I haven’t said anything about BCS. I know this. I needed some time to process the race before I talked about it. BCS was supposed to be my BQ for 2019. The weather looked good. I was well trained. All signs pointed to a great race.
Spoiler Alert: It wasn’t a great race.
My kids gave me a cold a couple of days prior and I’d been in frantic immune boosting mode ever since. Thankfully, the worst of it was a runny nose and a sinus headache, which was mostly gone by race day.
With the stuffy nose, I didn’t quite know what to expect but I didn’t feel bad, so I was hopeful. It was COLD that morning. 35 degrees. I was excited for the cold weather. Cold races are fast races, or so I thought. I couldn’t have been more wrong, at least this time.
The lesson of the day is: 26.2 miles is a LONG way under the best circumstances, and a REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY LONG WAY under the worst.
BCS was the latter.
Miles 1-8 were great. I was staying close to the 3:20 pace group. My heart rate was slightly high but not significant, and not enough to be worried about. My legs felt GREAT. Loose. Light. Happy. The hills were noticeable but manageable. I got so excited. Today was finally my day!
Mile 1 – 7:43
Mile 2 – 7:46
Mile 3 – 7:33
Mile 4 – 8:03
Mile 5 – 8:02
Mile 6 – 8:19
Mile 7 – 7:57
Mile 8 – 8:01
The first sign of trouble came around mile 8, I started to notice some pain developing on the inside of both my ankles. Posterior Tibiliais Tendonitis. I know this pain and I get it occasionally after a tough speed session. I’ve never had it during a run though. It was still early in the race and definitely cause for concern. I kept pushing myself but was keenly aware of my ankles.
Mile 9 – 8:35
Mile 10 – 8:02
At mile 11, my pace slowed slightly and I began to struggle. The fronts of both of my ankles stretching from the middle of the top of my foot to about 2 inches above my ankle began to stiffen and BURN like the fire from 1,000 suns.
Mile 11 – 8:44
Mile 12 – 8:52
By mile 13, the reality that maybe this wasn’t my race began to sink in. My hip flexors on my right leg started to burn, the outside of both of my hips cramped. But I hadn’t lost hope. If only I could maintain that pace, I just might still BQ – barely.
Mile 13 – 9:06
Mile 14 – 8:55
Mile 15 – 8:42
But the further I ran the more things hurt. By mile 16, I was audibly groaning. My left calf was one giant knot, my hamstrings were frozen. My feet turned into concrete blocks. All I wanted to do was stop but I surrendered myself to a jog instead.
Mile 16 felt something like this…
I think he don’t know what a dead end is.
That’s when I wrote off the race. I spent the next three miles feeling sorry for myself. I questioned everything I did during training, everything I ate, every little run, every day of speed work. I questioned my ability to coach other people. It wasn’t pretty.
Mile 16 – 9:47
Mile 17 – 10:10
Mile 18 – 10:47
Sometime during mile 19, the outside of my left knee started burning. I knew that pain. IT band. My jog turned into a walk/jog.
Mile 19 – 12:33
But something good happened during mile 19, too. I realized that feeling sorry for myself wasn’t going to help any, and I needed to do what I could to make the best of a crappy situation.
It was a beautiful morning and the race route was nice. I took some time to look around and enjoy the scenery. Then I saw these two guys dressed as bananas and decided a selfie was necessity.
I mean, who doesn’t want a selfie with these guys?!
Mile 20 – 12:08
Then I saw Santa.
Shortly after I took this picture, I was walking through the A&M campus and came across a guy who was also walking and looking just as defeated as I felt. We had actually been passing each other for several miles, and it was only a matter of time before we both started walking at the same time.
I rarely initiate conversation with strangers (dang intorvert that I am) but I asked him, “Are you gonna make it?”
His repsonse was, “I think so.”
We chatted for a few minutes and decided that we would do the rest of the race together. His name was Ben and he’s a student at Texas A&M. Over the next six miles, we talked about running and I learned a lot about him and his family. What else do you do on a Sunday morning stroll with a stranger, other than talk?
My legs turned into bricks during those last six miles. Running became excruciating.
We did A LOT of walking.
Finishing the race with Ben was probably one of the best things that could have come from the disaster that was BCS. I probably walked quite a bit more than I would have if I’d I been solo and I think that is a good thing.
Mile 21 – 11:06
Mile 22 – 11:48
Mile 23 – 12:52
Mile 24 – 14:09
Mile 25 – 11:08
Mile 26 – 14:02
I have never been more happy to finish a race than I was to finish BCS. Maybe The Woodlands Marathon in 2016, but even that race with all it’s IT band pain wasn’t as bad as this one.
Official Time: 4:22.25
As it turns out, the race that I was SURE was my PR and my third BQ, was my second slowest marathon time ever.
If there’s anything that can be learned from the past two months, it’s that everyone needs bad races to appreciate the good ones. Everyone needs to be reminded how truly wrong things can go to appreciate it when things go right.
Respect the distance. It can be a beast.
When I got home, I was greeted by gigantic hugs from my kids who had been told by my husband that I came home without a trophy and was a little sad.
Alvy immediately asked for my medal which he proudly wore around the house for the next hour and Evelyn produced a trophy that she’d made just for me. They were proud of me anyway.
They reminded me that though running seems like a selfish act most of the time, I don’t just run for myself. I run for them.
I run so that I can be a good example of health and wellness, and show them that exercise should be a priority. When I race, they see that you can work hard to accomplish big goals. When things go as planned, they see that hard work can really pay off; and when they don’t go as planned, they see that you can be proud of yourself even in defeat.
This might be the best trophy I’ve ever won.