I’m not talking forget-to-restart-your-watch-after-standing-at-a-traffic-light stupid or spit-into-the-wind stupid; I’m talking really stupid.
I can tell you the exact date I did something really dumb. Sunday, November 20, 2011: the day I ran my second marathon, the Philadelphia Marathon. It wasn’t running it that was stupid, it was how I ran it. It was how I ran the first seventeen miles at a ridiculous pace. A marathon pace even my dreams consider ridiculous. A pace my dreams’ dreams consider ridiculous.
You get the point.
After running on a high through the half, my brain started to sense my rapidly-approaching demise, but my body continued on at warp speed… until mile eighteen, where my pace slowed significantly. By mile twenty-two I had thrown up, begun walking, and hoped the Grim Reaper would fly by and scoop me up. (“Daaaamn, girl. I’ve seen bad, but you look horrendous,” is what I imagined him saying.) Four miles had never felt, and hopefully will never again feel, like such an eternity.
I don’t recall crossing the finish line; my race photos show a strange body-double with Gollum-like posture and eerily dead eyes. I scared my family with my inability to hold a smile or a cell phone to my ear, and felt like total crap inside and out until I downed a burger and a beer. (Okay, that last part is not so atypical of me.) “Stupid, stupid, stupid,” was my mantra for weeks following that race. “Stupid!”
But now, only two months later, I have come to appreciate my stupidity.
Yes, I’m still mad at myself for blowing the most stunningly perfect fall race day. (Sunny and mid-40’s!! COME ON!) Yes, I’m still mad that I didn’t meet my original goal, to beat the crap out of my 2010 finishing time. Yes, I’m still mad that I allowed myself to walk; I had only done it once before in my twelve years of racing. Yes, I’m still mad that I didn’t have the energy to enjoy my favorite part of the Philadelphia Marathon, the beer station at the Manayunk Diner. But I’m thankful I did it that day.
Let me say that again, a little differently this time.
I’m thankful I did it that day. In a few short months I am running the Boston Marathon. Had I run Philly 2011 the way I did in 2010- all smiles, no pain, two beers- I would absolutely tank in Boston. I know myself. I’d get excited, adrenaline enabling me to fly through the half, and I’d end up hurling on the Newton Hills. (“Hey, Boston! This is how I feel about the Sox!”) Not to say that can’t still happen, but it won’t. Thanks to the last time I did something spectacularly stupid, I know better than to do it again.
So thank you, stupidity. And look out, Boston.