When a great race goes bad – Stampede Road Race (2013)

Posted on July 14, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |


Starting July 1, I kept an eye on the weather forecast.  Last year the temperatures were high and the sun was bright.  It was hot.  Last year I was shy of PR by 30 seconds.  This year it was going to be glorious.  This year I was going to PR and it would be my qualifying race for Half Fanatics.

ImageAs usual, the night before the race I had issues sleeping.  I don’t recall what time it was I went to bed, but when the alarm went off the next morning I was good to go.  After getting dressed and making sure (again) that I had everything I needed, I woke up my husband.  My four year old was doing the kids’ race again and my husband was kind enough to keep him entertained while I did my race thing.

We arrived right on time at 6:30am (for a 7am start).  I was excited and happy.  This day was going to go down in Dawn’s History as a great race.  I hugged my family and hung out at the start line.  I’ve touched on the kinship that exists in the running community before (here) so I won’t get into it again.  Suffice it to say, RunDisney connects a lot of people.  I met one girl that is doing her first Disney event in January at WDW.  A couple mentioned that they go to EVERY Disney race (I don’t know where they have the time or the funds for that).  Another group was at WDW this past January with me… and the list goes on.

After a slight delay – a delivery truck wanted to get by and the timing mats had to be picked up and laid back down – we got the “GO!”  I started out doing 30:30 and felt great.  There weren’t many clouds in the sky, but the course went around the Glenmore Reservoir so there was quite a bit of shade.  I was on Cloud 9.  Did I mention that I was going to PR and this was going to be a glorious day?

Everyone loved my skirt.  Everyone always does.  The past two races I wore my blue sparkle skirt – it matched the color of the race perfectly.  This time I wore my Minnie skirt.  Running skirts just aren’t big up here in Calgary, so when people see one, they go crazy.  I had so many people tell me that my skirt made them happy.  So bonus – the weather is great, there’s shade, I’m going to PR, and I make people happy.  It was a glorious day.

I’m rocking along and hit kilometer six.  My great race takes a turn for the worse.  I started getting lightheaded.  I still do not know why.  I wasn’t wearing my compression sleeves (learned that lesson in WDW) and I’ve definitely raced in hotter weather.  Come to think of it, just about ALL my races have occurred in hotter weather with the sun beating down and no shade – except the Santa Shuffle… that one happened in a blizzard.  Anyway, back to the race at hand.  I slowed down to a walk and focused on breathing.  I was so lightheaded; I had to turn off my music.  I stayed in the shade and tried to stay calm.  I could feel the fear taking over my mind.  The last time I was like this in a race it was at the beginning of the marathon at WDW where I learned the lesson about compression sleeves.  I could not find a reason for this feeling and it scared me.  I ate something and it didn’t help.  I kept going – just went very slowly.

At kilometer seven, I heard a herd coming up behind me.  I had taken advantage of the early start so this was the speedy people on my tail.  I tried to be nice and move as far over to the right as I could to allow them to pass.  My right foot caught the edge of the path just right, or just wrong, and I rolled my ankle as I fell.  Yep – I fell.  People asked me if I was ok and I said yes, gave them two thumbs up, and sent them on their way.  While my body was hurt, at that point in time it was my pride that hurt more.  I managed to get up and check my hands and knees to make sure blood wasn’t gushing anywhere.  I kept going.

Kilometer eight came and went in slow motion.  I was still feeling lightheaded, although not as bad.  I think the pain from the fall helped distract me a little bit.  I went back to doing intervals, but I changed to a 15:45 ratio.  I could feel a pain on my toe and realized that a blister was forming.  I don’t get blisters from running – but I feel that this one will make up for that.  The lightheadedness came back with a vengeance at kilometer ten and I went back to slow walking.  My fear escalated (which I’m sure didn’t help).  My thoughts turned to quitting.  I hadn’t even reached the halfway point and I wanted to quit.  I’ve had races that I just wanted to be done and there was the Banff Subaru Triathlon that I didn’t even want to start, but this was the first race that I wanted to quit.  My body was hurting from the fall, my head was spinning, and I was scared something was wrong.

I kept moving forward.  It was the only thing I knew to do.  I thought about sitting and resting, but I would not have gotten up again.  Throughout the slow walk, I let my mind wander in hopes focusing on other things rather than the thought of passing out.  My glorious day…  what happened?  Where did it go?  My mind drifted to the Half Fanatics.  If I did not finish this race, I would not qualify.  That’s the thought that kept me going.  I held on tight to it.  I kept thinking about how I would be allowed into their world, into the AsLyum.

I lost all concept of time and distance at this point.  I could hear a group of people behind me and eventually they passed me.  I now had a bicycle medic escort – I was last.  He asked me if I was ok.  “Yes, I just fell awhile back and my knee is stiff.”  I didn’t mention the lightheadedness.  He asked me if I wanted a ride back.  “No.  I’m going to finish.”  So on we went.  I started my 15:45 ratios again and that brought me close to the group of ladies that had passed me.  We had to go around a track to get to the finish chute.  I actually caught up with the two ladies in front of me – and then they proceeded to run.  It was at the last turn on the track and I tried to push everything from my mind.  The only thought I had was that I DID NOT want to be last.  I sprinted to the finish – and I passed both of them on the way.  I crossed the line, got my bolo tie medal, a bottle of water, and set out to find the med tent.  I needed ice on my knee.

My family found me there.  I had missed my 4 year old’s race, but I was able to hear all about it.  A huge smile and big bright eyes greeted me as he began his story.  He and a little girl collided shortly after they started so he fell down, too – just like Mommy.  As he ran around the track he passed “so many people” – just like Mommy (even though Mommy only passed two).  My husband took a video of the 400m race as he ran behind the little guy.  It amazed me how much zigzagging occurred.  Speed is not something the kiddo got from me.  He’s pretty quick.  While trying to video the race, my husband spent a fair amount of time trying to find the little speed racer.

ImageI hobbled to truck and looked back on my race.  My glorious day didn’t turn out so glorious.  My body hurt from the fall and the lightheadedness still had me worried.  The blister was ginormous and very painful.  I made a decision – I was done.  I didn’t want to run anymore.  I’m already signed up for the Dumbo Double Dare at Disney Land and after that I was through.  We are moving back to the hot and humid south anyway and running will not be as fun.  It wasn’t so much a “pity party for one” as it was a fact.  I was through.  I was burned out.  I decided to just focus on swimming because I have a Half Ironman relay coming up.

Monday I submitted my criteria to Half Fanatics.  I did finish the race and I did qualify so I was going to join.  I received the confirmation email that evening.  I was in!  I am HF #4608!  It’s amazing how one seemingly small thing can change everything.  Being allowed into HF gave me an energy boost.  I wanted to keep running!  I immediately started searching for new races.  I had been sitting on the fence about Space Coast for quite some time.  My decision to stop running made my decision about the race easy.  I wasn’t going to do it.  I even closed out the Space Coast tab on my computer.  My newfound excitement not only had me open the tab back up – I registered without thinking.  I also registered for a back-to-back race without giving much thought to it.  I will have to take some time to get acclimated to the climate in the south, but I’m determined to continue.

What I learned is that whatever it is that motivates you, you have to find it and use it.  For me it was something as simple as being able to join HF.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve never been an athlete.  I still don’t consider myself one.  To be able to join a group that’s all about athletic type people excites me.  It’s quite possible that if I hadn’t qualified for HF, I would still get excited about running again, but I feel that it would have taken a long time to get to that place.  So to all the HF’s out there – Thank you!  Thank you for being what I needed to see more than what went wrong.  I should get me a HF top as a symbol of the strength I found – maybe it could be my version of a super hero cape!


I wasn’t going to write about this race – so many things went wrong.  Why would anyone want to remember a bad race?  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it’s important to reflect on the bad races as well as the good.  It gives you a sense of how far you’ve come and the obstacles that you overcame to get to wherever you are now.  I’ve been able to look past all that went wrong at the Stampede race for laying underneath is all that went right.  I just had to dig a little to see it.  I was down.  Not only did my body want to quit, but so did my mind.  I didn’t though.  I continued to move forward.  I finished a race under circumstances far less than ideal.  I can carry that strength with me.  The next time my mind says I need to quit I can dig a little deeper and know that I can do it.

Side note – I typically put a lot more pictures in my blog posts, but I just wasn’t up to taking any on race day.

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