We have all been there. The moment when self doubt and fear set in. The instance when you know something is wrong and you should make a different decision. The feeling of defeat, sadness, scared. It may not have been during a race where you have experienced any array of these emotions. For me, two weeks ago during REVEL Mt. Charleston…I felt all of the emotions…and the majority of them weren’t happy.
If you recall, I mentioned in my London recap (which you should really check out if you haven’t already) that I had been sick for a couple weeks. I figured it was just a cold and things would pass. It turns out it decided to transform into a minor sinus infection. I battled this up until this past Sunday. I had to be in town for a work conference so decided I would sign up for REVEL Mt. Charleston. Of course, I wasn’t sick when I signed up. I decided I would pick up my bib and race packet and make the game
day morning decision whether I would race or not. I woke up at 3am Saturday morning and actually felt pretty good. No muscle soreness. Minor runny nose. Mild to no cough. So, I figured I would shower, gear up, and head out. I knew it would likely be cold so I brought my layers to stay warm at the top of the mountain. I figured my body would warm up as I kept moving…I made a lot of assumptions that morning.
I was at the start line, I shed my layers and got ready to “run”. Turns out my body had different plans for the day and those plans did not include running. Within the first half mile I knew my body wasn’t with me. My neck was completely tight. My shoulders were tense. I couldn’t relax and ease into the morning. At this point, I realized I should of stayed in my suite and ordered room service.
I slowed down, pulled off to the side of the road and evaluated what was going on. I had the following internal conversations: Ok, I wasn’t well. In fact, starting this race was stupid and you should of stayed your ass in bed. Ok, can’t do anything about that now. Just get to the finish safe.
I had pretty much decided this half marathon was going to be a fun 13.1 mile walk downhill. I was ok with that, the scenery is pretty awesome. At this point, I am grasping for silver lining. So I walked.
Around the 5K mark I knew I was done. The weather was brisk and there were some crazy winds out. Without the speed and increased heart rate to help me stay warm…I was beginning to shake from being cold. I can handle cold. I can handle wind. I can’t handle both at the same time. I especially can’t handle both while sick. Again, I chose poorly. I text my support system and told them I was going to DNF. I was done. I didn’t feel comfortable or even safe. I approached the mile 4 water stop and told the volunteers I needed to stop. They were not equipped to help with a drop out (which wasn’t their fault) so I kept moving forward. Surly another aid station further down the road would be able to help me end this personal hell I am experiencing. 4 miles later.
I am at mile 8 and I encounter the same problem. The water stop is just that a water stop. The wind was crazy and I was frozen at this point. I found shelter in a port-o-potty…for twenty minutes. This was an amazing decision. After that, I walked over to the police who were running traffic control and helping folks get up and down the mountain and explained my problem. I was told to wait by the water station and someone would be by shortly. I sat on the side of the road and began to shake again. The winds were picking up. The temperature wasn’t warm. I was literally having a melt down on the side of the road in the gravel. I stopped my Garmin and never restarted it. Curled up in a ball. I chose poorly.
I DO want to extend my thanks to one of the spectators near that aid station who saw me in crisis and ran to her car and brought me a lovely purple blanket. She told me to stay warm and to keep it. The blanket frankly saved my behind. After 45 minutes of sitting and crying something happened. I got angry.
I was angry with myself that I put myself in a situation like this. I was angry with the fact I was waiting for help and NO ONE EVER CAME. I was angry that 45 minutes had past and I could of been almost finished and off of the course. I stood right up and began walking wrapped in my new fancy blanket. The only thing on my mind was GET FINISHED AND GO BACK TO BED!
I walked and walked and walked. I focused on moving forward. I encouraged the runners moving toward their shiny new PRs. I focused on what kind of crazy story this was going to be…if I ever shared it because frankly I was mortified. Fast forward to the finish line. I gathered everything I had and ran across the finish line just shy of four hours…wrapped in my fancy butt saving blanket.
I wanted to share this story for a few reasons. The first isn’t to drag REVEL through the mud. They didn’t do anything wrong. I showed up to a race when I should of stayed in bed and that’s my fault. The point is about realizing what the hell you’re actually made of. I went from uncomfortable, to scared, to melt down, to angry, to victorious. Your body needs rest. Your body needs time to recover. It probably didn’t help that London was just 6 days prior to this race. Whatever.
This is the first race in 5 years that I wanted to quit. I wanted to be done and never run again actually. I was DONE. I want to make a couple points. The first is, it is okay to not show up! It is perfectly fine to say “Ya know, I don’t want to do this” and not show up to a race. Self care is so important. Running and racing is something special. We are fortunate that we are able to do it. We should be enjoying it as much as possible. When we place ourselves into situations that aren’t healthy, bad stuff happens. Case and point *points at myself*. The next point is it is important for me to be transparent. I pride myself in discussing the highs and lows. Having an authentic voice is so important. Many of you come here for motivation and inspiration and I’m here to tell you I struggle and fight just like anyone else. I have bad days. I have melt downs. But I (eventually) get the strength to move forward. I don’t know where I drew the strength from at this race, but it showed up. I did it. I learned about myself. I learned about the kindness of others. And frankly, I wouldn’t change that experience for the world. I am happy it happened.
It is okay to have a bad day. It is okay not to show up. It is okay to practice self care. It is okay to even want to quit. But what is the most important is to stay true to the core and essence of who you are at all times. The only person you have to answer to is you. Go forth and be awesome…and don’t do dumb stuff like me. LOL