Every year I toss up a real clunker, a race I want back as soon as I finish running it- or earlier.
This was that race this year.
I hate writing about the bad races, and this wasn't a case of running a few seconds slower than I would have liked or getting beat by people that I should be getting beat by. This was what happens when all your week day running over the last month has been on the treadmill, you're five pounds overweight and you are coming off a week of one a day workouts.
Not to make excuses. I should have been ready, and I wasn't.
The race started relatively on time this year, but with a different course. I had started warming up early and considering how prepared I was for the race (not), probably went too hard. We head out from the starting line and ran a block or two farther than usually before hooking that left that takes you to the big hill.
I was keying off George Buchanan, and although he was right about where I expected, I felt like I was labouring. My stride was choppy, my arms were churning. When we turned left again I evaluated who was around me and I knew I was in trouble. Around half a mile I started to feel like I just didn't belong out there, like I feel during the swim of most tris, and I did the same thing I do then, I pushed that thought aside.
Then we were on the big hill and Charlie Hornak was pushing me, so I tried to pick it up a notch. That brought little benefit, but I was still fighting and not really sure just what was going on.
My iPod died.
Finally the big climbs were over and we started the downhill. I felt like I was picking it up a little, then there were some more turns and I was back and forth with people. It wasn't really the usual give and go, in part because I was giving and going with people that I don't usually see up close during a race.
We were screaming down the hill, like always, but then we had to hook a left.
It was kind of weird, because I'd run this race for years and the rhythm of it and the rhythm of me were both just wrong.
I had no idea where were were until we turned back onto the road that we started on. I was still off, still struggling. I got encouragement from Charlie, but the truth was I was just gassed.
I crossed the line over 18:40, unhappy with myself.
But I went and grabbed a beer, then warmed down with Charlie, who was very kind about how craptastic my running form was.
And I had gotten the wake-up call I needed.