Once upon a hell of a time: MEC race #3 The Pace Setter recap

Even writing this, a day or so later, makes me cringe. Jesus, what WAS I THINKING? Let’s put it this way- sometimes race times don’t tell the whole story. This race was 2:10, my personal worst time, and boy, the worst race I have ever foolishly attempted.

Clearly, my ego has more stamina than my body.

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Background of the race- Hatley Castle. Photos by MEC.

As I mentioned earlier, I made the (stupid and ill-advised) decision to run the half marathon the day after the Sooke Saddle Club, in the heat (hot for here, 28 degrees) with a raging head cold and exercised-induced asthma. I know enough that I just knew this was a bad idea, a really bad one.

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Three friends walking to the race. Photo by MEC.

I was joking around with my husband safely ensconced on our patio the night before with a glass or three of wine that my goal was to just NOT DIE. Newsflash- so I am a fortune teller, because that’s the way I spent the entire race feeling: close to death.

I also drank more wine to chase away my fears that what I was doing was dangerous and stupid and yeah….What could it hurt at this point? (Jury’s still out on that but I still like wine, so). Anyways, I was pretty beat after the horse show. I was jumping off Oats to blow my nose furiously, and overnight had developed quite the hacking gross cough that kept me up pretty much all night too. Lovely.

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Fueling with a gel. I should have known how bad it was going to be…Photo by MEC.

The morning of the race felt warm. Stomach-wise, I was feeling pretty good which should have been a warning sign of impending doom. I drank a bit of water, had some coffee, and met up with a friend running the 5k. I joined in with the warm-up routine and found my legs felt, well…like lead. I had a few twinges of fear but pushed that away, telling myself that it’s always like that and then I settle really well. Um, no.

We were off, and I felt ok for oh..1km? By 3km I was in trouble, and a lot of it. My legs were on FIRE, burning so badly with lactic acid I was wondering WTF was going on with them. I’m used to running pretty regularly??

This is a spectacularly hilly race, it starts off uphill, levels out a bit, and then has uphills on and off until one loooong downhill, to a really long flat section right along the ocean (so picturesque! I wanted to die!!) and then a steep and long climb back to the start, where you do it all over again.

I knew after my trouble at 3k that I was going to suffer, and suffer mightily. By 5k, I was really worried. Even after the downhill, I was telling myself I was walking up the big hill. No worries on that though, because by 8k I was struggling. My asthma started flaring up, I coughed phlegm basically all over myself and was gasping and dramatically clutching my chest.

Yay.

I walked/staggered/jogged my way miserably up the hill, thinking “just make it to 10km” and the miracle of miracles, I did. So, I just…sort of…kept going? At that point, I was fairly sure I was going to collapse. I have fainted this year so I know the warning signs, I just wasn’t sure if it was going to be near a MEC volunteer or not…

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So glad to be done. Photo by MEC.

Stupidly, I struggled on. I couldn’t run at that point- my legs weren’t responding, I was incredibly thirsty and every time I tried to attempt a run up something that wasn’t flat, my lungs were gripped in a clenched fist. So, I did what any dumbass runner who feels like giving up is impossible did- ran/walked the entire rest of the 2nd loop. And boy, did that take FOREVER. Enough time to want to cry anytime I saw a MEC volunteer.

I was in a real hell of my own making, and spending a lot of time in it, too. I couldn’t even run 1km, it was more like 100m of weak jogging, walk for awhile, and then try it all over again. Hell is also hot and doesn’t have enough Gatorade stops.

Surprisingly, I made it to the finish where I dramatically got my puffer from my husband, and felt like crying again. I was SO. BEAT. I wanted to crawl away and lick my wounds in private and pretty much never run, or at least race, ever again. EVER.

I was salty with sweat. I could feel it coating my face, my arms, my chest and my hat. We went home and I showered and slept for 2 hours. No race, ever, had bested me this badly before.

I sat on the patio, drank wine and contemplated my life choices for the rest of the day.

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Oceanside Mother’s Day 10k: Race Recap!

Now this is a hard one to recap. To sum up: It sucked. It sucked out loud!

Last year running the course.

I did feel ready for this race too. My training has been pretty good, I’ve been enjoying my training- short runs, long runs, hill runs. My last race in Sooke was decent on what was considered a fairly challenging course, even after I drank and went partying the night before, showed up late to the race and had 5 minutes to pin my bib on and sprint to the start, and having to pee the entire race…

So the stars were aligned, relatively speaking, for a great race this weekend. I was rested, except for my shoulder and back killing me from when I crashed through the jump on Saturday. And then I completely BOMB this race. What the eff?

Last year I was unfairly rewarded with a first and a 2nd overall with a pretty mediocre time. This year, my time was better and I didn’t podium! Ah, Karma…

It was very windy, with a wind warning in our town. We started, and my first KM was ludicrously fast- 4:11/km. Very unsustainable for me. I slowed it down, and when I do this I usually take it to 4:22 or so…Imagine my horror when I felt like I’d taken it down to that, and checked my watch and it was at like 4:38/km WTF? How did I slow down that much? I still felt like I was running my lungs out???

It was surreal. The harder time I was having to run, the worse my times were getting. I was literally dragging myself along, and my legs felt like lead. Lifting them seemed like a huge struggle.

I watched my times bounce around each km between 4:34-5:00km/hr. Yes that’s right, FIVE. WTF? I think I maybe went that slow running up a hill at Sooke but that was after a good pace of 4:14-4:30 the whole race. What was GOING ON?! I wanted to give up so hard.

I was gasping for breath, and my times sank lower and lower. I struggled over the gravel section in a very picturesque section of the race. I wanted to enjoy it more, get that ‘flow’ feeling I love so much when I get in the groove racing, but it NEVER came to me. Not one. Every kilometer felt like a major struggle to breathe, make my legs go.

I was feeling exhausted, beat up, burned out, sore shoulder, out of breath, and breathing so hard my lungs and throat burned. I was working way too hard for so little.

It was a very discouraging race. I got passed by everyone, and only managed to pass 1 runner on my way to the finish. I finished with a decently strong time of 46:34 (for this course, not for me), but I wasn’t happy with the way the race ran. I failed, it hurt, I just never had that good, ‘pure’ race moment I run to find. I can blame a few factors: terrible allergies that my prescription meds stacked with over the counter antihistamines can’t even begin to touch, a very strong headwind, some mild injuries from the fall the day before.

The good news? My pre-race stomach issues were pretty much NOT a problem this time and I was able to eat breakfast (yesss!!) AND even enjoy the super generous spread at the finish!! Here’s to that keeping going in the future, whoop! I normally struggle with eating on race days, both in the morning and after the race.

Thanks again to the volunteers who put on a very safe and fun race, who were very encouraging and hosted a super awesome spread of snacks after. The best one yet! And I liked the ice cream at the end too. 🙂 Yeah!

Oh and last year? I would have loved this time. So funny, how perspective changes everything eh.