Bad Races Happen….

You might want to grab a cup of coffee or hot chocolate for this post…it is kinda long!

Bad races happen, that does not make it any easier or any less disappointing!…and it happened to me yesterday πŸ™

race 5

It is so easy to try to want to find a reason why. Was it my training, did I eat right, did I stay up too late, was I on my feet too long the day before…and the list could go on and on. Sometimes there just is no exact reason other than it just wasn’t my day. I am pretty sure that is all it came down to for me yesterday. This wasn’t my first marathon….it is actually my 4th….but my training for this race has been far more planned and been far better than any training I have done for any other race. My other marathons I just put the miles in at whatever comfortable pace I felt like. While training for this race I made speed and tempo runs a priority. We had our kids were with friends the days leading up to and during the race so the preparation was a lot easier. We rested a lot on Friday and went to bed early. I feel like I did it all right….but that is not reflected in my race.

Back up to 4 months ago when I ran my first half marathon with some friends. I didn’t even specifically train for this race, we walked around all day the day before the race and hardly drank anything, we stayed up far too late the night before catching up with friends…basically I did not al all feel prepared for this race and I went into it not even sure of what my goal was. The result was a 1:32 half and I was thrilled with it! So what happened yesterday?…

I say all of that just to prove that sometimes we can do everything right and still have a bad race. That is how yesterday went for me. It doesn’t mean I wished I hadn’t trained as hard or I am not proud of what I have already accomplished…I am just disappointed. It is really important to remember in running and in other things we have come up in our life…the outcome may not always come out the way we planned, but that does not mean that the journey didn’t grow us and make us stronger along the way!

race 6

Friday we had a great, relaxing day and were in bed by 10 pm. Sat the alarm went off at 5, I got up had a banana and a piece of toast and got ready. I kept going back and forth on which top I wanted to go with, but finally settled on my purple Mizuno top and arm sleeves (it was a chilly 36 degree race start). I wore my favorite Saucony shorts,Β  purple ProCompression socks, my new running hat (which I LOVE), and my Mizuno elixer’s. I also carried my RunningLuv’s. Can I just throw in that I really LOVE these! They are a great product and great company! They were so sweet to send me a nice email before my race :).

We left the hotel by 6 am and only had a bout a 15 minute drive. We checked our bags and I did a short warm-up before I headed to the start line.

This race had a 3:15 pacer and a 3:30 pacer but nothing in between. I would have loved a 3:20 and if I felt good I could try to catch the 3:15. After debating which group to hang with I finally decided to just go for it and stick with the 3:15. In hindsight maybe I should have held back a little or started with the 3:30….but I really feel like I trained for a 3:15 and why did I do that if I wasn’t going to go for it! Was that right thinking or not…who knows…and who knows, maybe the same thing would have happened if I went out slower too.

The course was crazy hilly, but I knew that going into it. We also live in a hilly area so it is not like I never run hills…I actually run them all the time!

Truth is….from the start I felt a little off.

At the beginning of the race I was thinkingΒ  it was cold and I needed to warm up, but as the race went on that feeling got worse….I just thought maybe I could ignore it and hang on. To make matters a little worse my stomach was not liking the chews. I kept trying to eat them but each time it made my stomach hurt a little worse…so after my 3rd one at about mile 11 I just stopped and tried to go without them. I felt like I could hang with the 3:15 pace group through mile 13-14….then I started to fall back a little (not much though…maybe 20 seconds or so) and my hip started hurting a little and I fell back a little more. About mile 19 I thought, if I could stop and shake it out or something maybe I would feel better….and from then on I lost the pace. Once I stopped I just could not get going again…it wasn’t there. It hurt more and my muscles had stiffened up. It was slightly heart breaking. When you want your body to just respond and it doesn’t it just kinda stinks!

To start with my Garmin chose this day of all times to not work right! It started but then half way through the first mile it just lost signal and started over…so I missed the first mile. My 5k split was on…7:43, my 10k pace was on…7:32, my 1/2 pace was on…7:37, even my 21 mile pace would have been ok….8:06 but my finish pace was 8:37. I also completely understand that this is still a great time…it is just not what I trained for. Here are the times I have off my Garmin

1. don’t have

2. 8:03

3. 7:57

4. 7:40

5. 7:20

6. 7:18

7. 7:04

8. 7:08 (these are fast miles but they make up for some of the slower hilly miles)

9. 7:11

10. 7:25

11. 7:25

12. 7:58

13. 7:58

14. 7:47


16. 8:46 (starting to really worry here)

17. 8:22 (trying to pull it together

18. 8:36

19. 9:16

20. 8:25 (trying so hard to rally and pull through)

21. 10:20 (I walked some)

22. 12:27 (probably the most discouraging mile)

23. 12:40

24. 9:12 ( a super nice runner helped me through this mile

25. 11:02

26.2. my watch started acting up and I didn’t get the end

The final outcome…3:45…overall….it was disappointing. So, where do I go from here? The funny thing about races is that when I have a good one I want to do another one to see how much better I can do. This race I would have to say has been my first “bad” race….so how do I feel after it…

I want to do another one…like tomorrow to prove I can do better. Okay, so maybe not tomorrow because my quads are not happy with me right now. But I have seriously considered trying to find one that I could run within the next month. I know of one that is in two weeks….Is that crazy? Has anyone else done that? I do have a few ideas about a spring marathon, but that seems so far away. Who knows…maybe that is silly to want to do one so soon and maybe my legs are shot and wouldn’t be able to do another one…but I trained to do better and I want to!

race 4










So for me I guess this race was extremely disappointing and yet extremely motivating! I am not sure when…but i am still going for that 3:15!

Any thoughts on how soon is too soon?

Anybody else have disappointing races?

Anybody have a good race to tell me about and cheer me up!?


  1. says

    Oh honey we have ALL been there!! I actually just wrote a post about how on any given race day you can just have a bad one – with no rhyme or reason. I totally feel for you because YES, you did everything right and then you just didn’t have a good race. I SO understand wanting to do another one right away too. Of course you need to take a little time off and maybe just think “wow, I ran a marathon!”…and, that’s a really good time, considering.

    • Jen says

      Thanks…there is a possible marathon I might be able to do in a few weeks…but I might just wait till April. It is great to have encouragement from other runners who have had a bad race :)…I know it makes us stronger and it is just part of being a runner… just as soon as I get over the disappointment πŸ™‚

  2. says

    I’m so sorry to hear you had a rough race – it seems much hard to bounce back mentally from a bad race than physically.
    I still think you can rock that 3:15 in a few weeks though! I’m not one to advise on multiple marathons in a season given my lack of experience, but I know others that it’s worked out well for πŸ™‚
    I know exactly what you mean about not wanting to wait until the Spring. I had a terrible half marathon last June, and knew I didn’t want to go into marathon training later that month on a bad note. So a couple weeks later, I raced a 10K and got a new PR. It definitely helped get me excited for the marathon training cycle.

    • Jen says

      Thanks..there is a marathon in a couple of weeks I could possibly do….but I am not sure what I am going to do yet :). I just want to give it another try…but if I don’t now I am definitely going to do one in the spring! It feels weird to not have something to train for.

  3. says

    I think definitely bad races are inevitable, and you’re right that sometimes there’s no easily identifiable reason — it’s too complicated, & small things can interact in ways that we’ll never notice or figure out.

    Honestly, however great the temptation, I don’t think trying for another full right away is going to give you the result you want — if anything, it’s just going to add to your recovery time. If it were me, I’d give it *at least* two months, maybe three. It’s hard to be patient, but the payoff is likely to be so much better!

    Wishing you a speedy recovery! πŸ™‚

  4. Brynne says

    I wouldn’t be able to tell you anything from experience, but I remember seeing that there are quite a few plans at the end of the book Advanced Marathoning by Peter Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas (in the last chapter called Multiple Marathoning). You should definitely check those out; they definitely know what they’re talking about, it’s a really good book.

  5. says

    I am really sorry that your race didn’t turn out like you wanted. But you are right, we all have bad races, and at the end if the day, you are still one speedy speedster!!

    I think physiologically you probably could handle a race fairly soon, but I guess I would think about the mental and spiritual readiness. I know you will reach that 3:15 goal some time (and probably soon), but don’t jump into it so fast that it becomes an obsession. I say that because that is how I am with things, and I constantly have to take steps back from goals at times. Pray about it, as I’m sure you are. God will give you peace. πŸ™‚

    Anyway, great job on your marathon! πŸ™‚

  6. Brynne says

    Also, I’m very sorry you had a bad race day. I know you know it, but it’s part of racing… I realized the day of my first marathon how extremely emotional race day can be. I mean, I did well in that marathon and I was still bawling at the end just because I was so overwhelmed to finally be at the end of my crazy 4 month journey. I can only imagine how hard the opposite end of that emotional spectrum is.

    Maybe it’s a good idea to wait a week or so before you decide whether or not to jump straight into another marathon. Because I think I would be just as eager to do the same, but I know I often make rash decisions when it comes to running, hah. Most of the time it’s related to me jumping into training too soon after a race or an injury and it always ALWAYS ends badly… Just a thought πŸ™‚

  7. says

    Well, Jen – you’re obviously a talented and experienced runner, and maybe it just wasn’t your day. But I’m not surprised you hit the wall. A banana and piece of toast, and giving up on eating during the race, just ain’t gonna fuel a fast marathon. I did that this year at the Dexter-Ann Arbor half, and I just couldn’t keep the pace up after mile 7. Lesson learned – I don’t like eating first thing in the morning, but I just have to for those early races, and use the Gu early and often.

    As for your next one, my advice is to rest up and train properly for it. Don’t push yourself into an injury because of one bad race. You have many, many years of quality running ahead. I have almost 20 years on you, and didn’t start running until my mid-forties. By just continuing to run, you will have many more great races than I will ever have. (I have no problem with this, just contributing a little perspective.)

    Best, Jeff

  8. says

    Hi! Dont get discouraged.. That was a very cold race and your muscles were probably super tight… less blood flowing! I think you did GREAT! You FINISHED a FULL MARATHON. Yes you walked a bit but some people do.. You still got through it! What a GREAT accomplishment. Especially since you just ran your 1st 1/2 4 months ago! WOW
    Keep your head up! We all have a race we aren’t so happy about!

  9. says

    I’ve had a number of races not go quite as planned and I agree that sometimes it just happens even when you do everything right. This is one of the things i try to impress upon people I coach…running is one of those sports where some days you have it and some days it just doesn’t quite come together.

  10. says

    Jen, was this your first marathon? If so, give yourself a HUGE pat on the back because you SURVIVED. Marathons are no joke, and you never really know what to expect, especially in the last 10K. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Hold that head high. You have nothing to feel ashamed of. And welcome to the club!

    • Jen says

      Thanks Nicole!!! It is my 4th marathon (my pr of 3:36 was on this course 2 years ago)…but my first as a blogger and my first that I actually followed a training plan that included speed and tempo runs and so openly vocalized my goal :). I know for sure marathons are no joke and the last 10k killed me! :). No matter what the time is, finishing a marathon is an amazing accomplishment…I am definitely proud of that….just disappointed that I was so far off of the time I was training for and that my last 5 miles fell apart so badly.

      • says

        Sorry, Jen! I didn’t think it was your first, but something in your post made me think it was. YES, finishing a marathon is an amazing accomplishment, no matter what the clock says. Just think of all the people who aren’t capable to run a mile, much less a marathon. You’re doing something that many people will never have the courage or ability to do. You’re still a rockstar in my book!

  11. says

    I know that must be really disappointing – but in the grand scheme of things, still amazing! I know you will meet your goal one day and I’ll be cheering you on!

  12. says

    Hey, you still FINISHED a MARATHON and did a great job, in the grand scheme of things. Even though your dissappointed, you’ve just got an even bigger goal to chase after and are going to be THAT much more motivated!!

  13. says

    Oh, I hear you, Jen. Bad races are so frustrating, especially because you KNOW you are capable of more! My half a few weeks ago was similar- I just felt off from the beginning and never got in a good groove and things really fell apart in the middle. And the marathon is especially frustrating because you train for MONTHS and then anything can happen on race day. You will get that pr soon, I know it!

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