I signed up for a 30K race in Cayman in October. I knew it was going to be hot and thus a challenging run. The morning didn’t seem too horrible for a long run in East End, but as soon as the sun came up, BOOM. That changed. It’s no surprise that my first hour (6-7am) was my fastest and most ‘typical’ run experience. Once the sun was up, my paced slowed noticeably. Water stops had tepid water, and for someone used to drinking cold water to help keep the overall body temp cool, this was a challenge I didn’t expect. My husband, bored and unable to find a wi-fi connection to check his fantasy football stats, drove around to find me. At about mile 11, we saw each other and I knew he had ice in a soft cooler in the car. So I made him stop so I could get some for my water bottle.
Of course, I thought about getting in the car and calling it a day. Some days, it’s just not your day for running.
I resisted the urge, knowing the 20K mark was not far off, and thought I’ll see if I can make it there. Onward I went, pushing through many moments of doubt and frustration at my body’s unwillingness to get with the programme. It’s not like I don’t run in these conditions every week, right? Lots of cheering, some extra encouragement, more cold water from a friend, and off I went to finish the last 10K of the race.
This stretch was even worse – basically full sun, never-ending uphill (why does it always seem that way?), and some decent head winds were all challenges facing the runners. I struggled more than I thought I would, ending up walking the last 2.5 – 3 miles because I was dehydrated and unable to replenish my salts properly. Every time I tried to run, I felt sick, so I stuck with walking. Not the best way to finish off a race. I’ve honestly not felt this bad with a run for years. Hearing the finish line, I was able to muster up some energy to run the last 0.2 miles and have a presentable finish – at least in front of the waiting crowd.
My time was a very slow-for-me 3:33:29 for 18.6 miles. I don’t think I’ve ever run that distance that slowly. I felt sick and asked my husband to get me home as quickly as possible. Thankfully I was able to make it back to the other side of the island without issue and ended up taking a nap.
Little did I know that my worst performance at this distance netted me a 1st place award in my age group. See, I wasn’t the only one struggling that day. And while it was a small field of runners, I’m extremely proud of that award, as it represents to me a bit of perseverance to push through difficult moments and not throw in the towel as quickly as I would have liked.
While that race may not have felt like a ‘win’ in many ways, it still represents dedication and effort to achieving a challenging goal. And for that, I am very proud that I have my first place women’s 40-49 mug sitting on a shelf.