Friday, June 22nd: Sitting on the patio of my parents’ home in East Jordan (about 20 minutes outside Charlevoix), I can barely conceal my overwhelming sense of dread. My husband and I arrived Up North around 12:45 and my dad broke the Bacardi out of the cupboard shortly after. A spread of summer-themed junk food covered the patio table. “I should not be eating all this rich food,” I think to myself, as I raise my second Bacardi and Diet to my lips which I DEFINITELY should not be drinking. While everyone was in party mode, I was trying my best to act like someone who had to wake up at 5:00 a.m. the next day to run a half marathon.
“Why are you sulking?” my mom asks.
“I am so not prepared for tomorrow.”
“Why not?” my dad asks.
“I haven’t had a long run all month. My ankle has been hurting me. My colon goes into spasms every time I run. I don’t think I’ll survive.” I raise my glass in the air, which is my husband’s cue to make me another drink.
My dad, ever the eternal optimist, chimes in with this advice: “Failure is not an option. Just keep telling yourself that.”
I roll my eyes. “People fail all the time dad.”
“It’s only a failure if you don’t learn anything.” My dad, the living fortune cookie.
So, what exactly did I learn running a half marathon ill-prepared? Mainly, I learned that all of my worries were for naught, because I PR’d anyway. THAT’S RIGHT! Fueled by my immense negativity (and two GUs), I ran more than 10 minutes faster than last year with a chip time of 2:09:10. Had I actually prepared, would I have run faster? Perhaps. While my run was far from a failure, there are many things I took away from it that will hopefully make my next half marathon even faster and stronger.
1) Don’t be a Slave to Your Pace I accidentally started my Nike+ four mintues before the race started. I kept looking at it every five seconds to make sure I wasn’t starting too fast. When I finally glanced at my average pace at mile four, it read 11:35. “WHAT?!?! THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!!!”, I screamed aloud in my head. Because of my falsely perceived lagging speed, I picked up the pace a little too fast. Next time I may just leave my watch at home (or not start it early like an idiot).
2) Fine-Tune Your Playlist Learn what music best motivates you at those critical times when your legs are on fire and you feel like strangling the volunteer well-wisher on the sidelines for being so damn happy. I thought I was motivated by heavy, aggressive rock music. As it turns out, those upbeat pop songs I added as filler where what really got my feet moving in times of need. That, and GU, which leads me to number 3:
3) Never put a Gu Packet, No Matter How “Empty”, in Your Pocket
4) Don’t Run in New Clothes This is pretty much the golden rule of racing, but I stupidly wore new socks that my feet didn’t agree with, and I have the massive blood blister to prove it. I also witnessed a poor girl on the course who was obviously wearing a new pair of shorts that she didn’t realize would hike up so high she would half-moon everyone behind her. She looked miserable, but at least she had a nice butt.
5) Don’t be Annoying This is advice for everyone else. Please don’t hold up a race so your boyfriend can take shitty smart phone pictures of you. Don’t tell a person to “PASS ME! PLEASE PASS ME!” when that person is struggling to run at all. If you are a volunteer, don’t yell “You’re almost there!” at mile 9. And for the love of God, do not tailgate. Run beside me if we are on the same party line, but not directly on my ass. That’s just creepy.
Phew, that was a lot of writing. I am happy to say that running Charlevoix has reignited my passion for running, so much so that I plan to do another half on the Fourth of July. This may be a dumb decision, and I’m sure my husband will LOVE spending his birthday carting me around to another race. What can I say, I’m addicted! I am not planning to PR; I just want to have fun and enjoy a new race.
With that attitude, failure will not be an option.