If you’ve been following this blog you’ll know that my goal race for the season was originally Around The Bay 30K. I love this race and have had numerous successes there. I was really hoping to run sub-2hrs as I have three times before in my prime fitness.
Then along came the plan to travel to California over March Break and in the process run the Catalina Island Marathon which happened to be two weeks before Around The Bay. Not a problem I thought: it could work in my favour. Run a long run and recover in time to race a brilliant 30K.
The only problem was the recovery. It’s hard to know mid-recovery if you actually have recovered from an effort without testing yourself (which would then need recovering from itself). So I just had to hedge my bets and go out at my planned goal pace.
Race Day was beautiful, sunny, and one of the warmest days in months.
I started out at my planned goal pace and ran the first 5 km in 19:40. It didn’t feel way too fast, but at the same time, I knew that it should have felt easier if I wanted to repeat another five of those in a row. I wasn’t sure if my legs just needed to wake up a bit and whether I’d get a second wind and start feeling more into it. I slowed down a bit to try to re-charge so I could get back into race mode. It felt like I had fallen way off the pace, but I went through 10 km in just over 40 minutes. Not too bad. But I knew at that point that I didn’t have a race in me. I could not summon any reserves of energy, so I thought I’d turn it into an “enjoyable long run”. Ha!
By 15 km I was slowing down by the step. My head was fuzzy, I had no energy, and I sort of felt like stopping and crying. A tad dramatic and out of the ordinary for a mid-race experience. Must have been my plummeting glucose levels. I did have gels and had been taking Gatorade but it wasn’t enough. I was in too big of a hole. Now what?? My car was parked at 29 km. I couldn’t think of any way to stop and get home which was all I wanted to do. So I had to run the hardest 14 km of my life in order to stop. That is saying a lot. It was brutal kilometer to brutal kilometer. The pain of running is bearable when it’s leading you to a fast time or moving you towards your goals. When it’s nothing but pain and defeat it is magnified. Thank god for the crowds of other runners and supporters along the way. They really are amazing in this race. There were people with signs all along the course who made me smile numerous times despite my glum state of affairs.
I finally made it to my car at the 29th kilometer, stepped off the course and drove home. I don’t think it’s bad that I didn’t run into the stadium with the cheering crowds – it would have felt insincere.
So what did I learn from this? Not sure. Because it really could have gone either way, and knowing me, I’d try doing something similar again. I just hate missing opportunities and running the Catalina Marathon seemed like such a good one (and one I definitely do not regret). One thing I do know now is that I am currently very tired, very deep down. For the next week, instead of running at 5 a.m. I’ll be doing this.