Under pressure…

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Having a tough race can be difficult…physically and mentally.


Having TWO tough races in a row can be well…soul crushing.

Lets be honest here, my Buffalo Half Marathon experience was more of a personal let down than a physical one.  I had an amazing PR (12:15!!), and overall the whole event was great.  I learned a lot of things from that race and I know I will feel even stronger going into my next half (coming up in August most likely).

My heart has always kind of belonged to the 5K races.  I love these races and I really don’t know why.  Maybe because they are only 3.12 miles…or maybe because you get to go FAST and don’t have to worry too much about wearing yourself.  Or maybe its just the crowd…a mix of “veteran” runners with newbies.  Either way, I love them.  So you can only imagine how excited I was to go sign up for the Paiges Butterfly Race which happened this past Saturday….MY REVENGE RACE I started to call it. 
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I can ROCK a 5K!! I always have!! NO problem!! NO sweat!!  This race is MINE!!

Only, I quit the race half way through…

On Saturday, for the first time in my life, I quit mid-race.

Friday night was a good night.  I had tracked all day…had a protein/carb filled dinner (grilled bbq chicken breast & salt potatoes)…I kept my beer intake down…got my Generation UCAN shake in that night…foam rolled (that I got that night! I am no longer a foam rolling virgin ;)…things were looking and feeling GREAT!!  I tweeted and got on the Facebookey yelling and screaming “LETS DO THIS!”. 

I woke up Saturday morning feeling the same way…bright and early and ready to run my heart out.  That morning I was listening to my headphones as I was stretching downstairs and I was visualizing myself crossing that finish line.  I was visualizing myself running fast, making a new PR, feeling STRONG and PROUD and DEFIANT!! I was ready…
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I met up with a local friend (our actual first time meeting since talking online for a while) a long with another Daily Mile friend…Shara & Chris (a HUGE congrats to them for their AMAZING race times…I hope we get a “do-over” together some day soon)…
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I was excited and pumped when we got to the starting line.  I didn’t really have a time goal in mind.  I mean, I had ran a 1/2 marathon less than a week before…I just wanted to have a great run.  I guess in my heart though, I was setting myself up for failure before I even officially signed up for the race.
I started out fast…too fast.  Sometimes I like to do this and it works, but I should have known better. 

My legs were not FRESH and neither was my mind.  I was trying to keep up with others without really keeping up with myself.  I kept telling myself to slow down, but then there was another side of me that said if I slowed down I’d be failing myself “just like you did by having to walk a few times in your last race Suzi…you don’t want to do that again do you Suzi….Suzi, dont puss out”!!

Next thing I know…I cant breathe.  I mean I physically cannot breathe!!  And I stopped.

I tried to catch my breath.  I told myself to just get my heart rate back down…things seemed “out of this world” to me…everything around me seemed weird.  I said to myself “I cant believe you just fucking STOPPED AGAIN!!”…if I was the Hulk, I would have turned green and did and Hulk slam right there and then.

I started to run again, only to find the most intense, crazy ass pains under my collar bones and my right breast.  My breathing was worse and the pain was awful. 

This is where things took a life of their own…

There was no “wall”…there was no talking myself out of it….there was no thinking….I just physically stopped, ribbed my bib off my shirt, turned around and started walking back.  It was like an out of body experience.  That’s right….I didn’t even walk to the finish line, I walked ALL the way BACK to where the race started.

I kept telling myself “Suzi, this isn’t your finish line to cross”…but of course, I cried.  I held back as many tears as I could.  I was embarrassed and ashamed as I passed the other runners.  I kept thinking “my god, what if these people recognize me from Oprah, the news, or the recent Newspaper article…I look like a fraud, a failure, a QUITTER!!”  I wouldn’t look anyone in the eye.  I was holding the right side of my chest (since it hurt) and a few officials came up to me to see if I was OK and needed help…I said I was fine and just kept walking.  I didn’t bother to look at them or hesitate.  I kept wishing I knew a faster way to get back and on that didn’t involve me going near the finish line.

I passed a police officer who asked me if I was OK…I said yes and asked if the next street up would take me to where I needed to be…he patted me on the shoulder and said yes.  I don’t know why this simple gesture made me feel better, but it did. He was the first person I looked in the face since I had stopped and turned around.

The time on the clock was around 44 minutes (again, I didn’t cross the finish line, but I could see it) and I normally finish 5K’s around 28…but Frankie and I had a meeting place.  Of course, he wasn’t there cause he was worried and looking for me…but thanks to a nice couple who let me use their cell phone I was able to track him down.  We walked back to the car and all I would say is that I didn’t want to talk about it, and I choked back more tears.  He kept telling me not to be so hard on myself (SO much easier said than done) and how its probably this damn cold of his that I’m catching (part of this is really true…my chest has been very heavy & sinuses have been crazy!  I started getting sick 1/2 marathon weekend)…but I didn’t want to hear any of it.

So that brings me today…I’d be lying if I said I still wasn’t pissed at myself, because I am.  I loved this race last year…it was my first sub 30 5K!!  But at the same time, I don’t really regret not finishing.  I truly believe that the sentence “Suzi, this is not your finish line to cross” is true.

There’s a HUGE lesson here.  Something that I think I’ve know for a while but I haven't really allowed myself to address, and that is….PRESSURE.

Since January I have….done a Weight Watcher photo shoot, done online interviews, went on Oprah, was on my local news, did an interview & photo shoot for my local newspaper, started working for Weight Watchers and have become a leader apprentice, and have become a sponsored runner….

Not even 2 years ago I was a 252 pound woman who wouldn’t move away from her couch, her chips or her beer (ok…you still cant get me away from the beer, but whatever)…I couldn’t even run for 10 seconds straight!!

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel pressure…pressure on myself, and pressure from others.  I *never* want to let others down, and when you feel like a good portion of the world is looking at you, that’s A LOT to live up to.  I know I’m not famous and I know that there arent THAT many people…but you get my point.  Lately, it feels like everything I do has to live up to something great…it has to be better than the last time.

NOW...thats not to say that I am not *EXTREMELY* greatful for the blessings that have come my way, because believe me, I AM!! I look forward to hopefully even more in the future.

In feeling like this though and not letting myself acknowledge it, I have let myself suffer (mentally…I am horrified with how I’ve handled myself after these past few races…I am a fighter, I don’t beat myself up!!)…my house suffer (I barely want to do the dishes)…my tracking suffer (I’m still below my goal weight, but not as much as usual)…my physical activity has suffered (not anywhere near where it normally is)…my bills have suffered…my full time job has suffered…my races have suffered…

So what do I do now….

I take it easy.  I remind myself that I am human, just like everyone else.

I am a runner, just like everyone else.

I am a Weight Watcher, just like everyone else. 

I struggle, just like everyone else. 

I fall, just like everyone else.

I’ve never been out to please others, so I don’t know why I feel I need to do that or live up to a standard they may have about me now.  I know that in this instance that I didn’t live up to *MY* own standard, but then again, I wasn’t being honest with myself.  

This post could go on for a lot longer, but I’m going to cut it short here.  There will be a part two I am sure, once I continue to reframe myself.  So along with reframing, I will get back to my roots.  My next race is July 10th, and I’d like to think I can get my shit back together before then.  I need to get back to running for ME!!  As runners, it is natural for us to be hard on ourselves, but there is a line between being hard and being self destruction, and I have definitely crossed that line lately.

Stopping this race mid-way through may have saved my life…or in a less dramatic way, a trip to the hospital…or I could have kept running an 8:30 pace and had a new PR…I will never know…

But I do know that what I’ve learned about myself and how I’ve treated myself these past few months, is worth the wondering. 

**an ENORMOUS thank you goes out to all of you on Twitter, Facebook and Daily Mile for all of your encouragement and inspiration.  I kind of “unplugged” from most of the social media sites so I didn’t get to reply back to most of you.  I’m sorry for being a whiny ass bitch (Logan!).  Thanks for putting up with me. xoxo**

16 comments:

  1. we're all too hard on ourselves sometimes. it might not be the exact same course of events, but we've all been exactly where you are. cut yourself some slack, start back slowly, and don't let you get in your way. :) i still think you're the most awesome runner i know, and i know several other people do, too. you could have ridden a recumbent bike during that race with one of those beer can helmets with the straws while circling a lasso around your head with one hand, shooting a pop gun in the other and we'd STILL love you. chin UP! xo

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  2. Before I read the post, I just scanned the pics and was taken by how naturally pretty you are. (And I seriously can't believe your body looks like that after losing 101lbs. Wow!)

    I know words often fall short when we are disappointed in ourselves, but just look at everything you have accomplished.

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  3. You are right, you are only human! Just pick yourself up and dust yourself off and remember the most important reason why you run...for you!

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  4. Wow your progress pics down your side bar are amazing!

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  5. I understand the pressure you speak of. As a formerly 300 lb. man who only started running SERIOUSLY to train for the 2010 Boston Marathon, I've lived that pressure SO much!

    Anyway, this past year I was SO focused on speed. I had to get FASTER, be FASTER, I focused on it so much that I lost touch with all of the reasons I love running. I became so obsessed with setting PR's in every race that I ran, that my wife told me on more than one occasion that I sucked the joy out of running for her. That crushed me. I lived to inspire others to take charge of their health through running and I turned my own wife OFF to running *and she was the runner who influenced me to start running)!

    That being said, this is why I HATE the 5k distance... It is ALL about pain and it is 100% mental. In order to run that distance fast (I set my PR in the 5k of 20:42 in March) you have to SUFFER. You invite suffering from the start, you have to embrace it and live with it. You have to learn how to push yourself through it to the finish. You have to just have faith that no matter how fast you run, how hard you push it, and how much it HURTS, your training will not allow you to truly injure yourself. Besides, it's only 3.1 miles after all. But it is a BATTLE from start to finish. A battle with yourself. When every cell in your body is screaming at you to stop, and your mind is literally CREATING injuries or the possibility of injuries with every step that you take.

    Yet, for that very same reason, the 5k is sometimes the most rewarding race because you truly have to conquer yourself and ALL of your self-doubt, iniquities, demons and shame. Right there on that course whatever and wherever that my be. But the best part is, there's ALWAYS another 5k next weekend.

    Keep your chin up and get your head back in the game. Most importantly, remember why you run.

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  6. You should never be ashamed to do what is right for you. Elite runners have DNFs on their running resume. You. Will learn lessons along the way and they will make you a better tougher runner!

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  7. Thank you for being human and sharing both your successes and failures. You're an inspiration, not a super hero!

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  8. This is why we love you: because you are honest, you are human. Think of what you'd say if your best friend told you this story. You'd tell her to remember all the successes she's had. You'd tell her to go easy on herself. To run for the joy of it, and for nothing else. You are a superhero, don't forget it.

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  9. I've dropped 55 so far (a goal of 80) and for everyone who says "geez...you've lost some weight!" it is refreshing, but at the same time makes me think about how so many eyes are on me even if I'm not "famous." I suppose the best thing to do is to remind ourselves that we're doing this for us, for our health, for our lives, and to hopefully assure us more time with the ones we love. Everything else is icing on the cake (and by the way, I love cake). Everyone has occasional bumps in the road, but people like you remain inspirational!

    Travis (http://slowprorunner.blogspot.com/)

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  10. I love your candor. Go kick ass in your next race!

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  11. I love your honesty because you've succeeded and you help others get there. I'm stuck at my weight loss and I look at you for inspiration ( no pressure!) but this 5K was just one 5K. There will be others and you will react to them differently and move on. It will be ok Suzi.

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  12. Thank you as always for being so honest and articulate with what you are going through.

    All you can do is, pick yourself up (whenever YOU are ready) and move on.

    Good thoughts your way from the other side of the world,

    Christina x

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  13. We all go through these ups and downs and sometimes when we're down it seem impossible to get back up. Keep fighting. Fight with all your might. However long it takes, never give up.

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  14. Love this post! I think this is something that alot of people can relate to but nobody really talks about. Nobody is perfect and anyone who says they are is full of it...being human is being imperfect and owning it :) Documenting your "failures" is just as important as documenting "sucesses" as each can help you and others. Way to go! I don't talk about it on my blog too much but in real life I always talk about my "imperfections"...I'm ok with them because they make me who I am...even if I'm crazy sometimes...lol! It is amazing to see how people react when they realize someone is not as perfect as they think they are (it's actually a good reaction)
    Great Job and Great Blog!! :) Holly

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  15. This is a hard lesson to learn...that you're not perfect. And I'm sorry it had to come on a race day, but I hope that this will relieve some of the pressure that has been weighing on you. You are a rockstar, Suzi, and should only be proud of all the progress you've made and the new healthy lifestyle you have. There are many other finish lines that have your name all over them. Chin up sweets! :-)

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  16. I've had a DNF and a DNS or two, and honestly those experiences are more self-defining than PRs and good races are. As are posts like this.

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