This past weekend I ran my really first road race ever. Ok – maybe second if you count the 4 mile road race I did back in 2008 when I would run on the treadmill and rode the spin bike to stay in shape. It was a chilly snowy Superbowl Sunday morning, and here I was 4+ years later, toeing the line of a 5 mile road race with almost 1200 people and more than half being women! Only 5 miles, not 13.1, not 70.3 nor 140.6. How hard could this be? ;) You probably know where I am going with this – running 5 miles all out is hard! Very hard! Especially hard, when your coach decides to pace you along the way, and he can run 6:30s backwards. I am going to be honest, I didn’t think I could run 6:30s for 5 miles because I have never done it in training – heck, last time I ran a full mile or maybe some mile repeats at that pace was last summer when I was in the best shape of my life. I am not in that kind of shape right now, and though I was excited I was a bit afraid, and scared of what may happen if I start to struggle after mile 1. The race plan was simple. Shut off your brain and just run. That is easily said than done, but how fitting, I happened to stumble across Kelly Williamson’s blog earlier that week, and her message really hit home. You can read it here: http://kellyhandel.blogspot.com/ She talked about a fear of failure, and also the potential for success always including risk. She went on to say this:
“As an athlete is that we cannot paralyze ourselves with a fear of failure. If we let ourselves go there, we are finished. It is no different than quitting a session or a race because things are not going as we had planned (or hoped) and we begin to envision the dreaded ‘failure’ ahead. We start to walk the line of ‘I may not do as well as I know I want to, and how will I handle that’…which can be scary territory; but it’s realistic territory. No matter how much you win, no matter how many times you accomplish your goals, it is human nature to ‘not want to fail’ and to worry about failing; yet the reality is that every single one of us will fail to reach a goal more often than we will ever succeed. One cannot happen without the other”
I took that message to heart, and really decided to take my head out of my own ass, shut up those loud voices in my head and just do. It was a 5 mile race on the beginning of February – not my A race, and I had absolutely nothing to lose. I actually had a lot to gain regardless of the outcome, but make your head think that! Kelly then went on to say this about her own race and she couldn’t be more right!
“The days leading into the event, I had quite a few conversations with my conscience. What I finally had to tell myself was, “Kelly, remove your head from your ass. Stop over thinking. Let go of your expectations. This is one of the most low key events you’ll do all year long. Enjoy it, race it, and finish it. Do your best, that’s it.”
So as much as I struggled with my own head all week leading up to the race, by race morning, my brain was shut off, and I was ready to follow my coach Jorge until I couldn’t. The gun finally went off, and all I had to worry about was the mini legs in front of me. I didn’t let them out of my sight, largely due to the fact that Jorge didn’t want to get too far away from me or else he could have dropped me at will. Mile 1 went by fast and we were right on pace – 6:29, I felt really good. (Or maybe it was the .5 mile that I felt good for). Mile 2 ticked off at 6:38 and I was starting to hurt, and my breathing was a bit labored. That’s not exactly the best sign when there are 3 miles left to run, but I actually didn’t think that then – I was successful at shutting that brain off! YES! I kept trucking along and my legs were becoming heavier with each step. We crossed the 5K mat, and I really just wanted to stop right there and then – Mile 3 – 6:43. That is when the only words I have heard for the last 20 min were becoming louder and louder – Push it, Push it, PUSH IT! By mile 4 – I really just wanted to punch Jorge or tell him that maybe I have been pushing for the last 3+ miles so I didn’t really need to be reminded every 30 seconds to PUSH IT, but because a) I couldn’t catch him to actually punch him and b) I was breathing way too hard to say anything, I just had to keep on pushing. Mile 4 was the hardest one. Combined that with a slight incline that felt like a mountain – 6:53 showed up on my watch – ouch! I am pretty sure this is where I mustered up all the energy I had to tell Jorge my legs hurt and I was done! His response – “Shut your legs up and push it” Ugh! Someone was in the world of hurt – I mean fun. The last mile – mile 5 was brutal. I can usually pick it up, and can find more energy to really bring it home in the last mile, but I had nothing. I couldn’t even bomb it on the slight downhill that mile 5 started off with. I had no spring left in my legs, and the finish line couldn’t come fast enough. My attempt for a final sprint to the finish line once we rounded the corner and could actually see it was quite pathetic as the legs really had nothing left. Mile 5 – 6:36. And with that I was D.O.N.E! 33:25 and 5.03 miles according to my garmin for a 6:39 avg. pace, 4th in my AG, and 10th overall female.
It wasn’t quite the 6:30s that my coach thought I could run, but I was reminded that I can indeed suffer a bit when running for a bit longer than just 2 or 3 min at a time, and although 2 days post race, my hamstrings feel like 2 gigantic bricks ready to pop out of my legs, I am ready for more! Funny how that works, isn’t it? One race that was by no means perfect, but I am ready for more. More importantly I have a new level of confidence that the mega legs of mine have potential for some serious speed! As Kelly said in her blog:
“In short, this one is summed up by simply saying that failure to try will always result in failure; we will carry that with us… but the potential for success will always involve risk. Ultimately, living your life and trying new things is one big risk. So get out there and risk something! And don’t forget to have fun in the process.”