If there’s one thing this year has taught me it is to let go of expectations. When your family is in transition and on-the-move for an entire year you basically operate from a mindset of “not now.” I’ve set aside a lot of goals and pursuits, not because I didn’t enjoy them, but because when you don’t have a stable living environment it’s hard to push yourself in other areas of your life.
With my running I’ve adopted effort-based goals, focusing on giving what I can give in the moment. And I’ve actually had pretty good success doing just that. Sure there have been some disappointments and moments when I’ve felt like I had more to give and didn’t give my absolute best, but at the end of the day if your focused on effort instead of expectations you’ll always walk away satisfied.
I honestly didn’t give much thought the the Greylock race. We moved into our house last week (yay!) and the whole week was a whirlwind of cleaning, packing, moving car load after car load, then more cleaning and unpacking and getting the house to a place where we could finally spend the night.
At the beginning of the week I honestly thought I’d bag the race and not do it. It seemed a little too much, but when I realized the race was on Sunday and we could get pretty well settled over the course of a few days I decided I’d go for it.
The three hour drive to the race start required a 3:45am wake up and the forecast was for rain and wind, far from ideal conditions.
When I pulled into the start area the heavens opened, I sat in the car a bit before going to retrieve my number from the registration tent. By the time I returned to the car I was soaked and cold. I ran an abbreviated warm up and since I was already shivering, decided to hang out in my car and stay dry and warm before the start. I debated whether or not to wear a jacket or just my singlet and arm sleeves and just before the start opted to ditch the jacket (which was soaked from my warm up) and go with the arm sleeves (which were dry).
There were some fast women I recognized from some of the major Massachusetts running clubs, but no other NH runners I recognized. The purpose in running Greylock was to snag a better time to replace one of my slower runs (Loon) and up my standing in the New England USATF Mountain Series. As much as that was on my mind, I wanted to again “stay open” as I’ve been doing for the last few races and also give myself a measure of grace: we moved this week, I was exhausted on the drive over (I kept wishing that I wasn’t alone and someone could drive for me so I could nap) and my hip/hamstring has been super tight because I’ve neglected my glute strength drills.
My mindset was to give the best effort I could for the day, and my plan was to stay comfortable for the first two miles, go steady hard from miles 2-6 and get tenacious for the last two miles.
There was a group of women who went out faster than I did, but as we started to climb things began to shake out and I found myself with 2nd about a minute ahead of me and third about 30 seconds up (it stayed that way through mile 5.5). I felt strong and steady on the climbs.
The majority of the climbing was in this section of the course, there were short steep sections followed by a section where the road flattened out. It was a good climb, recover, climb, recover sequence and I found myself adopting the mantra “rock steady” for whatever reason. Ha! At around 5 the fog got pretty dense and I lost sight of the women in front of me-they started to pull away as well. There was a steep section right around this point and the 20-30 mph winds became a factor as it gusted around some of the lookout points where there were no trees to block it. At that point I didn’t feel super strong and felt my pace wavered.
At the start of the race they announced that the course was slightly shorter (to which everyone let out a cheer). But how much shorter I had no idea. When I got to mile 6 the course flattened out considerably and I was able to ratchet up the pace a bit and felt like I was causing pretty strong. But how much further did I have? 1.25 miles? 1.5 miles? Or just shy of 2 miles? How much shorter was the course? It kind of threw my effort off because I didn’t know how much longer I needed to sustain my pace. We hit another climb with a half mile to go and I just didn’t have much left, I was passed by a few men who I had passed earlier on.
With a half mile to go some of the early male finishers were running down the mountain on their cool down. I knew I was close and gave my best to push into the finish. I crossed the line 4th female, further back from 3rd that I would have liked, with the 5th place woman coming in just 4 seconds after me. I didn’t have the fight of the effort I would have liked for those last two miles, I can probably chalk that up to a stressful week, but overall I feel really happy with the race.
It’s always a good experience to race in adverse conditions, whether that is rain and wind or stressful life situations. Staying mentally tough in those circumstances is what will set you up for a better performance in the races that “really count.”
Have you ever raced in terrible conditions and surprised yourself with how strong you felt?
Want to check out my training and daily musings? Follow me on Instagram.
Or connect with me here, I love getting emails from readers!
Email: RunFarGirl [at] gmail [dot] com