I posted something of my disappointment on Facebook. Do you know I have a friend who works for one of the major sponsors of the race? Well, I didn’t know this!! Within minutes of my post, he contacted me to tell me not to worry about it. “Send me your race details and t-shirt size and I will take care of everything for you.”, he says. Seriously? Like, no kidding? Just like that. I was in.
Guess I better prepare. Shoes? check. Running pants? Check. Oops, better get my other ones, it is supposed to be cold. Which means….I might want my gloves and my head band…and don’t forget your Nashville hat, it might rain, and shoot, better dig out my base layer stuff…sigh…wait…I am not nervous.
Shouldn’t I be?
I felt like this was no big deal, just another run. Wait a minute. I have never run 25k. I should be nervous. Am I not respecting the distance? Whatever that means…oh well, the nerves will come, I am sure.
They did. Saturday morning. They came in full force. I don’t think I can do this, I thought. What am I thinking? Not only did I feel un-prepared physically, I felt unprepared mentally. I mean I had almost 5 months to get my MIND prepared for Nashville. For this I had 3 days! I heard G.I Jess in my head reminding me that “if it is good up here (in the head), it is good everywhere”.
As my friend Laurie and I left her house to head downtown, I just began reminding myself of why I am ok physically, of where I have come from, and why this race will be fine and how I will make it through 15K…1mile at a time.
After picking up the race packet from Clint (friend who registered me), I met up with Esquire and ran into Ben and Laurie took off to meet her friends for the walk she was doing. Esquire and I headed up towards the start line and ran into Coach. And just as we were getting started, my friend TailWagger’s parents showed up to cheer me on!!! YAY!!!
Esquire and I started near the back of the crowd of several thousand 25k’ers. The only ones to come after us would be the My Team Triumph runners who would do the 25K as part of a team, pushing a person who will never be able to run a marathon, because of a disability that I cannot remember right now.
Even quicker, Esquire pulled ahead of me…no surprise there and more quickly than ever before, I found myself to be the last runner in sight. I hadn’t even gone half a mile when I realized I had to pee and I was alone on the course except for the chase car/police escort. Seriously, you all know I have been escorted in the water as the last swimmer, and even as the last runner…but never this early on in the race. I also realized….this run would not be easy…I would have to fight for every step.
At mile 1, I stopped at a bathroom only to come out and find the police car idling…waiting for me. At mile 2, my legs were jello already and I repeated my bathroom break. I repeated this again at mile 3 apologizing to the poor officer who was probably wondering what in the world I thought I was doing running this thing…heck I was asking myself the same questions. My knee felt squishy already, my feet were already beginning to ache, and my calves burned.
Soon, the My Team Triumph runners were passing me, with great words of encouragement as they whizzed past. I felt awful. This was the worst run I have had in a while or perhaps that I could remember. I think my memory gets selective on this kind of thing. I was only at mile 3 and I was already DONE. Soon I realized that there was at least a couple of cars behind the police escort I had that he would not let pass me. I moved to the side of the road so they could pass if he would allow them to. He would not let them pass until I was about to pass the entrance to the free way and I would enter a park. At least 30 cars passed me by. HAHAHAH Seriously! Talk about stopping traffic! Mortifying and hilarious at the same time!
At this point, I have to pee again and am approaching a water station and I am over an hour into the run and only about 3.5 miles in. I am realizing my pace is WAY slower than normal and the aches and cramps I had at the END of Nashville were already coming on quite significantly. Combine this with the fact that the aid station was already packing up and getting ready to pull out by the time I got to it…this race was already looking awful for me.
My head started to lose focus. I began to doubt whether I could actually finish this and how long it would take at my current pacing. I realized where my head was and KNEW there is no way I would finish with thoughts like that, so I shoved them aside, and pulled forth my archives of Aaronisms, Coachisms, Adamisms, and now G.I Jessisms.
I pressed on.
The next aid station (at about mile 5) had 1 guy and a kid there with everything packed up. The guy gave me a cup of water and asked me, “Are you gonna make it?”
I looked at him, square in the eye and said “Yes sir, if it takes all day, I will finish this!”
At this point I am walking a bit more than usual. I can normally pull off 6 miles or so before I have had to walk. Not this day. I alternated walking and running and kept forcing that mans doubts and my own out of my head.
At mile 6, an aid vehicle passed me to check on me. My head was NOT in a good space and I needed reinforcements. I tried calling a number of people and finally reached G.I Jess. I cried. I don’t know if I can do this. I told her where my body was at, where my head was at and most of all how lonely it was on this course, knowing there was no one around me at all. She assured me I could do it. She told me to cross that finish line, even if I have to walk the whole way. Listen to my body and finish what I started. I can do this she assured me. What she didn’t say was that I had to run it. What I heard behind all her words was that she believed I could finish. I needed to hear that.
OK…I can do this.
Soon Aaron called me back and in his practical way he checked to make sure the pains I was feeling were not potential injury pains and that I was not simply being stubborn by staying out there. In all honesty, I was not sure anymore. At Nashville, I didn’t feel like this till almost the end it seemed and it seemed more painful too. I told him I was still assessing and would NOT be stubborn about this. Yet what I also heard in his words was permission to call the race if I needed to. I needed to hear this too, not that I needed his permission, but to hear that it was ok to do so if necessary.
What I didn’t count on or consider until later while talking to Ben was this. It was really cold out. It was raining and I was doing more walking than running which meant I was not producing as much body heat and my body temp was dropping. Ben told me I needed to consider that if I stay out til the finish, continue at current pacing or less, and have an unsupported course to boot…hypothermia is a huge risk…not to mention injury etc. I asked what the signs are for hypothermia so I can make that call if I needed to. Not good enough apparently. By the time I was experiencing symptoms, I would not be in a mental position to be able to make a call. The call to continue or not needed to be made before I experienced symptoms based on all other factors and that I am in weather/run conditions that could produce this.
At about this time that I was talking to Ben, I saw them pick up the 8 mile marker and I think I knew then I was toast for this race but didn’t want to admit it. I told Ben I would consider everything and then make my decision. I tried to run some more to increase body heat but I had nothing left in my legs and everything hurt when I ran. I went about another 1.5 miles when I decided to call for a ride. I called Laurie who had my car keys and asked her to come get me. A few minutes later, an aid vehicle came by telling me they were the last one and did I want a ride. At this point I was starting to shiver and who knows how long it would take Laurie to get out of downtown and to me…so I jumped in their van where the heat was blasting! Then I called and cancelled my ride and told her to meet me at the finish line.
It was a disappointing day. A really hard run. It was the first time I cried during a run and really doubted my ability to finish. It was my first and hopefully last DNF. Despite this, I know that wisdom says I made the right choice. I don’t regret my choice to call it and I don’t deny that it was a huge failure of a run. Part of me regrets deciding to do it in the first place, so soon after Nashville, but I think that is only because I NOW know that it was too soon. My body wasn’t ready for such a long run quite yet. I couldn’t have known that before hand and it didn’t matter, I wanted to do this one, even though I didn’t know it until the last-minute.
What I regret more is that it is a month later and I still have not run more than a few laps around the building when G.I Jess tells me to. So far, I have let that really bad run sap the love for running that I NOW realize I was building. That is the part of all of this that is really discouraging. That run beat me. And I am only now beginning to realize how bad and how much it hurts to know I can be so easily diverted on my path.
Sometimes folks, the journey sucks and hurts. Sometimes the journey is not all fun and games and celebrations. Sometimes, from out of no where you get knocked for a loop and you get to sit in the pain of disappointment.
…The journey must continue.