It’s taken me some time to write this, as it’s been hard to go back and emotionally visit. This has been written in bits and pieces so hopefully it will make sense and have some sort of flow to it…
Sunday, February 22nd was the Lake Effect ½ Marathon. This would be my 3rd time signing up. But it would be my first time finally running it. This race was a BIG DEAL for me. This race was pretty much me coming full circle in what has been an amazing year for me. For the first time ever I actually followed a training plan and ran consistently (minus the 2 weeks prior to the race where I would nurse a calf injury).
This race was the hardest ½ marathon I have ever ran. Both physically and mentally. And that doesn’t seem fair.
I’ve been trying to write my recap but it’s been very difficult. There are emotions here that I honestly just don’t want to revisit. I’m not going to go into every detail.
The weather was not great, but not AS bad as we have been experiencing. The temps were in the high teens/low 20’s and while it wasn’t snowing during the race we did get some significant snow the night before. While some parts were clear, others were slushy, slippery or just down right snow covered.
My struggle started at just about mile 3 and it never stopped. It never let up.
The terrain of all that slush and trying to avoid bothering my calf or falling and slipping in the mess us runners were creating was a challenge and it was tiring. But my main issue was that I could not keep my heart rate down. I couldn’t seem to catch my breath and for the life of me I could not get a steady breathing rhythm. This wore me out the worst. Thankfully my friend Mary had an inhaler so on the turnaround I was able to get a puff off of that. It helped a bit, but not for long. The air, while warmer than the negative temperature we’ve had, was still cold. Especially coming off of the lake…yes, the entire course takes place next to Onondaga Lake.
My lungs were begging for mercy. Also, I have never, ever been so thirsty in a race. I couldn’t get enough water. And I was plenty hydrated. I will forever be grateful for my friend Lauren who came out to cheer us runners on, as gave me her water bottle when I was complaining of thirst. As I would run past a fire hydrant I would envision hooking up a hose and drinking out of it. Yes, I was THAT thirsty.
The course loops twice. This course is also the same place I run almost every time I have ran in the past 5 months. It’s been either at the parkway, or on my treadmill. To say that it was boring was an understatement. I expected that to be a problem, and it was, but I had bigger problems that were craving my attention so I didn’t dwell on my surroundings too much.
My calf was surprisingly OK. It didn’t bother me too much. But my legs were tired and my quads were on fire. You definitely run different in conditions like those that we faced. You could see the physical struggle on the faces of many runners.
I did not imagine struggling so early on in the race. I really expected it to pass. And when it didn’t, when I couldn’t even get my breath steady, I instantly felt like a failure. I can’t remember the last time I was that mean and negative towards myself. I thought awful things. On the first turn around I saw my husband and I went over and threw my Yaktrax on the ground by him. I remember starting to cry and seeing my friend Brandi and my Uncle Timmy there. I didn’t want them to see me like that. Frankie told me I could stop…all I remember next is taking back off onto the course.
It would only get worse from there. The mental aspect of this race was the hardest part.
It’s been a long time since I’ve thought that many negative thoughts about myself. It’s a place I care to never visit again and every day I fight to stay away from it. But Sunday I could not escape it. The one question I kept asking myself over and over again was “Why?!?!”….why was this happening?! I had trained! I was smart! I was prepared! WHY?!?!?! I was berating myself with every step. I hated myself and all I wanted to do was bury myself in the snow. I felt like a failure. Even after I finished I felt like a failure. I couldn’t get that feeling to go away. Not during, not after…and honestly, I am still fighting with it today.
I wanted to drink. I wanted a beer so ‘effing badly. There were so many moments when I thought “screw sobriety”. I had honestly convinced myself a few times that I was done being sober and that I was going to drink. And it wasn’t going to be one beer…it was going to be ALL THE BEER!! (Side note: this right here is why I need to stay sober…there is no “one” beer with me)
I was embarrassed, and I hated feeling embarrassed…it’s not an emotion I am common with nor one I care for at all. I run for me and only for me, yet I felt like I was running for everyone else and that I was letting them down. I hate this feeling probably most of all.
On the flip side…I am damn proud of myself. There were so many times when I could have given up…I could’ve quit….I could’ve stopped trying all together. But I didn’t. I finished! I got my medal! I added another 13.1 to my list! I didn't back down. I knew I fought a good fight when my husband gave me a super strong hug at the end. I’m happy though to put this race behind me. I’m happy to say that I signed up, showed up and finished it up.
*I have to give an extra special shout out to all of my Lake Effect friends….for your support on and off the course. And to Brett, for not only crushing that course on his own, but coming back out and running it with me to make sure I crossed the finish line. I couldn’t have done it without out. You showed me that day what true friendship really means. Thank you.*