That Time I Failed Miserably

Sadly, I did not BQ on Saturday.

I didn’t even PR.

I ran nearly 2 minutes slower than my PR.

What happened? Well, I’m not 100% sure. I’ve thought about it a lot and I think there were a few factors that led to my missed goal.

We’ll get to those in a minute. First, let’s rewind and recap the race.

I took the day off on Friday, the day before the race. I slept in till 8 and then had to wake Max up at 8:30. WHO IS THIS KID? I think he knew I needed the rest.

At the apple orchard
At the apple orchard

We spent the day as a family, picking apples, drinking cider slushies and relaxing. I felt very anxious all day—a total departure from my zen-like attitude toward the race of late. To be honest, I was doubting my ability to finish, second-guessing my training and just worried. It was weird, because I don’t normally feel this way before a race. I’m usually a little nervous, but mainly excited. It wasn’t fun.

Race morning I got up at 6, dressed and ate a bagel. It was chilly out – about 32 – with a predicted high of 55. I wore a lightweight long-sleeve tech shirt and shorts, with a throwaway hoodie and pants.

I got to the race early, stayed warm in my car and then met up with my sister. I felt like I might puke for some reason. I got in my corral and the gun went off. Go time!

*NOTE: I am using the split times I have from Strava. These times are innacurate from about mile 19 on because Strava auto-pauses when I stop—and I stopped a lot those last few miles. For 19 on, I’ll give an estimated time based on my finish time. If I can get garmin connect to load up, I’ll update the splits at a later time, as these are more accurate.

The race started and I struggled to get in a good position. I was jumping and dodging people and I could tell that I was going pretty fast. My Garmin was jumping all over the place as I slowed down when I was stuck behind people and sped up to pass. Mile 1- 7:59

The next few miles were a blur. I knew I was going too fast. But I thought that I might be able to hang on. I did plenty of fast finish long runs. I can do this. Miles 2-7 – 8:04, 8:17, 8:12, 8:18, 8:24, 8:26

race-1

Around mile 8, this hills started. Damn, I should have done more hill training. Just hang on around 8:30 pace and you’ll make it up after the hill section. Around mile 10, a guy running barefoot fell into step with me. I was fascinated by his feet, which were so dirty and calloused, they made mine look pretty. He was a badass. Miles 8-11 –8:33, 8:13, 8:26, 8:41

The hills were finally over. Instead of picking up the pace, I found myself slipping. I was hurting. Already? We got to the point where the half-marathoners turn to finish. I want to go finish with them. I convinced myself to keep going. I knew, right there, that it was going to be a rough 13 more miles. Miles 12-13-8:33, 8:31

run-2

At this point, I figured I could salvage the race as long as I held onto an 8:30-8:40 pace. I could still PR. But hanging on proved harder than I thought. At some point during these miles, I told myself that a 9:00 pace was fine. So I stuck to that. This is when I mentally gave up. I even asked myself, “Why am I doing this?” And I could not come up with one reason why. I was hurting. I was tired. My brain was done. I couldn’t believe how early in the race this had happened. WTF is happening? Miles 14-19 –8:40, 8:42, 8:45, 8:55, 9:00, 8:57

Hating life at this moment...probably one of my worst race photos ever.
Hating life at this moment…probably one of my worst race photos ever.

At mile 21, I saw my sister. This is an out and back course, and you run adjacent to other runners ahead of you for a few miles. She was at 17 and looked so strong. She yelled and waved and told me how awesome I was doing. She gave me some life I desperately needed. I can do this. Just hang on to a 9 min pace. Nope, the pace continued to slip. And then I started stopping at every water stop, which was about every mile. I stopped for up to 30 seconds each time. I was OVER IT. Miles 20-26 –roughly 9:30 average (don’t have correct splits from my Strava due to auto-pause feature)

We crested the only real hill in the second half and then took a curvy road to the finish. I knew I was almost done and tried to dig deep, but I had nothing. My legs felt like lead and my left hamstring was screaming at me. And then, I saw my husband holding Max, my mother- and father-in-law, and my husband’s aunt and uncle. I nearly lost it as Max cheered for me. Seeing all these people that care about me out there helped me finish.

Waving to my family!
Waving to my family!
Here comes the ugly cry
Here comes the ugly cry

I was done. Thank God it’s OVER!

DONE. OVER IT.
DONE. OVER IT.

Max ran to me and then got really upset about the foil blanket. I threw it out and hugged my sweet boy and my husband. His parents and aunt and uncle told me how great I did and were just so nice. I tried to hold back the tears because I was so disappointed. I just couldn’t figure out what happened.

Overall Stats: Final Time: 3:53:54. (8:56 pace)

9th out of 55 in my division

38Th female out of 286

129th place overall

I am disappointed, sad and a little embarrassed. I told so many people, including anyone who reads this blog, that I was going for a BQ. It sucks to have people ask how it went and have to tell them that not only did I not BQ, but I didn’t even PR and I missed my goal by almost 20 minutes.

I’m frustrated with myself and with the marathon distance. Pretty sure I told my father-in-law as we walked back to the car after the race that I was done with marathons.

After processing this race for a few days, I’ve come to few conclusions as to why this race went so poorly for me and some solutions to these issues to put into practice ASAP:

I went out too fast. RUN SLOW AT THE BEGINNING OF RACES EVEN IF YOU FEEL GOOD. Duh.

I gave up mentally. Stay positive and believe in yourself. YOU CAN DO THIS.

I should’ve done more hill training. Run hills once a week. Boom. Easy.

I’m not as physically strong as I need to be. Do more strength training. Cut back on mileage if necessary to squeeze it in. No excuses.

I’m sure there’s other things that I did wrong at the race and during training, but these seem like the most likely culprits and the most fixable.

It’s disheartening to me that I trained pretty hard for 4 months, getting up at the crack of dawn most days and running 6-7 days a week only to fail. I’m still kind of bitter about that.

I’m also really humbled to realize that after 8 full marathons and 7 half marathons, I’m only just now learning how to race. I find it easier to do the training and the workouts than it is to mentally figure out racing and follow-through with a race plan. It’s just plain hard.

But, I’m trying to put this all into perspective. This is not a big deal. There are people with real problems out there. It’s just running. I just need to get over it. 2 years ago I would have been over the moon about a sub-4. I have to remember how far I’ve come.

So, here’s what’s next: I am signed up for the Monumental Marathon on November 7th. I originally signed up on a whim a few weeks ago when they posted on Facebook that they were 95% full. I blame taper crazies and the race director’s clever ploy to add urgency to the purchase. I figured Fort Harrison would be my “A” race and then I would take it really easy at the Monumental or step down to the half if I didn’t feel rested enough. I did run these two races back to back in 2010 and 2011, so I believe I can do it. But, I’m feeling so over the marathon distance that I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet.

My husband planted the seed that the Monumental could be my redemption race, but I’m almost positive I won’t be recovered enough to full out race. I’ll decide the week of whether I will run the full or half, and whether I feel recovered enough to try to PR (3:52:11 is my PR).

I still feel like I have a ton to say about this race, about how frustrated and mad at myself I am and how jaded I am with marathons, but I think this post is getting a little long. If you’ve made it this far, I applaud you for listening to my whining this long.

To sum it up: It wasn’t my day.

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26 thoughts on “That Time I Failed Miserably

  1. Aww, Molly. I’m really sorry. You worked so hard and you got so speedy and it’s not fair that this had to happen. I can imagine it feel embarrassing to write about but you’re preaching to the choir here. Run bloggers miss goals ALL THE TIME. We’ve been there. We get it.

    It’s good that you’re assessing what went wrong, and you’re probably right about all the culprits, but I will pass along the advice I heard from another blogger to wait another week or two before doing a thorough review. This gives you more time to process and you might be able to look at it more objectively once the emotions have passed.

    I know it’s hard, but try not to feel like this was a “waste”. There is a quote I really like, from Lauren Fleshman: “we have a right to hard work, but we don’t have a right to the results of that work.” We can’t control the outcomes of our races, so we have to remember that the work itself is its own reward. In the process of chasing your goal you made incredible fitness gains, you increased your speed and endurance and became a stronger runner. That is still true, it is never just lost because of one bad race. Chin up!!

    1. Thank you so much, Hanna! You’re right that I should probably give it some more time to assess the race, as I’m still pretty emotional about it. That feels really silly to say because it’s just a race.

      I love the Lauren Fleshman quote, it’s so true. I know I am a stronger runner, regardless of the time I ran in one race. Thank you!

  2. OMG. I just want to give you a hug right now…and a kick in the butt. You did NOT fail. The test was the training and you had full success…race day is just one day. And there will be many more. And you will have better races…and you will probably have worse races. But not once in there will you fail.

    1. I just found your blog and I just want you to know how much I empathize with your BQ chase. I have had the goal to BQ since my first marathon training in 2005. So, yes, that’s 10 years! I have had 2 more kids since that one, so that takes some of the training time away, but still, that’s a long time to keep missing a goal. Some of my friends have made it look so easy, I feel like a wannabe. BUT, when I read reports like yours, all I think is how awesome you are for not giving up! So, I need to think that about myself. My race in May I think I started too fast as well. After all these years, how did I make such a rookie mistake?! 🙂 I loved your report and I think you did amazing! I will continue to follow you and know we will both run Boston someday! You are inspiring! I am excited to hear what you decide your goal will be at the Monumental Marathon. I have not decided when my next BQ attempt will be. I am thinking of waiting until the Fall of 2016 when I will be in the 3:45 age group instead of 3:40. I am sorry this is so long, I look forward to staying in touch with you!

  3. Hanna has the best response! Hang in there! Such a frustrating day for you but I thought your mile times were awesome. To me it’s more impressive that you finished that strong when your mind wasn’t in it. Wow. I hope I have even half of that going on for my race!

  4. I know how disappointing it can be to not have races go as planned. But you finished and conquered one more 26.2 mile journey. Don’t lose faith, and keep going for it! With hard work and passion anything is possible!

  5. Don’t feel embarrassed, feel proud for setting a goal for yourself and trying to reach it. Be proud of all your training. Be proud of showing your son, husband, family, friends and us readers of what a good role model you are. Keep you head up.

  6. Awwwww I am so sorry you didn’t have the race you’d hoped for. Believe me when I say I completely understand. First of all, do NOT be embarrassed. But I know how hard it is not to feel that way. I ran my marathon PR in June 2014. Not only have I not beat it, but the closest I have come to it was 5 minutes slower than my PR. After I ran my PR, I made a whole post of how my goal was to qualify for the Olympic Trials, blah blah blah. HA. HA. HA. In February, I felt broken because I ran a marathon and entire hour SLOWER than the time you need for the trials and still 8 minutes slower than my BQ time. I felt embarrassed, broken, sad, and confused. My mid marathon thoughts were much like yours: why am I doing this? I came up empty. Somehow, I found a way to start from scratch and made my goal to just re-learn to love running in the first place. I signed up for shorter distance events and trained harder than I ever have all summer long. I still came up 5 minutes short of my PR at my marathon a few weeks ago. BUT I was also 5 minutes faster than the last marathon I ran this year, so I call that a win. Take time to be angry – you should be, it’s upsetting to work hard and feel like you didn’t see progress. Then look at the positives. You went out too fast and STILL came in two minutes shy of your PR. That in itself is freaking amazing. Anytime I’ve gone out too fast has caused me to blow my marathon by more than 10 minutes – in February, doing that caused me to finish 43 minutes slower than the goal I’d made for myself. You are stronger than you think! Congratulations on an AMAZING race. You rock!

      1. Yes we are!!!! I keep telling myself this one quote – I can’t remember exactly how it goes – but it’s something like when you feel like you’ve done everything you could and you aren’t getting anywhere, that usually means you are on the verge of a breakthrough. It’s something like that – but I keep telling that to myself!

  7. I’m so sorry this didn’t turn out to be the race you trained for, Molly! I know how hard you worked. But you definitely did not fail!! Sometimes the biggest races are when we learn that we really can push through even when it’s not going our way. I’ve been through a few races where I wanted to quit midway because it was just no longer fun. What you learn in those circumstances is perhaps even better in some ways than getting a PR. You learn just how much you can persevere and how strong you are! That’s how I see what you did and that’s something you’ll be able to teach your son one day too: “When the going gets tough, the tough keep going.” Awesome awesome job pushing through and finishing (with a solid sub-4 too!!) another marathon 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Charissa! You have a solid point that you learn a lot when you push through a tough race! I definitely learned that even when I’m over it and I’m hurting, that I can still push myself to finish. That will definitely help me in every race I run!

  8. I already posted a novel, but it didn’t send! I will try to remember what I wrote! I just basically said that you are awesome and you will get your BQ! We have similar PR’s and I am chasing the BQ as well. These races are tough when you don’t know exactly what went wrong. I feel like my BQ attempt in May was also messed up by a start that was too fast. Rookie mistake that hurts that is for sure. However, the marathon is a journey and I am grateful that I still love it, even when it breaks my heart! I love the comment from one of your readers about the success being the training and the race is just one day. That totally changed my perspective! I look forward to following your journey and I am anxious to hear what you decide about the Monumental Marathon! Good luck and I think you are amazing!

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly! Yes, it’s so frustrating when you’re not exactly sure what went wrong! I’m sorry you missed your goal – obviously I know how you feel! We will both get our BQs one day, we just have to keep on trying! I’ve decided that I’m going to run the full at the Monumental, but not put any pressure on myself to push it. I’ll start slow and listen to my body. I don’t think I’m recovered enough yet for a BQ or even PR attempt. Thank you so much for commenting and I look forward to following your journey as well! We can do it!

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