You plan. You train. You do everything you can think of. You wear your lucky socks. You eat the same breakfast before each run. Nothing is left to chance...
And yet it still happens.
The cosmos aren't aligned. The humidity index is just 1% too much. Your shoelaces feel tight. Your fuel belt has suddenly out of nowhere started to chafe.
Something doesn't feel just right. And then suddenly everything feels wrong.
Every runner experiences it.
Every runner beats themselves up over it, too.
My latest bad run happen to take place on a grand stage: Disney World. During this year's Princess Half Marathon weekend, I signed up to run the Enchanted 10k.
6.2 miles? That's an easy run. I won't be fast, but my stamina will keep me going, I said to myself when I signed up in June.
Fast forward to this past weekend.
I hadn't been training as hard over the last 3 months due to lingering medical issues. Last week I did a dry run, 6 miles non stop. I was a tiny bit over pace, but I blamed the weather. I had to slow down due to the cold air burning my lungs. But deep down inside I was worried.
Come the day of the 10k and everything that could go wrong at the starting line did. I got about half a mile when I felt like someone stabbed me in the lower back. I recognized the pain. Kidney stones. Nice.
I slow down but keep going. At the first mile marker, I double over in pain. Now I'm nauseous. I drink some water from bottle, and decide to walk until I no longer feel like throwing up.
By mile 2, I receive my first warning that I'm falling behind the "fabled balloon ladies." (The balloon ladies are ladies with balloons tied to their waists. They walk the required speed, and if you behind them, the "sweepers" will sweep you from the course, stick you on a bus, and haul you away to the finish line. Game over, you just got a DNF.)
I tried to speed up and ran full out for about half a mile to catch up to the ladies and prevent myself from getting swept, but I knew it was over. I couldn't catch up. I stopped running and began walking again. I was already composing my Facebook status update in my head: "Balloon Ladies got me. I think I'll go cry now."
There were others around me, equally struggling, and I tried to put in a brave front. I smiled at the MarathonPhotogs. I joked with the medical bikers circling up every so often about how I was going to require an ambulance at the finish line. Heck, I even told one of the sweepers on the bikes, when asked if I needed something, I said yes... Don't sweep me and let me finish.
I did finish... Walking... so very very slowly. My neck seized. My lower back ached. My belt chafed. But I finished, even if it took close to 2 hours.
Honestly, at the starting line I felt hopeful.
At mile 1, I felt pain.
At mile 2, I felt fear.
At mile 3, I felt despair.
At mile 4, I felt numb.
At mile 5, I felt punch drunk.
At mile 6, I felt hope return.
At mile 6.2, I genuinely smiled for the first time that whole day... Because it meant I could finally stop moving.
This is not just a bad run.
This was THE bad run.
I will forever remember this when ever I have another bad run, because nothing can ever match the range of emotions I felt during those hellish two hours. And I got through it.
You will too.
It's just a bad run.
Try again tomorrow.