Monday, February 25, 2013

Lessons Learned - Win Some, Lose Some

This would be the 3rd year in a row that I had signed up for the Hyannis ½ marathon in Hyannis. I am pretty sure I swore I would never do this race again after each time I crossed that finish line, but I think I was secretly hoping that maybe 3rd time lucky charm the weather would turn for the better, and maybe just maybe I would get to wear shorts in February instead of freezing my butt off like I have in the last 2 years. Oh boy, I couldn’t be more wrong! My first year in 2011 it snowed, in 2012 the combination of freezing cold with hurricane type headwinds made for a chilly race, and this weekend, we didn’t know if the race was even going to happen until the night before. Let’s just say that I was secretly hoping it would get cancelled, because running 13.1 miles on a rainy (very rainy) Sunday morning isn’t exactly how I like to spend my Sunday mornings, but the race was ON! 

We drove down race morning, and were able to park quite close to the start line but that proved to be NOT close enough post race. I whined and bitched quite a bit about the awesome weather we were treated to secretly hoping I would get to take a nap in the car while everyone else raced, but no luck. Come 10 am, I was sandwiched in between a huge crowd of people ready to once again follow the mini legs of coach Jorge. I was very well hydrated which was easily proven by about 5 bathroom trips in about a 30 min time span before the race which surely drove the boys a little crazy. What I found out a bit later (about 8 miles into the race), though I was well hydrated, I wasn’t very well fueled!

The first 7 miles went by pretty much as planned and on pace. I didn’t need pushing, I wasn’t falling behind, I was just trucking along, running in and out of huge puddles and getting soaked head to toe.  Then mile 8 came, and the energy I had for the first 7 miles was gone, totally gone. I went from averaging 6:57s to running a 7:27 mile 8 – OUCH! I ate my one and only gel I brought on course with me, but it was too late. That gel stood no chance, and my energy levels were very quickly disappearing. Gone baby gone. Hello Bonkville. I kept trying to pick up the pace, but just felt empty, awkwardly empty. My legs lost its pop, and weren’t responding to anything! Jorge tried it all, but when I didn’t bite to “This is where you win races”, he knew something wasn’t right. (Well I am sure he knew before he said that, but that was his final confirmation along with my freight train breathing, and very little responsiveness). I secretly wished he would just run away from me and let me be, and not 2 minutes later, my wishes came true. He left me with a few more words of wisdom that were aimed at putting things into perspective, which in the heat of the moment didn’t really sit well with me, but he couldn’t be more right.  I love to win (who doesn’t) and most importantly give it my all regardless of A, B, C or D races, and yesterday was the day when leaving it all out there didn’t mean a “W” but meant a learning experience. My performance wasn’t what I knew I was capable of doing, but it was what I was capable of on that day.  Feeling empty, soaking went from head to toe, in freezing rain, and with almost 5 miles left to go, I really wanted to stop – just walk for a minute or two, but the thought of throwing away 7 very good miles wouldn't let me. Plus stopping would mean that I would almost immediately turned into a shivering popsicle and that wasn't an option. I spent the last 5 miles trying to pick it up, only to fall back into my trot because it just wasn't there. Not even the random guy on the side of the road who told me you are 15th female with 1.5 miles left with at least 3 girls in sight made any difference. I tried to pretend I was running down Ali’I drive in the last mile, but that didn't do the trick either. Ouch! I just wanted to make it to that finish line, get into dry clothes and eat, which is just what happened, and eat I did! I sure can consume large amounts of food and not feel full. The tape worm was out in full force on Sunday! ;) 

I have a very good idea of what went wrong, and I will learn from it. The best part about this race was to get a confirmation (and no, I didn’t really need one) of how well my coach really knows me! He actually knows me a bit better than I know myself. Few weeks ago, he wouldn’t leave me alone and got the every last ounce of energy out of my legs during that 5 mile race, and yesterday he could have done the same, but he didn’t! Instead – he let me deal with my own self once he figured out that today was not the day. I’ll leave you with few of his words about yesterday:
“It’s part of knowing your athlete. There are times to push them, times to hold them back, times to let them do their thing, times to let them figure it out on their own”

Yesterday was one of those days, where being left alone was the right call, and exactly what I needed and wanted. The last 5 miles, I went in and out of wanting to stop, to trying to push through, to just moving along and ticking off the miles. I didn’t run a new PR, but I learned a few lessons. Bonking isn’t fun, and giving in isn’t an option. I didn’t give in, and later found out I ended up running good enough for 3rd AG/376, and 14th /1271 overall female.Now it’s back to training and onto the next one, with a little extra fire burning in that belly and legs that will be recovered a bit faster from this race than the last.

How well does your coach know you, and how do you deal with adversity? 

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