“Every race gives you an opportunity to learn and to grow and figure out who you are what you need.” -Neely Spence Gracey
in her interview with Lindsey Hein [listen to the whole podcast HERE]
When I toed the line at the Red’s Race 5-Miler I wanted to feel relaxed and free of any expectations. Prior to the race I didn’t look up past winning times, I didn’t look up my time there from four years ago, I didn’t look at a pace calculator to see what kind of finish time my track splits translated to. I purposefully avoided all those things I often do before a race.
I just wanted to have fun and run by feel. That was the goal.
I’ve got two races under my belt so far for 2018 and both of them have been vastly different. In one I performed beyond even my own expectations and in the other I fell far short of my current abilities. I wanted to take those two experiences and see if I could manage to put into practice the things I’ve learned.
I went into race day with the following goals…
- Find the fun and the joy. I love race day because of the community and friendships. Finding people to warm-up with makes the whole event way more fun. Normally, I warm up on my own and when I do I tend to get to deep into my own thoughts so I went out on a limb and asked a few people to join me on the warm up. For this introvert it is not easy to say, “Hey! want to run with me?” But the truth is I really prefer having company to running by myself. It puts me in a great mood and it is part of what I love about the sport.
Stay in the Moment. I run best when I don’t dwell on or over-analyze the course. I feel more in-tune with my body. Prior to the race I didn’t think about the course at all, which was similar to my approach for the Snowshoe National Championships where I simply went and ran each moment, having no idea what was coming next. I’ve run the 5-miler before, but not zoning in on the exact elevation profile or turns allowed me to stay in-tune with my effort.
Stay Open. If I approach every race as an opportunity to learn, instead of a litmus test of my ability then the race result doesn’t define me. I’m not super happy with my Red’s Race time, sure I won, but not in the time that I thought would be an accurate reflection of my current fitness. I think I landed squarely between what I’m capable of and what is comfortable. There were some uncontrollable, like wind and getting up twice in the night with my three year old and running alone for a good portion of the race, that probably had an impact on the result. I don’t want my times or results to define me, so Red’s Race was another chance to learn and grow and figure out what I need as an athlete.
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Looking back at Red’s Race I feel like there were a few things I can work on
- Digging deep even when you’re alone. After the 2 Mile mark I found myself pretty much alone. There was a turn and I glanced back and knew that the second woman was at least 2 minutes back. At that point I think I eased up a bit. I was running into a headwind and wasn’t “chasing” or “being chased” and so I think that I stayed comfortable. I want to work on staying zoned in on max effort. I think sometimes this happens to me in workouts where I ease off a little, because I start to mentally make excuses: this is “good enough.” I’d like to be able to push through “good enough.”
- Surging. Running into a slight headwind around mile 3 I knew I needed to find someone to run behind and I tried to surge to catch a group of guys that was probably 30 seconds ahead. I think I gave up on the surge too soon. I wasn’t “realing” them in as I hoped to do and the effort into the wind felt rough. I haven’t really practiced surging on any of my runs, but I think it is valuable, especially for road racing. I don’t have many more road races planned, but it might be fun to throw some surging practice in there for when it might come in handy.
- Posture. A big focus for me over the past week has been my running posture and keeping my spine neutral and the power coming from my hips. One of the struggles I had in the Shamrock Half Marathon was that I think I was bent forward into the wind and up the hills, basically undoing my ability to use my glutes to power up the incline. For the most part I think my posture was really good throughout Red’s Race, until the hill at mile 4 when I started that forward lean. Uphill running is best when you’re over your hips and taking short choppy steps at a really high cadence.
- Red is lucky.
When you race do you try to distill what you’ve learned?
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