Last Saturday with less than 7 hours until the start of a race I somehow managed to pull my head out of my ass and decided to run. I did not – as feared in the last post – let my girlfriend down. It was a close one, this situation had a lot of variables to it, more than a normal last minute depression or anxiety related cancellation.
Almost instantly after pressing enter on my last post I felt a shift. I felt a lot better because I get so stuck in these mindsets of I’m supposed to be better by now that I have a really hard time admitting that I’m struggling sometimes and that it isn’t just a bad day.
When I woke up Saturday morning, from an emotional standpoint I knew that I was fully capable of running with my girlfriend, we were both really excited to run together in what was obviously going to be a super fun set up; but this is also where it got a little tricky for me. A few days prior whilst sitting in my depression and filth I started to think about a couple aspects of this race that would have normally crossed my mind before even registering but hadn’t because I was going to run with my girlfriend and although I was going to try and pace her to a personal best this was more of a fun run.
On Friday night I sent Adam to get my race package, this race is called The Energizer Night Race and it comes with a headlamp and you get a technical t-shirt. Right away I had a problem – my headlamp was too big.
Even though I took eight years off from running that doesn’t mean that when I started again the fundamental things that I learned about racing at a very young age didn’t come right back, that stuff is like riding a bike for me, not to mention that running is a sport that provides endless learning opportunities to even the most seasoned of runners.
I kinda started to lose it a bit. I opened up to Adam that I had not thought this race through. I can’t even get a headband to stay on my head during a race how the fuck had I seriously thought that a headlamp would stay on? And I was freaking out about the weather, the rain was fine, it was the wind I was worried about. The race was on the seawall at 6:50 PM and the weather was not supposed to improve. This was a major safety issue for me. I used to run at night all the time but I hadn’t since 2003 and surely never around the seawall. The undulation of the seawall is such that if you worry about your knees and hips at all while running then technically you shouldn’t even run around it the same direction twice in a row. By this point I was starting to feel really bad. One of the cardinal rules of racing is that you do not do anything different on race day, even when you travel, you should still keep everything as routine as possible but I was about to add darkness and a shitty headlamp.
Basically, I felt that I was fucked if did and fucked if I didn’t. Everything was going to sound like excuses whether I was being honest about everything or not, so I felt worse because it was shitty to drop out last minute when it wasn’t over an injury or being sick.
I felt so bad that I tried to rig the headlamp anyway, it was still pissing rain and blowing but I thought fuck it, I have to at least prove to myself that there is no way to get this thing to stay on my head. I tried to put it over my running rain/sun hat first, this made perfect sense because I was going to be wearing it anyway but it still wasn’t going to stay on. I managed to rig it with some pretty old materials I had off of equipment that I used to use to run at night. I’d given most of that stuff away during my period of deciding that I was too injured to ever run again. Thankfully only most of it.
As luck would have it, I kid you not, the second I rigged the lamp to my hat it stopped raining and the wind started to calm down. In that moment I decided I was running and quickly texted both Adam and my girlfriend to let them know. And then I was really fucking stressed out, I didn’t even have my outfit together until seconds before leaving the apartment. The humidity was in the 90’s and it was still breezy, plus the north side of the wall can get really fucking cold, not to mention that the waves coming over onto the seawall can be just plain scary.
I recently purchased arm warmers and to say that I love them would be an understatement. I have a really hard time regulating my body temperature so making the switch from summer to fall and winter into spring has always been extremely hard for me but not anymore! If there is a shirt in the race package I almost never run in it, that last time I remember running in one would have been a late 90’s Sun Run. I don’t even know how many outfits I tried before deciding on just below the knee length tights, the super bright yellow Brooks race t-shirt and my arm warmers. PERFECT OUTFIT! While we were walking from the apartment to the start I noticed quite a few people in the shirts and said “I guess if there were ever a race to wear the race shirt in this is the one”. I can be so seriously witty.
HOLY SHIT PEOPLE this was the most beautiful race EVER. The clearing of the storm for what seemed like the exact amount of time needed for this race to take place meant the sunset was out of this world. Fire-sky, it was incredible. I teared up slightly in the first kilometer because it was that beautiful. Between the headlamps, the sunset fading into the night, the lights off the cityscape and all of the bright yellow race shirts – that part was fan-fucking-tastic!
What wasn’t the best was that I had a shin splint in my right shin almost from the first step, I knew that my groin was tight on the same side and could also feel that from the first step and what I figure I did was adjust my form right there instead of waiting for it to loosen on it’s own, it took about two and a half kilometers but I managed to adjust my form and alleviate the shin splints but around 6k pain started to set into my left hip. There was no bloody way I was letting on that I was in any pain because once that gun went off that run wasn’t about me it was about getting my girlfriend to the finish line as quickly as I could. I learned shit loads from this race, having never officially paced someone, there are a lot of things that I would do differently next time, but it went well for the most part. I was not able to get my girlfriend her PB, we missed it by 2 minutes but she still took 4 minutes off of her last 10k race and she didn’t walk once and she pushed through it in non ideal racing conditions. I was extremely proud of her.
I found myself quite frankly floored at how sore I was from that run, I’ve been running pain and injury free [for the most part] for a good couple months now. I’ve taken more breaks for depression than sore muscles and it is definitely normally the other way around. Although that route was the perfect setting for that sort of race it was not the sort that someone with my history of injuries should ever consider running again. I had to take two rest days I was so sore.
Ultimately, I’m glad that I didn’t let my depression, my plethora of racing rules or my lifelong fear of the wind stop me from running. This time, I showed myself how the fuck to get it done.