Crash and Burn (St. Michaels Half)


This doesn’t hurt at all…really

To be honest, my racing was getting kinda boring. All these PRs and pulling out performances of a lifetime on not much training were getting old. I think people actually stopped reading my blog because my race reports were becoming so predictable. There’s not much fun in reading about everything going right. After all, drama and catastrophe are what make the headlines.

So I present to you in glorious technicolor my juicy tale of the time I crashed and burned quite spectacularly. Because I don’t believe in doing anything half-baked.

It was St. Michael’s Half Marathon, a race at which I got a 3 minute PR last year (boring) and barely broke a sweat (annoying). Picture perfect race, passed lots of people, felt great, blah blah blah. Who wants to read about THAT??!!

This time, I felt like roadkill from the start. I was toast at mile 1. I dragged my rotting carcass across the finish line in a time over 4 minutes slower than last year. I only beat Boston Marathon RD Dave McGillivray because he had pulled a hamstring.

But let’s start from the beginning and savor the 13.1 miles of excruciating agony. Like last year, I started out a little too fast, trying to control the legs and stay relaxed. But this year, the legs said “No way, we are not doing this.” And I don’t mean “We’re not doing this pace,” I mean, “We’re not doing this running thing.” It would have been funny if…well, it was actually funny. And I, of course, stubborn as usual, just ignored the legs. And ran a 6:58 first mile. That’ll show them who’s boss.

But the legs kept complaining. And then they started hurting. At mile 2, my right hip flexor joined in. Shut up, legs. I kept running. 7:10 mile 2. Slower, because that 6:58 did freak me out a bit, but not much slower because, well, slowing down would actually make sense. Shut up, legs. 7:06 mile 3. Hmmm, if this were a 5K it would be almost over. 10.1 miles to go.

I’m thinking, wow, if this hurts now, it’s really going to hurt in a few miles. People are passing me. I am slowly turning into roadkill. I will become a human carcass on the side of the road, like all those bloody lumps I had to circumnavigate on my ride last week – May is roadkill month for some reason. I stagger on.


BIG AL’S….which I didn’t notice, probably because I appear to have my eyes closed in some sort of vain attempt to make it all go away…

The middle miles of the race are a blur of pain and suffering, during which I barely manage to ingest a GU, choke on every sip of water, and keep clinging to some hope that I will just keel over and pass out, thus putting an end to this self-inflicted torture. Good thing I am wearing my Road ID. I make bargains with myself – run 7:15 pace…and then a little later – OK, don’t run over 7:30…and then later still – 7:45? Stick a fork in me.

At this point I am trying to think of other events equally or more painful…childbirth (23 hrs sure trumps a mere 1:37…), Boston Marathon (both times, the last 5 miles were gut-wrenching misery of epic proportions), running cross-country in Oxford in a hailstorm on a broken ankle (I was insane even at 19).

With a mile to go I decide to pick up the pace because, well, when it hurts that bad what’s a little more pain? Plus, I can see Dave McGillivray up ahead and think it would be nice if we were in the same shot when they take the race picture at the covered bridge (my favorite shot from last year…), so I shuffle towards him a little faster. I reach him with 0.5 to go and tell him “just half a mile!” That’s when he tells me he’s pulled his hamstring. I feel like saying, “No shit, I’ve felt like human bait since mile 1 but I am still passing you” but just grunt and move on…slowly, because that picture is coming up.


Dave and me…good times

Shortly after this point there’s a turn at which you can see the finish line. And there is nothing quite like a finish line to take away all the pain. Actually, that’s bollocks. It hurt all the way through the line, and I staggered around for quite some time after. But when all is said and done, and now that the pain has (mostly) subsided, I can honestly say that, um, well…bloody hell that HURT.

Official time: 1:37:49

Place: 30th overall, 1st in Women 40-44

Oh just one more thing: These photos were taken by Chessie Photo. As you can see they take far better pictures than much of the rubbish that you get. They even managed to make me look halfway decent. If I see a good race pic I am more than willing to purchase it, and Chessie is giving 20% off St. Michael’s race pics thru Saturday with the code QUICK20. And even when I forgot to use said code they applied it to my purchase when I e-mailed and asked them to. Great service!


  1. I’d say all the agony was well worth the shot with DMcG! Haha!
    Marcia recently posted..Loving/Not LovingMy Profile

  2. Rotten carcass or not, that is an impressive time! It just shows how mentally strong you are! Congratulations!
    Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted..Pin it Party!My Profile

  3. Don’t do anything halfway – if you’re going to feel like toast, feel like burnt toast!
    Cynthia @ You Signed Up For What?! recently posted..Race Recap: Frederick Half Marathon 2014My Profile

  4. Sometimes I’m more motivated at the end of the race to run fast and push the pace and keep telling myself the faster I go, the sooner it will be over with! Even if it wasn’t your best race, at least you got some great pictures out of it too (really nice of them to give a discount). The last nightmare 5k race I ran, I knew at a certain point that it was going to be bad, so I changed my goal to just smiling and looking cute for the camera, haha.
    Amy Lauren recently posted..2014 Freedom of the Seas Cruise Recap Part #5My Profile

    • Alison Gittelman says:

      Yes, good pictures somewhat lessen the pain of a bad race! Hmmm…I have a feeling your Freedom of the Seas Cruise Recap doesn’t involve as much pain as this post…must go read!

  5. SO awesome that you saw Dave McGillivray and got a race photo with him! I am from new england, so I love races with covered bridges! Congrats on winning your age group, so awesome! I have an awful habit of going out too fast in races and paying for it! I totally understand where you’re coming from!
    Kristin (@SweatCourage) recently posted..Tri Talk Tuesday (one day late!)My Profile

    • Alison Gittelman says:

      Kristin, I am a sucker for covered bridges. I need to do that covered bridges race…think it’s in NC? Not far from me they put a covered bridge over a pond…I go out of my way to run over it for some reason! I actually thought I had grown out of starting races too fast…clearly not yet learned my lesson!

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