Most of you know I’m an NFL fan.  You wouldn’t know it with my 1-4 fantasy team record but that’s another post. My point is that there’s a saying in football – “any given Sunday” – as in any team can win or lose when it’s  game time.  You can have the best quarterback, wide receivers, defense, whatever – if everyone doesn’t play their best or if there are too many turnovers, you can and will lose.  I feel the same about race day.

As runners, we’ve all had our share of races that just sucked and, conversely when everything went unbelievably right.  If you train your best and are fully prepared then you should have a great race, right?  Wrong!  The problem is that you can never seem to predict what race you’re going to have until you get out there and run it.

Here’s some of my personal highlights:

1.  Although it was not a race, it was a competition and possibly the most embarrassing thing to happen in my entire life! I was about 10 years-old and at a gymnastics meet.  I had been in gymnastics since I was 4 so I was very competitive and fairly good.  I got up to salute the judge I was ready for my floor routine and started peeing in my leotard all over the floor!  No biggie, I was just in front of 100 of my peers.  I wanted to die!  Luckily my mom was there and she happened to have my replica Mary Lou Retton Olympics leotard in the car.  You remember the one, right?  I put that sucker on, got back out there and ended up winning the floor competition.  I have no idea how the hell I mustered the courage to do that.  If that happened to me now, I would crawl in a hole and die.

Right on Mary Lou!  I bet you never peed in your leotard!

Right on Mary Lou! I bet you never peed in your leotard!

2.  Boston Marathon 2007:  I obviously worked my ass off to make it to Boston.  The race I qualified for to run Boston was one where the stars aligned and I had the best marathon ever.  Boston?  Not so much.  In the 111 years of having the marathon they almost canceled it because of a Noreaster!  Luckily (I guess?) the race went on but I was hungry, cold and tired from the start.  I did everything wrong and ended up finishing with my worst marathon time ever – 3:47.  The only saving grace was that it was Boston and my whole family was there so I was able to check myself pretty quickly.

3.  Half-marathon turned 10K:  I signed up to do a half-marathon with a friend of mine.  On race day I was pretty sick with a chest cold.  I still wanted to try and run because I’m insane I didn’t want to leave my friend hanging, so I switched to the 10K which is half the distance.  When the gun went off I took off with the leaders and somehow held on to come in second overall!  Since that day, I have done the same race every year and have come in second or third each time.  If that cold didn’t happen I never would have know how competitive I could be at that distance.

Miles wearing my medal from the 10K race.

Miles wearing my medal from the 10K race.

So now I’m facing down the first of two major races I have been training for, for months.  The half-marathon is this Saturday and I need to set my goals.  That’s right – goals with an “s!”  A while ago, a brilliant racer (I can’t remember who?) told me to always set three goals for any race.  The first should be something easily achievable like just finishing.  The second can be a little loftier like a time goal and the third should be the ultimate if all goes exactly to plan.  By setting three goals, you’re sure to at least meet one of them and therefore still feel successful.

My three goals for Saturday:

1.  Finish without being broken

2.  Finish with a PR of 1:30 or better

3.  Make the top five females in my age group

When I run through these babies to the finish line, I hope I'm smiling!

These are the only “golden arches” I know and they’re at the finish line of the Hartford Half!

Now that it’s out there – the pressure is on!…not like it wasn’t before this post…but there’s something serious (and vomit inducing) about putting it out here and having to report back.

I know that anything can happen on race day.  All I can control is the training I have put in until this point and hope it’s enough.  I guess if I don’t pee my racing shorts, I should consider it a win!

Care to share you’re most embarrassing moment?  No?  How about a race or competition that went better or worse then you thought?