This past weekend was the Daytona Beach Half Marathon. I was actually feeling pretty good going into it, even though I hadn’t been training much. At least not half marathon training. I have been going to the gym pretty regularly and trying to get back into condition. But despite that, I felt good. I knew that I wasn’t doing this for time and I was doing it for fun since I registered for it a thousand years ago and expected to be further along than I am now .
What I didn’t expect was another migraine, my body wanting to shut down on me, and an overall feeling of failure. I crossed the finish line and finished the half but I had signed up for the speedway challenge and had a 5k still to do… which they wouldn’t let me do because I took too long to finish the half. I was disheartened and despite them giving me all of the gear for the challenge, I don’t feel like I earned it.
Here are the lessons I learned from this race:
Train, Train, and Train some more: This is the obvious first lesson and it’s a big one. Obviously, I should have been doing some half marathon training. I usually do Hal Higdon’s programs but was so focused on trying to drop some weight and get conditioning back that I didn’t run anything over the 10k I did for BDR in January. Adequate training would have prevented some of the drama I was faced with in trying to finish the race.
But: I should have also trained with fuels (the Gu I had messed my stomach up something ugly) and I should have also trained by running outside and not on the treadmill. It’s quite different to run outside than on a treadmill (again, another obvious “duh” moment) but I figured I would have been able to keep the pace I had been doing. Most certainly did NOT do that. I was running at a faster pace, not walking the full 3 minutes for recovery, and didn’t pay attention to my heart at all. Bad all around. Next time, I’ll train accordingly. Thankfully my next half isn’t until November.
Quit being mean to yourself: I’m pretty vicious to myself, and I was calling myself every name in the book when I realized that I couldn’t run anymore. My body was just done. I was angry; I felt like my heart wasn’t in it like my mind seemed to be, my legs refused to go faster, my gut churned with every step I took, and I called myself every mean and hurtful thing I thought of. And that’s counter-productive.
It’s tough for me to dole out self – praise, given how my depression keeps me from seeing myself as a force to be reckoned with. But I really believe that if I was a bit more positive and a bit more kind to myself when I was walking along International Speedway Drive, I could have finished much stronger and happier. Thankfully, a deputy from Volusia County ran me into the finish and I am grateful because he put a smile on my face.
Get yourself a GOOD support system: I know that the people in my life are busy with their own lives too, but I thought those who I have in my “emergency” crew would have at least been able to be positive no matter what I do. Okay, back up. Let me explain: In the process of controlling my depression, I have set up an “Emergency Crew” to help me. These are members of my family or friends that are really close to me that I can call at any time of day or night to help me through a dark patch. They know that if I call and I’m having a “moment of darkness” that all I need the to do is talk to me about anything and to use positive reinforcement if I tell them what happened that triggered it. It helps me through some dangerous times and keeps me from doing something that I might regret later. (It has also helped prevent A LOT of fights with Dreamboat since usually, they are able to point out I’m not being rational.)
Okay, back up. Let me explain: In the process of controlling my depression, I have set up an “Emergency Crew” to help me. These are members of my family or friends that are really close to me that I can call at any time of day or night to help me through a dark patch. They know that if I call and I’m having a “moment of darkness” that all I need the to do is talk to me about anything and to use positive reinforcement if I tell them what happened that triggered it. It helps me through some dangerous times and keeps me from doing something that I might regret later. (It has also helped prevent A LOT of fights with Dreamboat since usually, they are able to point out I’m not being rational.)
I reached out to one of them and I didn’t get any positive reinforcement, or even a “but you finished!” reply and it made me feel worse than I already had. I sat down on the grass of the Daytona International Speedway and tried not to cry. But then Jen from Runs With Pugs texted me and when we found each other, she gave me a hug and said, “but you finished, and that’s a big deal.” Then Marisa and Suzan said the same thing when we finally met up and had a beer. And that made me feel a little bit better because these ladies were able to see that I was hurting and they refused to diminish the fact that I finished the race, and that’s more important than anything else. I finished, and without the need to go to the medical tent.
When I finally reached out to others in my crew, they did the same thing. They let me know that it doesn’t matter how long it took me to finish, but that I did finish and I didn’t give up. They told me that they were proud of me and that they knew I’ll get it next year when I am trained and ready. And I know they are right, I just needed to hear it when I was in a dark place.
So get you a support crew and make sure they understand the kind of support you need, because sometimes when you don’t get it… it just hurts. And I am still hurt that the first person didn’t respond the way I wanted. But I’m thankful for the ladies I have in my crew who know that I work hard and want this more than anything and find ways to encourage me that is helpful.
And finally, give yourself a break: Two days after the race and my legs are still sore and my heart is still heavy. But I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I know what I did wrong in this race, and I know how to not make those mistakes again. So instead of wallowing, I’m strapping on the big girl shoes and am making a plan for the next race. I’m looking at training plans and figuring out how to map it all out in my crazy schedule. And if I can walk without any soreness, I’ll workout instead of yoga tomorrow. One bad race doesn’t define me, and it certainly doesn’t define you.
I hope you got some insight from this. It definitely helped me by writing it. Now it’s time to put it into action.