In nearly 7 years of running, I never really anticipated the day when I would have a bad one. On the contrary, every run I have had in that time has been enjoyable. Ok, some have been more than others, but until a couple of weeks ago, I had not experienced one which I wouldn’t like to repeat.
There were, I have to say, some contributory factors. But I now look at them as excuses, because I show myself no mercy.
Firstly, we had a terrible Christmas. My Mother in law was struck down by a very serious stroke Christmas morning, which was both shocking and completely turned our lives upside down. Secondly, the morning of the race was -1 degrees with a wind chill of goodness knows what. Thirdly, I had over indulged on my beloved Christmas dinner so much over the festive period I probably looked like a self-basting frozen turkey in running tights.
So, you can only picture the scene at the start line: a stressed frozen turkey-like runner wearing bib number 621.
I started off with very good intentions, trotting along at my snail pace (of course wanting to get the most out of my registration fee) and all was well. The cold was a big factor though. My legs didn’t like it at all and were very heavy, for the most part of the course. But I managed to keep it together, until a point in the race, when suddenly, my nerves went. I was convinced that I had gone wrong somewhere and had missed a marshals’ direction. I carried on, but everything went to pot; pace, momentum, mojo, determination, energy. Boom…..gone.
Despite the fantastic encouragement of other runners who were incredibly supportive, I was lost. But then a very kind marshal took pity on me and ushered me over what I thought was the finish line, but in fact wasn’t. I was so convinced that I had gone badly wrong, that I started walking slowly in the direction of the race HQ to ask them to disqualify me; it wasn’t fair on the other runners, but in the distance was yet another marshal waving me on. “Have I not finished?” I asked confused, “No, carry on!” she shouted and I followed signs blindly until I came back onto the path I had found myself not 20 minutes before.
By this time, I was REALLY confused and totally crest fallen. I soldiered on, but my heart was clearly now not in it. A very kind lady runner stopped me and asked if I was ok. I muttered to her my plight, through a mouthful of clifblok and Berocca juice to be told that I was actually still on the right track!
“Bloody Hell” I said (or something worse, knowing me), somewhat elated, but by that time my mojo was nojo and I was too knackered to care.
I bumbled on for the next two miles until I could eventually see the finish line.
Swearing and cursing myself for my mistakes throughout the course, I finished in a disappointing 1:32:03. My worst 10k to date.
But. Despite all that. I didn’t give up. I kept going, even though I felt absolutely dreadful, mentally and physically.
My first bad race. It wasn’t their fault, it was entirely mine. Neither my heart, not my head had been in the game. So, I simply put it down to experience.
It taught me a very valuable lesson. Always check the course beforehand, when it’s a new race to you. Do your homework; don’t go into it blind. It will make all the difference, making a potentially bad race day good, and one to remember.