What's that? Yeah I did run a race before I took this crazy PF hiatus. Rather I finished a race. Let's just say it was not my best effort, not my day, a big ol' train wreck pretty much. I wouldn't even write about it except for I think I need to own up to what this race was for me in order to do better in the future when I am dealt this sort of hand again.
For whatever reason this year I have found my self at the start line of two all womens races and both times my effort has just come up short. But Elizabeth you might say, at Boston you were on antibiotics and dealing with hamstring issues, or at Indy you were worried about your foot and your 4 failed tempos. Whatever, those things may have played into my less than stellar results, but I think there was definitely something else going on for both of these races. I didn't feel fantastic at Perfect 10 and my foot felt just as crappy after that as it did after Indy, but I managed to pull it together that day. What was the difference in Indy?
I think the difference for whatever silly reason is more mental than physical. Both at Boston and at Indy I thought I was fully prepared to tow the line with women better than me, equal to me, and slower than me and put together my best race. But both times I went out a bit kamikaze style and wanted to quit long before the finish line. I ignored my racing instincts and forced it and then lacked the mental tenacity to deal with it when it got too hard.
At Indy I wanted to quit by mile 4. At Boston I lost my pack by the 10km. And let me tell you running by yourself just isn't as much fun! At least not for me!
I knew for both of these races that many women would run away from me at the start and for some reason at both races I still went out too fast and had a hard time committing to the faster pace once I was in over my head. To my credit at Boston I held it together and had a good time despite my body throwing in the towel much too early. But at Indy I really was ready to quit from mile 2 on. I started a bit aggressively, but nothing crazy, about the same pace as my first mile at Perfect 10, but my body was just working too hard and I let the pack of 4 I was with go and told myself to just settle in and work to keep it between 6 and 6:10. Well the next mile was something like 6:24 and I was working. UGGH. I got caught by about 2 runners from mile 2-4 but just let them go. Trying to settle into some sort of groove.
Mile 4ish a runner (LM) I knew caught me with another girl and encouraged me to go with them but I was juiced and couldn't respond. I started contemplating my options, jog it in, quit and turn around. My foot was sore, I felt like crap, it was hot, basically just a big hot negative mess. Around mile 5 two gals from Michigan caught me, I knew they were planning to run goal marathon for the race and I had contemplated starting with them, but now I had dug a hole and I couldn't get my legs to respond and go with them. Uggh.
Mile 6 I was getting ready to pull out. I had just saw another runner drop and I knew I would see NCs parents soon. I could stop and cheer with them and save it for another day. Then my guardian angel from Florida caught me and forced me to rally and join her. I wasn't comfortable but the pace was doable and I managed to get my head back in the game and stick with her. I admonished myself for wanting to give up so early in a long race, and I thought maybe my legs could actually rally from my poorly paced start and come around. We hit a roller and I fell back a little. My friend from Florida encouraged me saying I could not drop back until we caught my running friend from Ohio. We had watched as the gals from Michigan slowly reeled her in and she said we could do the same. So I focused ahead and upped the effort. Perhaps a bit too much as it turned out in the end. But the next few miles actually felt pretty strong and we did eventually catch up to LM and a gal from Utah who I had run the first mile with.
I felt the need to return the favor as LM had offered me encouragement earlier as well as the other gals and I let her know we were coming and to latch on to us. She did a great job and picked it up to go with me. We stayed together for the next mile or so and I just couldn't keep it up.
The last three miles were pretty much a bi-polar death march. From admonishing myself and deciding I would run a half the next weekend to prove to myself I was better than this, to trying to convince myself to run like an elite and step it up, to worrying about my foot and thinking I was over-trained, to berating myself the last half mile as I reached for the American flags they were handing out only to miss and decide that even Uncle Sam thought I sucked. Yeah pretty much the most negative I have ever felt in any race in my life. Who was this negative person, this person who gave up so early, this person that just fell apart? Well it certainly wasn't me, at least not the me I usually am and not the me I want to be.
I found myself holding back tears at the finish line and trying to celebrate in everyone elses success while being utterly dissapointed in myself. I got over myself with a cool down with LM, but unfortunately now to add insult to injury my foot was irate. I spent the rest of the day limping around downtown Indy wondering how much damage I had done and what to do about training and recovery from this.
Both Boston and Indy were so much fun before and after the race. I loved meeting all these amazing women and getting to know them! I wouldn't trade it for the world. But the truth is clearly this sort of stage is not where I currently run my best efforts. For whatever reason I am too stubborn to run my own race and keep my head in the game at this level for the long distances. I should know better, and hopefully I will learn from this and it will make me a better racer in the future!