The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Race (or so I thought…)

Months and months and months of anticipation for the San Antonio’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon 2009 finally came to pass last Sunday. It was the city’s 2nd time to host this race and also my 2nd time to run it. There was a bit of anxiety stirring in my mind about how the race would turn out. Because of this nasty cold I had been battling the week before, I knew I needed to let go of all hopes that I might improve my 2008 completion time. But at the least, there was the idea that I would be able to run the whole course and finish in a somewhat close proximity (like 10 or 15 minutes) to what I ran last year. Turns out though, that was not the case…

Before the race even started, temperatures were in the 70s and humidity was at 94%; I had a hunch then how grueling of a feat it was going to be to finish in these conditions. Not even 30 minutes after I crossed the start, I felt weak and heavy and knew my motivational reserve was running on empty. At mile 6 I kept thinking how spent my body already was. And at mile 13.1 (the half way point) I was struggling big time. Even with lots of encouragement, like when Rob rode up next to me on his bike and let me listen to the girls cheer me on over the phone, I knew I would not be able to press on much longer at a jogging pace. I dug deep into my heart over and over again, trying to pull out some sort of determination, some bit of perseverance and drive, but nothing was there. Then at mile 18, I hit my wall. I couldn’t keep running. So off and on I would walk a bit and try to jog, walk a bit and try to jog. Somewhere around mile 24, this lingering scrap of energy appeared and I exhausted every last bit of it with a very slow jog for the last 2 miles. And then finally (adding almost an hour to last year’s time!) I crossed the finish line. There was relief that it was over for sure! But I felt so disappointed and defeated that I didn’t finish the way I wanted to. It wasn’t so much the time in and of itself that bummed me out, it was the fact that it was so much longer than what I was able to do the first time I ran.

I know. I know… I have to get over this and not beat myself up about it. I was just really discouraged because I trained hard and felt I didn’t have the results I had counted on. But this is a good lesson for me and I have to come to terms with the fact that it is just one of those things that happens; life has its let-downs and upsets. Reality is clear; some days are good and some are not so good. I was trying to think of what this race can teach me and how I can add one more thing to that running post here. And in doing so, I was reminded of words from Ecclesiastes 3 where it says, “To everything there is a season…” And as trivial and petty as a silly running event really is in the big scheme of things, this verse still has application for me (even in this setting). It is a good reminder that there is ‘a time for every purpose under heaven.’

A time to run,
and a time to walk;
A time for victory and accomplishment,
and a time to face defeat;
A time for health,
and a time to be sick;
A time for November to have cold days,
and a time for November to have crazy hot and humid days;
A time for sun;
and a time for rain (maybe even snow).

And my identity is not in my running, it is in my faith in God who through all seasons of life has a plan and purpose and ‘has made everything beautiful in its time.”

I have to remember that I had perseverance and steadfastness through the past 5 months of training. Even knowing that I am never in control of how the end turns out, I still need to press on in life with diligence. I don’t want my results to make me lose hope in the benefits of training and discipline, or to wonder ‘if only I had done…” It just didn’t work out for me this year (and maybe it won’t next year either). But I still keep running, because I love it and for what it teaches me…

Anyways, here are some pictures to recap the day

At the Rabons, our friends and hosts for the big run

The race just started and all these folks at the start (lots of Kenyans) are the ones I’ll be seeing at their 22nd – 24th mile, while I am only between miles 11 and 13
(the course from miles 11 to 13 coincided with the remaining course of miles 22 to 24)
The top finishers completed in little over 2 hours – crazy!

It is a bit hard to see the expressions of everyone around me at mile 20, but it captures the effect the heat was having on us all. I wasn’t alone in my pain.

Proof that a smile is not a tell-tale sign of happiness. I am hurting big time here!

running under the bridge with just half a mile to go and some friends to cheer me on
this did bring forth a true grin, knowing the end was truly in sight

Finally done! Rob was able to ride his bike along the whole course.
I actually sent him away at times when I was feeling low.
I liked him better surprising me up ahead along the course with his presence and encouragement rather than riding next to me as I struggled along (is that weird???)

Dear friends of ours, The Collins’ Family, loaded up their 5 kiddos (baby 6 on the way) and braved the traffic, the parking, the spectator shuttles, the walking, and all the other obstacles an event that has 30,000+ runners brings in to surprise me with their presence! I was truly touched by their willing determination to show their support!

So what are my plans for next year??? I am not running San Antonio again, that is for sure. The chance of heat is just too risky. Next year, it is Houston’s Chevron marathon in January when the forecast for colder weather is a bit more likely.

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3 Responses to The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Race (or so I thought…)

  1. Anonymous says:

    And you have to remember … your placement in the overall (30,000 runners!!)was in the top 10-12 percent, was it not???

    • jvanvleet says:

      Sweet Nonnie! Don’t you know that the word ‘anonymous’ has your name hidden within? I am most certain it was you. Thanks for trying to cheer me up, but placement doesn’t matter to me, I am just competitive with myself. You were thoughtful to try : )

  2. David says:

    From one runner to another, you describe the day with perfect detail, with some loss and hope… great job, Jo!

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