The Best Damn Mental Struggle

I ran the inaugural Best Damn Race 1/2 marathon in 2013 when I found out about the awesome way the pricing was going to be done. I don't remember the exact pricing tier structure, but it went something like this: the first then people to register paid $1, the next ten paid $5, the ten after that $10, and so forth and so on. I think I paid $25 for the 1/2 marathon. What an awesome price! It was the first time the race was being held, but I was sure it was going to be a good race. I took my chances and I was right. I loved the course and I knew I was going to come back again the following year. (Read all about last years race here).

I was excited to run this race again this year but I had to wait until very close to the actual date of the race to sign up, so I didn't get such an awesome deal as I did the year prior. I had been taking off a lot from work for races (I have an interesting work schedule), and I had just taken almost a week off to run the Dopey Challenge at Disney. I didn't want to request more time off. I waited until my schedule for the week was posted and I was excited to find that I had that Saturday off. I registered as soon as I found out I could run it! I was also psyched to find out that my boyfriend was off as well. He had just started running with me and he was going to run the 5k. 

The night before BDR Adam and I stayed at my aunt's house since it was closer for us to Safety Harbor, where the race was taking place. I was pretty sure I was prepared, but around 11pm it dawned on me that I hadn't packed a sports bra. I don't know why I wasn't asleep, but I guess it's a good thing, because I realized I had left this very important part of my running attire at home. 

I immediately panicked. Every store I could think of was closed. Then I thought of WalMart. They were open but would they have a sports bra I could wear? I quickly used my phone to check their website and they did carry some. Beggars can't be choosers and I was going to have to settle for whatever sports bra they had in stock. It was late and I had 13.1 miles to run in just a few hours. My awesome boyfriend took the trip to WalMart to find me a sports bra and let me sleep. I am so thankful for the extra sleep time.

We woke up and headed to Safety Harbor, fancy new sports bra and all. The parking lot was full so we had to find street parking and that took a little longer than we had anticipated. I started to get anxious because I still didn't have my bib. We finally found a spot and I hurried to pick up my packet. Luckily Adam's race started later so he could run back to the car and still have time to rest up before his race.

I waited at the start line, but realized that the 10k was starting a little late. I was actually relieved because that gave me a bit of time to calm down from rushing around so much that morning. Later on the runners got messages from the race director explaining the delays and I thought that was awesome. I've been to races with lots of things wrong with them - delays, missing water stops, missing medals, etc. I've never gotten an apology or explanation. Awesome job!

When the race started I was thinking of how I was going to run it. My last 1/2 marathon was at Disney and my time was quite poor in comparison to my average half marathon time. Finish time for Disney 3:08. My goal for this race was to finish under 2:55, but deep down I really wanted to finish under 2:45. I knew that this would be a lot of time to take off my last race and since I hadn't been running consistently it would take some training to get back where I used to be. 2:55 seemed more likely. 

I started out OK, I tried to keep a steady pace, but I felt slow. I felt tired. My legs felt like they didn't want to keep going. My head started playing tricks on me. I started ahead of the 2:30 pacers and of course they passed right by me. That was discouraging. I knew I wanted to finish in 2:55, but I think part of me still hated the fact that my body wasn't as fast as it used to be.

Around mile 5 I started having this mental battle with myself. I started telling myself I was too slow. I should just quit. I didn't know why I was even bothering with this. The other pacer groups were going to pass me, I was going to take longer than 3 hours to finish again. I was looking at my watch and thinking I was going slow. I was being extremely hard on myself and I wanted to give up.

I don't know what made me keep going to be honest. Maybe I just didn't want to be that person to quit a race. Maybe I knew that the time I took to finish didn't matter, as long as I finished. Maybe I thought that if I quit I wouldn't start running again because I would thinking of myself as a failure. Maybe I wanted to prove the thoughts in my head wrong. I don't know what it was, but I kept going. 

There was one point at mile 9 where I even got a burst of energy and ran a fast steady mile. I think that gave me a nice burst of confidence. I knew I was ahead of the 2:45 pacer by a little bit, so my goal from there was to just try to stay ahead of them for as long as I could. They passed me, I passed them. And this kept going on for almost the rest of the race. 

I finished in from of the 2:45 pacer group, with a finish time of 2:42:14. Under 2:45! I overcame my mental struggle and finished under the goal time that I had personally set for myself. 

That was definitely the best damn mental struggle, and one of, if not the hardest races I ran mentally. The feeling at the end of overcoming my doubts AND finishing better than I thought I would was amazing.

The medal wasn't too shabby either!

Adam had finished his 5k before I finished my 1/2 so it was awesome getting to see him at the finish. And I was proud of his 5k!

And we're cute in our matching race shirts!

Have you ever run a race that was difficult mentally?