I am now 5 days away from my goal race and I feel calm. Surprisingly calm. When the doubt starts to creep in I tell myself, “You’re ready, you’ve trained for this! This is your party, your celebration dance! Your performance is almost here. Enjoy it!”
Growing up I played piano. Correction, I looked at the sheet music, felt an incredible amount of musical dyslexia, and would clumsily tap through the song hoping I had started on the right notes. I hated practicing. Despised it. It was my daily reminder of not being good enough. Of course I know now that I needed to invest time to get better, but as a child I would put in the minimal amount of time, and skip whenever possible.
Needless to say, recitals made me feel sick, crippling so. I hated showcasing my ability, or lack thereof, to an audience of people. The little skill I did have was usually crammed into the week leading up to my recital. Performance day would show up, like a guest that is expected but not welcome. I would sit on my parents bed, holding my stomach in pain and beg them to let me stay home. Without fail my parents would bargain with me and promise a slice of pie as my reward if I could sit on the bench and fight my way through my piece. Apparently that’s enough incentive for a sugar deprived kid to willingly battle with their performance anxiety, because it worked everytime.
The recitals were moments where I had to show my world what I had worked on (or more so didn’t) and a time where I felt stunted, observing how everyone else had grown and excelled since the prior show. It wasn’t just performance anxiety I dealt with, it was comparison syndrome too.
All of this to say, I had expected to feel severe anxiety, maybe even nausea over my upcoming race, but I am just excited & confident. I have practiced and I have put in the work. The miles & workouts leading up to my day are all part of my success story.
I believe it will be a good day, and if my race results falls short of my expectations, that’s OK too. I have invested everything into this training cycle without considering shortcuts, and I will do the same on race day.
I wrote the below to my coach after my October “workout/fitness test” half marathon. I reread it this morning as a confidence booster, reminding myself that I am capable of doing hard things, and more importantly to trust the process, plan, and my abilities! In the spirit of race week, I thought I would share my half recap here too.
October 15, 2017
Lake Snohomish River Run.
The week leading up to race day, Tim had been fighting a cold and it started to hit me on Thursday evening. Friday and Saturday I took SO much vitamin C via cold pressed juice, supplements, and way too much OJ. I was a little worried I would have tummy issues when Sunday came around from all the acidity, but it was worth the risk and I managed to clear out the congestion the morning of the race. In retrospect, I think this helped calm down my nerves – I knew I would put in my best effort on that day, no matter what happened but if the day didn’t go as planned, that it wouldn’t reflect my actual fitness (maybe just my health?). Regardless, I can’t choose if I am feeling 100% on marathon day, so it is good to know what I can push through if needed.
Warm up: I arrived early and ran a 1.75 mile warm up, ending slowly on a hill in the last quarter mile that gained 125ft (oopsy). I opted to skip the strides since my legs felt a little worked from the hill – Which was good because gear check took forever so I ended up sprinting to the start line with 3 minutes to spare.
Miles 1-5 – GOAL 7:30-7:35: I went out a little fast, cruising 7:14 the first 1/2 mile, and then reigned it back, forcing myself to slow down. Splits came in at 7:25, 7:34, 7:34, 7:30, 7:29. These all felt comfortably hard – But more so mentally. I kept wanting to go faster but told myself I would pass other people in the second half… Oiselle Sally and another friend were running right ahead of me but close to 7:20’s and part of me wanted to just run with them, while the other part of me knew I needed to execute my own plan.
I wised up and quickly let the notion go, focused on my music, and decided to keep trusting the plan, running my own race, and I held back knowing it was early.
I took in fluids at mile 4 and ate a spring energy gel from miles 4-5. From here I would grab a cup every 3ish miles and take a sip of water or swish nuun.
Miles 6-10, goal 7:25-7:30: At mile 6 you hit the bottom of the hill and run through a graveled parking lot for 1/2 a mile. The footing is tricky and really uncomfortable in racing flats (lol) – I thought this would slow me down, but it shook out just fine and I hit a 7:28 followed by 7:27, 7:21, 7:27 (took in my second gel here), 7:23.
I FELT AMAZING in these miles – Much of this time was spent alone but that was fine. There was a little headwind, but nothing notable. I had expected to feel the slight uphill and be discouraged or at the very least feel like I was working harder during this time; instead I felt warmed up, strong, and in control of the paces. The Oiselle cowbell corner was at mile 10.5 and I knew I wanted to look strong running past that, which helped keep my pace and form in check for the balance of these miles.
Miles 11-13.1, goal Sub 7:20: “Just wring out the rag” kept going through my head – you wrote this on a race plan for Eugene, and I wasn’t able to execute it then, but wanted to yesterday!!
With only 3ish miles left I knew I could grind out some speedy miles… After I received the race plan on Monday, I have been thinking that it would be amazing to drop a sub 7 mile as my last mile. I wasnt sure if that could happen BUT THEN IT DID!
7:05, 7:15, 6:58 and 6:33 – These miles felt hard and like I was pushing but I knew I could grind it out to the finish. I had a tiny side stitch during mile 12 but focused on changing my breathing and ran through it.
I was passing people left and right and still feeling strong and happy… bonus, no one passed me during this time!! I never hit a wall or thought WHERE IS THE FINISH – I focused on the task at hand.
Results: GARMIN 13.28 – 1:37:46 / 7:22 mile… ACTUAL RACE Results 1:37:46 / 7:28 mile & 3rd AG placement Women 30-34
Looking through Strava, EVERYONE’s results came in long, which makes me feel better about how I ran the tagents but a little bummed that maybe the course was too long and that I could have picked up 45 seconds to a minute had it been shorter. Oh well, next time.
Key Takeaways: WOW, I am still baffled that I pulled out a fast (for me) 5k finish at the end of a half marathon and on the uphill portions… WTF? Does this mean I should have pushed harder before that point or is that the confidence and mental state I want to be in at the end of a race? I gotta say, it felt good to trust the plan and gradually work more and more into the race… It felt awesome to run so strong in the last 3 miles too.
I know I cant be upset about the course length – that happens all the time, and in hindsight, I would rather it be long than short. I didn’t dwell on it during the race even though it was a noticeable difference from mile 3 on, I just kept moving and focusing on getting to the finish.
Fueling: Other races I have only taken “bites” of my gels and consumed 1/3-1/2 of a packet vs. this race I took in the whole gel over the course of a mile.
Mental state: The cowbell corner and mantras kept me moving and feeling really good. Fortune favors the brave, I can/I am/I will, and wring out the rag.
Training life hack: On my long runs I have been trying to feel good at the end and not just stop abruptly after my last mile. In some runs (mostly because I have ran too far with a friend) I have ran a tiny bit further than the plan or had to walk a little ways back to my car. I think this has helped with mental endurance for the tiny bit of distance that will come after 26 miles or 13 miles… I have also tried to run my last mile of speed workouts as my fastest mile – getting use to the feeling of running fast on tired legs and knowing I can do it even if it is hard.
Core: This was the first race in a long time I didn’t feel like my form was falling apart or I was bending over in the last few miles! CORE WORKS and it is worth allocating time to do it!