What makes one give a race the title “my worst race”? It could be one with the worst possible finish time. Or one like Thanksgiving Day Half 2011, where I was completely humbled on course. Or the Atlanta 13.1 2013, which was a complete misery after mile 5 when I wasn’t prepared for the hilly onslaught and I got dropped. Or the most memorable one of them all – Chicago Marathon 2012, which was derailed because of the flu and I ran with a sad heart and it left forever mental scars.
I could expand on any one of these races and say why it could my worst race ever and what I learnt from it (Respect the course, I’m stronger than I think). But instead, I am choosing the Georgia Publix Half Marathon 2014, a race that wasn’t too bad and I had lots of fun with friends.
So why do I choose a race that yields an awesome finisher’s picture like this?
Leading in with a little backstory – In 2013, I was mostly swimming and doing CrossFit (supporting Mr. FauxTriathlete’s Augusta 70.3 ambitions). After he was done, I determined to get back into things and picked the Georgia Half Marathon 2014 as a target race. I trained while still doing CF, didn’t miss any training runs.,I ran the hilly sidewalks to prepare for the hilly course, I did speedwork and all. In short, I did everything to ensure that I would put up a good show at the race.
I had a race strategy and I was ready to give it my best shot.
I drove in to the start prepared to race.
The race started, and what did I do?
I threw it all out to the winds and decided to have a fun race with friends.
And I did have fun! Lots of fun, and lots of photos and conversations, and I met new friends and encouraged them over the worst hills towards the end. And finished it feeling like I could have run 5 more miles. When asked at the finish, I could genuinely say that I loved every bit of the race.
I’ve never been able to get over that twinge of regret – what if I had actually raced? What would I have learnt that day?
And I’ve never been able to answer that question – why did I choose to throw it all up and not race? (Because I made that choice in the last minute. It wasn’t a predecided “let’s all run together and have fun” kind of thing.) Was I really being a good friend or was I hiding behind the guise of being a good friend?
I don’t expect people to understand the way I feel about this race. After all, I enjoyed the run and life is too short to not enjoy. But in my mind, it ranks as one of my worst races because I did not honor the commitment I made to myself. I did not give myself a chance. I took the short and easy way out.
What did I learn from this?
- I would much rather endure the heartbreak and cry my heart out at having tried and failed rather than keep smiling because I never tried. It is not that I’m super competitive or anything, quite the contrary actually. But I love the different emotions that I feel when I run. And the extreme passion it induces in me. And I haven’t experienced either extremes since Chicago Marathon 2012 because I stopped caring deeply. I took the easy way out.
- Once I took the easy way out, it was quite easy to do it again. And again. And again. It was either in the name of fun, or it was some minor injury, or insufficient training, or … as many excuses as I could think of. It became a habit. (Why did I not break out of it? It was hard for me to when people around me would tell me that I was amazing to have run 13.1 miles, something they would never dream of doing. And other ego stoking statements.) The Georgia Half Marathon was the last straw that I recognized myself.
- There is a difference between having fun and having a purpose. Having a purpose is what got me started onto this running path 5 years ago. I had fun because I had a purpose. Purpose before fun, and fun follows. I interchanged the two and lost out on both.
If you are curious as to how the story ends –
This regret eventually caused me to try something “different”. I applied and was accepted to run the Ragnar Relay Napa Valley with the Bada$$ Mother Runners. I raced 2 legs and took the middle leg as recovery. I gave my best in the last leg for the team.
I took the opportunity to do the Allatoona Sprint Triathlon, even though I signed up only 8 days before the event. Yes, I did have fun on the course. But it was because I was enjoying doing something that I had not thought I could pull off, not because I deliberately took everything easy (cautious due to signing up last minute and not enough time to train, but not race day easy especially on the run course).
A week after Allatoona Sprint triathlon, I decided on my next goal (after the Dopey Challenge). And hence was born the quest for Augusta 70.3. I’m sure there will be a lot of laughter and quite a few tears as well, but there will be no regrets. And that’s a promise to myself and to everyone involved with me through this journey.
I initially wrote this piece back in October, but am resurfacing it again because I let myself down that day and that spiraled into similar race behaviours. And I’ve had THREE people including Mr. FauxTriathlete tell me that I let myself down with the way I handled the Dopey Marathon and although circumstances were different for Dopey, I know in my heart of hearts that they are right. So no regrets, no more.
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