I earned my beer yesterday at the Ooozlefinch ten miler in Hampton, VA. Although, I must admit I didn’t go into the race super confident. The aerobic capacity training I have been working on recently has affected my mental game. I have been doing a lot (70-75 miles/week) of slow miles with no speed work. In the past, I have done at least 20% of my training at or above the lactate threshold (the pace you can maintain for about an hour) when leading up to a race. Until two weeks ago, I haven’t done any. For me, it has been hard to go into a race without having run any goal pace miles. I understand and believe in the 80/20 principle, but I haven’t been doing any 20 (speed). However, I made a commitment to myself when I signed on with my coach at the end of November: I was going to try whatever he told me to do for one year. I want to break three hours in the marathon this year and I have nothing to lose by trying things a different way. Really applying myself to my marathon training this past fall, I was able to improve my marathon time by 18 minutes. Getting a taste of my potential, I decided to hire a coach and see what was possible. And thanks to him, things seem to be moving in the right direction. Trust the process. Believe in it. And yourself. And you may just be amazed at the outcome.
I showed up at 6:30am, anxious as usual for any race. I wanted to pick up my race bib and have time to warm up and go to the bathroom without feeling rushed for the start of the race. I decided my goal pace would be a 6:50 min/mi. I like starting slow. I hate feeling dead in the second half. I warmed up two miles and stretched out, ran to the bathroom and hung out in the car until I started seeing people heading over to the start line. It was cold and windy and I didn’t want to tighten up. We were alerted the race was going to start off ten minutes late. I started running again to keep loose for I was wearing shorts (brrr). The gun went off at 8:15am and people sprinted off the line and it was hard not to blast off with them. I tried to maintain a steady pace at the 6:50 min/mi mark and ended up falling behind a man and a woman by the second mile. I like pacing off of other people in the beginning to help me sort of zone out and relax. But the course was two five mile loops and some people only ran the five mile. And the woman I was trailing was done after five. Dangit. At mile 6, two girls pass me and I make an active decision: to give it everything I have left in trailing these girls. The headwind was really bad from mile 6-8.5. I knew if I could hang on until the last 1.5 miles, I may have a chance of kicking it to the finish. We round the corner and the wind was at our backs. The pace picks up from a 6:50 to a 6:30 min/mi. Just hang on until the last quarter mile I told myself. At this point, we were running a 6:00 min/mi. At 9.5 miles, the #2 girl and myself started breaking away from the #3 girl. With a quarter mile left, I gave everything I had. My legs started burning and I felt like I was going to puke. I can’t wait to see the pictures of me at the finish line (haha, not). But I kept pushing, sprinting, pushing with every ounce of energy I had. Nothing to lose and everything to gain. And I won.
I am proud of myself. Not for winning, but for pushing myself past the limits my mind had set for me. When everything told me to “give up”, I kept going. My mental game is something I have struggled with in my last twenty years of running and its something I need to continue working on. But today, I can proudly say, I left everything on the course.
I must truly thank the #2 and #3 girls. There is no way I could have run that fast or pushed myself that hard, without you. Amazing job ladies!
I look forward to practicing more mental game strategies before the 60k. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Ultras are an unknown territory of mine! Look for that in my upcoming blog posts!