Monday, December 30, 2013

Holiday Half Recap ie A lesson in humility

It's been a long time.  I've been delaying writing up the story of the Holiday Half because honestly, I'm still recovering.  I am also an idiot.

Have you ever run yourself so far into the ground that you're still paying for it two weeks later?  Because that's what happened to me!

I'm going to start at the beginning of the week:  Training was going great!  For the past three weeks or so, I'd been running workouts I'd only dreamed of running in the past.  I was unstoppable!  At least for me!  Feeling awesome!  Watch out Lauren Fleshman!

But I was coming down with a cold that I'd been fighting off for a couple weeks.  I feel like colds are like playing the lottery.  Sometimes if you ignore it and go on with life as usual, you're fine, and sometimes you hit the sickness jackpot.

I decided to play the lottery.  On Tuesday I had the best tempo run of my life probably with 10 miles at 7:17 pace (it's killing me to write that right now).  I was working like crazy because I work in ecommerce and the couple weeks before the holidays are always nuts.  I also flew to Vegas and back in one day on Wednesday to give a talk...and oh boyfriend was also moving to Nor Cal that weekend so we were trying to hang out as much as possible before he took off.   I was kind of dying.

I wasn't sure if the Holiday Half was going to be a training effort or a race effort but training had been going so well, I thought that I'd be missing an opportunity to not try.  So Thursday I ran 4 miles at GHMP (7:10) to prepare for Sunday.  It felt ominously not as easy as I was hoping.

After saying goodbye to ~R~ on Friday and dosing up on meds, I decided to continue playing it by ear and see how I felt on race morning.

Cue the ominous music....

On Sunday morning, I woke up and met Monica and Heather in some random parking lot in Orange County.  We drove up to Pomona and parked.  Heather was going for a double PR weekend so that was cool.  After running a couple minutes to warm up, I thought "fuck it...I'm going to try to race this thing.  I feel terrible, but I am awesome and maybe luck will be on my side! I am AWESOME".

The gun went off and my hubris lasted about 2 miles.  My first mile was 7 flat and my second was around 7:15 or so.  I was already feeling like I was working and as we all know....feeling like you're working hard 2 miles into a 13 mile race is no bueno.

So I thought..."You know what?  I'll slow it up and wait for the 1:40 pacer...that'll be a good workout for me...just an easy tempo really!  Yeah!  1:40 will be EASY.".

I am somehow giving my friend the stink eye in this picture and that's too awesome not to post.
Famous last words.  I waited up for the 1:40 pacer and joined his group.  Like a total asshole, I started chatting cheerily with him, acting like 7:38 pace after a week from hell is like a walk in the park for me. That lasted until about....mile 10.

(PS: I did meet along the way an incredibly inspiring woman who was going for her "first sub 1:40 post cancer."  Damn....I am pretty sure she made her goal too!)
With my last three miles to go, I WAS DYING.  My feelings that I could pull off an easy PR, or even tempo at this race were gone like a cookie around Cookie Monster.  I was just trying to survive at this point.  It was hot and sunny and the 1:40 pacer was getting harder and harder to keep up with.  On top of this, I started cursing myself for being so cocky.  The self-hatred, beads of sweat running down my face and the sticky Gatorade I'd thrown on myself to try to keep cooler were almost too much to take.

After being passed by the pacer, I finally ran it in.  1:40:13 was my final time.

I ran a few cooldown miles because I obviously wanted more punishment and drove my friends home.

Here's the thing though:
1) The Holiday Half is actually a lovely race.  Sure, it was hot, but it's well run and has a pretty course.

2) I have no idea why, after the week that I had, I was thinking I could go for a PR.  But that's the thing about running.  I am sure that someone out there (probably on LetsRun) has some story where they had a bad week at work, personally, and physically, and still banged out a PR.  So I can't entirely blame myself for trying in those first two miles.  #dreambigright?  #orsomething

3)  What the hell did I do to myself?  Two weeks later and I still am low-grade sick and haven't been able to run more than a mile or two below 8 minutes.  I am not sure whether this is going to make Carlsbad a bust or not.

4)  Yes...yes...I learned a least for now.  

But it's more a life lesson that I need to keep learning:  The moment you are feeling too comfortable about something is the moment something's gonna go wrong.  Here's to never getting too comfortable.


  1. First comment didn't make it through?

    What I said is that I understand with point #2. I had salmonella for two weeks in September. Every run up until a half marathon was met with a couple of emergency bathroom stops. The day before the race was my birthday so I don't know if it was a gift or just a miracle, but I had a perfect day with no GI issues and a PR by over three minutes!

    Gotta go for it every time. Never know when that perfect awesome day is going to hit!

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  3. Hope the new year will bring more blessed miles

  4. You ARE awesome!

    This has nothing to do with running, but someone once told me I was not in the right position at work if I wasnt at least a little uncomfortable. Like in the challenging yourself kind of way. Once you get comfortable, it means things are too easy for you and you need new challenges. So, cheers to uncomfortableness!