When we give ourselves permission to fail, we, at the same time, give ourselves permission to excel. – Eloise Ristad
In the week leading up to Race 13.1 Charleston and my cruise vacation, I had a weird illness. I rarely get sick, and the week before a race and a vacation are NOT the time to get sick. I had classic sinus infection symptoms, along with a weird low-level fatigue. I ran some but kept things a little easier- after all, it was race week and I had a lot to do before vacation.
Unfortunately, I didn’t feel better as the race and vacation approached. I called my mom and almost burst into tears on the phone, spilling my guts about being sick, running, and vacation. My mom told me to follow my heart about running or racing the next day, and in the end, our families love us and are proud of us no matter what. She reminded me that running is a fun activity and not worth stressing over, and it felt like a mental burden was lifted.
The day before, I tried to relax, and Clay and I went to a friend’s Halloween party, which was really fun. I kept a good attitude about the race and decided it would be a game-day decision: Friday night was all about enjoying good times with friends and celebrating Halloween.
I left the party around 10 PM, which seems like a lame night out to non-runners but is pretty adventurous when you’re used to staying in because of racing and long runs.
When Saturday morning arrived, I still felt rough. I took the cold medicine I’d been taking all week, and I guess insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, but it never did work. My head felt like a balloon.
I’d been running all week through the issues, and I assessed my body. If that day was just a long training run, I’d run- especially with missing my long run the next weekend. I was already signed up for the race, which was a three loop trail course, so I decided to give it a shot. I could always treat the half as a long run, run it with a friend, or if I felt absolutely horrible, DNF and walk back to my car.
That’s right- I mentally gave myself permission to DNF at Mile 4 if I didn’t feel well.
The best part of being a social, recreational, runner is running a race just for fun and being able to fail at a goal, without the repercussions of a coach or worrying about anyone caring. Sometimes I’d love to be fast enough that someone at a starting line would see me and say “Oh shit, she’s here”, but the freedom of being a glorified hobbyjogger and doing whatever I like is nice.
Since I wasn’t treating this like a race, I decided not to wear a singlet and went with all black. Wearing all black in a race makes me think of the ACDC song “Back in Black”, but truthfully, I do it because black hides the fact that I’m perpetually a stomach flu or two from racing weight all the time. I also wore a USC headband since it’s football season and I’m a Gamecocks fan, and I stuck with an old pair of trainers (Brooks Launch 2) in case they got muddy on the trail.
I drove to Middleton Place, chatted with Virginia and Brent, and picked up my packet. Looking at my phone, I saw texts asking if I was racing. I knew some friends would try to talk me out of it, so I didn’t answer. I knew I could just turn around and leave- but why not celebrate Halloween by running through the woods with a few hundred people?
When the race started at 8 AM, I started in the very back. No one was quite sure where to go or turn, so everyone’s first mile seemed slower. The grass was wet, and my head felt like I’d already visited the post-race beer tent (Speaking of that, there was no beer tent or beer at this race, which was a real disappointment).
I passed some friends in the first mile and spoke to them, wishing them a good race. In 2016, I ran this race as a part of a workout– 16 miles with 13.1 miles at goal marathon pace- and this year, I was wondering how I ever ran that pace on those trails. The course seemed tougher with higher grass and more sand.
After the second mile, I got into my groove, and it was heads down, get it done mode for the rest of the first loop. The aid station volunteers from The Foot Store cheered for me by name and it was a great boost, and I also saw my friend David, who blogs at DoomBuggyRunner. He was there to cheer and take pictures for friends who were running.
Needless to say, I decided to keep going after the first loop. It was hard, but I reminded myself that I can do hard things. Someday I’ll run a marathon, and it will be hard, but I won’t want to give up then- and I didn’t want to give up. I didn’t look at my watch and focused on completing the distance, staying in the mile I was running.
I didn’t see as many costumed runners as last year, but a girl dressed as a witch ran just ahead of me, and we kept each other on pace for the last half of the race. I congratulated her when we finished and found out that she was only 15. Hopefully she’ll stick with running because she has a bright future ahead of her. At first, I was glad she wasn’t in my age group- then I realized that I probably own clothes older than she is and am almost old enough to be her mom. Oops.
Since this is a trail run, the course was a little long, and hearing my Garmin chirp at Mile 13 but not seeing or hearing the finish line was tough. Knowing I was almost there, I stayed strong when I turned to the grassy area to finish. I crossed the line in 1:52:00 (gun time), and while it was my slowest half marathon in years, it was a huge mental victory.
After I gathered my medal, water, and some Halloween candy, I hung out with a few friends (Cathryn) and took pictures. It was sunny out, but the temperatures were great. I do wish this race had some sort of seating area or tents, because I wanted to get off my feet. I also found out that I placed third in my age group, but had to wait until 10:30 AM for the results to be finalized and gather my age group medal. I just wanted to go home, but I wasn’t leaving without it, even if it meant waiting 30 minutes.
I also realized that for the first time ever in a race, no one passed me. My first mile was over a minute slower than the other miles, which probably had a lot to do with that, but it’s a great indicator of endurance and overall fitness from higher mileage. Not feeling the mental defeat from getting passed in the late miles of a race was nice, and I doubt I’ll ever have that experience again.
I didn’t take many pictures before or after the race and left as soon as I got my age group medal. The rest of the day was busy and hectic for us. Clay’s parents ended up coming to Charleston for our cruise a day earlier than expected. We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon readying the house for them, packing for the cruise, and going out for a victory meal at Bluerose.
Bluerose Cafe has the best specials, and I had the pan-fried rainbow trout with purple basil aioli, Irish potato cakes, and cole slaw. Everything was delicious!
Since I was leaving on a cruise the next day, I went to Urgent Care as a precaution, where I was diagnosed with a sinus infection. I picked up my Z-pack, Prednisone pills, and refueled on Costco free samples while waiting on my medicine. Only the captain of #TeamJanky runs a race sponsored by a health insurance company, then uses that insurance at Urgent Care on the same day.
Looking back over years of running, racing, and life, I’ve regretted things I don’t do more than things I do do (It’s my blog- I can say “do do”!). Not every race will be a PR, and the so-called personal worsts often teach us the most. From this race, I learned that I can do hard things, and that listening to your body isn’t automatically a code for Don’t Run. No matter how seriously we may take our training, we’re not running for a living- and it’s okay to take risks, give yourself permission to fail, and adjust your expectations.
And sometimes, it’s okay to show up at a race mostly to earn a medal for your Christmas tree.
9:34, 8:50, 8:28, 8:15, 8:19, 8:18, 8:26, 8:23, 8:03, 7:52, 8:21, 8:04, 8:10, 2:51 (last .37)
Race Name: Race 13.1 Charleston
Location: Charleston County, SC (Middleton Place)
Date and Time: October 28, 2017, 8 AM
Terrain: Flat trail, grass, dirt road. Three aid stations with both water and Gatorade (ran by each aid station 3 times).
Entry fee: 5K: $25-35, 10K: $35-45, Half: $50-89
Swag: Halloween-themed tech shirt, Halloween finisher’s medal for half marathoners.
Post-race Food: Papa John’s Pizza, granola bars, trail mix, fruit, candy, water. No beer.
Weather: 57 degrees, 94% humidity, sunny.
I received a complimentary race entry from Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.