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