I’ve run this race before

Before we get to the Chicago Marathon thing, can we discuss something?

(Warning, it’s kind of gross.)

(I hope you’re not eating red grapes right now.)

(Because my big toe is apparently in the business of growing them.)

I know that’s disgusting.  I’m sorry.  I’m sorry you had to see it and I’m even sorrier that I had to discover it upon taking my socks off after the race on Sunday.  Nasty.  And unlike any blister I’ve ever had.

A little surgery with a safety pin and a book of matches was in order.

All drained out and wrapped up now, and it doesn’t hurt, but still.  Major ew.

So, anyway.  About that marathon.

I ran a 3:49.  19 minutes off of my goal, not even close to a PR, and really just…meh.  Really average.  I can’t tell you how many marathons I’ve run in 3:46 or 3:54 or 3:48 or whatever.  (Actually, I can.  Almost all of them.)

It’s frustrating.  I feel like performance and quality of training are uncorrelated variables.  Last year at NYC, I ran a 3:54 after spending all summer traipsing around Asia and then training halfheartedly for seven weeks.  This year?  I bust my ass all summer and I get five measly minutes for it.


I don’t think my goal was too ambitious.  3:30 would have been a 12-minute PR for me, but dammit, I put the work in.  MacMillan (yeah, I know) put me at 3:22.  3:30-something was a perfectly reasonable goal.

I don’t even know if I can really blame it on the heat, although I am sure it was a factor.

Or the fact that I think I actually over-hydrated, and spent the last half of the race lugging a sloshy Gatorgut.

Or the crowds.  Or the course.  Or going out too fast (shocker: I held back!).  Or the grape blister (I didn’t even feel it while I was running).  Or the fact that I had this horrible song stuck in my head for 26 miles.  Nope: this failure was all me.  I was defeated by my own apathy.

Because at some point, I gave up.  I’m not sure why, but after coming through the half at a very respectable and conservative 1:46, the motivation just slipped away.  There was no defining “screw this” moment.  It just sort of happened.  I took a quick walk break to consume a Gu and after that, I just couldn’t get back on pace.

I looked down at my Garmin and saw 9:XX: I shrugged.  I felt tired so I walked a bit: why not?  Oh, cross the course to grab a cold sponge and take a little stroll while squeezing it over my head?  Lovely!  Somehow I lost my race face.  And I don’t think I even realized it until it was too late.

The most annoying thing about all of this is that I don’t feel like I gave it my all.  My last mile was close to 7:00.  That shouldn’t happen at a marathon.

Sometimes I wonder if I simply don’t have the mental fortitude to race these long distances.  Run them?  Sure.  Enjoy them?  Definitely.  But I seem perpetually unable to keep my head in the game.  The intensity just vaporizes and I convince myself that I don’t really care enough about my time to push it.  Finishing will be good enough.

I’m not living up to my potential. I’m pretty sure of that. It’s frustrating and I’m not sure what to do about it. Suggestions welcome.

Anyway.  All of that said, I had a freaking fantastic weekend in Chicago.  The race course really was lovely, and I had a blast spending time with an awesome collection of family and friends.  I smiled and laughed so much this weekend.

Pardon me for a moment while I thank the Academy here: Stacy, Carol, Van & Rosemary, Joe and the Bromar crew, Julia, Lisa, Danialle, Christy, Amber, Janine, Laura, Amy, Megan, Brie, Jordan, Dana.  Thanks for being a part of my weekend.  And everyone who tweeted and texted and emailed…thank you so much for your support.  Okay, the “shut up” music is starting…

And there’s another purty medal in the box.

And I got to shack up with a hot chick on Sunday night.

Um.  Most amazing outfit ever.  And see?  I’m not the only one who wears hot pink compression socks!

Also, random thought.  I am really over automated things in bathrooms.  After spending the day in airports, I miss the days of flushing my own toilet and pumping my own soap.  Because nothing sucks more than getting repeatedly sprayed in the ass by an enthusiastic auto-flushing toilet, and then have to do a dance in front of the sink to get it to turn on, only to be rewarded with a measly four inches of paper towel.

Alright…I’m off to eat some burnt potstickers and drink cheap Chardonnay and continue to navel-gaze about my athletic ineptitude.  Back to the regular tomorrow.  Good night!

67 responses to “I’ve run this race before

  1. OUCH to that blister! take care of it as all my toe problems have come from blisters.

    bummer that the race wasn’t the performance that you wanted. but you still rocked it in my eyes. seriously. i still want to run and train with you! and you had a great weekend. yay 🙂

  2. congrats on finishing. I’m sorry it wasn’t what you wanted. I’d blame it on the heat anyway. Heat can zap motivation 🙂

    • It is very tempting! I’m sure the heat was a factor. It wasn’t terribly humid, but still – there was very little shade on the second half of the course. Ugh!

  3. No person should ever have to have a blister that looks like that – EVER!! Glad it didn’t bother you too much while running. I’m sorry you missed your goal, but it sounds like you felt good so at least you didn’t melt in the heat.
    Athletic apathy… Even though I’m way slower than you, I run into simillar problems in long races. I probably could dig deeper, but I just lose my edge and finishing becomes good enough. Some days I have more grit than others too. If I figure it out I’ll let ya know. Sorry for writing a novel here; glad to read your recap. Maybe you’re already thinking of a cooler race in a month or two??

    • I’m thinking of something. I’m not sure what, but I feel like I’m in good shape and don’t want to just let that go.

      Anyway, glad I’m not the only one!

  4. Why am I always the crazy person who posts 2 comments because I forgot to say something? Anyhow – I am still in awe of your time – hot day or not. Congrats. That’s all. 😉

  5. I have the same thing when I horse show – I freak out/make myself too nervous/give up/etc. It’s a head game, and it’s annoying. I say someone needs to come up with a pill that makes us perform perfectly and up to our potential when we need it most. I’m ok if we can only take it 1x a year… or 1x a month!

  6. Christ almighty, that beats Blistersquatch. Insane.

    I’m sorry your race sucked. I had fun meeting you, though!

    • It doesn’t look as scary now that it’s drained but when I took of my sock I was like, what IS that?!

      It was fun meeting you too! Great job on your first marathon – it was really tough out there!

  7. Having been right there Monday morning quarterbacking with you, I’ll add two things:

    1. You must always, always blame it on the G6.

    2. Let’s go to CIM in December. It should be open for another week…ARE YOU IN ARE OR ARE YOU IN? ;p Ok, I can understand not being in as clearly, I lost my mind about 36 hours ago.

  8. I have been struck by lightning bolts of mid-race apathy on more than one occasion. It is enormously frustrating and I always regret my moment of “giving in.” 26.2 miles is a lonnnng time to have to be so focused, especially in that kind of weather. Heck, 13.1 is a long time.

    My biggest hope in any taxing phyiscal event is that I can find the “mid-race wherewithall” to remind myself of how I want to feel after the race. If I can take myself out of my apathy-moment and take a second to visualize the reality that I will REGRET my apathetic approach– standing around at the finishing line eating a freaking banana and feeling pissed that I dicked around instead of racing to my potential– that lights a fire under my ass and motivates me to turn things around. It’s getting to the point of “midrace visualization of the postrace” that is the tricky part for me. The apathy at work, I suppose.

    Right. So that paragraph was incoherent and unhelpful. At any rate, I empathize hugely with your frustrations. At the end of the day? You still ran a damn marathon and at a fast clip to boot. Not a bad way to spend a weekend.

    Long comment FTW.

    • I am glad I’m not the only one! You are so right, I should have tried to take myself out of that moment when I was in the moment. (Um…that makes sense right?) Ugh. It’s like a different person takes over at some point during the race.

  9. Omg that blister is nasty, I totally would have popped it with a safety pin too though. I get sick pleasure out of things like that. Sorry you’re not completely happy with your time, but I still think it’s a great time, and being roommates with Laura must have been fantastic. Haha I’m kind of jealous!

  10. What a blister! I would have popped that sucker too!

    I can completely understand about the mid-race apathy. It sucks to be stuck in a marathon with it because although 26.2 is a long time to focus, it is also a long time to be stuck running that far after you have checked out.


    Jealous! You guys are not allowed to do fun things without me ever again.

    Okay but really? I know it’s all relative and everything and you were hoping to do better but I am wildly impressed by a 3:49. There are a lot of pathetic -oh I mean Apathetic hehe 😉 – losers out there who are just hoping to come in under five hours (namely me). So, you lollygagged a little. So what? You still kicked ass and you have a damn fine gummy bear on your foot to show for it.

    • It’s definitely a respectable time. I had just hoped for something faster. Blaaaah. It’s all relative anyway.

      We missed you on Sunday night!!

    • I’m telling you: as I look through marathons in the next couple weeks, I keep noticing that Indy is cheap and flat. (Kind of like me. And your mom from what I hear.) I think it could be perfect. So…how about we all get pink compression socks and some booze? And run marahons. ;p

  12. You’re keeping it real for sure. Thanks for blister surgery pics 😛

    Shelbs, I though you had a BQ in the bag. Your training and race times are totally in line with that. I’m sorry it wasn’t your day. Not like that’s a shabby finishing time, but I understand your frustration with hitting a plateau. Some courses inspire more than others, and this one didn’t do it for you.

    Do you think the familiarity of a hometown race help? Knowing you’ve trained on the same streets you’re racing on really instills an extra boost of confidence (at least in my experience, fwiw).

    I’m glad you made fun weekend out of it, and were able to spend time with friends an family.

    • Aw, thanks. I really thought I had it in me too. It’s frustrating.

      I’m not sure if a more familiar course would help. But I can see where being familiar with the territory would be a confidence booster! Hmm.

  13. Hey dude, I totally understand the mid-race apathy (uhhh…I experienced that basically all through college). I think it’s awesome that you can run a 3:49 marathon not feeling 100% (and finish with a 7:00 mile – hot damn!). I think some track races are calling your name…

    Take care of that blister – I’m all about self-surgery 🙂

    • Thanks. 🙂 The last mile hurt but I also kind of “woke up” at that point and was like, uh, what have I been doing for the last hour? Sigh. Oh well.

  14. I am so so so jealous you got to drink with AR. Absurdly so. Actually, the entire weekend, but that’s besides the point.

    I know mid-race apathy. It sucks when mid-race means you have to run 13 more miles. The only way to defeat it is to remind yourself, I guess, how terrible post-mid-race apathy feels when it creeps up the next time. I don’t know what else to say, other than that you put in the training and you are terrific and I can’t wait to see you when you tromp up to NYC soon. High five?

  15. Dude – you still rock. I don’t have any great words of wisdom except that you are an amazing runner. One race does not a runner make (even though I would have been giddy with your time).

  16. Ok. Next time, I need a warning when you’re going to post foot pics. I’m super weird and feet in general make me gag. What I just witnessed above was nothing short of me almost passing out…

    So great to get to meet you and Laura! And sorry the race didn’t go as planned, but hey- sounds like the weekend made up for it. 🙂

    And I have the opposite problem with automatic toilets. It’s like they refuse to awknowledge my existence. So I either sway around trying to trigger the flush or hit the stupid flush button anyways.

    • Haha – sorry about that! It was great to meet you too!

      I have totally done the “Hiiiii – I’m done!” toilet dance too. They are either overzealous or totally unresponsive.

  17. Awesome race recap! Crazy blister. And I hear you on the auto-everything at the airport. I traveled this past weekend too and wanted to punch the paper towel thingy.

  18. And I thought my blood blister was bad! You win the title for sure!

    I wish I could have met you at some point this weekend. I even looked for you in corral C and out on the course! Anyone that I saw running in compression socks got the head to toe look from me.

    • I was hanging out with the 3:30 pacers in the corral and for the first couple of miles (before they took off at 7:40 pace – ugh). It sounds like you probably passed me sometime after the half – I was the grumpy looking girl shuffling along the side. 🙂

      Rest up and feel better! You will definitely BQ next time out!

  19. I blame it on the G6 song. That song is atrocious!

    The automated stuff in bathrooms is to prevent having to touch anything, but (about to share a private detail here) the fact that I wipe while standing always makes me nearly miss the opportunity to get my used TP where it belongs! It just adds to the anxiety on race day. That’s why I love porta-potties:)

    I can’t believe you didn’t feel that blister-it’s monstrous! But I’m glad it didn’t hurt-that could’ve been just crippling!

  20. hey shelbs- never think that way about your training. just build from it. i know it is easier to say than done, but just notice that bad and good races come and go. just shake it off; im 100% sure that you will nab that bq very soon and sometimes good omen happens when you least expect it! 😉

    • I am thinking of training through it and trying again. Probably stupid, but I don’t want to cap off this training cycle with a crappy race. Haha.

      What’s up next for you? Are you doing NYC?

  21. Congrats on a strong finish (7:00 last mile? hot damn! 🙂 ) It was really tough in the later miles…around 22-23 not only was there no shade, but that was where the crowd support was the lowest (if i was remembering correctly) I know all too well how it feels to have a disappointing marathon…just take whatever time you need to recover and I’m confident you’ll get your revenge race in due time-whether its another marathon or even tearing up some shorter distances!!

    BTW-I think you may have seen our president on the course? I was talking to him afterwards and he mentioned running with a CPTC girl who asked if he knew me 🙂

    • Yes! LOL! Well I had no idea he was your prez. I was running with a Flyer for a little while late in the game….maybe 23 or 24? I asked if you were up there somewhere and he said you were. I was cheering for you up there! Congrats on your PR!

      • Yeah, I passed him around 21 or 22…he was going for 3:30 so I was thinking “that wasnt supposed to happen!”

        Did you find that the compression socks were getting really hot by the last coupla miles? I did think they supported the legs well, but I could not wait to get them off after I was done running!

  22. I would just like to take a moment to thank you for not whipping out that blister at the bar! Eesh, that’s a doozy. Even though you didn’t PR and feel kind of meh about the race, it sounds like a LOT of people had a tough time with this one and for what it’s worth, I’m proud of you! 🙂 So fun meeting you this weekend!

  23. OUCH! That blister looks insane. Is it just a bunch of blood trapped in it? I hope you feel better soon.

  24. Congrats on another marathon even if you weren’t happy for your time.

    “Also, random thought. I am really over automated things in bathrooms. After spending the day in airports, I miss the days of flushing my own toilet and pumping my own soap. Because nothing sucks more than getting repeatedly sprayed in the ass by an enthusiastic auto-flushing toilet, and then have to do a dance in front of the sink to get it to turn on, only to be rewarded with a measly four inches of paper towel.”

    This is best paragraph I have ever read on a blog. Love it and totally agree

  25. this post needs more cowbell.

    seriously, love you and oh so proud of you. more so because if that were my blister, and I attempted to pop it myself, I would have fainted.
    Next time I demand jager bombs be added to the menu. thanks for an awesome weekend and being our lynchpin for it!

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  27. Congrats – as stated above if 3:49 is a “meh” effort, it’s just a matter of time before it all falls together. I went through a phase of those 3:48-3:50 marathons (hello 4:06 “hot as hades” Chitown) before last year’s MCM. Rest up, consider your options and go from there.

    As for that blister, this is why I’m glad my dad is a podiatrist. He takes care of nasty things like that for me (may be a bit more sterile?). hehe!

  28. I vote (if I even have a vote!) to keep the mo’ goin’………. find yourself another BQ’r somewhere close by, kinda soonish, flat, fast and maybe on the more smallish size marathon. You already got your base mileage nailed and Chicago was a great long training run…..now onto the the next one!
    ( better let that blister heal first tho’)

  29. Ugh, I know what it is like to have a really blah marathon, and I really feel for you… but the only good thing that I learned from it is if you are fit (and you are!) but you don’t run to your potential, you can recover fast. I’m not saying run another marathon, but run another race before you take a break… just use that pent-up energy and kick some ass somewhere!

  30. I’ve had entire cross-country seasons with awful times because of some kind of mental block. The training was there, but my head wasn’t. Sorry your head wasn’t in this one, but if you enjoyed it and came out uninjured, it was successful enough.

  31. Holy crap, that is one horrible blister but at least it doesnt hurt. And now I have no desire for grapes.

    Well, even though you arent happy with your time and performance, you did it. I think thats a huge accomplishment if it’s any consolation. I’ve never ran a marathon and will probably never run a marathon so I think it’s an amazing thing if you can put your body through it.

    And I didn’t know what this G6 song that eveeryone keeps talking about was but yeah, I could see that getting really annoying really fast.

    Here’s to no more water up your bum!

  32. dude. i’m sorry your less than pleased with your race 😦 i’ve totally had those “i think i’m gonna give up just ‘cuz i don’t feel like doing this and i’m awesome anyway so it doesn’t matter” moments. at the time of giving in you feel good about yourself, and later it’s all downhill. you know you have it in you, so you’ll work harder to fight this head game next time. i belieeeeeve in you! chin up and keep up with the hard work – you got this!

    PS i miss you. even though i only met you once. awwwwkward.

  33. Pingback: The agonizingly detailed Chicago Marathon Race Report Part 2: This isn’t interesting enough to warrant the numnber of words I wrote on it. «

  34. You’re still a rock star in my eyes. xo

  35. Shelby – Congratulations. You finished Chicago. You ran hard. You finished with dignity. Seriously. Feel good about your performance. Now on to diagnosis / prognosis:

    1. I like the recap, but you did not give us a sense of how you felt physically. Of course you put the work in … you are diligent and smart. Were you banged up heading into the race? Were you tired? How was your taper compared to others? Pre-race routine compared to other marathons? Etc.
    2. The fact that you moved to another part of the country mid-way thru training had to have some impact. Not necessarily all physical, but the mental strain of coming to grips with a significant life change and then executing it during the time of something as significant as a marathon is something to consider when ripping on yourself. :-/
    3. Talk to Tony. Send him a detailed email about your training, life stressors, taper, pre-race, etc. and he will help diagnose the issues.
    4. You get much love up here. Miss you terribly. You will be back.

    • Thank you for a very very nice comment. It made me smile.

      1. Coincidentally, I am doing just that on Strands right now! Uploading the carnage and putting it out there for all to see. Haha.
      2. Yeah…the two weeks that should have been my peak training weeks were really spotty and uneven. And yes…emotionally it was difficult too. It still is. 😦
      3. I have thought about doing this. He is wise.
      4. I miss you guys too! I’ll be up for the 10K on 12/5 and can’t wait!

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  38. Sorry I’m so late to your post about Chicago Marathon. I love your post, you are so funny! Between the grape foot and observations of automated bathrooms, you crack me up girl! I’m sorry you felt like you lost your race face mid-CM. You are very strong runner, so I’m not sure what to say on how to keep your race face. I’ve had the feeling in half marathons before, like I have to remind myself it’s a race. Do you have another marathon planned?

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