Okay I’m finally getting around to writing up the recap on what is one of my favorite races of the year here in Charleston.
The Cooper River Bridge Run was celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Since it was such a momentous occasion, the race decided to celebrate with finishers medals this year! I was really looking forward to participating again this year as both my previous CRBR races were tons of fun.
I got up pretty early race morning for fueling & hydrating. I drove out to Mt Pleasant and found a side street that I could park on that was right near the start. I headed for a bathroom break before heading out for a mile warm up. My goals going into this race were to aim for a 44:30. Last year, I hit a 10k PR of 45:00, so my sights were set on getting a little faster. After my warm up I found Lana for a traditional pre-race photo before we toed the line.
Mile 1: I clocked in Mile 1 a little faster than intended with a 6:58. This mile is through Mt pleasant and the streets are lined with people cheering for you. There are bands playing music along the streets and if you look up in the air you can see the helicopters flying over. It’s really easy to get swept up in all of the excitement with 30,000 people running with you.
Mile 2: Welcome to the fatigue train. Not the pain train, mind you. At this point my calves were screaming at me to stop running. They tightened up and felt so fatigued. They felt as if I had just ran uphill for 10 miles and they were so tired they couldn’t move any faster. I kept trying to kick it back up and I’d look down thinking I got faster but my pace would be down in the 8:30 pace. This mile took you to the start of the bridge and I started to panic. If my legs felt this trashed after just a mile and a half, how was I going to cruise up the bridge and finish strong.
Mile 3: I ended up having to walk/run up the bridge. I was almost in tears with how fatigued my calves felt. I’ve never in all my years running felt anything like this before. I’ve run an 18 mile training run in the dead heat of summer and didn’t feel an ounce of fatigue like I felt during this race. I just kept telling myself to get to the top of the Bridge and we could cruise down the other side. Last year, the Bridge felt so short, this year it felt like it was never ending.
Mile 4: The downhill didn’t feel any better. My plan was to try to pump out a 6:40 for this mile and I could barely muster a 7:40 pace. At this point I knew for sure a PR was out the window and my goal changed to finishing uninjured. As I came to the bottom of the bridge I considered DNF’ing a few times. Ultimately I knew I’d be even more disappointed in myself if I quit, so I trudged along. The crowds were picking back up and I decided to just try and enjoy the remainder of the race.
Mile 5: Honestly this mile is just a blur of people and trying to get my legs to work. I was so over the race. I was in my own head and I just wanted to be done.
Mile 6.2: The final mile was me going underneath the picture tent and I tried to put on the best smile that I could. I was really holding back tears at this point because my legs felt like they were about to give out underneath me. I was so frustrated that all of the hard work and training I had been putting in wasn’t showing. I crossed the finish line with literally my worst 10k time of my running life.
I crossed the finish line and the tears just hit immediately. I wasn’t crying because of injury or pain, I was crying out of frustration & sadness. I was really upset that I didn’t have the race that I expected
I found Tony and other friends who embraced me while I had a good cry. My emotions were just simply overflowing and I couldn’t control it. Obviously, it’s just 1 race in the grand scheme of things and crying over it can seem a little silly but I work my ass off at training and it’s really disheartening when your body falls apart on you during a goal race.
Afterwards I got my finishers medal, Lana & JJ met up with us and we walked around the booths getting lots of free goodies. It was nice to be able to soak in the fun of the Bridge Run even though I wasn’t feeling my best inside. There are tons of tents set up with oranges, apples, muffins, bananas, and water. We also got some free donuts, red bull, coasters, coozies, shirts, and noise makers for the kids. We really enjoyed ourselves at the post race festival as usual.
Once I stopped running my legs felt completely fine. We went and had some beers at Kudu where we met up with my friend Justine who also tackled the Bridge Run!
Now lets have a little discussion. I truly appreciate everyone who messaged me with kind words, lifting my spirits, and reminding me that one race does not define me as a runner. I really loved reading everyone’s positivity and it reminded me how blessed I am to have such wonderful people in my life. Only one person truly got where I was coming from and gave me the words I really needed to hear and that was my mother. When I told her I wasn’t proud of my race and that I was disappointed, she told me “it’s okay to feel that way.” She understood that this wasn’t what I had prepared for, it’s not what I had trained for. I had put in sweat, tears, injuries, and so much time into my training for it all to fall apart in a matter of 49 minutes.
Some people might feel that I didn’t have a right to be upset. I treat running as if it were a job, one that I LOVE and want to work hard for every single day. I work really hard at it, put in tons of effort, and hope to get better at it. So just like if you were to work really hard, putting in long hours at the office, going above and beyond for projects, in hopes that you’ll get the next big promotion. Then when the time comes and that promotion that you worked so hard for, lost sleep over, spent all your time focusing on doesn’t go to you, you’d obviously be pretty disappointed. You’d be sad and frustrated that you put in all of this effort and it didn’t push you to the level you had your heart, mind, eyes set on. I would even venture to say that some of you would cry over not getting picked for a promotion that you clearly deserved. That’s how it felt for me when I crossed that finish line without seeing my progress.
Take away the number on the clock, it means nothing. The point that I’m trying to make is that, I didn’t see progress. It doesn’t matter if that number on the clock started with a 3 or a 5. The idea is that year over year you put in hard work and you want to see progress. So please allow me to be upset, at least for a moment. Yes, I understand that I’m lucky I can even run and I would never take for granted the fact that my body can take me 6.2 miles. I understand that my worst time is the time that some people dream about achieving and I would never discredit someone who worked hard for that time. I understand that it’s about having fun and enjoying the race and even though I was on the verge of tears the whole race, I still found the time to high five people, smile for the camera, and soak in the beauty that is Charleston. BUT that does not negate how I feel.
I have elite runner friends who can run a 5 minute mile pace. They have bad races too that they walk away from upset, frustrated & crying. I would never look at them and say “oh you can’t be upset, you run a 5 minute mile, you’re faster than almost everyone I know. You can’t be upset. You’re still so fast.” That’s ridiculous and absurd, of course they are allowed to be upset. They trained hard for something and for one reason or another, it didn’t show on race day. Unless your Mo Farah, there are always going to be people who are faster than you and slower than you. But each and every one of those people are allowed to be disappointed that their training did not shine through in their race, regardless of their pace. Everyone is working hard for progress and most people will be disappointed when a race goes down a toilet. That doesn’t mean they aren’t thankful for the ability to run or that they didn’t have fun doing the sport they love.
Bad races happen, and that’s okay. I took 24 hours to be frustrated and wallow in my tears. After that I woke up the next morning and used that feeling to fuel me to want to improve even more. I’m normally a pretty optimistic, happy, cheerful person, which means that I really needed those 24 hours to work through my feelings of my first truly disappointing race. After that I bounced back, set my sights on Chicago, and moved on. I’m thankful for all the people who called me and talked me through my feelings like my mom & my mother in law. I’m thankful for everyone who held me while I cried, reminded me what a strong runner I am, and showed confidence that I’d kick the next 10k’s ass. I’m so lucky to have all these friends who texted me, messaged me on facebook, and left comments on my over emotional facebook status. It really did shine a nice light on what was a semi-crappy day for me. Although my race was yucky I still had a great day with friends, sipping beer, and soaking up the sunshine.
This past week was the Boston Marathon and I follow a lot of runners who are much faster than I am on Instagram. One of them had this to say about her bad race:
She allows herself to wallow and then refocuses. This was exactly what I needed to do after the Bridge Run. I still was smiling during the race, still smiled after the race. I had a moment of tears, a day to be upset, and then I bounced back looking towards the next finish line. I’m looking forward to crushing the Bridge Run next year. I need redemption.