Sometimes you go to a race, and something goes wrong. It happens to everyone. It can be a 5K in the middle of nowhere with 100 people where they don't really mark the course right, it could be an Ironman where your tire blows up in transition 15 minutes before the race starts.
It could be a race that's a throwaway or the race that you spent six months training for and at the end of the day, random chance, your own penchant for the occasional mistake or something else can step up and bite you in the ass.
I'd been training for the Lake Placid Marathon, well, since the day after the Disney Half Marathon. I started out the year with a 1:21 there, trimming 5 minutes off my last half-marathon in September, went on to win 3 races in the spring, and then got in the type of training a lot of people can only dream of finding the time for- a 22 mile run in the middle of the week, 5 10-plus miles runs in 10 days. I was ready to run this race, my legs were in good shape, mentally I wanted to be in the top 5.
I don't know that I'll ever write the actual race report for this race, because well, I didn't run it.
I ran most of it. Over 25 miles of it, but that's not a marathon.
Due to an odd fluke of the course the turn-around is not at 13.1 miles but at around 12 miles (or something).
I had it in my head exactly where the turn-around was, and when I got there, I turned around and headed the other way. There were some super-sized cones at the turn-around, I saw the lead runners going the other way.
I had a brain fart. This was an epic one, the biggest race-day mental error I have ever made.
I didn't know it, really know it, until I ran past the actual turn around.
Wow. I finished the race, I talked to the runner closest to me when I made the turn, I sat on the bumper of the timing truck for a minute, and fought back a few tears. I'm a bit of neanderthal, I don't guys should ever cry, but that was pretty close.
I went to the timer, gave the my pull tag, and told then I'd missed a turn. They wanted to really check it out and make sure I was wrong. I told them I was sure, and went back to the hotel.
I don't deserve a pat on the back or anything for that. I totally frakked up out on the race course. Plain and simple. I made a mental error you just can't make. This race has three turn-arounds and you have to get all three right. Going to the timer and disqualifying myself wasn't something I could decide whether or not I wanted to do.
Physically, I felt like I'd run a marathon. Mentally, I'd faced the same challenges, the fatigue and the self-doubt. Emotionally, there was no satisfaction.
I can't say it didn't suck. I can't say it didn't remind me that this was the same place where I'd passed on what is probably the only Kona spot I'll ever earn. I can't say I wasn't stupid embarrassed.
I can say that I got showered and took Ian and played 18 holes of Pirate Golf (I won). I can say that the next morning I signed up for the Branford Road Race and the Fairfield Marathon.
I can't get that race back. I can't forget that what I did was stupid, but I can't let it affect me either. I have raced before and now, after this morning, I have raced again.
And that is all you can do.