Sunday, 7 October 2012

First time for everything (sadly)

I finished yesterday's Dunbar 10 mile Doon Hill Race in 1h 31m. My niggly knee held up just fine throughout the race. Both of these sentences make it sound okay.

Here's the rest of the story. I got lost and added 0.6M to my race. I was last for a significant proportion. I finished 70th out of a field of 81. I walked more times than I care to remember. My legs felt like they had nothing to give. At the end I had a cry and I felt terrible for the rest of the day. One day later and my knee is niggly again.

I've done this race twice before and really enjoyed it. This time the weather was beautiful, sunny but not hot, clear skies being ideal for viewing the lovely scenery from the hills to the sea. I'd rested all week and I was feeling confident. This was my 'tune-up' race before the Jedburgh Half Marathon in 3 weeks time. I've been working on my speed recently. So everything was pointing to a really good race.

I don't know what went so horribly wrong. The start was a little faster than I would have liked, but really I don't think it was so fast that I can blame it for messing up the rest of the race. I took my wrong turn at about mile 3. I found myself running down a field until the track I was on disappeared, and there was nobody to be seen. I knew I was near the back of the runners, but there was just nobody anywhere, so I ran back and eventually found the big dayglow arrow I'd missed. I felt so stupid! I tried so hard not to panic, tried to keep my pace under control, but perhaps I didn't, perhaps I sped up in panic and that's where it all went wrong.

I kept thinking about that marathon winner in the news the other week who took a wrong turn and still did a PB. Probably that didn't help, it probably made me push faster.

When I caught up with the end of the field, I calmed down a bit. There was a really steep hill shortly after and I overtook a handful of runners there. Shortly after I had my first walk - this was only the second race I've EVER taken a walk break in, and I felt so crappy about it. My mantra became "you're a pathetic f***ing loser", over and over in my head. I put on my iPod to get rid of the negativity because I coulnd't get rid of it on my own! But once I've had my first walk break, it's like opening a packet of crisps - once I knew it was open, I couldn't leave it alone. I can't remember how many walk breaks I took in the end. Again and again it felt like my legs had nothing to give at all. Which, after a week off, I really didn't expect.

It was a long and lonely run. I was grateful to the marshals who were friendly and supportive as I passed, but mostly I felt pathetic and apologetic for keeping them there while I was having such a terrible race. When I crossed the finish line I had no pride at all - I felt totally ashamed at my time, which was 10 minutes slower than last year. I sat on the grass and had a cry.

I have "no further comment at this point", as I'm feeling a bit down about running and life in general right now.

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