Friday, August 12, 2016

Let's All Laugh at the Worst Race of my Life

Yesterday I ran the Tromptown half marathon. It was the worst race I've run in my life. It was worse than Hyannis, where the winter wind was blowing so hard off the ocean that it tossed frozen sharks into my face. It was worse than last year's Catharine Valley, where I ran like an idiot and then the sun came out and roasted me to a cinder. It was worse than Run for the Red marathon, which completely ruined my body.

It was horribly, irredeemably bad.

Just a couple days ago I posted about dealing with failures and disappointments. It was actually pretty good; check it out. But after writing that, I would feel like a huge hypocrite if I didn't try to learn from my own lesson after yesterday's bad bad bad race.

There was absolutely nothing about the race that was not the pinnacle of awful. There's no way I can spin it positively. I did get to spend the day with a bunch of amazing and lovely people. But the actual race itself was like being shrunk down and then running around in a frying pan for 2 hours while being smashed repeatedly by a spatula.

So I've only got one option left: Humor! I'm going to break the race down mile by mile, every square inch of its horribleness, and we're going to have a good laugh over it. Hooray!

Initial Arrival - Bib: Check. Kilt: Check. Copious selfies: Double check! Bathroom: Quintuple check.
The temperature was about 83 degrees. The dew point was about 73, which Wikipedia tells me is extremely humid. I just looked that up now. Until yesterday, I'd never bothered looking up the humidity before a race. That is now a new thing I will always do before a race. Pace: Loitering.

Two mile warmup - Because running 13 miles isn't enough, I decide to round it up to an even 15. I feel fresh! I feel bouncy! My legs actually feel good for a change. I'm utterly drenched in sweat after 15 minutes. But that's fine, right? Totally fine. This race is gonna rock! Pace: 8:37.

Prerace - I drink about a gallon of water from the fountain. It's totally not going to just sit in my stomach and cause cramps for the whole race. I'm sure my body will efficiently absorb it and distribute it where it needs it most. My body is smart! Pace: Drowning.

Starting line - My stomach is a fish tank. But there's a bunch of people rearing to go and I'm feeling jived! The race announcer has to make a few attempts but finally succeeds at blowing on his whistle. Maybe it got waterlogged. We go! Pace: Wiggling excitedly.

Mile 1 - I always start races way too fast. Not today! A bunch of folks sprint ahead of me. Enjoy gassing out suckers! I run breezily, content in my smugness. 1 mile down, only 12 to go! I can do 12 in my sleep! Pace: 6:56.

Mile 2 - Heat? Humidity? Ha! I can't believe I was worried. I'm an antelope, bounding joyfully in the sun. I pour water on my head at the first water table. I feel like I could run to Neptune right now! There's a hill at the end of this mile. Resist the urge to sprint up it! I mostly resist. Pace: 7:02.

Mile 3 - Ooooh right. This course is hilly. No problem. I'll try my best to maintain my pace. I have big hill-smashing leg muscles anyway. They only look skinny in photos because of... angles? Angles are for nerds. I sure am sweating a lot. Why are my abs cramping? Stop being weird, body. I pass many of the sprint-starters and feel like a kilted rockstar. Pace: 7:21.

Mile 4 - Nice gentle downhill. Get back to my goal pace without running too fast. Man, I'm awesome! More water on my head. This is going to be my best race ever. Phew, it sure is hot and moist. A lot of people don't like that word for some reason. Moist. Actually, it's the sound my sopping kilt is making, "moist moist moist". This thing weighs ten pounds. Minor details. Pace: 7:06.

Mile 5 - Aallllright, it's starting to get a bit hilly. Let my pace drop a bit. I'm being smart, galdarnit. The lake sure is pretty though. I fantasize about jumping into it. C'mon, it's not that hot. I'm almost done anyway. Just run around the lake and to the finish. It's... like... the home stretch! Life is just fine. Pace: 7:25.

Mile 6 - OK, maybe I was a bit too optimistic. I'm not going to get a PR today. But if I can maintain this pace, I should at least match last year's time. I'm totally an adult, setting realistic goals and stuff! There's no way I won't succeed with a realistic goal. That's why it's called realistic. Sweet. More water on head. Would prefer to be in the lake right now. Pace: 7:33.

Mile 7 - Woohoo, I'm around the bend of the lake! I'm halfway done! I've slown down a bit, but that's because of all the hills along this side of the lake. I'm just going to run easy for a little and regain my strength for a final push. There's no way this agonizing pain in my legs will last forever. Even though this course is uphill 90% of the way, I'm going to pretend it's downhill from here-on-out. I'm sure that won't lead to disaster. Pace: 7:57.

Mile 8 - The world is a boiling pot of anguish. How did I not see this before? I'm definitely not recovering. How is it possible that I keep running slower and yet keep feeling worse? Body, deliver energy to my legs, not my brain! I don't need to think, just run! Urp, suddenly light-headed. I was just kidding! Why is there a gallon of water in my stomach and why is it doing nothing? Pace: 8:29.

Just... ugh.

Mile 9 - Adorable happy children keep handing me water and I keep throwing it in my face. I feel simultaneously frozen and cooked-alive. My body doesn't even know what's going on. My legs are red hot pokers of pain. My head is swimming. My core has been cramped for an hour. Our chief running stud on LUNAR is having brain surgery for the third time next week, and here I am complaining that I'm about to pass out. I'm going to finish if it literally kills me. Pace: 8:43.

Mile 10 - A really cheerful lady on a bicycle is riding along side of me, talking my ear off. I appreciate her trying to lighten my mood, but I wish she was a million miles away. I feel like a douchebag. My body feels likes a douchebag too. Just a big douchy bag of fiery suffering. It's as if my guardian angel has decided to punish me for all of the ills I have ever committed all at once. I've been on this hill for what feels like a lifetime. My legs are a cataclysm. I wish my body would just explode right now for no reason. Pace: 8:54.

Mile 11 - I can't tell the difference between uphill and downhill anymore. I feel like I've been hyperventilating for half an hour. Every gasp my lungs suck in hot soup. My pace is humiliatingly slow. All those "suckers" who were ahead in the beginning are all passing me again. They all say encouraging things like, "you're almost there!" and "you're probably not going to die!" Lies, all lies. This mile ends in the worst hill of the race. Pace: 9:09.

Mile 12 - For the first time in at least 4 years, I walk. I am utterly defeated. I never knew walking was this hard. A guy who I was neck-and-neck with last year and beat by 3 seconds passes me looking happy and leisurely. I tell him that next year will be the tie-breaker, although inside I'm thinking, "I will never run this course again." Some part of me realizes that I don't have far to go. That part is drowned out by the part that says, "you will most definitely die a slow and horrible death in the next five minutes." Pace: 9:48.

Mile 13 - I can't believe I just ran an almost 10 minute mile in a race. I have zero cares anymore. Every inch of my body just wants to vomit hot lava. There is a sulfurous lake in my stomach sloshing around. Someone has taped a bunch of angry porcupines to my legs. The sun has drifted over to the earth and is now one inch away from my face. I am only two blocks from the finish, but they are the worst two blocks I've run in my life. They stretch endlessly into an abyss of broiling torment. I finally see the finish, and seriously consider just walking to it to make it as anti-climactic as possible. Pace: 9:19.

Mile 13.1 - Some dude zooms past me at warp speed and I instantly speed up and stay even with him. We cross the finish line at the exact same time. He doesn't have a bib on due to a convoluted story that my brain has since destroyed so it doesn't even matter. I have never felt so awful in my whole life. Standing, sitting, and lying down all feel equally horrible. Pace: 7:24.

Post race - I eat as much watermelon and drink as much water as I can physically hold. There is a haze of hot searing pain clinging to my flesh like a foggy mirage. I am angry, despondent, and just plain $hitty. I hate myself and actively avoid humans. The general positivity and cheer at the finish makes me want to bash my head into the pavement. But that would require too much movement. Pace: Deceased.

Fra Angelico - The Last Judgment

The rest of the night was an amazing festival of zealous gluttony. I ate buckets and buckets of delicious starchy fried foods. I drank several bath tubs of fluid. Yet, somehow, I still woke up this morning 5 pounds underweight. On the plus side, I'm still mostly alive.

1 comment:

  1. I love your re-cap - I think it is great how you break it down mile by mile for your thoughts. There are so many races where I think, "wow this is amazing" and "I could keep this up all day," when only a few miles later I'm thinking, "I'm gonna die." Your descriptions were hysterical - love it!