The time I missed a race
Surround yourself with people who are going to hold you accountable.
I'm part of a large local run club and we train and race a lot together. This past July 2017 I repeatedly said no to a half marathon that my club was doing because:
- Pennsylvania humidity in July, duh.
- I would be working five, 12-hour days the week before the race, and I knew I'd be drained.
Of course the week of the race rolls around and on Wednesday I decide to sign up because FOMO. I like my run club way too much. My alarm is set for 4:30am to meet my friends at 5:00am and carpool to the 7:00am race start. I go to bed Friday night exhausted but looking forward to the next morning. I wake up to sun streaming through my window and immediately know something is wrong.
I’ve never slept through an alarm in my entire life. I am that person. There are a dozen missed calls and texts on my phone from friends wondering where the heck I am. The race is 45 minutes away and there’s no way I’ll make it in time. I text my friends that sorry, I slept through my alarm and good luck.
My friend Christine calls and says NO way, get your butt out of bed and come anyways. The race is not chip timed, and my friends leave my bib on the windshield of their car. So there I am, speeding to the race and stopping at a questionable Walmart to pee before parking. My warmup consists of frantically running around the parking lot (probably adding on an extra mile) trying to find their car with my bib. I finally head to the start line (which is DESERTED) and begin the race 25 mins late, literally the LAST runner. The few volunteers that are left at the start line tell me to follow the painted white arrows on the road and that hopefully I'll make the first water station before it closes. Hopefully?! It's friggin 90 degrees out and I obviously didn’t have the luxury of hydrating before the race.
I follow the yellow brick road and finally catch a glimpse of the first water station packing up their truck on the side of the road and they see me - "Want some water?" First time I've ever had personalized water service at a race. I actually STOP to chat with them and they give me a bottle for the road.
I don't start passing walkers until mile 2.5 and of course everyone has something to say. "Did you start late?" "Miss your alarm?" No, I just really wanted to practice my orienteering.
This small town half marathon actually became one of my favorites because of this experience. It's a miserable hilly race in the middle of summer, but ALL of this town comes out on their lawns and hands out their own water and drinks, in addition to the official water stations. And it's necessary because it is disgusting weather. There is even an "Alternative Beverage Station" handing out Skittles, shots of vodka and Prosecco. I stop for a photo. And to answer your question before you even ask, no I did not join the party.
Finally rounding to the finish, my friends go nuts (not yet knowing that I actually made it to the race). The volunteers recognize me from starting late and are also cheering me on, and I’m actually glad I missed the start. When else do you get this kind of experience? I was literally the last person to start the race. I had personalized service at the first few water stops and a huge cheering section at the end. I cross the finish line at 2:18 on the clock, or 1:57 on my watch. It's not a chip-timed race, but who cares? Some races are just for fun. And this is one I'll never forget and my run club will never let me live down. I’m totally okay with being the laugh of the team for a day.
Keep friends around that will hold you accountable and make you get out of bed no matter how late you are. And next time, tell them to leave your bib somewhere more obvious.