Smoke on the water

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.


28 responses to “Smoke on the water

  1. We all have dem days: Unpredictable and disappointing. Chin up, you’ve got many more to tackle!

  2. Now that the bad-race demons are gone, you ‘re bound to have a great race next time. Way to keep going.

    I wouldn’t have seen your bunny, but I encountered one from the same litter.

  3. Thanks ladies:). I’m feeling better today, but still apprehensive about Marine Corps. I’m hoping I used up all my bad race luck. Time aside, I sure don’t want to feel like THAT again.

    p.s. Laughing out loud at the litter comment. Bunny boot camp must have focussed on chatter this year!

  4. So sorry to hear about you day yesterday…I had much disappointment as well…had a cramp by 14th km and my knees were killing me!!! But I did push on and like you, did everything to convince myself to do so. Like you, the pace bunnies were really irritating, with there smiles and peppiness, but I was thinking more along the lines of “road kill” rather than “bunny stew.”

    I did manage to finish…but, way behind my expected time! C’est la vie!!! We all have these bad runs with no rhyme or reason. But the best part of all this is there are many more to come and this run will soon be forgotten!!!

    • Congrats on your finish despite the pain! Did you run the full yesterday? A lot of people had unusual trouble with cramping. I will admit, I was so glad to go under that half marathon arch – although I think I would have headed for the finish regardless of the race I was registered in :).

      p.s. Hee, road kill. Those poor bunnies. Too bad I couldn’t funnel my irritation into momentum.

  5. Sorry to hear about your thoughts of “bunny stew” yesterday (love that by the way 😉 We’ve all had bad days running – just makes it so incredibly frustrating when it happens on race day.

    I ran Marine Corps a few years ago and it is absolutely INCREDIBLE!!! Despite a crappy half – you must run Washington!!! The Marines man-ing the water stations will yell “Oooh rah” if you shout out “Devil Dogs”, there are many, many, many loud spectators, lots of men and women running in uniform or for a comrade and the course scenery is spectacular. It’s a must do – and in many ways, I loved it more than Boston.

    Go for it – kick ass in Washington. I’ll be cheering you on from TO.

    • Thanks! I’m feeling much better today, after an evening of wallowing :). I think I was due for a bad run – training and my last few races were all quite easy and I’d fallen into a comfort zone that probably needed to break.

      I’m still unsure how to pace at MCM, the predicted time from my half is much slower than the time I’ve been training to run (and is much also slower than my predicted time from the Midsummer Night), but now I’m thinking slower and happier might be the way to go.

      • Sorry to hear about your race, we all have our good days and bad days.

        I had a good day, as a bunny, running the 4:00 continuous slot. It was fun, and as a bunny, I am ‘quiet’, maybe even to your liking. I generally respond when my attention is sought. We had a blast.

        Good lucj at MCM. Keep at it. If you need apacer, let me know!

        • Congrats on another successful bunny run (Hop?)! I’ve never run with one myself, but most days the bunny talk would not bother me … most days I’m the one talking to total stangers and getting the Death-Stare 2000 from tired marathoners who just want me to shut the hell up.

          Next time I’m looking for a bunny-for-hire I’ll head your way! You may get a MCM call as I’ve lost a lot of confidence and a personal pacer might be the way to go.

  6. I will give up my “A-race” effort to pace you at MCM, if you agree to go to Vegas w/ me 😉

  7. This sounds exactly like my race that day. First time in nine races that I seriously thought I did not want to finish (but like all obsessive distance runners, I did). My thoughts of blowing off MCM are now long gone – see you in DC!

    • Except you did the full, which is incredible. I think I would have swerved back to the finish regardless of my bib. Victory will be ours in DC! So, does that mean running laps on the ship?

  8. Sorry you had a bad day on Sunday – but I can’t even tell you how much I love this report! You describe in absolute perfect detail exactly how I felt. I was also fit and full of hope, went through the same discussion with my legs, and spontaneously combusted very early in.

    So thanks for sharing, because really, I am so there with you 🙂


    • So many had the same experience … I’ve concluded it’s not us, it’s the race. I hope you have a great redo race in your future – you’ve earned it after Sunday’s tough slog!

  9. I’d like to think that you can safely blame the humidity as that’s my official story as well. I crashed big time on Sunday with cramps and a death march from the beaches to city hall. I just wish that the Kenyan did not set a Canadian record on the same day as it detracts from the credibility of my story.

    • Kudos for making it back to city hall – I’ll say it again, I would not have run 42.2K Sunday, unless some sort of stubborn rage kicked in after 21K to keep me moving. It certainly didn’t make a much-needed appearance before 21K.

      And amen! Don’t go breaking records on my crappy weather-blaming day. Although I still have the “back baby” ( as a fall-back excuse.

  10. Remind me to tell you what the word “bonk” means in the UK…and that will tell you why I did a double-take with your headline!

    • Bwa ha ha. That’s so funny. I disclose a lot in this blog … but UK bonking (at the starting line, risky!) would go in my Too Much Information category :).

  11. bandwaggonrunner

    If you’re ever in search of some inspiration when you feel like giving up… A friend of mine- an amazing runner poised for a PB- was at the front of the pack at Scotiabank last week and then accidentally veered to the half marathon route!! He realized this about a km in, and had to turn around, run against the grain, and get back on his route!! He said he had thought about just sticking with the half, but decided he wanted to finish what he had set out to do… the full! He ended up doing 44 km! Now that’s determination!!

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