A First and (hopefully) Last

Friday night, I didn’t get much sleep—I’m not sure why, to be honest. I got to bed at a decent hour (and I’d gotten up early to hit the gym Friday morning) but it was well after 1am when I finally fell asleep. I know it wasn’t any earlier than that because I stopped looking at the clock after that point, but I’m sure it was much later. Then, I woke up around 6am and much to my surprise was wide awake. No more falling back asleep no matter how much I tried.

Needless to say, I was feeling a little run down when Charlie and I went to Crystal City so I could pick up my Cherry Blossom 10-miler number and timing chip, but I was hoping all I needed was some brunch to pick me back up. After some food, though, things didn’t seem to get any better, and it was about an hour later in the National Building Museum that at the end of the first exhibit, I said I really just wanted to go home. (The NBM continues to elude me, alas.) I was feeling exhausted and a little shaky, and all I could think about was a nap.

I laid down for about three hours (sleeping for one of them) and that seemed to help a bit. But I was still a little iffy at this point on if I should run the Cherry Blossom or not. I figured I’d play it by ear in the morning. I did go to bed and fall asleep at a reasonable time, so all seemed ok.

Except it wasn’t. I felt like I was struggling from the moment I started running, much worse than I had during the National Half Marathon last weekend. (Which you may have noticed I’ve been a little quiet about. That’s why.) By the time I hit the 5K point, I was thinking to myself that it was a shame the new course was so good because I wasn’t enjoying it at all. And when I hit the 5-mile point, I did something for the first time in eight years of racing. I dropped out.

I quietly walked off the course, turned off my watch, unpinned my number from my shirt and stuck it in my pocket, and pulled the timing chip off my shoe. I was only about a quarter mile from the finish and it felt like another five miles. Half of my head was screaming at me, calling me a quitter and pathetic, the other half protesting that it was the right decision to make. I was feeling exhausted and my pace had been starting to crash, my shoulder was hurting, it was just bad all around. But I trudged back to the start—it was too late to go back now—and turned in my chip and went home.

When I got in the shower, I couldn’t help but note that I should’ve still been running at that exact moment. And I felt like crap about it. There was a guy holding a sign at the race last week saying, “NOBODY LIKES A QUITTER” (presumably some phrase he shared with a friend of his who was racing) and that’s all I could think about.

Part of me says it was the right decision. Most of me thinks there had been smarter, better options: kept running but slowed down and didn’t worry about a finishing time; stayed home in the first place; e-mailed the race officials this time a week ago when Laura had switched over to the 5K and done the same thing as well.

I saw Rick and Emma both run by in the half of the race I was in, and they looked great and strong. I’m envious. On the side of the road I saw Joe and Sonia from Pacers cheering people on, and it made me want to go back to their group and start running with them and try and get back into running shape. All things to keep in mind.

Right now, I’m going to take a week or two off of running and just do some other forms of cross-training and such at the gym. Start fresh when training kicks back up on the 19th.

But at the moment, I’m removing any other small races off of my agenda. (Battle of the Boulevard 10K or Capital Hill Classic 10K.) I don’t think I could take the disappointment yet again. I’m done with racing for at least a little bit.