People ask me all the time about my best race experiences. I have too many great races to talk about that I usually have to lump them in different categories. I don’t often get asked about my least favorite races, or my worst races. Now I can confidently say that the virtual half marathon I ran for the Martian Invasion of Races was just awful and I would 100% rank it as the worst race I have ever done. I almost feel bad saying it because it wasn’t ALL bad. There were some positives, there were some fun moments. But when you’re already saying, “What the hell were we thinking?” and you haven’t even hit one mile into the race… you definitely know it isn’t going to go well.
My original plan for my birthday weekend was to run a backyard ultra. As you know if you have been keeping up with my blog, I decided against that for a lot of reasons but mostly because of COVID-19. I decided to do a half marathon instead and only told a few friends about it. The distance fit into my marathon training rather than having to train for an ultra and then maintain for a fall marathon. When I saw a virtual option with cool swag for the Martian Invasion of Races that would be happening around my birthday, I went for it!
The window for running the half was a week long, giving me two weekends to choose from. It seemed like a good thing but ultimately stressed me out because I was afraid I’d choose the wrong weekend! What if I chose the first weekend and it was hot and miserable, then the next weekend was cooler? Or what if I decided on the second weekend and it stormed?
Fortunately or maybe unfortunately both weekends had similar weather. Hot, humid, absolutely the worst possible conditions for a half. I ended up running a half marathon on both weekends, and neither was much better than the other as far as weather goes. The first weekend I ran out and back on the rail trail with my hubby (he biked while I ran). The first half was great but the second half was miserable. I was dying for shade and would celebrate when I got it. It took us 3 hours to do 13.26 miles.
The following weekend my friend came to visit for my birthday and to run with me. We had a takeout version of a pre-race dinner and after watching TikTok videos for hours we got a good night’s sleep. We woke up and had a filling pre-race breakfast. Everything was adding up for it to be an awesome race. We planned to do an out and back again, from a different part of the trail.
Everything felt good as we started. It was cool but humid. My hubby followed us on his bike with music to entertain us. We chatted and ran, and not long into it both started to complain about the heat. Not even a mile in we decided to change our plan. We would have several more miles of open trail with no shade and no breeze.
So we turned around and decided to do loops through the neighborhoods surrounding where I live. As soon as we turned around we were hit with the most refreshing breeze. We thought, “Ahhh! This is nice! Can we keep going this way?” It seemed like maybe we’d have a good race after all.
We were so wrong. We were hot and miserable for the entire time. Even my hubby struggled on his bike. We changed our intervals – we started with 2 minutes running and 30 seconds walking, then extended the walks to 45 seconds, then cut then runs down to 90 seconds. The sun searing us, the lack of wind and the abundance of humidity was awful.
I made several statements during the run. “If I ever suggest a race for my birthday again, kick me in the face, especially if I suggest a backyard ultra.” “Well hopefully this will be better than our Detroit experience.” (It definitely wasn’t)
We tried doing math to make it back to my house at exactly 13.1 miles, but by mile 9 my brain was not functioning anywhere near 100%. We didn’t end up too far off, but by mile 11 we both agreed we just wanted it to be over but we couldn’t quit because we had come so freakin far!!!
We finally wrapped the miserable thing up at about 2 hours 50 minutes. It wasn’t my worst marathon time wise. But besides running with my friend, it totally sucked and was THE WORST. 10/10 do not recommend a virtual half marathon in early August.
The best part of the experience, besides running it with my friend, was the ice cold coke from McDonald’s my hubby got us for when we finished and the pizza that we had delivered for afterwards. Some things made it feel like a “real race” and were quite enjoyable.
It may have been my worst half marathon, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, I guess. Marathon training continues… stay tuned!