What if I ________ in a race?


Runners invest so much time and energy in training for their races that it’s completely understandable when we start to get worried about something going wrong before or during the race.

You know what? Sometimes it will. Sometimes that race will totally suck, and other times you’ll dig deep and come out smiling.

What if I’m last?
I have never come in last in a race, although I have definitely been DFL (dead frickin’ last) at some point in some races. You know what? Someone is going to be last. I’ve even heard of races where they really throw a party for the last person to cross the finish line — but let’s face it, that’s the exception.

I did one race that ran out of medals (even though I wasn’t even close to being the last runner, long story).

I have done races where there’s really slim pickings for food at the end. Generally because the public has partaken, and I’m towards the BOTP. One memorable race they ran out of the promised chocolate milk straight from the cows — it was a farm — yes, I know chocolate milk doesn’t come straight from cows. The point is you can’t depend on getting what the faster finishers get — although again, that is not always the case.

Most races have runners and walkers and if you’re running, chances are pretty good that the walkers will be finishing after you. Although I have been passed by race walkers in races.

My worst race, the one where I was injured and had to walk by mile ten, my most painful and almost slowest race ever — a small one, in fact — guess what? I still wasn’t last.

So what if you’re last? Did you do your best? Did you cross the finish line like all the other runners? You earned your medal. You have nowhere to go but up.


What if I get sick during the race?
It’s only happened to me once, knock on wood. I’ve definitely had races where I didn’t feel great, felt run down in fact, but only one where I had to make a stop to use a portapotty urgently.  I actually had to run quite a few miles while really needing that portapotty.

Endorphins are a wonderful thing. I finished the race. It is still, in fact, my half PR despite that stop. I couldn’t eat much for a few days after, which really sucks while you’re on vacation and have just run a half, but I survived.

The worst that can happen is that you’ll DNF (did not finish). Be kind to yourself. There’s always another race. Know when it’s time to throw in the towel.

In my case the race was a point to point we had to be bussed to and from, so it’s not like I could just easily go back to the hotel. I was lucky to get a ride with a kind stranger, and luckily I wasn’t feeling that bad at that point (endorphins, again!).


What if I choose the wrong clothes?
It happens. Maybe that raincoat wasn’t such a great idea even if it was rainy. Maybe you ran half a race holding onto your hat so it didn’t blow away. Maybe it was supposed to be cool and suddenly got hot — or hot and suddenly got cold.

My best advice is to lay out several different outfits no matter what the forecast, so even if it changes overnight (it definitely can), you can quickly change outfits on the fly. If you’re traveling to the race — do the same thing. Take it from me!

Final Thoughts
When it comes to racing, there are a lot of What Ifs. Most of them you just can’t control.

What if it’s suddenly hot on race day (wish I had a nickel for the many times that’s happened to me). What if there’s a Nor’easter (yup, been there, ran in that). What if I get lost — so far I’ve been lucky on that one. What if I can’t find the start — well, I had one race where I did find the start, but I had to run to it because I thought it was somewhere else. So many What Ifs in racing.

What was your best race experience when things went wrong?
How do you overcome your own What Ifs?
Have you ever actually been DFL?


Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with the new Runners’ Roundup linkup.


20 thoughts on “What if I ________ in a race?

  1. Oh wow, you’ve had some race experiences, Judy!
    I have never DFL’d, but I have DNF’d because I passed out close to the finishing line. I’m so glad I wasn’t blogging at the time, or else I would have had to report about it, haha!

    For me, the best way to overcome What-ifs is by doing more races – the more I do, the more experienced I become. It doesn’t scare away the pre-race jitters, but they are easier to handle. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fainting is definitely an experience! I’ve only ever fainted twice, both times when I was very sick and not eating much. I have to be very careful about that! Bummer that you didn’t faint ON the finish line, though!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I do the what ifs but it’s always the what if I didn’t think of that happens! I’ve been racing and running for so long that I’ve had just about everything happen. Less things to fear, I guess!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What Wendy said. I’ve run so many races. I do my best. But no matter what things go wrong.

    I’ve had a broken foot. A bloody nose. Loose belt and skirt. Blisters. Under dressed.

    I just sign up for races. Many. It helps you forget about the bad ones.

    So glad to have races happening again.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yup. You’ll race when you’re ready. Racing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. And everyone trains differently. Sometimes you can just race for the fun of it.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. When you run enough races you realize things can and will go unpredictably. You just learn to go with the flow and your race plan A goes to plan B and C if necessary. All I can do to help avoid the what ifs is to prepare as best as I can.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve had two races where I came oh-SOOO-close to an emergency situation when I desperately needed a porta potty. Key word: almost LOL. Once was when I was on meds (and didn’t read the fine print about “probable diarrhea #FacePalm) and the other was bad fuelling (fruit snacks and Gatorade do NOT mix well together). I have only had one DNF, and it was for a race that I shouldn’t have even started…so no regrets on that. Yep, anything can happen!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh no about not reading the med side effects!

      I had one race I really should have DNF’d — but didn’t. I regret sticking it out because I really injured my IT band and spend many weeks running in pain — when I could run again. It’s why I still tape for longer distances — but this year I’ve saved on tape, LOL! Last couple of years!


  6. There are so many things that can go wrong on race day! And since its been so long since I raced it will probably be tough getting used to everything again. I feel like the more I race, the more comfortable I get with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I ran my first race in April 1985, I covered the distance of 10 km in 50:08 and I was the last (only 45 participants). Later it never happened anymore.
    If the things go wrong during a race I slow down. However one time I “surrendered” after the first lap but the route was crazy with uphill and downhill by stone stairways. The risk of an injury was high and I stopped myself.

    Liked by 1 person

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