With a writing assignment like “worst race ever” you would think one particular race would jump into my mind. You would be wrong. There are several. The time I bonked at mile 19 of the NYC Marathon comes to mind as does my first ever marathon where my pacer abandon me and I chafed so badly I wanted to tear my legs off. And, let’s not forget that time in Cuba when vertigo kept me from the start line completely.
You ask for my worst race, and I give you five! #racingainteasy
Sadly, this is a link up with some of my closest and most experienced running friends but it just goes to show you that bad races happen to everyone. It’s how you respond and rebuild afterward that really matters.
Here are my top five worst races of all time, that mostly ended up not being so bad…
FIVE: NYC MARATHON (2015)
I felt so prepared for this marathon and was coming off a marathon PR six months prior. The reason NYC was so devastating for me is because I thought I did everything right and was on the verge of a breakthrough performance.
Lowest moment: Mile 19, knowing my family was at mile 20 and I literally wanted to curl up on a dirty curb and just lay there sobbing until someone came to get me. I was in so much pain in my body but the heartache was the worst, thinking I was letting myself and my people down.
Turning point: I stopped feeling sorry for myself when I thought about how my mom spent the majority of her late thirties and early forties in a hospital bed dying of cancer. I was lucky to be running the NYC Marathon, surrounded by people who loved me, doing something I have had the privilege of doing for so many years – running! I finished smiling and I couldn’t be more proud of that!
FOUR: MY FIRST MARATHON | HARTFORD, CT (2005)
I think the fact that it was my first marathon says it all. I had no clue what I was doing and I was wearing cotton for God sake!
Lowest moment: My “friend” who was supposed to run me in at mile 20 showed up asking if it was ok if she bagged on me! She was asking while I was in the middle of running the marathon! Thankfully another (real) friend was there and she ended up taking me into the finish.
Turning point: Knowing the marathon comes down to you and you alone and that no matter how good a friend or fellow racer, a marathon finish has to come from within.
THREE: BOSTON MARATHON (2007)
The year I ran it, they almost cancelled it because of a nor’easter. I mean, really?
Lowest moment: This is a tough call. It’s between the hours spent sitting under a tent prior to the race start, in the absolute freezing cold, pouring rain all by myself and bonking at mile 23 and ending up in the medical tent with hypothermia.
Turning point: Seeing my family at heartbreak hill and my dad running up the sidewalk next to me to the top with my stepmom screaming behind him ” Stop! You’re going to have a heart attack!” We talk about it every year and it remains my greatest running moment ever.
It was the first race my dad had seen from the sidelines and he was overcome with motivation and enthusiasm. By the time I got to where he was, he understood the scope of what I was doing and what the Boston Marathon means. #worthit
TWO: HAVANA TRIATHLON (2017)
This was a trip of a lifetime, returning with my dad to the place he was born and had to escape from 50+ years prior. In retrospect, it was lucky the triathlon was the only disappointment of the trip.
Lowest moment: Sitting outside our rented house on race morning with my brother and husband. It was obvious to everyone but me that I could not race. I sat there crying, trying not to vomit and could not walk without being helped. I was devastated that I wouldn’t be able to race and also terrified about what the hell was wrong with me.
Turning point: Once I felt better (and could walk in a straight line) I was able to ride my bike down the famous Malecón and by the American Embassy and my husband went for a run with me — something that has only ever happened once in 12 years of marriage! Plus, the entire trip was so amazing for my father and it’s something I will never forget.
ONE: FIRST TRIATHLON (2009)
The only thing you really need to know is I did my very first ever triathlon three months after the twins were born. It was sheer stupidity. I never swam in open water before and only had a mountain bike. I put road tires on my mountain bike and hoped for the best.
Lowest moment: The lowest moment of the race was not the race itself but the days leading up to it. My husband was away on a golf weekend and I had twin three-month old babies all by myself for two days leading up to race day. I was insanely tired, cranky and questioning my entire life, let alone the decision to race my very first triathlon.
Turning point: The event was being held right at the bottom of my street and in the surrounding neighborhood and I was racing with a group of women who had been cheering me on from the start. My entire family was there and, after I survived the swim, I actually felt pretty good. This race was not only the start of my love affair with triathlon but of getting back to who I was after creating two humans for the better part of the previous year.
I’ve had many amazing races over the past 18 years of doing this and the “bad” ones have been so much more valuable to me. I learn something from every race but it’s the truly horrible ones that have benefitted me the most.
Don’t take my word for it, read about these amazing runners and bloggers and know that you’re far from alone when it comes to having the worst race ever.
CARLY | FINE FIT DAY
ANGELA | HAPPY FIT MAMA
NELLIE | BROOKLYN ACTIVE MAMA
LAURA | THIS RUNNER’S RECIPES
Now get out there and run the best race ever, keeping in mind that the best race can sometimes feel like the worst, and you’re in good company.
What was your worst race ever?
Worst day ever?
Ever have the worst turn into the best…or at least better?