Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Defeat at Gasparilla: Running without Respect

In my last post, I was expressing concerns and excitement over the Publix's Gasparilla Distance Classic Michelob Ultra Challenge. I was going to be running a 15K and 5K on Saturday and a half marathon and 8K on Sunday. And attempting to say the entire name of the race correctly, holy brand names! Well, friends. I did not complete the challenge. I got through the 15K and 5K on Saturday.

My legs were a little more sore than I would have liked as I was lining up for the second race on Saturday morning. I heard someone in the corral say that the 5+ 3K was  5 miles. When I thought that a 5 + 3K was 4 miles, it was bearable. But the thought of having to run 5 miles after running 13.1 miles when my legs were tired enough after having only run 15K, was just overwhelming. I decided then and there on the spot that I wasn't going to do the fourth race.

My favorite part of the entire weekend was that I was running the majority of the half marathon with my friend, Kylie. This was her first half and she did so well. She maintained a strong pace and didn't stop once. We were together until around mile 4 when I got a call from Mother Nature. I jumped into the slowest line ever for a porta potty and promised Kylie I'd catch up. I ended up doing a sprint/walk/sprint/walk combo for about the next three or four miles, finally catching her at around mile 6. I  The sprinting wore me out (or the 13 miles the day before) and by mile 11, I just couldn't go anymore. I watched Kylie's white hat and long pony-tail truck forward and was crushed. It was one of my worst runner moments ever. I so wanted to cross that finish line with her. Finding her at the finish line and our sore, slow walk back to the car was one of my best runner moments.

It's been a few weeks and I'm still digesting my defeat at Gasparilla. My  head and heart were never really in any of the races. I was too busy with work, school and social life to have properly trained for ANY distance race. I knew that. I could not rely on the confidence of good training. I expected the ego and hubris of having run so many other half marathons and distance races to carry me for 30 miles. Stretching and hydration, I thought, would be the keys to success. I stretched. I drank loads of water and Gatorade. I ate super well. I did not train.

I said I was doing this four-race challenge because "I needed a win." To be honest, the amount my butt getting kicked to me kicking butt lately has been disproportionate. But I lost. And I needed to lose. I needed to be reminded that just like everything in this world, runnning requires dedication and practice. You can not just think about running. You have to respect the distance and the sport.

 I allowed, or had to allow, life get in the way of running this winter. I had three very challenging graduate classes, an overwhelming amount of work and stress, a new apartment, a new (real) relationship and simply did not have the time, or energy, to properly train. I have to respect my limitations and learn from this experience.

Even though I didn't complete that fourth race and the three races prior weren't my best, I did run 25 miles in one weekend. And that is STILL something to be happy about. Maybe next year, when grad school is done and I've finally unpacked this apartment, I'll train properly and return to Gasparilla for round 3.

I may have lost that battle, but I'm gonna win this war!

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