Every Race is a Learning Experience

by - Monday, October 08, 2012

Wise words from the runner formerly known as Meganerd.

That's what she told me yesterday as we sat in the car driving back home from the Woodrow Wilson half marathon where she had an awesome race and I struggled with all sorts of problems.

Cold at the start line
Me and Megan sharing a space blanket at the start

As I was shuffling along the course (which I still completely and totally love), I wrote a million different blog posts in my head about this race, mostly angry rants at myself for not taking it seriously enough.

But with a day of reflection, I have a slightly better perspective on the whole thing.

Some things that contributed to my racing downfall were out of my control, like the rain that forced me to wear older shoes so I didn't ruin my good pair or the fact that I woke up feeling under the weather. Some things were completely my fault, like my pre-race nutrition.

In total, I had two really great miles of running and lots of really, really crappy ones.

My old shoes apparently had so little cushioning remaining, that every time my left foot hit the ground it felt like my bones were cracking in to pieces. I highly considered dropping out of the race multiple times. But I only saw a medic team at mile 10 and at that point, I was too stubborn to quit, even if I had to walk the rest, which almost happened.

Instead, I spent the rest of the day not able to put any weight on my left foot.

Foot wrapped
No one has ever accused me of being the smartest racer.

In good news, it seems like it was just some sort of bruising or something, and it's mostly better today. I don't think it did anything to damage my MCM training too much.

Because I had no intention of racing this race, I didn't follow my normal pre-race routine. I set myself up for a bit of failure there. At the tailgate the day before, I ate a lot of food I would never normally eat, let alone eat the day before a race. Two of my friends also made some of their signature drinks for the tailgate and I didn't want to pass up the chance try them.

Me and meg tailgate

So Sunday morning, I felt slow and heavy and weighed down by all the less-than-ideal food. Definitely not the way you want to feel going into a race.

While I was running, I spent the whole time thinking how I did not want to feel like this during MCM. That I didn't put it months and months of hard training to completely blow up in my A race.

So in order to prevent completely blowing up in my marathon, I'm taking a few precautions.

1. I'm ordering a pair of new shoes. I haven't been wearing my current pair for all that long, but those long runs really pile on the miles. Now I'm paranoid that my current pair of shoes will bonk on race day. So I'm avoiding that by getting a new pair now that I can wear on a few runs before race day, knowing full well that they will still be in great condition in three weeks.

2. I'm going to clean up my eating. I'm not going to make any drastic changes or go on any sort of crazy diet, I'm just going to try to make better choices most of the time. No, I will not give up tailgating. Yes I will still eat dessert because I love it, but most days of the week, I'd like to focus on putting good foods in my body that will help me feel energized on race day and not sluggish.

3. I'm going to get more sleep so I'm not so run down. I mentioned that I woke up on race morning feeling under the weather. My throat was scratchy and my nose was stuffy. By last night, I was full blown sick with a 100 degree fever and the chills. I was bundled up in sweatpants and a sweatshirt and under six or seven blankets and still shivering. I feel a little better this morning. My fever is gone, but I'm still congested. I definitely don't want to wake up sick on marathon morning, so it's time to start getting plenty of sleep so I'm not susceptible to anything going around the office.

Not every race is going to be perfect and sometimes stuff happens that you can't control. But the Woodrow Wilson half was a good reminder that I can control some things, and I can take steps to make sure I have a great marathon.

Medal and bib

So the race itself might have sucked, but I walked away from the whole thing with a good learning experience.

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  1. You always have such a great attitude, Jess :) Great post!

  2. Crappy races make the good ones even better! Even though the day didn't go as planned, you definitely learned a lot, had a few good laughs, and enjoyed a beautiful course.

    Rest up and let that foot heal :)

  3. My friend and I ran a half together yesterday and for probably half the race were talking about how running a half-marathon is really hard.

    Congrats on your race. Glad you learned a few things that you can use for MCM. Good luck!!

  4. I'm so sorry about your shoe! For me it always seems that it goes from totally fine to OMGtheresnopaddinginthisshoeatall! overnight. That happened to me before Baltimore last year and I seriously thought my foot cracked in half - I'm impressed you last a half marathon!
    At least this bad race is out of the way and MCM will be amazing!

  5. You definitely learn a lot from each race. Not only about how good of shape you are in, but about where you are mentally when the the race gets tough and you don't think you have what it takes to go on. Each race is different, with different highs and lows...it's not always a great race, but it's always a great experience.

  6. That stinks! Ouch. Good tailgating makes everything better. You'll get 'em next time.

  7. Running is the best cure for a hangover...way to grind it out and see the race through to the finish!

  8. Haha I definitely wasn't hungover. I didn't have all that much to drink. I just ate like crap and felt kind of disgusting.

  9. Great post! And, good reality check on the things that you could do better. I am doing the Army Ten Miler in 2 weeks and wishing I had bought new shoes a few weeks ago. I am debating risking wearing new ones or sticking in my current pair, which seem to be causing the same effects you had -- not quite bone-crushing, but definitely my feet feel tired which should not be happenning! I will have to eat better, drink more water and get more sleep in the next few weeks!

  10. Those races come-- so sorry it wasn't a fun experience, but at least it wasn't your A race... great perspective. And now you know what to pay attention to next time around!

  11. I've definitely learnt a tone from great, good and not-so-good runs! There is always something to learn :)

    Sorry about your shoes ... BUT... Congrats on finishing the race!!!


    Sorry to hear about your foot! Fingers crossed it will be normal by the MCM. But the race was fantastic! It was my first year doing it, they organized it very well!

  13. OMG that's too crazy!! Went to your blog and saw you had a great race! Congrats!!

  14. [...] on to Canal Road, I felt that sharp, biting pain in my foot again that I experienced during the Woodrow Wilson Half a few weeks ago. It hurt every time my foot hit the ground. Not great when you still have a lot of [...]