I surprised myself.
We took off together, slowly. Proceeding with caution we ran our first mile at 8:00 pace. Better safe than sorry, right? We were feeling good so we picked it up by about 30 seconds/mile. We continually sped up together until about the last mile when I was still feeling great and decided to take off. I ran ahead and caught up with a man that had been in front of us the entire way. I guess he didn’t want a girl to pass him so he hung out with me huffing and puffing his way along. I almost felt bad passing him until he finally said “Go ahead! Go get ‘em!” He must have known I was holding back.
I listened, shot ahead of him and raced another man to the end. There is something deeply gratifying about passing men the entire way. My foot was bugging me from the start and when I was finally able to remove my shoe I saw that my sock and sole were bloody. A big old blister must have popped along the way, but in a short race there isn’t time to stop and adjust.
Holding my bloody sock 'n sole with pride!
Overall, I was proud of my time considering the circumstances. I ran 5 miles in 35:57, 1st in my age group. That is an average of 7:11 per mile. Looking at my splits, however, it was pretty obvious I could have gone faster the first 2 miles but I let fear get in the way. I ran faster than ever and finished the last mile in 6:30. Deep down, however, I know I didn’t push it as hard as I could have.
I am sure other non-competitive runners can relate to the fear factor associated with pushing hard during a race. I ask myself things like “What if I go too fast and can’t make it to the end?” or I tell myself “You can’t run any faster than this” which is completely false. In a recent article titled 'Mind Games', Kara Goucher shares her own psychological struggles with Runner's World. I was surprised to learn that someone of her caliber would doubt herself. She is human, after all.
Personally, I am working on positive self-talk when I am facing self-doubt. Ang tells me to replace every negative thought with 3 positive thoughts (but she’s a saint so I believe 1 or 2 is sufficient). Each positive thought like “almost there” or “you are strong” is like a squirt of Windex cleaning away the messy little fingerprints on the glass. Eventually you are left with a clean, spot-free window; in this case a mind cleansed of pessimism.
It works! Trust the system.
I was once told by a very special person in college, “Not everything you think is true.” It seems basic, but it is an important reminder that negative thoughts are not always valid. We are our own worst critic and we sometimes lie to ourselves.
You CAN do it. Don’t let yourself tell you otherwise.
I hope to be fearless in my next race and put my training to good use. When I approach the finish line I want to know that my heart, my legs and my entire body were pushed to the limit and I ran as fast as I possibly could. I may not have been an athlete in college or part of a competitive team, but I am an athlete at heart.
Aren’t we all?
I think it comes down to tapping into that side of ourselves; our inner athlete. I have only just begun to discover mine…
Sporting our Gold & Silver Medals