My Worst Run. Ever.

On Monday I participated in a blog link-up called #bestrun. I, and many other bloggers, wrote about our best, recent run. It was a pretty simple choice for me, especially after my training runs in the current week were definitely not my best. But, it got me to thinking. How about my worst run? Out of the thousands of miles I’ve logged in the past 20 years could one specific run claim that title? Well, it was no contest. It was over 11 years ago, but it still stands out as my worst, ugliest, slowest, most difficult run ever.  Ironically, it was on almost exactly the same route as last week’s best run.

There is, of course, a back story.

It was Labor Day weekend 2001. Alan and I were training for the Honolulu Marathon. Honolulu, which was my first ever 26.2  in 1996, is also one of my favorites, and I’ve run the race six times. The race is in early December, and on Labor Day, Alan and I were scheduled to run 20 miles, which we’d planned to do on Sunday of the three day weekend. We could then recover, spend time on the beach, and just generally chill out on Monday.

worst run

This is from 1996. Babies!

We drove to Encinitas on Saturday morning, early as usual. I can’t remember, but it’s likely that we took a run when we got there (as I’ve looked back over old running logs (yes I keep them), I realize what a dedicated runner I was back then). After the run, we probably spent the day at the Moonlight Beach, soaking up the sun (my how things have changed).


That evening we met some friends for dinner at Hernandez’ Hideaway, a Mexican restaurant near Escondido. Once we arrived, they started ordering pitchers of Margaritas. Now, I’m not much of a drinker. My usual choice is a glass of wine or two. Alan doesn’t drink at all. But I do believe that it was Alan who kept refilling my Margarita glass that night.

We had a great evening. These were good friends that we didn’t get to see very often. We ate, drank, and chatted. Yes, it was a great evening. Until it wasn’t. It is a shame that when you realize that you’ve had too much to drink it is already too late to do anything about it. Suddenly, I looked at Alan and said “I have to go.” As he started to ask why, he looked at me and saw the answer.

I made it to the car, but during the drive home Alan had to pull over a couple times to, um, accommodate me. Even then I knew that my running plans had changed.

I woke up on Sunday morning with the worst hangover of my life. Seriously. As a migraine sufferer, not only do I get the regular headache and nausea of a hangover, the alcohol usually triggers a migraine which really knocks me out. I spent the day in bed, in the dark, unable to keep any kind of food down. Poor Alan alternated between taking care of me, going down to the beach by himself, and back again. I finally ate a salad at about 5:00 pm (most of it anyway), and started to feel a little better.

The next morning, Monday, I woke up determined to run. I was dehydrated, under-fueled, and still slightly sick, but I was going to run. Alan and I started south, just as we did on my most recent #bestrun. It wasn’t long before Alan had no choice but to run ahead. I was slow. Really, really slow. Every step was a challenge. I kept drinking fluids, but I was already too depleted to make much of a difference.

A 20 mile run from Encinitas heading south, heads along the cliffs of Del Mar (one of the prettiest runs in San Diego) and finally leads to a turn around about halfway up Torrey Pines hill. Yes, that is the same hill that is part of the La Jolla Half Marathon, though during training runs we’ll run it outside the park, where it is not quite as steep (but longer).

Torrey Pines

Well, I got to the base of that hill, and I. Just. Couldn’t. I am strong, I toughed out those first nine miles, but I just could not make myself run up that hill. So, I turned around. Alan in the meantime, had already run to the turn-around point and already passed me, going home.

The second half of this run tested my runner’s spirit to the core. I was tired. I was still slightly sick. I was very dehydrated. And the only thing I’d eaten the day before was about a half of a dinner salad. From Denny’s. It was my slowest run ever (up to that time in my life). But I did it. I finished that 18 mile run, and boy was I proud of myself.

Something else you should know.

I haven’t had a single Margarita since that day in 2001.

Do you have a Worst Run story? I’d love to hear it!

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    • says

      Thank you. Interesting, because you’re off to Boston, the hat that my husband is wearing in the picture was painted for him to wear when he ran the 100th Boston earlier that year. He even ended up in an old Adidas ad, a crowd shot of people coming across the finish line. He was the tan Californian 🙂
      Debbie recently posted..My Worst Run. Ever.My Profile

  1. says

    You are one tough runner. I doubt I could have endured an 18 mile run feeling the way you did! Yesterday, I wrote a post about a bad run or two. The link the bottom so if you feel like reading it you can! Yay for no more margaritas….I have a similar story with screwdrivers!
    Pam recently posted..Training Tuesday- A Really Crummy Run or Two!My Profile

  2. says

    Oh that sounds painful! So funny…I was wondering: would you try to run today in those conditions? And I love that picture from ’96. My first marathon was in ’98–I had that whole look going on too!
    misszippy recently posted..Walk and workMy Profile

    • says

      Ha, I was just replying to one of the comments above about how determined I WAS. I was a lot younger (duh), and I used to train really, really hard. It paid off, but I don’t think I want to do it quite that much anymore. I give you kudos for the tough training you’ve been doing lately. I really pushed myself until I was about 45 or 46. Then I hurt my knee, which started a new era of my running.

      Love those short shorts, right? That a Team in Training singlet. But it was Hawaii, so I was determined to sport flowers :-). I even had a purple hat that I’d glued flowers to, I can’t remember where it went in that picture.
      Debbie recently posted..My Worst Run. Ever.My Profile

  3. says

    I can feel your feelings in that story, looking at that hill after recovering from feeling so bad. My worst run ever was only 8 miles but I was trying a name-to-stay-unmentioned new sports drink during the run and it made me so nauseated. I needed the 8 miles and I slogged through them wanting to vomit the whole time. Worst run ever!
    Christina recently posted..Be encouraging and supportive of all runnersMy Profile

    • says

      Nausea is so tough to run through. My first LA marathon I felt so sick starting at mile 14 that I’d stop at every aid station, run behind it and try to make myself throw up (thinking that would make me feel better).
      Debbie recently posted..My Worst Run. Ever.My Profile

  4. says

    They say you never regret a run, but stories like these make me think that saying is bullpuckies. Still, I have to point out that the run proved the resilience of your “runner’s spirit”.
    Axel recently posted..My #BestRun of LateMy Profile

  5. says

    Oh wow, I can just imagine how horrific you felt. My worst run I think was the 2010 Chicago Marathon. It was HOT. And having the inferno that was Chi 2007 as my first marathon, I knew exactly what I was in for so at mile 9 I mentally gave up and started calling my husband who was waiting at mile 14 to come meet me because I was done. He didn’t answer so I kept walk/running until I got to the Charity tent where he was and told them all I was done and laid down. Then the guilt set in. He asked me if I could finish. I said of course I ‘could’ but didn’t want to cuz it was gonna hurt. So, embarrassed I got up and finished. I was on a charity team afterall. I was so mad at myself for being a pansy I got redemption 6 days later and ran a half PR.
    Marcia recently posted..Techno-Dunce Meets DroidMy Profile

    • says

      Wow, good for you! I remember when Chicago was so hot. It was brutal! Believe it or not, because I live in the desert, I am a wimp about running in the heat. I get my runs finished early so that I don’t have to deal with the heat of the sun.
      Debbie recently posted..My Worst Run. Ever.My Profile

  6. says

    Oh, that’s a hard lesson to learn! I can’t think of anything specific, but odds are my worst run was a Lawyer’s Have Heart 10K. The race is in June, when it’s usually too hot and the last mile or so is on a concrete highway overpass in full blazing sun with no shadows or crowd support.
    Coco recently posted..90 Minute Running PlaylistMy Profile

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