How to deal with canceled races
Given what is happening around the world and in our communities, we saw a lot of race cancellations happen this week. Boston, Ironmans, and many other races got postponed or canceled. I had a sneaking suspicion that postponements/cancellations would be happening for races in May and beyond. So I started to think about how to deal with canceled races and began to temper my expectations with my own calendar. I think because we’ve raced for years now, our mental fortitude has helped. We also have an inclination for positivity and optimism. This post outlines how we’re trying to adapt in these uncertain times with race postponement and cancellations.
When I set up my race calendar for 2020, I was planning on hitting a half marathon personal best at the BMO Vancouver Marathon. It would’ve been perfect because it would have been the 10th anniversary of me running that race. The race means a lot to me for a variety of reasons, so the list goes on. It was my “A” race, and it got canceled this week. My “B” race in June just got canceled too. I’m a little sad about that one since it was further away and serving as my warmup triathlon race to Ironman Canada.
I will work through my feelings and get over it. I think because we’ve raced for years, that has helped with mental fortitude. We’ve trained ourselves to look on the bright side, and remain optimistic in the face of uncertainty. We’ve been forced to adapt when we didn’t want to. We also have had races where things have happened, like severe weather warnings or even threats of the swim leg in a triathlon being canceled at the 11th hour. Things just happen, so these are some things we do to work through it.
“We not me” mentality
This pandemic requires a “we not me” mentality. This is bigger than our races. And don’t get me wrong, I totally see you and the time you spent training, and all the sacrifices you’ve made. However, race postponements and cancellations are beyond your control. Race organizers have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their racers, and they’re looking out for our best interests. They are looking out for us, as we should be looking out for each other.
Acknowledge your emotions
I’ve had a lot of practice with “acknowledging emotions” lately, given that I’ve recently lost my mom to cancer. We are losing our opportunity to race. Acknowledge your feelings and work through the grief. I don’t think it’s cheesy to work through the 5 stages of grief, as it is absolutely fitting for this situation. The Kübler-Ross model is really popular and covers grief and loss through the stages of denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance. In my experience, my grief and loss process didn’t follow their exact order, but I did experience them all. Lean into your emotions. Just like how we take care of our physical selves, acknowledging our emotions can help with mental health and moving forward.
This is why I love racing. Have you ever trained so long and so hard for something, and then come race day, everything goes sideways? Or maybe it was during a training cycle, and things come up that are outside of your control. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, consider yourself very lucky!
I was training for my second marathon. Marathon training cycles are typically 16-20 weeks. There were so many soggy and miserable long runs. I was always a basket case if there was a threat of me missing a key workout, like the 32km/20 mile long runs. Then came race day. I made it to the start line as healthy as I could be. Everything started off without a hitch, and then maybe 10km into the race my stomach started hurting and wouldn’t let up throughout the rest of the race. I was devastated. 30+ km is a long way to run upset about not having the race you planned and trained for.
There are some things in life we cannot control, no matter how hard we plan and try. Sometimes you can see it coming, some times you can’t and will get absolutely blindsided. The only thing we can control is our reaction. Everything that is happening right now is beyond your control. Practice letting it go.
Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.Oprah Winfrey
When things don’t go my way, I like to think about the things that have gone right. I like to look on the bright side of things and to adopt an attitude for gratitude. What does that look like when dealing with canceled races? I have been thinking about how I’ve been getting much stronger I’ve been getting with all this training. How I’m physically and mentally healthy. How much time I’ll get back into my calendar hehe.
We do have some experience with being trapped indoors for extended periods of time, given that we’ve lived in areas that get inundated with forest fire smoke in the summers. We usually stay inside when the air quality starts to deteriorate. Those experiences have served us well. But like physical fitness, we constantly have to train our mental fitness too. Everything that is happening right now is going to test us, and it’s a lot easier to cope when you flip your outlook and practice gratitude.