“There’s no such thing as a good run that is fluke. But you can have fluke bad runs.”
-Jack Daniels, running author and coach
Good days usually come out of nowhere, and bad days do too. The body is quirky sometimes.
After a hectic week of work, travel, and holidays, I headed to Summerville on Saturday to run the inaugural Nexton Cocoa Cup 5K. This was a really large race sponsored by the Nexton development and Fleet Feet Mt Pleasant, and it sold out- twice! The race was originally capped at 500 participants, which was later raised to 1,200. The cost included a Nike fleece hoodie, reusable bag, and finisher’s mug that you could fill with hot cocoa after the race. It was a bargain, although I’m not sure any of the money went to charity or back to the community, which was one down side (just my opinion as a fan of races that give back).
The Nexton Cocoa Cup 5K was also the only 5K that Saturday, and most every runner in Charleston showed up. Over 900 people finished the 5K.
I arrived about an hour early to hang out with friends and take selfies. Tina and I ran 2 miles to warm up, and I could tell I spent a ton of time sitting in cars, offices, and classes last week. I work a desk job all the time, but I usually move around a bit more. Sitting really is the new smoking…
I lined up on the third row back, by Howie, Virginia, and Vanessa. We huddled together to stay warm and chat, but fortunately the rain held off to a slight drizzle. Pretty soon we were off and running through the semi-developed Nexton development. The course was flat but not scenic… think subdivision before homes and businesses come along.
My first mile was just under 7 min/mile pace, and I didn’t go out too fast compared to my workouts and recent races. BUT… runners are not mile splits or training and racing paces generated by a calculator. We are human. Paces feel different on different days, after workouts, after rest days, after 48 mile weeks, and when dealing with life.
The wheels fell off after mile 1. My legs didn’t want to move, I felt run down and tired, and I was huffing and puffing. The stress on my body- from the holidays, work, diet, and training caught up to me. With my pace, I was easy to catch.
What really disappointed me wasn’t the time- it was getting so discouraged. I looked at my watch and wondered what was going on, and in hindsight, I just wasted more mental energy being hard on myself about a run. With the negative vibes, the goal of running with someone for fun was out by that point. Instead of running it out and finishing with my head held high, I secretly wished for a short course (it wasn’t) or place to hide.
You do speedwork to run like THIS on race day?!?! You rested for two days and huff and puff at a 7:30 pace?!?! Your goal pace for a half marathon is only slightly slower?!?!
The race death march to the finish couldn’t come sooner. I was mentally done, and in 23:09, my race was done. I grabbed my finisher’s mug, but skipped the hot chocolate. I ran off to my car to change shoes, cool down, and be alone. It could always be worse. At least you can run; you could be injured…
After my 2 mile cooldown, I found Virginia, hugged her, and headed to the bar. My last two tempo runs were faster than my finish time, so I drowned my sorrows in spiked coffee. The OnShore Sunday run group staked out a booth in Carolina Ale House and drank and ate and Howie insisted that I just had a bad day and it’s no reflection on my training or running ability (I believe him, he’s worked with a lot of runners and knows his stuff).
The age group winners won Carolina Ale House gift certificates and award pint glasses that they had to guard the wait staff from taking. Plus, everyone in the bar was wearing that sweatshirt and it made for some interesting pictures, almost like a school or team uniform.
While my race was a death march and I didn’t have a good day, lots of runners had a great day. I’m proud of my friends and training partners who PRed, set post-baby PRs, met time goals, or placed.
When you train with great people and push each other in workouts and runs, you can celebrate everyone’s victories. No one meets their goals alone, and my training partners have helped me progress in running and meet goals and celebrated with me, so I enjoyed celebrating theirs. Once I cooled down and got it together, I had fun and was glad I stuck around to hang out with everyone.
Despite feeling crabby about the race, I hit the grind the next day for my 12 miler- which went surprisingly well. Time aside, I’m grateful to finish injury-free and keep training. After all, successful runs are even sweeter after the bitter taste of a rough one.