Bridge Street Half Marathon Race Report – A Different Kind of PR

I woke up on Sunday morning and had a hard time finding my motivation. Scott decided to sit this race out because he still had some lingering knee pain after our half last Saturday, and he has a 5k coming up soon that is his main priority. 5am came far too quickly, and getting out of bed when your partner is still snuggled up in the blankets is really hard, y’all. I’m not going to lie, for a few moments I entertained the idea of just sitting this one out. It wouldn’t be the first time I considered quitting that day. I had spent all of Saturday morning in the sun volunteering at a duathalon, and then came home and ended up doing some pretty intense spring cleaning. Before I knew it, it was 5pm and the only thing I had consumed the whole day was a Greek yogurt at 6am! Needless to say, my race prep wasn’t ideal. My goal was to PR with a time of 2:15, but I wasn’t feeling energetic and doubted that it would be possible.

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(Photo credited to Gregg Gelmis of We Run Huntsville)

Before the start, I lined up with the 2:15 pacers. “Time to run hard and hold on for dear life,” I told myself. The race began and we took off to do a short loop around the shopping center for the first mile. Only a half mile in I started feeling fatigued. It was just after 7am but it was already pretty hot outside, and I started to feel doubtful about my 2:15 goal. I hung on to David and Netta for a while longer, but lost them at mile 3. About 30 minutes into the race I began to hear a faint ringing in my ears and my vision seemed slightly fuzzy. Knowing that this is something that usually happens to me before I pass out, I slowed my pace and eventually began to walk. I lost sight of my pacers and said goodbye to my 2:15 goal time. During my long walk break, mom caught up and began to walk beside me. She knew something must be wrong, and asked if I wanted to quit. In hind-site, pulling out of the race at the first aid station around mile 3.5 was probably what I should have done…  but dang it, I didn’t want to DNF and I REALLY wanted that medal!
image (Photo credited to Gregg Gelmis of We Run Huntsville)

Mom and I started back into a slow jog. I told her that she didn’t have to wait for me, but being the true mama-bear that she is, she refused to leave her baby behind when I was clearly not feeling well. She reminded me that we have been going hard with several challenging races lately, and doing poorly at this one won’t really matter in the long run.
Eventually I looked behind me and noticed that my friends Kim and Tien, who were pacing the 2:30 group. I decided to try and stick with them, hoping that being around their positive attitudes would perk me up a bit, if not physically then mentally at least. Kim mentioned how hot it was, which surprised me, because I was cold and had goosebumps all over my arms. At the next aid station I ate a gel and washed it down with a cup of Gatorade in hopes that I would start feeling a little LESS like death. No such luck. Around mile 6 my stomach churned violently. I rushed off to the side of the course and barfed up all the water, gel, and Gatorade I had previously consumed. “Well… That was a waste of Honey Stinger” I thought to myself. Behind me I heard a lady say, “Now you can run faster!” Um… not likely. I considered dropping out at that point, but again, the thought of that shiny medal and the letters DNF got me walking back down the road. Knowing that I had a four hour time limit, I was determined to cross the finish line even if it was on my hands and knees.
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  (Photo credited to Gregg Gelmis of We Run Huntsville)
After the barfing episode, I continued to feel gradually worse– tired, cold, and dizzy. I eventually couldn’t keep up with Kim and Tien anymore, but still had my mom by my side. I think we walked the entirety of mile 9, and when we were running it was more like a slow shuffle. Near the end of the race my friend Heather and her dad, Tracy, pulled up behind us. I was happy to see them and knew that running with them would give me the motivation I needed to get through to the end.
The last mile felt like the longest mile I have ever run in my life, but eventually we rounded to corner and the finish line was in sight. I crossed, received my medal, and wobbled towards where my mom and her fiance, Alvin, were standing. I started to feel kind of confused, very cold, and the ringing in my ears was loud. Next thing I know, I was sitting in a chair and someone had handed me a cup of water. My hands were shaking so badly that I ended up just spilling it all over myself, and I couldn’t figure out why there were so many people crowding around me. My mom was frantically calling friends over and asking for help (bless her, she doesn’t do so well in medical situations, I totally get my intolerance to doctors from her), and everything started to feel really overwhelming. Mom and our friend David were crouching in front of me, and I started to sob uncontrollably. Typing that out now feels SO embarrassing, I have no idea why it happened, but I couldn’t control it. Eventually I calmed down, got some water and a banana into my system, and I started to feel like myself again.
My final time was 2:38:52, (12:07 min/mi). So I didn’t set a PR for a new best time… but I did set a record for personal WORST time! Ha… But there’s something else I want to talk about today, other than one of the worst race blow ups I’ve ever had. I have said this a lot and I will probably keep saying it over and over again because it is so true: our running community here is one of the best in the world. During my terrible race on Sunday, so many of my friends clearly recognized that I wasn’t doing well. Their words of encouragement and offers to share water, gels, salt pills, etc, were one of the only reasons I was able to keep going. When I finished the race, several people dropped what they were doing and rushed to my aid, making sure I was okay, getting water, food, and whatever else I needed. Without these people in my life, I would have never had the courage to start, and then the determination to keep going. My running family believed in me before I ever even believed in myself, and having their confidence in me along the way has been absolutely vital to everything I have been able to do so far.  These people are some of the best, most genuine friends in the world, and I’m so thankful for them and am completely aware of what a huge blessing I have in them. Even though this race wasn’t my best, I’m still proud of it. We all need a WORST RACE EVER, right?? And like Kim reminded me in her comment on my last post, now I have a great story to share any time a new runner needs some encouragement! Even when we completely fail, we can still accomplish something.
imageCan we talk about how hilarious my face is in this photo? I swear. I was trying to smile.

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