Is it possible to bonk at the starting line of a half marathon? I submit yes. Worst. Race. Ever. (I’m feeling a little melodramatic. And self-pitying. Indulge me.) The most distressing part? I was poised for a PB. Fit and ready and filled with hope. I think I shall return to my comfy world of lowered expectations and easy races. From step one my 200-pound legs refused to run, much as I coaxed, bargained, threatened, sweet-talked, and bribed. My time, irritatingly lower than expected, is the least of it. I think, for a brief moment, I hated running. I never hate running. I don’t even love/hate running. I’m annoyingly in true love 4ever with running. I, gag, heart running. Today though, I had momentary feelings of, if not hate, certainly intense dislike.
By 3K I was already engaged in an internal debate: to go on or not to go, that was the question. My sky-high heart rate voted stop. My weary legs voted stop. My broken spirit voted stop. My stubborn brain voted go. At every excruciatingly long kilometre marker I re-talked myself into soldiering on (if this course was measured in miles I would have quit. For Sure.). I pulled out every hackneyed sports psychology trick and nothing clicked. Everything – and I do mean everything – was annoying me. The suffocating 99% humidity. The happy-go-lucky runners who, unlike me, had not spontaneously combusted at 3K. The absence of scenic water along “The Waterfront” race. The head-breeze that felt gale force. The many spectators spectating blankly at me and my self-pitying suffering without even a feeble clap (notable exception, my peeps who are Awesome, capital A). A nearby pace bunny and his peppy, but endless, discourse about every bloody inch of the race route. I did not think good thoughts about the bunny. I may, in truth, have thought about the bunny stew.
I have been conducting the post-mortem for hours now. Husband has almost talked me off the well-now-Marine-Corps-is-screwed cliff. I still don’t know why things went so wrong so quickly. I had a rough week at work that resulted in a calf muscle strain (don’t ask) that seemed better by Saturday, a mini-cold and stuffed sinuses on Friday that also resolved by Saturday, and a little less sleep than I would have liked. Meh. Nothing to merit such a craptacular run. But otherwise I was trained, tapered, and left the gate at the proper pace. The one thing about running a control-freak like me hates? The dastardly randomness of good days and bad days. Hear this Half Marathon, like Montezuma, revenge will be mine! Until then, bring on the chocolate scones.
Title Reference: Deep Purple – Smoke on the water. From the album Machine Head. 1972.