Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hot Chocolate? Hot Mess!

Despite all my excitement for the upcoming Hot Chocolate 15K, the damn race actually turned out to be an abysmal nine-point-three miles of torture for yours truly. And for some effing reason, I'm pretty sure I'll be back for more in the coming years.

To start with, there were lots of complaints about the Expo and packet pickup. Yes, it was in a parking lot at Soldier Field. Yes, it was cold, and yes we had to wait in line outside to get in. But it wasn't horrible, and I got a cute t-shirt, so ... whatever. It was a fun way to spend a Friday evening with my runner girls, for sure.

The race was on Sunday, and I woke up feeling positive. I mean ... how could I not improve over the previous year? I ran an almost 14-minute mile in 2011; surely I've gotten faster than that, right?

Yeah, not so much.

My first split was at 44:09; so I ran a 5K slower than usual. Great. I suppose the fact that this was the part of the race I had to stop to pee during is part of that. No big deal; I left the portalet feeling like I could still achieve my goal.

Oh, my goal? Did I never let you in on that? Yeah ... I was under the ridiculous notion that I could finish in under two hours. Barring that bit of miraculousness, I wanted to do it in less time than I did in 2011. Barring that, I wanted to finish upright.

That final goal was the only one I accomplished.

After the first split, I kept feeling positive. But when we passed mile four, I lost my mojo. My legs started to hurt. My brain started to hurt. I got hot, then cold, then hot, then cold, then bored, then annoyed ... and on and on. The course this year went along the lakefront, but not the pretty part; it just basically went south. (Contrast that with last year, when we ran through the city and had people cheering us on the entire way. There is no comparison; this year's race sucked my will to live.)

My second split was at 1:31:26, so I ran a 10K in that time. I'm going to take a moment here and console myself for the fact that my last 10K took a little longer. The Monster Dash 10K took me 1:30:52, so I shaved what ... half a minute of my 6.2 mile pace? Okay. I'll take it.

And here is when things really got tough for me. I wasn't sure at all if I would be able to finish. Again, it was boring as hell. There was nothing to look at, no one to cheer ... it was hell. Plus, it was kind of disheartening to see all the people who had finished long before me walking the opposite way along the course. That sucked. 

And I felt like I sucked, too.

In the end, I finished in 2:17:49, with a per-mile pace of 14:48. Not my proudest moment. I crossed the finish line vowing never to run again.

Here's the thing: when you've been working at something for two years, you want progress. You want to improve, not backslide. For chrissakes, you want to stop being so bad at that thing you're doing that it seems like you're not doing it. I run so slowly that absolutely none of the programs you use to track calories burned, etc. consider it running. A 15-minute mile is not considered running. It's not even a particularly fast walk. The truth is, I suck at this, and as of last Sunday, I don't much enjoy it, either.

So I've decided that it's okay to give up. I'm committed to a few runs through February of next year, and after that I will reassess. I'm going to do my best, but I'm not going to keep doing this thing if it continues to make me feel like a failure.

Seriously, this race sucked so much, I only took two pictures.
Me, pre-race. I didn't hate my life yet.
It was fun to run into Heidi at the starting line. And yes, I wore a kilt.


Jen McElroy said...

You're absolutely right - this course sucked the life out of every runner. Anyone who says differently either ran an 8:00/mile or was blind (or both) because the lack of scenery and crowd after we left Roosevelt Rd was horrible. When i was around mile 8.5 the on course entertainment was packing up as I was passing them - seriously? I know that not everyone is as slow as I am but could the course entertainment please stay until everyone that is participating has passed??? Ugh...

I also think that the long walk after crossing the finish line to the post-race party was horrible. Why couldn't the race have ended closer to the post-race party area?

Congratulations on finishing though... you should be proud that no matter how you felt that you didn't give up.

Maggie said...

Thanks, Jen. You are absolutely right! I'm figuring out how to be discouraged and determined at the same time.