I wanted to race because:
~ I'd already signed up and paid.
~ I wanted the shirt.
~ I wanted to get out of the house and move on Thanksgiving knowing that the rest of the day would likely be pretty lazy.
~ I wanted to run a new race in a new state with new people.
~ I just really like to race.
I didn't want to race because:
~ I didn't feel well.
~ I knew my hopes of a fast race and/or a PR were no longer realistic.
~ I wasn't sure I could just relax and run for the fun of it. That's hard for me.
~ I didn't want to set myself back any further from a health perspective.
~ The race was starting at 7:00am and I needed to pick up my number before that which meant I would need to get up at 5:30 to make it over there in time. Wait, what?
I thought about it for a long time. Hours, actually. I literally could not fall asleep. This troubled me. Around 11:00, my cough kicked in. Not awesome. I popped a Halls, propped up my pillows, and laid there some more. At some point, I nodded off. I had my alarm set for 5:00am, but had no need for it as my lids popped open at 4:30 and I couldn't get back to sleep. It was decision time. Well, I thought, I still feel crappy, I'm now hearing a strange crackling noise out of my right ear every time I move my head, and I've gotten about 4 hours of solid shuteye. But I'm up, I'm packed and ready to go. So, why the hell not?! Crazy? Kind of. Stupid? Maybe. Predictable? Totally. Come on, I'm a runner. My husband heard me getting ready so he rolled out of bed and told me that he'd take me over to the start. For the record, I did give him the out and he still opted to get up. Yes, he rocks. We headed over to the Gate, a huge and strangely awesome gas station that has about 24 flavors of coffee. I realized, as we filled our very large styrofoam cups to the brim, that neither of had said a word to each other since we'd left the house. Of course, once we got back in the car with our hot cups of joy, we started chatting away. Coffee is truly amazing, isn't it? He dropped me off to get my number and use the bathroom and then he headed over to a diner to grab some breakfast. I stood in line with a towel wrapped around my legs because the sun wasn't up yet and it was still pretty cold out. I'm not going to lie, I was pretty envious of Jeff, who was now sitting in a warm, cozy diner eating breakfast and drinking more coffee. Finally, I headed over to the start and tried to get myself fired up. For the first time in many, many races, I was having a hard time with this. I wanted to get there mentally, to be in the moment, to feel the excitement that was spreading throughout the crowd, but I was having a really hard time. It was then that I realized I had forgotten the GUs that I'd purchased the night before and thus had no fuel. For the love of Pete. I put my music on, turned up the volume and danced around while we waited. I got a couple good stares from the people next to me. Works every time. After the gun blew I immediately felt like I had to pee and I couldn't hold it. Dammit. I ducked behind a bush and squatted in frustration as I watched the crowd roll by. At this point, I gave myself a little pep talk. I said something to effect of:
You have GOT to relax, Rebecca. There is nothing more you can do. You don't have your A-game today, and that's totally fine. The sun is coming up and the temp is perfect. You need to just get back in there and chill the eff out.
Then I re-joined the crowd, put my chin up and shifted into cruise control. And I had a great time. The course was beautiful, weaving me through neighborhoods in Jacksonville that I'd never been to before. I loved that. I wasn't able to pick up the pace at the end of the race, but I didn't die off either. All things considered, I raced well. With the bathroom break and my lack of fuel, I pulled off a 1:32. This is a decent time for me. Not my best. But not too shabby. After I crossed the line, I quickly found Jeff, happy to be done and more happy that I was headed home to spend the rest of the day with my family. I had no regrets. If could go back in time, would I make the same decision to race given how I felt? Maybe. Maybe not. But it didn't matter. I truly believe that every race we run has a purpose. Sometimes that purpose is crystal clear - a PR, a win, or just some quality time with friends - and other times, in fact, pretty often, it's not. Yesterday, the purpose of my race became clear to me after the fact. In this case, to remind me that I'm a runner, and I can dig deep to race when I'm feeling sub-par, but that I can't pull a miracle out of a hat and that's okay because it's usually still worth it. And, perhaps, also to remind me that the rest of the day is more important than the race, anyway.