When Running Fails You: A Roosevelt Island Hot Chocolate 5K Race Recap

Running is most often the cure for anything which ails me. Yesterday, running failed me. This naturally begs the question, what do you do when running fails you? I have been injured before and not been able to run. I have had bad runs, awful even, at times. But I don’t recall a race day that let has me down as much as yesterday’s 5K.

It was my first time, officially, racing a 5K. Automatic PR, right? That theory didn’t work in this case. I had a, not so secret, dream/goal of sub-30 minutes for this race. To some of my friends, this is a piece of cake, an easy run. To me, it was a big goal. I could blame it on the week’s events, sure, but the end result remains the same. Feeling as though you have failed, no matter what the reason, does not feel good. It is defeating. It lets you down. It crushes your confidence, and your ego, just a little bit. Sure, I could blame the fact that I fell last Saturday night and had two bruised knees and a left leg that hasn’t exactly cooperated during this week’s runs. I could blame my sour stomach and the countless trips to the bathroom on Saturday. I will leave you with only that much information; you are welcome. I could blame the bump under my arm that caused me pain with every arm swing. But at the end of the day, running failed me yesterday and left me lying on the couch, licking my wounds, and obviously refraining from anything social media related.

Once upon a time, I had high hopes for this race. My paces have been faster lately, and easier to maintain. I credit that to pushing harder during solo runs and running with my faster friends. I had high hopes when Ashley signed up to pace me to a sub-30 finish. I had high hopes after I ran Michele’s Race for Recovery 5K just a week and a half ago in 27:44. I had high hopes.

I woke up Sunday morning and no longer had high hopes. Could this be another possible reason I was defeated? Perhaps. I always say if you don’t believe in yourself, your body will follow. And today that was the truth. I no longer believed in myself and my mind and body failed me.

I text Jenny Sunday morning and asked her whether or not we should just go back to sleep. I felt the odds were against me anyway and the threat of a dreary, rainy race was not helping either one of us get out of our nice, warm beds. Then I realized I had Jen’s race bib and was reminded by Jenny that we would be mad at ourselves, in the long run, if we didn’t get up and go. So we got up to go!

Last Race Bib of 2012

Last Race Bib of 2012

We met up with Liz at the subway and were on our way for the, one stop, subway ride from the Upper East Side to Roosevelt Island. As we made our way off the train and up the stairs, I felt someone jump on me. It scared the daylights out of me, but it was only Abby and Jen saying good morning. I apparently didn’t hear them calling my name. We all walked over to registration and baggage check. It was so much fun seeing so many friendly runner faces on our adventures before the race start. I was so excited to see Jocelyn and Meggie waving at us. I also saw a coworker that I encouraged to sign up for the race. It was a fun morning, for sure!

We made a last-minute stop into Starbucks to use their bathroom before we finally found Ashley and made our way over to the race start with only moments to spare. Now I know why I like getting into my race corral early. I didn’t like the 2 second cushion before the race start. I felt unprepared and almost forget to start my music, which I didn’t end up listening to anyway.

I got a last-minute hug from Kim just before jumping in and starting the race. I was so happy to see her!

Ashley was pacing me for this race. We started off at a pace that felt faster than I would normally start a race, but something I could keep up with. I had no idea what the pace was because I wasn’t wearing my Garmin, which I love. We started chatting about her kickass race yesterday, the Ted Corbitt Classic 15K, which she PRd at, naturally. She’s amazing! Every time I tried to talk, I was advised to shut up and run and she would do the talking. She was the boss yesterday, so I listened, for the most part. What can say? I’m a talker. After the first mile passed, she checked in with me to see how I was feeling. I think at this point I had already told her I was ready to be finished.  Not something you want to feel less than 1/3 of your way into a race, right? Apparently, this is where Abby was cheering “like a wild banshee” for us, yet we were completely oblivious.

It all went down hill from there. My left shin/calf/leg started cramping and the most painful shin splint followed quickly behind. I remember saying I can’t do this and almost started crying. Ashley said you can absolutely do this, don’t cry! You’ve done this before, you can do this again! You are strong enough. Then she told me something about Homeland and people getting their arms shot off and that I had arms and I could do this. I quickly answered back that this was NOT helping. I tried putting my music on, but it only annoyed me and I shut if off before even listening to one song. We tried chatting again, or Ashley chatted with me so I could conserve my energy, but the pain in my leg was only getting worse and I felt like my leg couldn’t turn over fast enough and didn’t know how I would finish the race. I’ve never thought, how am I going to finish, during a race. Especially not a short race.

We tried walking for a moment, but it hurt just as much as running, so I figured if we ran, we would be done faster. This run, walk a few moments, stretch cycle continued for the last mile, I think.

At one point, Jenny and Liz, who had started behind us, had now caught up and passed us. I was getting so frustrated and so pissed and this only made the situation worse. I just wanted to be finished with this disappointing race.

In the last half or quarter-mile, I started to feel a little relief in the pain in my leg, like maybe it was warmed up and NOW wanted to run. Fantastic! This was even more frustrating. We finally made it across the finish line. It was so nice to see Erica and Lora cheering for everyone. We met up with all our friends, got some hot chocolate, and I tried to hide my disappointment and frustration over this race, although I’m not sure I was very successful.

Left to Right: Fiona, Ashley, Liz, Me, Jen, Jenny, Abby

Left to Right: Fiona, Ashley, Liz, Me, Jen, Jenny, Abby

I made the mistake of asking Ashley what our final time was, which only fueled my disappointment more.

I am so grateful to Ashley for agreeing to pace me to my goal, even though I fell short. I only hope she is willing to try with me again next time.

Well, needless to say, I’m pretty bummed that this was the race that concluded my 2012 racing. I’m coming for you 2013!!! Watch out!

Thanks to everyone who checked up on me, post-race, and for your thoughtful and supportive texts. It meant a lot to me! And so do all of you.

Official Race Results: 33:24 (10:46 min/mile). This was, most definitely, NOT my best performance this year.

Lessons learned from yesterday’s race:

  1. I need to warm up before a 5K. My body is not capable of starting a race at a 9:30 pace, but I truly believe I am capable of that pace after my body is warmed up.
  2. Don’t fall the week before a race in which you want to be “speedy.” Dumb!
  3. I LOVE running Garmin free.
  4. When you run a great race on December 2nd, maybe end out the year there.
  5. Not every race day will be a win! Dust yourself off, pick yourself up, maybe have a glass of wine or two, and vow to ALWAYS try again!

Today was a new day and I’m over yesterday’s race. It didn’t hurt that I woke up to this, this morning:


Dear Beth:

Congratulations! You have been chosen in the lottery and are officially registered for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run on April 7, 2013. We are looking forward to a spectacular day in the Nation’s Capital.


P.S. Go congratulate Abby on her kickass return to racing! She absolutely killed it yesterday!

Tell Me.

Have you ever run a really disappointing race? How did you overcome it?

Did you race the Roosevelt Island Hot Chocolate 5K or 10K? How did it go?

Do you know of any fun 5K races in 2013? Now I’m on a mission!


15 thoughts on “When Running Fails You: A Roosevelt Island Hot Chocolate 5K Race Recap

  1. I’m sorry about the race. The 10k was good for me despite my oversleeping and forgetting my garmin and headphones. I was alone with my thoughts which mostly consisted of Rihanna’s Diamond song. 🙂 I actually almost changed to the 5K but decided against it. Not my best time or my worst but I ran the wole thing without stopping, which I am happy about.
    Let’s try and go for a run or a class in the next couple weeks if you are around! I signed up for a NYRR race at the beginning of Jan and I am toying with the idea of the NYC runs 10 miler as well.

  2. Even though I know you aren’t happy with yesterday’s race, be proud that you got out there instead of staying in bed, and finishing instead of stopping. That’s way more than post people! Can’t wait to run in DC with you in April!

  3. Abby is right — even when you have a bad race, you’re still light-years ahead of everyone who decided to stay in bed that day. We all have bad races (not going to lie, I was pretty mortified at how hard Sunday’s 30:52 felt), but I do think the only thing to do is learn our little lessons on how to race smarter, wallow for a bit, and get ready to toe the next starting line. And drink wine. Always drink wine!!

  4. I can commiserate with you. Sadly, every half marathon I ran this year, I was not prepared for – due to being new to running and having NO CLUE what I was doing, or injury. I’d run super great shorter distance races and I finished the halfs, but definitely not close to any goals. Be proud that you are able to realize your potential! You definitely have it in you and everytime there is a not so good race, it just makes the great ones even sweeter. I have my eye on the prize for Rock N Roll in February. I’m trying my best to not reinjure or do somethin dumb before then 🙂 Congrats on being accepted to CUCB 10 miler!

  5. “At one point, Jenny and Liz, who had started behind us, had now caught up and passed us. I was getting so frustrated and so pissed and this only made the situation worse.”

    I am sorry! 😦 If it helps, our time was maybe only a minute or two less than yours were. We weren’t going fast by any means.

    Weather makes a big impact on a race for me. The dreary drizzle wasn’t exactly motivating. It could have been so many factors. Sometimes they just add up to a bad race. BUT, I’m glad we convinced ourselves via text to go do it anyway. 🙂

    I agree with your #5 lesson from the race. Dust yourself up and try again. We can redeem ourselves on Jan. 5th!

  6. Everyone has a bad race (or run) once in a while! The important thing is you got your butt up in that crappy weather to do it! Not to mention you were so cheery & bright in your neon. Good to see you if only for those 2 seconds! And SOO excited for Cherry Blossom!

  7. I definitely don’t think running failed you Beth! Every run serves a purpose.

    If every run was perfect, what kind of fun would that be? It’s the bad runs that make the good ones beyond worth it. It makes them magical. And sometimes you will have a lot of bad runs in a row (for a long time), I’ve been there. But it’s worth it for even a chance at one GREAT run.

    I see lots of magical runs in your near future.

  8. I thought I had commented on this already and then realized I hadn’t when I read everyone’s thoughtful responses! Just wanted to say that the fact that you got out of bed and made it to the finish line is what makes you a runner; not your pace or your finishing place or anything else. You went to the race and you competed. On a dreary Sunday morning. There’s some magic in there, somewhere 🙂

  9. Having a bad run is what reminds us what makes running so good. Not every run can be perfect, and sometimes things just don’t work out. You made it out there, you didn’t quit, and you ran right to the end. That’s TOUGH! You should be proud. It’s the hard runs that make us stronger, not the easy ones.

    I got into Cherry Blossom too!!! Wooooohoooooo!!!!

  10. Pingback: Why I Love Running | Once in a Mile

  11. Pingback: Thoughts from a 5K | Once in a Mile

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