No matter how long you’ve been running and how many races you’ve run, you learn something new about yourself every time you put yourself out there. That is, if you let yourself.
The day you willingly admit your weaknesses, and therefore enact change to overcome them, is the day you’ll step forward to reaching your potential.
On July 4th, I ran a ~five mile race. Since Myrtle, I've kept my mileage pretty tame and threw in a few workouts to shock my legs out of endurance mode and into a little speed. I had a few weeks where I felt really strong, then got knocked with bronchitis, which left me feeling like chewed up gum on the bottom of a smelly shoe. I knew I wanted to run this race though, so once healthy, I planned a short tempo to determine if I felt ready enough. In the middle of a nine-miler, I comfortably threw in three at a 6:08-6:01-5:57 cutdown, which gave me the confidence to race five at around 6:00 pace. So, race I would...
Two years ago, I won this race. This is where my learning begins...
*** Dude, you can't repeat history! I mean, yes, you can possibly repeat your finishing position, but if you envision and try to execute everything exactly like last time, you're most likely not considering how different the training, temperatures, and competition were, among many other factors. So yeah, I ran the exact same warmup, then got on the line with the exact same strategy in mind. I'd let all the batshit crazy pacers go out too fast, then have settled into my position between the one and two mile marks. However, when I took my first few steps, I was already considering what my post-race binge meal would be (if you're curious, I was imagining a cheesy omelette. ...with fries ...and maybe some sour watermelon gummies if I could find them). Not a good sign. It was in the 80's, hotter than the 70-degree start temps previously, and it was affecting me more than I anticipated. I hit mile one in 5:49, which was the exact split I had two years ago feeling strong, except today, I felt like pulling off at the train station alongside me and hightailing it to, sayyyy, Canada? Regardless, in my head, I was comparing too much to that previous race, still expecting it to go the exact same way, which therefore set me up for a whole lotta suck. Now that I know I succumbed to this, I will use it as a reminder for Indy, since I ran this marathon two years ago as well.
*** Oftentimes in training, I imagine myself in a head-to-head competition with someone. Yep, sure do! And of course, I always win. Duh! Ya know, I'm all tough and buff and awesome and ready to fight. Except in this race, it actually happened! And um, yeah, I ended up having my a$$ handed to me on a silver platter (well, bronze platter actually, since I finished third). For a few days after the race, I kept going back to the moment at mile four when the eventual second place finisher came up on my shoulder. The amount of cowardliness and anxiety I felt in that moment was, um, not okay. For as many times as I've excitedly played this moment in my head, it turns out I was too intimidated to go head-to-head, and I therefore just let her go, even though at that point, I physically wasn't feeling all that bad. I simply stopped focusing on my own body and more on someone else. In Indy, there is going to be a lot of women around me aiming for the same time I'm hoping to achieve. I need to remember to use them as motivation, perhaps a teammate even, but not a threat (meaning: don't. be. a. weeny).
*** Perhaps the best thing I learned on this day was how much my youngest son, Cooper, is just like me. Both boys came up with me to receive my award, and as it got quiet, Cooper looked right at the race director with a most serious face and asked, "Do you have any Doritos?"
So, yeah, I finished at about a 6:12 average pace. Pretty far off what I felt I could do and from my previous time, but meh, whatevs. A big positive that I learned from this cycle is that I definitely have the speed to run a 2:45; now it's time to peak my endurance to keep it going. Coach Hubby Mike has written my entire plan through Indy. It changes up a lot from what I'm used to, so I'm excited to get after it and overcome any other fears/weaknesses I learn about myself in the process.