On Sunday, my Garmin watch kindly chirped at me to let me know it had detected a new VO2Max. Sweet. I scrolled to look at my predictive analytics, and found that my projected marathon time was an incredible 3:11. I’ve never run anything close to a 3:11. I’m 98% positive there’s no way on Earth I could pull off that time right now, but I’m pretty sure I could get a sub 3:30 Boston Qualifying time on a good day. Then, I got the email that I was expecting; my marathon is cancelled. Shitballs.
So, here’s the thing. Races all over the globe are being cancelled. I knew it was coming, but it was still a kick to finally read the announcement in print. Every runner looks forward to any race that they register for, and it’s always heart breaking when something comes along to take a dump on our plans. But for me, this one was a big blow. Like watching the last bag of Reese’s leave the store in someone else’s shopping kart big.
After years of working on shaving my marathon time, my last BQ attempt landed me just under 3:40. I was dead on pace for a 3:30 finish until GI distress smacked me harder than the recession hit 2008. I hopped immediately back into training, and have been hitting tempo paces I didn’t think were possible. I’ve felt myself get stronger. I knew I had a really strong chance at finally crossing the finish line in under 3:30 this month.
And honestly, I’ve trained myself stupid. I’m tired af. Mentally, I’m sick of speedwork, and I’m ready to get that damn BQ and eat some waffles afterward. So when my watch confirmed the fact that I’m stronger than ever, it was the worst kind of back handed compliment. “You’re in such great shape, it’s almost like you could Boston Qualify!” That’s what my d-bag watch told me.
“Too bad your marathon is cancelled!” Shut up, Garmin.
So, yea, I have a lot of feelings about this whole coronavirus situation. And no, I’m not narcissistic enough to believe that my feelings are unique, or that the travesty of a lost race is anything compared to people watching their loved ones die in hospital beds. I fully understand that there are real things going on out in the world.
Related Post: How to Run a Faster Marathon
But I’m still a human. With human feelings. And I wanted to share those feelings, because I know I’m not the only runner kicking the dirt under their feet. After reading David Roche’s recent post on Trail Runner (you should really click that link and read it too), I felt more confident in my decision to share my emotions (which is far from my typical inclination).
So here’s how I’m feeling, and no I’m not going to apologize for it.
My Race Got Corona’d – Here’s How I Feel
Shockingly, I’m pissed. I’m a person who tends to experience anger stronger than most other emotions on the feelings spectrum. And believe me, I’m a therapist, I know how to tell what I’m feeling. I know it’s an emotion that is strong and protective, and often covers up the other softer feelings. And regardless of all the clinical knowledge, my initial reaction is that I’m mad.
I’m not mad that my race was cancelled. It was the only real choice to make. I’m mad that there’s a virus that exists, that is threatening enough to warrant school closures and toilet paper hoarding and race cancellations. I’m mad that this is our reality. I’m existentially pissed.
Also, as someone with a project management background, I’m left angry at someone (I’m not quite sure who) because our medical infrastructure isn’t built to accommodate these kinds of issues. I get that it’s not fully economical and all that, but I’m still left wanting to punch whoever didn’t complete their Failure Modes & Effects Analysis. We should be able to handle this, and I’m mad that we can’t. Even if it’s an unrealistic expectation.
Secondly, I’m amazed. I’m amazed that in the technologically advanced world that we live in that it’s even possible for this kind of thing to happen. Yup, there’s my big fat privilege showing up. But honestly, that’s how I feel. I’m amazed that in 2020, we have found ways to clone animals (for God knows what reason) and help women conceive, but we can still get our egotistical butts handed right back to us.
By nature. It’s incredible, and it’s a strong reminder that the natural world can put us in check real fast.
I’m also amazed to see how many people are stepping up and advocating for others. Helping people to get what they need. I’m amazed to witness introverts taking time out of our best lives to call up our extroverted friends who are decomposing right before our eyes. I’m also amazed at the power of fear, and I hope we all learn a lesson after this is all said and done. (Like how unnecessary toilet paper hoarding is).
And of course, I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed that I won’t have the opportunity to shoot for that Boston Qualifying time once again. I’m disappointed that after 15 weeks of training, I won’t have the opportunity to test my capabilities. I’m disappointed for all those in the running community who have spent months looking forward to something special, and then have to watch it slip away via email and social media notifications.
I’m disappointed that I won’t have the opportunity to travel up to Dallas and spend some time with friends and family that I was looking forward to seeing. I’m disappointed that my damn marathon is cancelled because of a virus. I’m disappointed that I’ll have to wait until winter to go for another BQ attempt. Could I try and wait for an early summer race, and hope the restrictions lift by then? Sure.
But in honesty, I just don’t think I have another couple of months of speedwork left in my legs. I was really looking forward to the break after racing. Also, there’s the whole trying to run fast when it’s 5 million degrees thing, and that isn’t ideal. So, this was it for this marathon season. And yes, I know there are many years left in my running career, and there’s a good chance that if I got to this level of fitness once, I can probably do it again, but I’m still disappointed.
Related Post: Chasing a Boston Qualifying Time
And damn it, I’m allowed to be angry and disappointed. It doesn’t mean I’m some selfish brat who doesn’t have awareness that in the context of everything going on, marathon races are small potatoes. But as a therapist, I would never tell a child of divorce that they shouldn’t be upset because at least their parents are still living, and some kids grow up in foster care.
So please don’t be a jerk and tell me I shouldn’t be upset. If you have opinions about my feelings, that’s cool, but I’m not really all that interested in hearing them. So kindly keep scrolling and go about your life. Because that’s what adults do when we have differences of opinions that are inconsequential.
Yes, even though I’m angry and frustrated and emotionally exhausted, I’m still grateful. Because I’m a human, and it is 100% possible to have multiple feelings all at once.
I’m grateful for a few things. I’m grateful that my body held out and allowed me to train for essentially 2.5 marathon cycles back to back. That’s a hell of a thing to ask one body to do in half a year. I’m grateful that I found a training plan that worked so well for me, and you bet your butt I’ll be back on the Hansons Marathon Training plan when I start back at this BQ goal in the fall.
I’m grateful that I’m passionate enough about something to pursue it relentlessly, even if it sometimes feels like it is forever eluding me. I see too many people walking through life, completely aimless, and that looks more miserable than self-quarantine. I’m grateful that so many people are willing to put their own wishes and goals on hold to try and prevent harm coming from those who are more at risk.
I’m grateful for an incredible running community that has supported runners everywhere as we take a moment to pout. And finally, I’m grateful for the opportunity to run this race virtually. Yes, even I am surprised to hear myself say that last one.
What Comes After the Hissyfit
When the Irving Marathon made the decision to cancel the race, the organizers presented runners with two options: a registration deferral or a virtual race. My initial thought was “no way in Hell am I ever going to run 26.2 miles without a race going on.” That just seemed silly, and pointlessly hard. No support. No water stations. No pre-marathon night in a cushy hotel room.
But then I thought about the true reason I run marathons. I run endurance races because they are hard. Because I love the feeling that comes from accomplishing something that seems irrationally difficult. So, this race cancellation is giving me the opportunity to achieve something that I have never done before: run a semi self-supported marathon.
Now, I’m not going to give myself strict rules around this. If a certain cousin of mine wants to join me for a few miles (I’m staring at you, Heather), I’m not going to say no. If my husband wants to meet me to swap out my water bottles, I will gladly accept. The point is that I’m going to run 26.2 without the support of a race happening around me. I happily welcome any virtual support you’d like to send my way, because I’m certain I will have regrets around mile 20.
But honestly, I’m a little excited about the opportunity to truly test my mental strength. I know I can physically run the distance; I’ve done it before. But this will definitely be a test of my mental state. So, I hope you’ll join me for the adventure (?) on March 28.
And for anyone who has read this far in my diatribe of emotions, I appreciate you. Here’s to the best freaking Fall marathon season anyone has seen 6 months from now. Lord knows, we all need it!