A little background -- This semester has been really, really difficult and with final exams looming and final projects smacking me about the head and neck, I'm just beat lately. I'm exhausted and cranky and not at my best. So, Saturday night, I was chatting with my friend Mark on facebook and he asked if I was ready for the race. I told him that I probably was, but that I'd frankly rather just stay in bed. Mark went into coach mode and told me that this race would be really important to help determine my current fitness level and help to formulate a plan for the rest of my year of training for the NYC marathon. Newly inspired, I put my exhaustion and lousy attitude on the shelf and set out all my running clothes for the morning.
So, Sunday morning the alarm when off at 6:10 and I hopped out of bed and got dressed. I threw a bagel in my bag, pulled on an extra fleece for the walk to and from the train, kissed my husband goodbye and headed off to the race. At 7:40, I was jogging up to the start of the race. I asked one of the race volunteers where the number pick-up was.
"Ummm... at the Road Runners headquarters on 89th street."
"Oh no!" I cried, "Okay, well the race doesn't start for 20 minutes, I can make it there and back! And I'll be totally warmed up!"
"Ummm... actually, they stopped distributing numbers at 7:30."
"Well... can I run anyway and just time myself?" I asked.
"Yeah, but you can't check your bag without a number," she said apologetically.
Several other people were asking questions about number pick up and were in the same boat as me. I'm glad I wasn't the only one who screwed up.
So, I walked the long, cold, lonely walk back to the subway and headed home to the Bronx. During the ride home, I thought about what Mark said, and I thought about this community, and how I'd said I was going to race a 10K today, and that I wanted to PR. So, eff it, I thought! I'm just going to go home, drop off my bag and head out and race a 10K against my myself!
I figured I'd have to run, as best I could, without traffic lights so it would be close to my previous best 10K time, which was run in Central Park. I pressed start on my new Garmin, took off towards the local woodsy trail and felt fantastic. I was running fast and strong, and the trail was looking pretty good. And then, it got a little muddy. No big deal, I thought. And then, I was running through three inches of mud. Keep going, I thought! And then, my ankle twisted, my feet went out from under me and I was on my face, in the mud. I pressed Stop on the watch, thinking that my run was over. I was just over 3 miles into it and my ankle was hurting pretty badly. I teared up and slammed my hands down on the ground. I threw some expletives up at the tops of the trees and stood up. I took out my phone and started walking. I was about to call my husband to tell him that I was in the woods and I'd hurt my ankle and could he come get me. But, as I started walking I realized it wasn't as bad as I first thought. I can totally walk home on this. But then I remembered that home was more than 3 miles away and I sweaty and cold and now covered in mud. And I got up this morning to run a 10k, goddammit!
I hit the start button and took off again, running back through the mud, into my local park and onto the running track. My ankle didn't hurt and there was no stopping me. I ran at the track until mile 5.8 and then I took off, up a ginormous hill, running as hard as I could towards my imaginary finish line.
My watch beeped at 6.2 miles and I hit stop. Prior to today, I ran a 10k race in 56:34. Today, through the mud, through the tears, through the early morning mess up, I ran it in 51:54. My average pace was 8:23. My fastest mile was 8:03, also a PR.
Epic Fail/Personal Triumph. Sometimes, it's a really fine line.