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The many, many emotions of a race

This is half race report, half cathartic rambling about the Fort4Fitness half-marathon. My goal was to come in under 2 hours, and my official time was 2 hours ... and 6 seconds. I apologize in advance for the length ... and the whining. 

Excited: You’ve been training for weeks, and you’re ready to finally see the results of your hard work. You have a plan, even if it’s vague, and you have some goals. Let’s do this thing!

Nervous: A few bad days make you wonder if you plans are dumb and your goals are realistic. Can I really do this? Did I set the bar too high? You consider dropping your expectations so you’re not disappointed.

Cocky: A few good days (and one awesome Warrior Dash) make you feel unstoppable. You hit a key workout and think, “This is in the bag.” 

Who wouldn't feel awesome after leaping over fire?

Anxious: You just want race day to hurry up and get here already! You have nightmares about being late to the starting line, and you might compare your husband’s driving to a grandmother the next morning because you don’t want that dream to come true. You jump and bob around the corrals for 20 minutes and don’t even notice a coworker when he walks RIGHT BY YOU and says hello. Whoops!

Liberated: The gun (or in my case REALLY loud cannon) is fired, and you’re finally off and running! Your feet start to fly with the crowd around you. 

Calm: At mile 5, you take note of your physical state. Breathing: steady. Legs: Happy. Mouth: A little dry. You sip from your Camelbak and power on. You’re right on pace!

Annoyed: Around mile 8, the course starts to twist and turn through some small hills. It’s nothing you haven’t dealt with before, but the pace group is bunching and runners are starting to cut you off around corners. You push ahead of the herd slightly to avoid feeling like a sardine. 

Panicked: Somewhere around mile 10, you start to wheeze a little and you can’t keep your head up. You take in some fuel and the pace group passes you, making you feel worse. You scramble on a downhill to catch back up. You hear a pace say you’re one minute, forty second ahead … 

Desperate: Your legs and brain start to shut down. The pace group charges ahead, and it’s all you can do to keep them in your sights. Your eyes flash between your watch and their signs, which are getting smaller in the distance. 

Imagine this outfit on me and in motion.

Numb: One foot in front of the other, you’re not sure if you’re really running anymore or just shuffling. The watch says you still have a chance, but your brain says you’ve lost all hope. You can’t seem to will your legs to move any faster. 

Determined: As you’re dragging yourself to the finish, someone yells, “Sprint when you hit the corner!” Miraculously, you do. Your feel the dirt fly up behind you, and you give all your might until you cross the mat. 

Disgusted: Safely across finish line, you stop your watch. It says you’ve missed your goal by 20 seconds. You know it would take a serious miracle for the timing chip to read much different. A high school classmate (the one you wanted to beat because APPARENTLY you’re still a competitive teenage jock) is the first to greet you. And he’s already got a medal around his neck. “Shit, you beat me!” is all you manage to say. Later, you remember to not be an asshole and congratulate him instead. 

Disappointed: You find your husband and daughter in the crowd and nearly cry. “I missed it,” you say, and pout a little. You wander around the finish area in a daze, eating pretzels and finally hobbling toward the results table. It’s official: You missed your goal by 6. Freaking. Seconds. 

Dead: Still in shock from running 13.1 long miles, you practically shut down on the ride home. You barely manage to walk into the restaurant for lunch, and you don’t completely comprehend your husband’s talk of races for next year. More races? No way. He gives you the pep talk you need to hear, and you agree to stay positive.  

Count on your BRF for the best racing advice.

Depressed: As the day pass and more people ask how you did, you try to keep your chin up. You contemplate redemption at your next race (when you’re supposed to be running slow and “just for fun”). You Google three-week training plans. You seek advice from running pros online. You want someone to tell you what to do. 

Enlightened: Your BRF says EXACTLY what you needed to hear: Don’t do it. You’ll injure yourself OR be even more disappointed if you don’t hit your goal. Back off – just have fun. Try again next season. 


Relieved: In a split second, everything is back on plan, and you're looking forward to running for fun again. You really are feeling positive – not just saying you are. The hard part is over, and you accept the fact that your big race is DONE, no matter the time. You hear the leaves crunching under your feet and feel the crisp autumn air. Suddenly, you could care less about those 6 seconds – this moment is what matters. Just keep running. 

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