Hope everyone had an awesome 4th of July! I know I did. 🙂
Yesterday, I ran the Cranford Jaycees Firecracker 4-Miler for the third year in a row. Spoiler alert…I pretty much bombed. Despite a start time of 9am, it was already approaching the 80s when the race started, and the humidity was absolutely ridiculous. I was drenched by the time I completed the first half mile.
Allow me to rewind and say that, first, even though this race takes place in my town and right at the park where I do the majority of my training runs, I did not allow myself enough time to actually walk to the park. I left my apartment a bit too late, and by the time I had walked/run (VERY slowly) to the park and then stood in the never-ending women’s bathroom line, I jumped into the crowd of some 1,500 runners at the precise moment that the gun went off!
Unfortunately, it seems I didn’t guesstimate all that well in terms of starting amongst the the runners who share my pace, because I spent the first several minutes of the race trying to weave around slower runners and find an open stretch where I could finally exceed an 11 or 12-minute/mile! The race is usually pretty popular and crowded, but for some reason, I had an especially hard time getting into my groove this year, and found myself running on the sidewalks and apologizing constantly for bumping into fellow runners.
As it turns out…it didn’t matter all that much. By the second mile, I knew this was going to be a less-than-stellar performance. I am still having the hardest time pushing my pace in the heat, and I had developed a cramp in my side (side stitch?) within the first 10 minutes of the race. I’m still not sure what caused it — it remained with me for the entire 4 miles — but since it couldn’t have been caused by going out too fast this time, I suspect it had something to do with something I ate, or possibly being dehydrated, or possibly having some kind of sodium imbalance (which is an issue I’m still working on trying to fix, thanks to you, my wise readers!). I even walked through the two-mile water stop to try to massage my side a bit (which usually works), but, no dice.
So, I pretty much ignored my Garmin and focused on the fun of it all. That has sort of been my M.O. whenever I end up running in a race that isn’t living up to my expectations. I’m not sure if it’s necessarily the best approach, but even though I’m definitely a competitive person and I always like to “beat” myself, running has ALWAYS been more to me than setting PRs. I know I’ll probably always be a middle-of-the-pack runner, but there’s still part of me that is just thrilled to be running just for the sake of running. I think that’s part of the reason I love my Sparkle Skirts so much…they’re a visual reminder that this is supposed to be FUN, and to try not to let my usual urge to beat myself up over everything take precedence over the fact that running is something I truly enjoy. At the end of the day, I feel pretty lucky to be able to do this after everything I’ve put my body through over the years!
As a side note, I was also sort of proud of myself for racing without capris (too hot!)…I finally seem to be coming to terms with my insecurities about those certain parts of my body (upper thighs, triceps, lower abs) which, let’s just say still contain a great deal of evidence that I used to be quite a bit larger! I would have never have felt confident enough with bearing so much of my thighs in the past, and body acceptance is just one of the many gifts that running has given me, honestly.
Even in the brutal heat and humidity, I still fared better overall than my previous two attempts in this race…no stopping to surreptitiously “tie my shoes” (read: catch my breath lest I drop dead), so to me, that’s a win! Also, if any residents of Cranford who may have been among the many people spraying us with hoses or sprinklers are reading this, allow me to take this moment on behalf of all of yesterday’s runners to THANK YOU! It was greatly appreciated!
Anyway, my finish time was pretty atrocious (38:38), given that my average pace in shorter races as of late has been anywhere from an 8:30/9 minute mile, tops. It was made even worse by the fact that, as it turns out, the race wasn’t even chip timed! I’d estimate that it took me at least 30-45 seconds after the gun went off just to make it to the starting line, but all that was recorded was my gun time. I was definitely a little disappointed.
But, it’s all good. I have someone new in my life who
forced asked me to sign up for yet another 4-mile race next week, the Woodbridge Run for Pizza (yes, that’s right, I’m running TWO pizza races this month!) so I’ll get a chance for redemption. Although, it will still be summer when I run next Wednesday, so, we’ll just see what I can do. 🙂
How do you deal with not living up to your race-day expectations?