Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Raw Truth

I wrote this post on Monday. I wasn't sure at that time if/when I would publish it, but I wanted to write it down while it was fresh - like an open wound. So here it is.... raw and uncut.

I put on a brave face yesterday. I came to terms with not reaching my goals. I convinced myself that I was not a failure. I saw the bright side. I accepted hugs and high-fives with a smile. I heard what everyone was telling me and I believed them.


You are as good as your best run, not your worst run.

This race does not define you.

You have had an amazing year. It's not all about one race.

You will come out of this stronger than ever.

You still accomplished a lot today.


All of that may be true, but it still stings. I feel like I've been rubbed raw, kind of like the chafing under my sports bra. I'm having a bit of an emotional breakdown right now, which is why I thought it would be a good idea to start writing this down. There have been a lot of tears.

I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from family, friends and bloggers. It means the world to me. I know you guys get it and many of you have been there. People are saying and doing all the right things to make me feel better, but it just isn't working right now.

I poured so much into this (and I don't just mean the numbers) and it's hard not to feel like everything went down the tubes. I realize I have accomplished a lot this year and that I have a lot more to come, but that's not making it any easier to take this blow.

I know I should be pretty darn pleased that I can run a 4:11 marathon on a bad day (especially when I could barely run a 4:26 on a good day last year), but it doesn't feel like enough right now. I realize that I have to battle this demon, file it away and move on.

It will be several months before I toe the starting line of a marathon again. I may be plagued with doubt when that time comes. What if it happens again? I will just have to cross that bridge when I get there. The fact is, I know it will happen again. There will be many more races like this. But that will only make the good ones that much sweeter.

All of that to say that I will live to run another marathon.

"I'm just waiting for the perfect race to let my secret out." - runninglam via aron

In the mean time, pass me the whine wine...

56 comments:

lindsay said...

FiUrst!?!4&(!3@2

Quinton J said...

Patience. It’s one of the toughest but most important virtues that we runners learn…on the course but more importantly in our running lives. Next year is going to be an awesome year. You can believe that.
Oh…and let me know where you’re planning on posting up in Hamilton.

lindsay said...

Ok. Now to get serious. I just had to celebrate my rare victory!

Yes, we do know how you feel. I also know that this will wear off soon and you won't feel as regretful/mopey. You'll come to terms with it and maybe even be a little proud of the fact that you finished and still ran a good time.

There will always be bad races, just as there are bad runs. Like you said, the good ones keep us coming back for more!

Rest, recover, and enjoy that wine. :)

Heather said...

I agree with everything you said, it is all true. I think too the more time that passes after the race, the more those raw emotions heal. Of course, the wine helps too. :)

lish said...

Ahh Marlene...I really appreciate your honesty...it is so okay to be disappointed...I think sometimes in this world we are supposed to be all sunshine and bubblegum...You have worked so hard and this is one race...sometimes it is from these moments that we become the strongest...think of all the KM's you have run this cycle...this was 42.2km...you are a great runner...and this will pass....hugs

Mark said...

Marlene, sorry I've been out of the loop, I think you are one of the most inspirational and dedicated runners I've ever known. Sorry you didn't achieve your goal, yet you have accomplished so much, and you did break many barriers in your training...hard work always bears fruit!

Mrs. Mess said...

Thanks for posting - I KNOW that I will probably not have the greatest race on Saturday. I've been fretting over it all week and knowing that I didn't train near enough. Blah.

B.o.B. said...

Thanks for posting this. Sometimes the truth is better to put out than to continue with putting on that brave face. As you noted lots have been there and lots will be there. The most important thing is that you learned from this and will get back out there. Congrats on finishing!

ShutUpandRun said...

As a runner I think the toughest thing is not to let our setbacks make us feel like failures. We can and should not be victims to what our Garmins and chips say. You worked hard, so hard, harder than most and it just wasn't your day. That takes nothing away from your strength as a runner or a person. This damn injury has made me feel like a failure too. That my body has failed me. But I am getting over that mindset b/c it helps nothing. Now it's time to move forward and think about what I can do better next time. You have such grit and determination and heart and I care WAY more about that than what your finish time is. Keep your head up girl!!

Laura said...

When you have a 'bad' race, one of the most important things is to try to learn something from it:
-did you taper properly/enough?
-do you need to have a different strategy for having a negative split?
-hydration/nutrition etc changes?
I KNOW you know all of this but sometimes it helps to be able to look back with purpose as opposed to "I didn't do it".
Is the Boxing Day run your next race? Snowmen medals for everyone!

yumke said...

We get you, we really do.

Indi said...

I think its part of the process. each step has to be worked through. You'll put this behind you and move onto the next when its right for you :)

Amanda - RunToTheFinish said...

ohh we do understand and i think everyone else has said it too, but yes you need to allow yourself time to be sad and then you will begin the healing

marie said...

My entire year has been about crappy race times that I could have blown out of the water but just didn't for a bunch of reasons.

WE ALL get you.

Teamarcia said...

Girl you are way BETTER than your best race. I know that and hope you do too. You know we've all been there and totally get it so whine on and get it out of your system.
Rejoice in the fact that a 4:11 is your 'bad' day and know that a better race is just around the corner.

Tim F said...

Sorry you did not get your race goal. Some days are just not your best days. I guess there are a lot of words that could be said, but it is disappointing when you don't reach your race goal(s). I suppose that you just have to get back on the horse and try again next time.

"We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort." Jesse Owens

the dawn said...

after my horrible marathon in vermont, i listened to the song "bad day" on repeat for an entire week while trying to pinpoint exactly what had gone wrong. its a miserable feeling...but fighting the misery with feigned acceptance doesn't help. i was so disappointed and when i finally let myself wallow in it, it took a day for me to morn the "death" of my dreams, and move on.

its a grieving process. you'll probably go through all 5 steps before your ready to move on. i'll be thinking/praying for you!

TNTcoach Ken said...

Woman, you had an amazing year! Here's a blog of a woman that posted some inspirational stuff and kept this old guy motivated. Read a few of her post, it helped me :http://marleneontherun.blogspot.com/

marathon grrl said...

Hang in there! We've all been there. Your frank and honest account helps and inspires others to push through and find the lessons in any run - good or bad. Hang in there and enjoy the wine!

Jill said...

I think anyone who's been in this racing thing long enough can share your disappointment. I know when I did Big Sur Marathon two years ago, it took me 3 months to get over how poorly I did... I was stupid and knew better, but I went out way too fast. Some races there's answers for our performance and other times, not; but each and every one we hold personally. We sacrifice much and the training becomes part of our lives, we just want to do well. There are no guarantees, and that's hard to swallow sometimes. You've worked so hard and you trained so well, and darnit, you've earned your time with your emotions right now and them with you. You take the time you need to heal - and then you'll come back stronger and will nail the next one :).
((hugs))

Robin said...

Definitely know how feel, missed a Boston Qualifier by just over 1 minute and now Boston reg'n is closed.....will always question that race....we know we should move on, for all the reasons you stated, but it's tough....hang in there.

Meg said...

Just like COach Ken, I know a girl who throws her whole heart and soul into everything she does AND she takes the time to reach out to others. She CARES. She is hardworking, diligent, and committed. Her time will come! Patience and believe it. No doubts when you do the next one, no doubts. That girl is you!

Runners Fuel said...

Drink your heart out! You deserve it!

racing dawn said...

It's true, we all know the heartache. I've been there. Focus on the next one. Let this one go. Easier said than done...but yes, patience is the answer. Say a few swear words and let it go... :)

amy said...

It certainly stings, but know that you are stinging with support.

The hard thing about publishing goals in a blog with all the world to read is that we feel like crap when we don't meet them. The great thing about publishing our wounds in a blog with all the world to see is that we can feel the love from everyone, even complete strangers.
Some of the most inspiring runner's stories, are ones of surviving the heartaches, and setbacks, because those are the stories of strength and real life. I think your courage and strength in that race was just as amazing as your rockin' PB in the scotiabank a few weeks ago. Courage and strength is what good runners are made of, and you're an example of that :)

Kim said...

I know how you feel, and I don't have much to add, so just hugs to you. :)

Cindy said...

Amy said it perfectly...when you put it out there in a blog, you feel like crap when you don't make it. I was completely devastated when I couldn't run my first marathon this year - I could taste it. I, too, put on the brave face for everyone but inside I was sooo upset...so I 1000% get where you're coming from. Plain and simple, it sucks.

Just remember though - you're an inspiration to us. Think of what you've accomplished in a few years. Hang in there, 'k?

Jamie said...

Thanks for putting this out there. I completely understand and I know nearly all of us have been there too. I also know that doesn't make a whole lot of difference in how you're feeling :) give yourself time (and wine!) to process everything. when you toe the line again you'll be ready, yes there will be your internal doubts lingering a bit, but you'll be even stronger, ready to squash those doubts as soon as the gun sounds, and ready for redemption! For now, drink up!

aron said...

its always so theraputic for me to right this stuff out, both for myself and for those in the future that are feeling how you are now and will come back and read this post. it will pass, its ok to be sad, we do GET it. taking chances, taking risks, setting goals all wouldn't be the same if we knew we were going to succeed everytime. the things that are worth fighting for, we fight for, and we all know and you know you will be back with a vengence soon :)

hang in there girl <3

H Love said...

hang in there and remember your best and worst run does define you!!

Aneta said...

wow this is one of the most honest posts ive read.

It helps to get all that off ur chest.

No matter what happens, u r still an amzing woman and runner! Very strong. and this post shows just how strong u r...sharing things like that with others must be hard but it makes u human!

there will be other races and other marathon. And u will do great. they wont all be amazing and there will be pain....but there will also be many many great ones!

enjoy the wine and rest uP!!!!

Katie A. said...

Thanks for sharing this. YOU ARE better than your last race. You worked harder than anyone out there, and sometimes race day can just turn into a bad day.
I'm also in fear right now. I've already BQed once, and am trying to do it again. What if I come up short? Does it negate the first one? Does it mean I'm not trully worthy? See? We all go though this stuff. But you have learned a ton, be proud lady! You are strong and there will be another day!
Big hug to you!

Carly said...

I know how you feel! It is great to be honest with your feelings and know that a bad race doesn't define you.

Enjoy your time of rest and know that I am totally in awe! you have done so many great races this year!!!

shellyrm aka jogging stroller mama said...

I think a lot of us do "get it." Even though we offer all the right words, we secretly know how it feels to have wanted the outcome to better reflect the journey!
Knowing your not alone in these feelings may not help but knowing the you WILL learn from this and you WILL have many more opportunities to have the day be YOUR day and run that race you've dreamt of!

destination262 said...

Thanks for the honesty Marlene. I know how you must feel after putting your heart and soul into this race. I just don't understand how some days can be so on and so off. I am glad you are just going to mark this down as an off day and pick back up next year. You are amazing and have come a long way in a year. I am so proud of that for you! Keep on keeping on girl! You gotta A LOT of RUN left in you! That is for sure! Pass the wine indeed! I am virtually cheersing you! :)

Megan said...

I'm sure you don't have a clue who I am - I'm on a site you used to frequent - maybe you still do? Anyway, I just remember when you were first starting your weightloss journey, and trying to eat healthier and exercise and I remember being amazed at your before and after pictures - you worked so hard.

And now, I stumbled across this blog and I see that you're running marathons. Insane!

I know I'm commenting on an entry where you are feeling down about your recent accomplishment, but I have to say - coming from someone who is remembering where you were several years ago, I am truly amazed by your strength and perseverance.

You run MARATHONS!!!

That's just crazy :)

Jess said...

It's okay to be pissed off and disappointed. You invested a lot of yourself in this and to not reach your goal is disheartening. You're allowed to wallow.

Emz said...

I am ALL FOR getting mad, disappointed, etc. It's what motivates us for the "NEXT ONE" right?!

J said...

I think we have all felt exactly how you are feeling! I know for a fact I felt this way after the half. I was just so angry for the mental breakdown I had and even though I finished in a decent time, I was still upset. You will continue to get better and have already to shown that through all your running! You have come so far and there are always a few set backs but I know you are a great runner and you always motivate me to run!

ShirleyPerly said...

I don't know what else to say that's not already been said. Personally, the only thing I think you could have done better was to set a "C" goal that was not time-based. After many races that did not go my way for various reasons I learned that "C" goal is perhaps the most important goal to set. Without it, I tend to put too much pressure on myself during a race and take things way too hard if things didn't turn out the way I'd hoped. I race best when I know I can still have a good race even if I'm having a tough day. This is esp. true in tris where there are so many variables (Mother Nature, bike mechanicals, nutrition, etc) that can wreak havoc on everyone's race times.

Hope you can find the fun in running marathons again soon!

Allison said...

I totally get what you mean! I just had a similar experience for my marathon just over a month ago...somehow I ran out of steam and I had a total mental breakdown, but thinking about getting through it and pushing myself to finish makes me feel a bit better.
~Allison
Fit&Fab Living

Amy said...

Thank you for your honesty, Marlene. I wish I had words that would make you feel better, but I don't think I do. I do wish I could give you a big hug!

Heidi said...

Completely valid feelings. If you do enough races, at one point or another you will likely encounter this. My first (and so far only) half was a disaster and I felt much the same way. It took a while to get over, and yes, I'm a bit more anxious about my next one because of it. But in time I have come to understand that that was that day and the next run will be another day.

I love the honesty of this post. We need to share these feelings so others who are going through it understand that it isn't all about sunshine, rainbows and PRs. There are down days. Months of training that go down the drain due to a variety of circumstanes. It sucks, BIG time, but it is what it is.

((HUGS)) Marlene. I know you are a strong person and before long you will have processed this.

ajh said...

My last marathon was terrible and I was going to do better this year. Well with my heel I couldn't so that awful one still sits there. I won an age group award (part of being older!) and still felt crummy. I didn't even wait for awards as I thought there was no way! Hope you feel better soon! Yes, we get it.

Denise said...

aw, hun, i'm glad you got it out. you're right, we've all been there and we all get it. i won't lie...every single race i worry it's going to turn out like shamrock marathon where it was an absolute miserable experience. but while i definitely have a scar from that race, i won't let it hold me back. you will be back out there and it will be your day. and like you said, a 4:11 on a bad day...watch out for when you have a good day. sending you so many hugs and i wish i was there to polish off some wine with you. you're amazing, don't let this one race drag you down.

Coachhrd said...

You ran YOUR race - move on. There's a good article in this month's Runner's World about seeking alternative takeaways from races other than just time.

Nicole said...

i couldnt agree more with what you said.. however, i still feel the same way you do!

Wifey said...

What a wonderfully real and heartfelt post. I'm running my first marathon next week so I can't say I know how you feel but I definitely will take heed and learn from your shining example. Hang in there.

Winks & Smiles,
Wifey

Julie D. said...

girl, i totally 'get it'. I'm having a hard time mentally with it as well, wondering how the heck am I going to train hard again and wonder if its just going to happen again? Wish we were close to share in a pity party glass of wine together. It would be quite the toast. :) We'll both get back out there and that marathon will be OURS.

Christy said...

((HUGS))

http://christy-goingthedistance.blogspot.com/

RunKathyRun said...

We all get it and if we haven't been there, it is just a matter of time until we are there. Your post was honest and truly writen from your heart; I bet writing your thoughts down so honestly was in and of itself was pretty cathartic.

I think the mental part of marathoning is the hardest part.

Morgan said...

Marlene!!! :( I hope you are feeling better about things and realize what an inspiration you are to so very many people. Do not let this one race mess with your heart and mind so much! As my coach says "There is not certainty in the Marathon" Live to run another day as we all know you will and have! :) Love you! Sending you a virtual hug!

EndorphinBuzz said...

It's sad to hear but bad days happen to anyone. You'll get back on your feet and overcome the temporary problems in no time. Do I smell another journey to redemption?

The Laminator said...

Hi Marlene! So sorry you had a tough race out there and didn't get the ambitious goal you've set for yourself. Yes, it's okay to be sad, okay to feel frustrated...but to a point. As one who has been where you are too many times to count, let your failures be part of the education and motivation to being even better next time. Learn as much as you can from this experience and let it help you become an even better athlete.

Yes, I truly believe we're all just waiting for the perfect race to let our secret out. Have patience, have faith, and YOU WILL have your day!

Rest and recover well!

dietitianontherun.com said...

Tough runs only make us stronger and only make us push harder for the next victory, the next sweet elation as we cross another Finish Line. You know that, and you've felt both ends of the spectrum. That makes you the best runner you can be :) I hope that letting this out/venting helped release some of the let-down, and takes you into a strong recovery so that you're ready for whatever challenge you give yourself next! xo

Lisa said...

I could have written your post. I have been a bad blog follower and didn't realize that you and I had the exact same goals. We also had the same result. Funny...I quoted the same exact comment via Aron's blog. I went back and re-read her Eugene post and related to every word. I had the pleasure of being able to hang out with her after Sunday's race and she reminded me that when I do hit my goal, it will feel that much better. I know how good my sub-four felt after failing the first try. I am sure you feel the same.

It looks like you have had a ton of support. It really shows how lucky we really are.

I am sorry you had a bad day. I know that the stars will align soon enough. In the meantime, run for fun and put the race behind you.

(((hugs))