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My first "race" in 7 years

Sounds weird, but even though I have been participating in races and triathlons the last 8 years, yesterday was the first time I truly raced in a long, long time. I went out with the intent of running as fast as I could, pushing my body as far as I could and leaving it all out there. As much as I have wanted to do this over the past year+, I think there was something mentally holding me back... and I know what it is: the fear of failure. And it stems from my past.

Shortly after I got into endurance running, I was training for a spring marathon-- this is when we lived in Milwaukee, pre-kids. I trained a lot in the Petite Center (indoor arena) and I was putting up some mad, crazy, fast numbers (for me). It got my hopes up (high) for my upcoming marathon. So when said marathon came along, I went out quick, strong and way, way too fast. I hadn't taken into account that my training in an indoor arena would not equate to running a race in the wind, with hills, etc. and I bonked. Hard. I hated the race. Had the worst second half (probably to date) and never wanted to do that again. What I disliked more than the race was the feeling I felt of failure. I hadn't met my time goal I set out for myself.

Since, I have run numerous races and triathlons, but all with the intent on "finishing". I started choosing my goals not by how fast I could complete something, but just getting it done. While this is a worthy goal, I think I have decided it is time to push myself a little harder.

So that was what the Pueblo Half Marathon was about. I have been training my endurance for the last year and lately have been working on speed as well. I wanted to put the two together and see how I could pull it off. And I did.

The half itself was a beautiful run. You run two laps around the zoo (2 miles), then head out on a trail along the river. It was a rolling course, not bad at all. A little more downhill on the way out and uphill on the way back.

As for how I raced, normally I settle into what I know I can comfortably hold and then try to pick it up at the end. Today, I settled into what I thought was my limit, with the intent of pushing myself even harder at the end. So, with that in mind, I went. I went and went and went. The miles ticked by and I just tried to keep pushing myself, while also being smart about it.

Along the route, you hit mile 8, circle around a dam and head back to the start. It was about there I tried to pick it up a little more. I can do 5 miles of this, I thought. By mile 9 I realized that the "pack" was thinning out. In fact, it was really thin. And, on top of that, there were even fewer women out there. Hmm... I may just be doing ok in this race.

Mile 9.5 a guy passed me. This was weird to me and I realized no one had passed me yet, I had been doing all the passing. While I was happy to make this realization, I noted what that guy looked like and kept going at my pace.

As the miles got to the end, I just kept pushing harder and harder. I had the women in my sites and just kept picking them off one by one. This got hard, since there were fewer women and farther apart. I got to a point where I saw no more women, so I shot for trying to pass men. This worked and I just kept feeling stronger. At the very end, I spotted the guy who passed me at 9.5 miles. He heard me coming (the breathing) and he picked it up. I didn't think I could hang with him so I hung back. About 200 m to go though, I felt the adrenaline and I kicked it to the end, passing him. We congratulated each other on a great race, I stretched and headed for a cool-down run.

OK, I'll say it: I was pretty proud of myself. For once, I put it all out there. Fear of failure, fear of bonking, fear of not being able to meet my time goals-- I overcame them all this day. I know that this won't always be the case. There will be days when I fall short, there will be races when I DO bonk, there will be times when it doesn't go so well and I need to use those as learning experiences, not deterrents to my goals.

How did I finish? 1:45:25. 5th place in my age group. 21st women overall. That is pretty good for me. Really, the stats don't mean so much to me as the fact that I know I couldn't have done any better, and that is all I can ask for myself.


Bret said...

Awesome! Congratulations!

This fall, after three years of slow marathon training and just trying to survive my races, I did the same with my half marathons, 10K and 5K races. It felt good to run hard & fast and on the border line of whether or not I'm just imploding because I'm working so hard. However, when I finished the race with a PR, I felt like amazing to have run so hard and accomplished the PR. The endorphins really kick in after running long and fast. The marathons, duathlons and triathlons are also great accomplishments. Hopefully the speed will translate to my triathlon training for next year.