What to do when porta potties blow over (+ 3 other red flags from my half marathon.)

WhenPortaPottiesTipOverSometimes things just don't go according to plan. Be it a total technology failure during a power point presentation to your new boss. Or maybe it's during a carefully planned out day when you are going to play hookey from work and enjoy some peace and quiet at home, only to have to pick your kid up early from school with a case of head lice.

Or maybe life doesn't go according to plan on race day.

This past Sunday I, along with a few friends, ran the Run for the Border Half Marathon along the Seacoast of NH. The weather was, well, atrocious. In hindsight though, that was the least of our worries.  Gusting winds? Pelting down sleety rain? 30 degree temps? No problemo.

Clearly when signing up to do a half marathon on the last Sunday in March, in New Hampshire, one has to anticipate that there might be horrible weather. (No matter how much I become a praying woman to the sun gods in those days leading up to race day.)

Friends were gathering from near and far in anticipation of crushing this course. Or at least just finishing it, feeling the sweet victory of winter race training paying off. This half marathon was of course the carrot at the end of the winter-that-lasted-forever-but-we-want-to-stay-active stick. It might not be our best half marathon ever, but it was another notch in the fuel belt, medal on the wall and race bib to add to the collection.

It was the start of the 2014 running season for me. And I was itching to get racing, to see if I could really finesse my water stop technique this year.

The Run for the Border half marathon started at 11am. In theory. This was our first clue.

Actually, the first clue that the day wasn't going to go as planned was when we drove into the parking lot of Wallis Sands at 10:40 and wondered where everyone was. (We warmed ourselves at my place for as long as possible before we absolutely had to brave the elements at the start line.) There were only about 15 cars in the lot. Where on earth were these couple hundred runners that I had signed up to run with to Salisbury, MA?

wallisSandsI wondered. Did they know something we didn't? Was the race cancelled?

Red Flag #1 --> T-15 minutes before showtime and only about 20 runners out of hundreds were milling about or warming themselves in their cars.

We scooted out of the car and sprinted over to the tent to get our bib number, attempting to minimize our time in the elements. On our way to the race tent, we were informed that packet pick-up was moved to the high school and we had to go there to get our numbers. With about ten minutes to go before race time, getting there and back from the high school was a logistical impossibility.

Red Flag #2 --> Packet pick wasn't where we were told it was. Instead it was 12 minutes across town.

Then we were told that "someone" was bringing the numbers to the race start. Maybe. It was a rumor that was hard to confirm or deny, mostly due to the lack of any race officials around.

Although a few minutes later, I was able to confirm that numbers were on their way to the race start. This was told to me by a race official who was uprighting the porta-potties. That's right. In the gale force winds, the porta-potties, all 12 of them, had tipped over. Yup. You heard me. Tipped over porta-potties. #awesomebutnotreally.

portapottiesCome to think of it, it was a low person : porta-potty ratio for a race.  Normally the line for toilets at the start of a race is out of control! The downside was that you couldn't go alone - you needed a buddy to stand guard and make sure the porta-potty didn't tip over. Again. With you in it.

Red Flag #3 --> The row of porta-potties were laying on their side.

TippedOverPortaPotties2So eventually we gather under the tent, get our numbers and are herded out like cattle, in the rain, wind and cold to a random spot on Ocean Blvd. We were a motley crew of runners, one minute standing there discussing what a donkey show the morning had turned out to be. The next minute off to the races! Unbeknownst to us, the race started and we were off, heading south to MA.

Except technically, the race didn't actually go to Massachusetts as originally planned. Somebody decided to make the half marathon, which people had been training for over the past three + months into "just" a ten miler.

Who does that? It's not like, no big deal, let's not run 13.1 miles, let's run ten. You can't just do things like that. No, it's not like, well it's 3.1 less miles, be happy. It's messing with your mind. It's mental. Running a half marathon is a huge deal. It's a big accomplishment, a culmination of months of training and preparing.

Red Flag #4 --> The race distance changed from a half marathon into a ten miler.

And not only was the race distance changed, nobody told us about it. They changed the race distance. And didn't tell anyone. No email the night before or even day of, no announcement on the website, nothing. Who does that?!

Gotta love my friends. We of course, in a fired up pre-runner's high state of mind, declared that we were running 13.1 anyway. We were here to run a half marathon and that's what we would do, come hell or high water, tipped over porta-potties, disorganized race packet pickup, rain, freezing temps and gale force winds.

Lesson learned?

Sometimes you just need to roll with the punches.

HalfMarathonCrewDid we really need our bib numbers to run a race if they never showed up? Nope. Could we improvise and turn a ten mile race into a half marathon distance if we needed to? Absolutely. Was the weather as cold, wet and raw as we thought it was going to be? Nope.

Luckily the upside of wearing lots of layers while running means that you can adjust your temperature accordingly just by removing (mostly) shirts, gloves and jackets. And with our award winning support crew of family and friends leapfrogging us on the course, we were tossing articles of clothing left and right!

So maybe you don't run races. But you have moments when all your careful planning and organizing flies right out the window.

You've done a damn good job of not buying excessive bags of Pirate's Booty, jars of Nutella or those dreamy dark chocolate Trader Joes nuggets. You've been religious about bringing your yummy dinner leftovers lunch to work everyday this week and not once have you envied your coworkers who keep ordering in.

But then your in-laws decide to come to town and take you and your +1 out to dinner. THEY want to go to the Thirsty Moose in downtown Portsmouth where your options are either meat or meat. I'm fairly certain not a single veggie has ever seen the inside of that place. And then they want to scoot across the road for that deelish three layer chocolate mousse they can't stop talking about.

You hear this and it stops you in your tracks. But wait. What? Do I have to go? You are thinking while already knowing the answer is yes. You truly enjoy their company. It's your in-laws' dinner choices that aren't so kosher with you.

RunForBorderHalfMarathonJust like me last Sunday, this is your version of my race day, when you are at a cross roads. You can either choose the path of fighting what's unfolding in front of you (in my case yell at some race official or you can stomp your feet and demand you aren't going.) Or you can choose to roll with it and make the best decision for the moment.

So you go to dinner with the in-laws and make up your own order that you place with a big smile on your face for the server. Or you say yes to your friend's baby shower even though the sugar situation will be ridiculous.  You tell your girlfriend "of course you have time to talk" when in fact you were just out the door to the gym.

You make the most of the situation and then you regroup and figure out what your action plan is moving forward.

Opened that last box of girl scout cookies you had forgotten about? Close it back up and put it away, give it to your neighbour or throw it out. Then go for a ten minute walk around the block. It's better than sitting on the sofa and feeling sorry for yourself as you eat all the rest of those cookies.

Hit snooze one too many times this morning? Take a walking lunch. Or make your meetings walking meetings.

HalfMarathon2Last minute addition to a client meeting that involves dinner and copious amounts of wine the night before your 6am date with your trainer? Drink extra water, eat a bit of protein before you go and enjoy.

Sometimes you just need to roll with the punches.

Have you had a day like I did on Sunday? Swing over to Facebook and tell me all about it.

If you are running a half marathon this spring or summer and looking to avoid the three biggest hiccups when training, join my FREE call this Sunday, April 6th at 8pm EST.

Register for call information HERE