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Run for the Fallen 5K – Recap 8-24-14

All things considered, I did better than I thought I did.

Although when I finished the race and looked at my watch, I was a little disappointed with the time and my effort, but when I got to thinking about it while writing this post – I did just fine.

Run for the Fallen Finish Line

Run for the Fallen Finish Line

There were a LOT of positives to take-away from the race!

  1. Honoring the Fallen – the ringing of the bell after reading the Fallen’s name part of the memorial service was very powerful for me. (just a couple of tears were shed)
  2. Making it to the starting line today!!! Yes, I had some serious doubts about whether I would, over the past couple of days and even almost left around 9:30 – due to some frustrations I was having – my problems no one else’s.
  3. It was the fastest I have run a 5K this year – 22:33
  4. I had a right on pace first mile – 6:39
    Strava Run for the Fallen 5K 8-24-14

    Strava Run for the Fallen 5K 8-24-14

  5. I was smart and didn’t push through, when my hamstring started to tighten up after the first mile, I pulled back until it stopped barking really loudly.
  6. In other words, I finished the race uninjured.

What did I learn:

  • That the Run for the Fallen 5k – Maine is not just a 5K race it is much more. It is (from my perspective at least), a memorial service that honors the memory of servicemen and women who gave their lives in the service of this Country, and their families, that has a 5K race. That is the order of importance. Which is the way things should be.
  • That for some reason driving more than half an hour bothers my hamstring – a lot.
  • That standing around in the hot sun for over an hour (going through registration, getting back in line to get a t-shirt, the speakers, etc.) does dehydrate you more than you think and did affect me during the race.
  • That I am becoming more and more uncomfortable around lots of people and either withdraw to be by myself, away from the crowds. Not a bad thing, but…I miss out on the biggest reason that I go to races – the camaraderie.
  • That when I am in crowds, I do not have a lot of patience with sudden changes to what needs to be done and can react pretty negatively.
  • That race anxiety drains me emotionally, which negatively affects my performance during the race.

Participating in the Run for the Fallen Memorial event, was a great experience. The event/race organizers and volunteers were great and I only have one suggestion, on the race registration/t-shirt distribution needs to organized differently next year, there was a lot of confusion and some frustration about which line we needed to be in and who was supposed to be where.

The race itself was GREAT!

  • Families of the Fallen were on course – beside/near posters of their deceased family members. It was hard not to be motivated to do your absolute best, while on the course with them out there cheering you on.
  • The course was mostly flat and fast and the water/support crews out there were enthusiastic.
  • There is something about seeing Marines in dress blues (even though I am a retired Coastie – the Marines still have the best dress uniform), is impressive and they were lining the start/finish area.

The Run For the Fallen race is a great event and done for the right reasons.

Race Anxiety

The rest of the post is optional reading and only if you want to read about how race anxiety and some of how it affects me. Someone who is usually pretty easy going.

Well that was the good, now for the bad and the ugly (well none of it was ugly…well not too ugly any way).

I  had to fight, struggle and push myself to get to the starting line.

What happened?

Friday night I got a little wonky about going to the race. I started reading past years results, the numbers of people  and runners they were expecting, which created dark thoughts and some pretty unrealistic, thinking about what I should be doing in the race.

Which meant that I had to keep re-focusing myself back to reality and my actual conditioning versus where I want to be in few months or where I was in April 2013. Unfortunately, those thoughts kept creeping back as soon as I beat them down or had some time where I wasn’t busy. It got really bad when I went to bed, I didn’t sleep much Friday night.

Then Saturday was more of the same – which  meant that I kept thinking about the race most of the day, when I wasn’t keeping myself busy. Several times I seriously thought about just bagging the race and how if was feeling this crappy about simply going to a damn race, then it just wasn’t worth it.

I helped move some heavy furniture around at SD2’s late yesterday afternoon and strained my back/arm a little – which were annoyances, but I thought about how/if I could use them to get me out of going in the morning, without loosing face. Then I tossed and turned all night Saturday versus getting the sleep that I missed on Friday.

I woke up this morning and felt like I got just about half as much sleep as I needed.

Even though I hid it well, I was so nervous about going to Brunswick that I was looking for any reason to not have to go to the race. I almost decided to go with TheWife and Bennie to Oxford to do some book shopping, using any flimsy excuse I could to justify going with her, instead of the race. No pressure, no expectations, not too many people, no race – all good things  in my mind at that point.

Instead giving myself more time to think about it, I got in the car and left about 30 minutes before I planned. When I stopped to fill-up and get the paper at the store, everything seemed to go wrong and even the cashier told me that I better just go home and start over.

Great way to start the drive down and I thought about doing just that.

By the time I got to Gardiner, my left hamstring was hurting a lot and when I got to Brunswick, I had to stop at Dunkin Donuts just to walk around and see if I could loosen it up a little, besides an emergency bathroom stop. Yeah, those wonderful GI issues you get when you are stressed out. At that point, I really thought about just getting back on the Interstate and going back North.

I didn’t.

At least getting to the race site was easy and parking was a breeze and my leg had loosened up a little.

Now to get my race number, t-shirt and get ready for the race.

Unfortunately, trying to figure out how to register was a real pain in the butt and confusing.

You had to go to a trailer, look at the race participant list, get your race number, then go to registration to get your bib, then get in one of multiple lines that were not well labeled to get your t-shirt.

Now for most people this is a pretty simple thing and no big deal, but for someone who is already stressing out about just being there, any more stressors make it tough.

Another bathroom break.

Then when the volunteers and the announcer started to make make us change lines, move the families in front (which was the right thing to do), but well I almost just left at that point – there was just too much going on.

One of the volunteers started barking out orders for us to go to the back of the other line, which just hit me wrong and I started to respond to him with something pretty negative. Luckily, the woman behind me (who I had talked with her and her husband) touched my shoulder and gently said, “relax – they are doing the best they can”.

It came at the perfect time, I must have had that “deer in the headlight” or “I’ve had enough” look going on and with everything else going on, I was getting ready to make a total ass of myself.

I quickly shut it down, shut up, calmed down and then she started to just talk to me again – I don’t remember what we were talking about, but I know that I would either said some very unnecessary things or simply left in a huff at that point, if she hadn’t spoken to me.

We just shifted over to the other line and got our t-shirts (it took about another 15 minutes of waiting in line).

By this point I was still on overload and almost physically ill. I definitely needed to be away from everyone else.

Another bathroom break.

I took the t-shirt back to the car and did a 1.2 mile warm-up, which calmed down my stomach, but my left hammie was still tight and that was worrying me, because there was no way, I would be able to run the way that I wanted to, with it feeling that way and I thought about why bother to run the race, if I couldn’t run without pain or possibly screwing up the hamstring even more.

During the ceremonies and speakers portion I stayed over by the starting line – away from the crowds and continued to work on stretching out my hamstring, while listening.

Finally, I got the hamstring loosened up to where it did not feel too bad – which helped me feel better.

Another bathroom break

Coming out of the bathroom there was an announcement that there would be a delay of 10-15 more minutes before the race was going to start.

Big sigh.

More waiting.

Finally, 15 about minutes later, we lined up for the race, that part was fine (no big speeches or anything, just the start after getting things settled), being around other runners doesn’t usually bother me, because I know we will be running soon. I just stayed closer to the front of the pack – 3rd row, not as many people up there and I start fast enough that I don’t bother other runners behind me.

You do not know the feeling of relief I felt when the race started and I was able to just run.

The reality is that

I really, really came very close to not doing this race.

Even after I got there, I came close to leaving.

It is not easy trying to explain, how something as simple as going to run in a race, which thousands of runners do every weekend without any problems, can be such a difficult thing for me to contend with, even though I want to run in them.

Now you have a better idea of why I don’t race more often 😉 and I am a lot better than I used to be – at least now I can make it to the starting line once in a while.

Sometimes I wonder if I am making too big a deal about my battles getting to the starting line. I don’t think so, but at the same time I wonder.

Oh well, I did make it to the starting line today and all things considered – I am happy with the results.

The next race will be a little easier – I hope!

How did your latest race go?

6 Comments »

  1. Sounds like a rough experience… but on the whole, you accomplished the run and were part of an honorable ceremony. Plus, your time ain’t shabby for the impending hamsting injury. 🙂 Glad you made it!

    • Thank you – the hamstring is something that I have been having “fun” with since April/May, it doesn’t want to go away or I just haven’t let it heal properly. This is just something that if I want to race, I have to keep overcoming each time and it is a lot better than it was, just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. 🙂

  2. You’re an awesome runner, fast! That level of anxiety is hard to manage. I’m a new runner and not fast at all. I’ve only done a few 5ks so far. How I deal with my anxiety is I commit to doing the race, regardless of whatever. I commit and then the commitment to show up, run and cross the finish line becomes more important than how I do or whether I have to crawl across the finish or people laugh at me or whatever else I can imagine. It’s like a promise I’m not willing to break because I will know that I at least did what I wanted to do- run the race. This doesn’t get rid of the anxiety at all, but it does get me what I want- to run the race. I hope your success this race will get you to the next one!

  3. I am so glad you decided to stay because I got to say hi. I know exactly how you feel, I go through the exact same anxiety issues, GI issues (I have Crohn’s disease to begin with) and tell myself after each race I will never do one again.
    I almost bagged this one as well I had run 3 miles and biked 10 miles on Friday, ran 9 miles on Saturday and my legs were just exhausted. I train over at this former base and via bike ride it is 15 minutes from my house to the start line. A neighbor asked me to run with her because she is slow, she smoked me but whatever.
    I ran it in 35 minutes plus which wasn’t a PR but honestly as we made out way out to the 1/2 way point and looking at the memorials of the fallen, the families that were present for their soldier and the marines in full dress in that sun and heat standing watch over us, I realized this race wasn’t about a PR for me, it was about going 3 miles for those who have given their life. On the return loop I went up to the families sitting there and thanked them with either a handshake, high five or fist pump. There were several where a tear or two happened to fall down my cheek.
    Crossing the finish line to be greeted by Marines who placed the medal around my neck (something I was not expecting at all) was when all my emotions just let go.

    I completely agree with 1) the registration, bib pick up, T shirt pick up needs to be simplified. 2) the open ceremony was moving but it was hot, the sun was beating on me I was getting sunburned and dehydrated and stiffening up. 3) the water stops were awesome but did you notice how warm the water was, even that had been cooking waiting for the race to start. 4) nothing worse than fruit offered at the end of the race that has been baking in the hot sun as well. I don’t think anyone wanted a banana or apple what a waste.
    However would I run the race again even if they changed none of the above, in a heartbeat! The cause so outweighs the minor inconveinences.

    • Yep it was a race done for the right reasons, but next year if I run it, it will be to run, not race. The bell ringing brought back some stuff that I had buried many years ago, when CG-1479 went down…but that is just part of the deal 🙂

      It was good to see you again.

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