Sometimes, listening to my own advice means stepping back, evaluating my circumstances, and deciding to pull out of a race before it even starts.
On May 6th, I did just that.
Months ago, I had registered to run my third Frederick Running Festival Half Marathon. The Frederick Half was the first half I ever ran, way back in 2009, and holds a lot of nostalgia for me. It’s my hometown half, and that means I get to run through the streets of the ‘big city’ I grew up outside of.
My mom and I have made a mini tradition of running the Twilight 5k together the night before the half. So on Saturday, we headed to the fairgrounds and lined up at the starting line.
We were joined this year by my boyfriend Chris, who planned to race the 5k to the best of his ability. I was planning on hanging back with my mom and just enjoying a nice 3 mile jog. No pressure, just fun.
I had the half marathon the next day looming in the back of my mind when we went to packet pickup, when we arrived at the race, and when we were lining up at the start. I just was not feeling it, and knew I had not trained properly. My PT hadn’t necessarily said I shouldn’t run the half, but she also did not give me a glowing recommendation. All she said was ‘be careful’.
In the back of my mind, I knew I wasn’t ready for this race.
Sure, I ran 22 miles the weekend before, but that was broken up over 4 legs of a Ragnar Relay. Not the same thing as 13.1 continuous miles on pavement.
I kept thinking about the race I have in August, the Maryland HEAT 25k in Patapsco State Park. That is a race I’m excited to run and compete in. I don’t want to have to battle through injuries this summer and limp to the finish. I want to run hard, and see what a shorter trail race can get me in terms of age-group place.
So I made a decision.
I pulled out of the half marathon.
I went to dinner after the 5k with my family. I enjoyed a beer and a mint Julep (it was Derby Day after all!). I ate a big goat cheese omelet and home fries. I enjoyed myself.
Normally, I would have been stressing about the food I was taking in, knowing that I’d be running in less than 12 hours and not wanting my stomach to turn while I was running. I wouldn’t be drinking because dehydration is a killer out on the race course. I would definitely not have chosen to eat what I did, even though it was DELICIOUS. I would have had a sad salad and maybe a slice of bread.
I’m so glad I listened to my own advice. Learning the lessons of previous injuries are going to help guide my future training and race decisions moving forward. Life is too short to be constantly injured.
I’m ready to train smart, race smart, and listen – actually LISTEN – to my body.