This past weekend, I ran a personal worst in the half marathon. I tried my best, and I couldn’t be any prouder of how the race turned out!
Through my relationship with Nuun, and Nuun’s relationship with the Better Series, I was given a free entry to the Helvetia Half Marathon. I was also given the opportunity to give away a free race entry, and an acquaintance (now friend) of mine, Molly, won the race entry! It was great to have a friend at the race.
A little back story here: I’m marathon training now, so this race was just going to be a fun training race. Yet, I always, always, always like to see a 1 at the front of my half marathon times. I had been having some foot pain, and therefore had cut some of my runs short over the 2 weeks prior to this race. The pain typically flared up when I ran, so I decided to take a complete rest for the week of this race so that my foot could recover.
On race day, I was optimistic! The weather was perfect (slightly cloudy, but no chance of rain). I felt confident and calm. Because of my foot pain, I thought I might fail to pull off a sub-2 marathon, but I still felt strong enough to try. My stomach was hurting slightly at the beginning of the race, but it wasn’t anything too terrible. I was excited and ready!
Molly positioned herself near a pace group that she thought appropriate for her, while I positioned myself right in front of the 2-hour pacers (I hate getting stuck in the midst of pace groups).
The gun went off, and we took off. I felt good for the first 3 miles. I was following the run-walk plan that I used last year at Wenatchee, and was on track for that sub-2. In mile 4, we hit some hills that seemed particularly overwhelming to me. I let my pace slip. I realized that I probably wasn’t going to get a sub-2 at this point, but I wasn’t totally off track…as long as there weren’t too many more hills, I still might get that sub-2 race that I was hoping for.
In mile 5, I took some food, and that’s when things fell apart. It’s not abnormal for me to not want to eat while running. At this particular time, I felt hungry and yet the thought of food was nauseating. I usually try to take at least 2 shot bloks after 45 minutes of running, regardless of how I’m feeling. If I can’t eat two, I eat just half of one and then wait a bit until I can stomach the other half. This method usually works pretty well for me, and I’m typically able to get appropriate fuel even when I don’t really want to eat.
My usual fueling plan did not work out well during this race! I forced down half a shot-blok (15 calories) during mile 5, and after about 10-15 minutes, I began to have stomach pain. Ouch. It wasn’t excruciating by any means, but I felt like I was going to vomit, (and I did a little…in my mouth…nice to know). The pain seemed to get worse when I pushed myself. I found that when I walked, my stomach settled. I went into a grand cycle of walking to let my stomach settle, and then running until the vomit-feeling became too intense.
There was a turn-around point in the race at mile 6.5, which gave me the opportunity to see Molly again. I saw her when I was at about mile 7, and she was at about mile 6. She looked really good and really strong!!! I thought about waiting for her, but I was worried that if I did I wouldn’t be able to keep up with her. She certainly looked a lot better than I felt! I spent the rest of the race checking over my shoulder: Hopeful that I’d see Molly and yet terrified that I’d slow her down if she did catch me.
The race continued on like this: Running when I could, walking when the stomach stuff got intense, and hoping to/dreading seeing Molly. I tried to force down more shot bloks, but in the end found that doing so just seemed to make things worse. My pace was sloooooooww.
Now, if you’re a runner, you know how a situation like this could go: I could have gotten really frustrated about my stomach problems. I could have gotten annoyed with how slow I was going. I could have just given up and walked the rest of the course. I could have been angry at myself for not pushing through the pain.
I did none of the above. I tried my best to appreciate the absolutely beautiful course. I pushed myself when I could, and allowed myself to walk with the stomach pangs got too intense. I smiled and thanked volunteers. I listened to the conversations of others. I thought about how grateful I was that it was stomach pain and not injury pain slowing me down.
I let myself be in the moment, enjoy it for what it was worth, and ran the best possible personal worst that I could!
I’m really proud that I didn’t give up or get mad. In the circumstances I was given, I did my best.
Here’s to embracing our personal worsts: You can’t have a personal best without a personal worst!
My personal worst time: 2:13:11.
FYI: Molly did awesome and got a PR that day on a rather challenging course! Way to go, Molly!
Do you get down on yourself when you don’t race up to your expectations?