The Stages of Racing

This post is dedicated to Mr. Cookie, without whom this race would not have been the same.

Thanks for putting up with all my ridiculousness, handsome.

I want to give you a little background into the above picture (taken race morning).  Compare my half grimace and squinty eyes to the cheerful countenances of Mr. Cookie and our friend, A.  Over the last several races I’ve done, I’ve noticed a trend.  I seem to go through stages surrounding a race that almost always mimic each other.  The Austin Half Marathon was no exception.

Stage One:  Denial

“Don’t talk to me about this race.  This race is not happening tomorrow.  I can’t think about it because if I think about it I’ll just get my panties in a bunch and get freaked out.”

I tend to just shut down the night before.  Thinking about it leads to me having mild panic attacks so I just don’t.  How very healthy!

Stage Two:  Freak Out

“Oh my god, you just talked to me about it.  Repeatedly.  Not only that, you reminded me to hydrate.  And eat lots of carbs.  Why would you do such a dastardly thing?”

This is usually directed at Mr. Cookie, who is always more excited than me the day before.  He is always right and I almost always listen to his advice, but I really hate being reminded of the impending race.

Stage Three:  To Eat or Not to Eat?

“If I eat, I might have to probably will have to most definitely will shit myself during the race tomorrow.”

I sometimes have issues with pressing bathroom needs when I run.  This leads to extreme anxiety.  I must be done eating at least 12 hours before a race.  If I’m not, panic ensues.  The morning of the race, I only allow myself a little bit of food.

Stage Four:  Sleep

Whereas Mr. Cookie often takes awhile to fall asleep the night before the race (not unlike a child at Christmas), I usually have no problem passing out immediately.  It helps that I’ve pretty much barred all thoughts of racing from my mind.

Stage Five:  Getting Ready

“Stop bugging me about the race!  Can’t you see I’m getting dressed?  Is my bib crooked?  Have I had enough to drink?  Have I had too much to drink?”

Getting ready is the (hopefully) quiet, meditational part of the morning.  More often, Mr. Cookie is bouncing around like an excited coach and I’m trying to maintain my cool.  “Take a baby aspirin!  Have you taken your vitamins?  Where’s your energy gel?”  I love the man dearly and I appreciate the care he shows for me.  But on race morning, sometimes this pushes me into the next step.

Step Six:  Losing Your Cool

“Where is my xxxxxxxxx?  Oh my god, how did I not notice this WHOLE DAMN OUTFIT didn’t have pockets?  Where am I going to store my gel???  I’m going to die alone and gel-less on the course BECAUSE I HAVE NO POCKETS!”

Mr. Cookie is always good through this stage, even though I almost always lose my cool in his general direction.  You know when you’re upset and irrational and you know for absolute certain that it is not this person’s fault but you direct your stress at them anyway?  Yeah.  Sorry, handsome.

Step Seven:  Leaving the House (finally)

“We’re going to be late!  Oh my god, all this work for nothing.  We’re going to get there and it will have started.”

Mr. Cookie and I run perpetually behind schedule on race day.  I can’t tell you how many times we’ve gotten to a race without time to check our bags and he has had to stash them in an unnoticed corner while I dash for the start line.  Stress.ful.

Step Eight:  Porta-potty?

“Do I have to pee?  Do I have to shit?  I might.  I’m not sure.  Should I risk being late and use the porta potty with the massive line?  Probably I should.  No, I shouldn’t.  I definitely shouldn’t.”

Half the time, I do.  Half the time, I don’t.  I rarely use the porta potties at the beginning.  Often, I should have.  You’d think I’d learn, but because of step seven, I often don’t have much of a choice.

Step Nine:  Technical Issues

“Why is my GOD DAMN PIECE OF CRAP GARMIN NOT picking up satellites???”

Oh lord.  If my Garmin does not immediately get satellites, I’m convinced it never will and despite the fact that the race is, in fact, chip timed, I am convinced this signals the end of the world.

Step Ten:  They’re Off!

The race starts.  I start running.  I am FINALLY excited.  People are cheering.  Bands are playing.  Loved ones breathe a sigh of relief because they are finally free of the monster.

Step Eleven:  Oh, Shit.

Like I said, half the time, this does happen.  In Austin in particular, I actually didn’t have to poop but I did have to pee (oops, too much hydration).  All the porta-potty lines on the course were outrageous so I held it until mile ten when I couldn’t any longer.  I waited EIGHT MINUTES in line.  Bushes have never looked so tempting.

Step Twelve:  The Final Kick

Particularly in longer races, just when I hit the end and am convinced I have nothing left and they will absolutely have to drag me by my hair across the finish line AND I just know I’m going to burst into tears, I get a last burst of energy.  In Austin, there was a really ugly hill at mile 12 and after that I thought I was done for.  In fact, I started to picture this drawn out scene where I would finish at a slow walk, Mr. Cookie would meet me, and I’d start sobbing on him from pure disappointment.  That would of course ruin his day and he would never love me again.  Then, in the last quarter mile, I knocked it into high gear.  It certainly helped that the route was lined with people screaming and clapping.

Step Thirteen:  Where is My Husband?

“Where is he?  Oh my god, what if he’s injured?  What if I was too slow and he got tired of waiting or thought he missed me?  I won’t be able to make it if I don’t see him soon!”

And then, without fail, there he his, losing his shit for me.  Screaming like a maniac, jumping up and down, waving his arms.  I go even faster. Because even though he finished way faster than I did, I’m the most important thing to him at that moment.  Screw his own PR, forget his own feelings of elation at crossing the finish line, his wife is about to finish and she looks STRONG and that is what counts to him right now.

Step Fourteen:  Elation

“I finished.  I’m alive.  I kicked my goal’s ass, eight minute bathroom break or not.  My husband still loves me, monster or not.”

The feeling of getting the finisher’s medal at the end of the half marathon was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had post race.  So what that my legs where cramping up.  So what that I was stuck in a long ass line and I probably wouldn’t get out for another ten minutes.  So what that my sweaty clothes were now clinging to my body, making me get the shivers.  I finished.

Step Fifteen:  Invincibility

“The restaurant is only 2.8 miles away?  Let’s walk it!”

Thankfully, Mr. Cookie is always successful at talking me down from this.  It’s a good thing, too, because within an hour I’ve moved on to the second to last stage

Step Sixteen: Exhaustion

“This food is delicious.  I’m so excited.  Don’t mind me while I pass out in my plate now.”

I love that my husband always sees the need for a nap before I do and is ready to deal with it.  He’s the one that convinces me that it’s okay to sleep!  Soon, you’ll be sleeping!  Just don’t do it in your migas (oh, sweet migas.  I adore Tex-Mex)!

Step Seventeen: Optimism

“So, when is the next race?”

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5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Girly-Q said,

    You should call me during Step 6! That is pretty much the entire night before anything important for me! I’m so proud of you Mrs. Cookie. I can’t wait to see you to tell you to your face!

  2. 2

    showmeyourcookies said,

    I can’t wait to see you too!! But sadly, you’re stealing my husband tomorrow for the whole day. 😦 You still haven’t told me if you want a b-day cake.

  3. 3

    sister cookie said,

    I am so proud of you!!!! Just think of me dragging my canteen on a small trail walk, haha. I am definitely impressed! All my love to you!

  4. 4

    […] Mr. Cookie completed his… what?  Fourth?  Something like that.  You can read about it all here.  It was absolutely my biggest accomplishment of the year (well, that and packing away about two […]

  5. 5

    […] kicked off the year right with our trip to Texas in February to run the Austin Half Marathon.  There are two ornaments here, one to commemorate the race and one to remember the trip to the […]


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