Yesterday I ran the Nashua Medical Center 6K, part of the NE-Grand Prix series this year, and I have no reservations about saying that it was one of my worst racing performances of my life. However, it was also the first race of my life where I legitimately injured myself and had every reason to DNF...but didn't. So...there's that.
I drove up to the race with Joy and Jen (both of whom just ran Boston, and Jen had just finished the Cape Relay like, the night before) and none of us were super jacked about the race. I clearly had gotten myself into a bad mental pattern because I know I'm not in racing shape, ESPECIALLY not short racing shape, but I knew I just needed to get out there and suck it up and get the first awful one over with so I could have some sort of motivation to go back to short distance training so the next one wasn't so bad.
We got to the race and Tom's reaction to seeing me was like...laughter. Seriously, lol. I don't think he could believe I had actually come, because he knows I'm out of shape, and he knows I know I'm out of shape, so he was surprised that I signed myself up for basically, pain. We met up with my old running buddy Kelly, who lives in Nashua, she wasn't racing but she came on the warmup with us on part of the course, and told us she didn't think the rest of the course was that hilly.
Next thing I knew, we were on the start line. And I did not want to be there. Going into a race unprepared is just...not a good feeling. In the back of your mind you hope somehow you'll just gut it out and kill it, but for the most part you know it's going to suck. A lot. And it's your own fault, and there's nothing you can do about it.
Then we were off, and I was quickly feeling the "ahh what is this running fast BS?!" feeling...but I locked on the backs of Joy and Jen and was feeling pretty strong running behind them....and then I stepped in a pothole, rolled my ankle (pain! mayday! red alert!) and found myself flying through the air and thudding to the ground. Honestly given how early it was in the race and how tight the pack was, I'm astounded no one tripped on my. I couldn't even process what was going on and my ankle was screaming, my first thought was "shit. you really should drop out." But I just. couldn't. So I got up and started hobbling along, in the meantime getting passed by about 50 people. After a few minutes I was finally able to regain some semblance of a normal stride but it still hurt like hell and obviously any momentum I had was gone.
I came through the mile at 6:58ish (which is shocking considering the amount of time I spend on the ground and limping), and the rest of the race was just a waste. The second mile was entirely uphill, and I was hyperventilating from the pain and from the shock and frustration of what had just happened; any fight I'd had in me to try to run a decent race was completely gone. I would occasionally try to pick it up and then my ankle would tell me to eff off, and so I would slow down. I got passed by a 9 year old girl wearing all pink. I got passed by old women and chunky middle aged men. It was demoralizing, it was frustrating, it was awful. I knew that there was no point in exacerbating my already effed-up ankle by attempting to run faster, but still, seeing 7:40 as a split in a 6K? I wanted to curl up and die.
Finally got to the last uphill stretch towards the finish, I finally got past a girl I had been leapfrogging with all race (small consolation prize), crossed the stupid finish line, and then my ankle was like "YOU STUPID WOMAN WHY DID YOU FINISH?!" I explained to my teammates what happened which made me feel a little better (like, hey guys, I'm NOT actually this slow!) and they went off looking for some ice for me, which apparently they did not have. Um...okay. This race is at a medical center, and you don't have ANY ice?? Not even at the "first aid" tent? What do you have there, bandaids?
The only good things about the day were that I didn't run a personal worst (shockingly), the race gave out running hats which I actually kind of like, and the GBTC women won for the team competition, which gives us a big lead in the grand prix! Oh, and we went out to brunch afterwards. Nothing can soothe the hurt of a bad race like a huge, cheesy omlette and home fries.
Today my ankle is swollen and painful, but I think it's probably just a grade I sprain and will be fine in a couple of days. I think more frustrating than the fact that I got hurt in the first place was that I felt like it gave me an excuse of sorts to bail out on myself in a race that I knew was going to suck. And I know looking back that it would have been stupid to push and try to run harder through it, but still in the end to me it kind of feels like a cop out. But then again, it would have felt like way more of a cop out if I didn't even finish the race...so I guess there's that.