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Post-Race Blues: Morning the Rocky Raccoon 25K

shellyd_eb100Ever have post-race blues? A day or two after the race, you feel sluggish and mopey. You spend time obsessing over the race results, chastising and berating yourself about your time. You lay around complaining to your loved ones about your aches and pains. I do. After every race. There is always something I should have done, could have done, would have done. It’s not exclusive to back of the packers, like me. Most runners experience it from time to time, regardless of their performance in the race.

On November 2, I ran the Rocky Raccoon 25K, better known as “Little Rocky”. I chose this race because I love Huntsville State Park. After crewing for my friends, Megan and Jacki, at the Rocky Raccoon 50 miler last February, I fell in love with the place. Megan and I went back for my birthday run a month later. It feels like home to me. It’s not terribly difficult and a great place to get in lots of miles. When I heard about this race, I was in!

I’ve spent the last few months concentrating on this race, training regularly and trying to overcome certain issues. I was super excited and had a goal in mind. My last 25K was my very first trail race over a year ago. Since then, I have been doing 18-20K races and really focusing on pushing myself.

Things went really well the first half of the race.  At the second aid station, I was on pace for my goal time. Yes! Then, around mile 10 my feet started hurting. By the time I got to the last aid station, I had to loosen my laces. I walked most of the last three miles. So I didn’t get the time I was aiming for, but I set a PR for my 25K time. I felt pretty good about the race. That day.

The next day, is a different story. I started feeling sad. Now what? I have another race coming up in December. But, do I want to train as hard as I did, again? I probably won’t do well at that race, either. And so the tirade began. My supportive family listened to me whine, but assured me that I did my best. I spent the day googling races, stats, recovery, foot pain, swelling and many more things I can’t even remember.

Here is a comparison of my feelings between race day and the following day:

Race Day Next Day
Proud of myself Berating myself
Energetic Completely exhausted
I love everybody! Everyone get away from me!
I can’t wait until the next race! I’m never racing, again!
I’m happy with my time. My time sucks!
Sore More sore
Swollen Less swollen
Chafed Discovering even more chafed places.
Picking at my food. Eating everything in sight.

After a few days, I started to come out of the funk and think rationally. I went out for a run and made some realizations: I ran a 25K race, people! And I wasn’t last. I actually beat 27 people. (Just sayin’) It was a gorgeous, perfect day for running. I got to run in one of my favorite places. My family was there with signs for me at the finish line, cheering me on. This was probably the most intense race I have done, as far as my focus and my drive. I may still be a back of the packer, but I am learning and enjoying the experience. There are things from this race that I will take with me to the next race. And I will run this race again, next year.

Thanks, Hannah!

Thanks, Hannah!

I got this finisher prize thingy. It's not honey, but still pretty cool.

I got this finisher prize thingy. It’s not honey, but still pretty cool.

Why do we go through this mourning period? Maybe, it’s the crash of the adrenaline high after all the training and preparation. For me, I think it’s because I have such high hopes and expectations of myself. I dream of winning my age group one day. But out of this mourning, can come important realizations about ourselves. We can take these to our next goal or race. It’s important to let yourself feel the sadness. It’s even more important to move on and learn from it. So go on, pout for a few days. Then get back out there and run!

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” -Dr. Seuss

And that’s my view from the back of the pack.

Thanks for reading!

– Shelly Diaz

About the author

Shelly Diaz Shelly began trail running with her husband in 2012. Shelly feels she has found a home on the trails and in the trail running community. She likes to keep a positive attitude and try not to take life too seriously. For more information on Shelly, check out the About page.

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