I have a confession.
You won’t find my name on the 2013 official race results for Woody’s 10K but I was there. Only a few of my friends have heard my incredibly embarrassing story. Time has passed and I am finally ready to share hoping that someone will learn from my mistakes (and neurotic behaviour).
Let’s go back three years ….
I am seconds away from the start of the 10K. I am surrounded by happy, shiny runners. So many thoughts are running through my head.
I would run my first 50K trail race in a week’s time. I was worried that running a short and fast road race would put me on the injury reserve list and on the sidelines for the rest of the season.
At the same time I didn’t want to put up a slow time. My personal record for the 10K is 48 minutes. I wasn’t doing much speed training because I am a student of running long and slow when distance training.
As I looked around at the other runners, I suddenly got it in my head that I would challenge my PR time.
Adrenaline fuelled my reckless abandon. I charged the starting line at a pace that I could in no way possible sustain for 10K.
I can’t tell you what my pace was because my Garmin died a few kilometres into the race. I just remember freaking out and cursing for making a rookie mistake – forgetting to charge my Garmin.
Of course not knowing my pace messed with my head. I had no idea how fast or slow I was running. I felt sick to my stomach. I may have even puked. (My memory is foggy.) I started to walk and I avoided eye contact with the runners who passed me.
After a while, I started to run again but I just couldn’t find my running groove. I convinced myself I would pass out if I ran another step.
Eventually I walked (crawled) to the aid station on Riverside Drive, where I explained in a not-at-all calm voice that I was on the brink of death. With my head between my knees, I hid behind the table at the aid station. (I didn’t want to see anyone I knew.)
A volunteer drove me to finish line. Feeling better, I went straight over to the timing booth to beg, plead and cry to have my name scratched from the official race results.
I couldn’t face the humiliation of having a DNF for a 10K race. Looking back now, I know it was my nerves that had me rattled and running crazy.
Woody’s is only two sleeps away and I know some of you reading this may be also be feeling a little nervous.
Racing is supposed to be fun. But it can also be overwhelming for the first timer or the experienced runner who is chasing a new time or distance goal.
A lot can go wrong, but a lot can go right in a race. Not every race is supposed to be your personal best. Some of my best races have been with friends who have run their first race or when I did not give up when times were tough.
The best piece of running advice I ever received was to smile, and smile often. Smile at the runner who passes you (and the ones you pass but not in an asshole way.) Smile at the volunteers. Smile when times are tough. Smile for the camera.
And charge your Garmin the night before your race.
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