Whenever I run, I’m in competition with myself. Whether I’m out for a jog, doing a tempo workout, or running a race, I’m constantly comparing myself to… myself. I’m the kind of person that internalizes all of my competition, and in moments where I perceive potential failure, I break down. A great example of this would be last Sunday’s St. Paddy’s 10 miler that was hosted by the Freehold Running Club.
One of my dad’s coworkers is a board member of the club, so knowing that both myself and my husband run, she suggested we come run the race free of charge. I couldn’t help but jump at the offer, with all the expensive races we seem to always be signing up for. Plus, both myself and my husband had a 10 mile run on the schedule as our long run, so it worked out perfectly. Since my husband’s knee has been bothering him, he decided to run with me which always makes me happy. Once again, it’s a good thing he did, because I nearly gave up around mile 8.5.
The race conditions were far from perfect – it was chilly and raining on and off. Despite that, we were able to keep around a 7:50-8 pace for the first 8 miles or so. Then it happened. I got one of those side cramps that’s deep within your organs, where the only way it doesn’t hurt is to apply massive amounts of pressure to the area. While I was doing that, it was difficult to run, and apparently I was pressing really hard – I totally have a bruised stomach now. While in pain, I started to doubt myself. I watched people I had strategically picked off earlier in the race run past me, as I was forced to a crawl. Whining about how I couldn’t do it, the husband told me to stop trying to run, walk for a few seconds, and to try again. After trying that 3-4 times for about a mile, I was able to ignore the pain enough to run the last half mile.
Since I slowed down so much the last mile and a half, our sub 8 minute pace crept up to an average of about 8:18, having us finish in 1:23:09. Crossing the finish line I was extremely frustrated, knowing that I could have full well finished under 1:20 if I hadn’t gotten that cramp. By then, the cramp had gone and I felt far from tired – I wanted to go back and re-do that last portion of the race. Since neither myself or my husband ever place high enough in races, we didn’t stick around for the awards ceremony – I grabbed some water, the husband grabbed some chicken noodle soup, and we headed to a nearby dinner for brunch with my parents.
When we were leaving, I remember saying “I wonder how I placed. I think I came in the top 10 probably in my age group,” to which my husband replied “Eh, I don’t know about that.” I didn’t think much about it, but after getting home I decided to check out the results. Even though I wound up finishing at around 100, I came in 3rd in my age group! After seeing the first and second finisher’s times (1:20), I realized if I hadn’t cramped I would have easily came in first, but that’s neither here nor there – I can’t believe I actually placed! Since we left before the award ceremony, my dad’s coworker was kind enough to take the award for me and bring it to work.
Aside from the cramp, I think this race is a good indication that I can easily go under 2 hours at next month’s half marathon. Fingers crossed!