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The Worst Race Ever (And How It Changed Me For Good)

by Nellie

In my very short running career, I’ve run a LOT of races. Some of them have been incredible where I feel like I’m running on air, the weather is perfection and the battery in my back is brand new. However, there have been other times. Hard times. Races that made me want to hang up my sneakers for GOOD. Today I’ve been tasked with writing about my worst race ever. I thought about this, and although I’ve had a ton of bad race experiences, the one that comes up over and over is the Bay Ridge Half Marathon. It was my first half. I didn’t tell a soul I was running it because I wanted to prove to myself that I could absolutely do it.

I did it, but it was a really awful 13.1.

First let me set the scene. It was the middle of October. The cold of the fall had come down on NYC faster than normal. It was my FIRST 13.1. I had been training secretly and successfully. I didn’t want anyone to know that I was running my first half marathon in October instead of the advertised February. I wanted to prove to MYSELF that I could do it. Except I didn’t know what was in store to get that satisfaction!

1) It was a Monsoon

…or at least as close to a monsoon as I have ever experienced. For days the weather forecast was complete doom and gloom. The rain would be over four inches, “brace and prepare yourselves for a complete washout”. I wavered back and forth, could I actually run my first 13.1 in these conditions?!

2) It was a small field

This I didn’t realize until I had run many more half marathons. There were approximately 290 people running this race. I chose a local race without knowing how many people would be running it, and this would be a mistake that I knew to never make again because it added a lot of unnecessary pressure to this back of the packer.

3) My technology died

I spent WEEKS tweaking the most perfect playlist. I planned song for song, mile for mile. I double ziplocked my phone for extra protection and my Beats By Dre headphones were waterproof. I had never trained without music. My phone promptly died at Mile 5.

4) It was an out and back…twice

I had never been so bored in a race. The race was 3 miles out, 3 miles back…and repeat. It was the most boring course ever. Add to that the dead phone, the whipping winds and the rain that seemed to come from every direction.

5) I was the slowest and it was clear

Apparently the race I chose was not for the slower runners. People were finishing up as I chugged along to my second half of the race. All of these feelings of inadequacy settled in as I started to worry about the people who were waiting at the end for me, the cutoff time, and if I was actually going to finish or not. By Mile 10 my body hurt so much that I couldn’t even think anymore.

6) I finished

I was soaked. A nice person at the finish line allowed me to call my husband (who had both of my kids with him standing in a restaurant around the corner). A Medal and clothes infinitely stuck to my skin with rain water.

I smiled all the way home. I was now a half marathoner.

It was one of the most impossible situations that I still somehow managed to win in the end. Despite the weather, despite the faster runners, despite not running with music, and despite my own mind.

Want to hear some more Worst Race Ever stories? Check out my favorite running bloggers as they tell their running tales of horror!

Allie @ VITA Train 4 Life

Carly @ Fine Fit Day

Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes

Angela @ Happy Fit Mama

Worst #RaceDay Stories EVER! @HappyFitMama @ThisRunRecipes @VITAtrain4life @CarlyPizzani #run Click to Tweet

What was YOUR worst race day experience?

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Allie March 28, 2018 - 5:34 am

Giiiirrrlllll don’t I know it!!! I’ve run plenty of races (two marathons!) in the pouring rain and it is hands down the.worst. I remember your pictures from this race and you were absolutely soaked…but smiling!! This may be one the best topics we have had and I’m so glad we’re sharing today!

Janine Huldie March 28, 2018 - 6:56 am

Aw, you are truly amazing and an inspiration, Nellie. Even in the worst case scenario, you accomplished you goal in this race and seriously tip my hat to you! 🙂

ktia March 28, 2018 - 8:52 am

You have accomplished so much and I am so proud of you. No matter which race was the worse or the best you still did it and that’s all that matters

Nellie March 28, 2018 - 3:51 pm

omg thanks so much Kita!

Tamara March 28, 2018 - 1:10 pm

I feel like I remember that race! Did you share about it? I don’t any to call my worst one!

Nellie March 28, 2018 - 3:51 pm

YES I totally did, it was so traumatic it’s hard to forget LOL

Laura March 28, 2018 - 7:31 pm

The pouring rain is the worst for a race! My first half had awful weather also – terrible winds – and I remember thinking, what the heck am I doing out here? But oh my gosh, that course – two out-and-backs sounds so boring! I love though how despite it all, you were still smiling – the first race is a huge accomplishment no matter the weather or course!


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