A half-written Sleepy Hollow Race recap sat in my blog drafts for over a week. I wanted to condense my thoughts on that race into some sort of tangible lesson-which I did in my mind, but not yet on paper. Then along came the Pack Monadnock Race and put things in perspective. It’s been hard to find time to write a race-recap with Rise.Run.Retreat just a week and a half away.
Perhaps that’s a good thing? Forcing me to distill my thoughts into just the “take-aways.”
In retrospect my are at Sleepy Hollow seems much stronger now in comparison to what I ran at Pack Monadnock. My thought going into Sleepy Hollow was that, “If I have a great race I could be second.” For the most part I knew who was running and knew that if I was running strong and energized through the final climb in mile five I’d have a good shot. There was an expectation for the outcome, but after feeling sick the day before with headache, fever and stomachache I was holding loosely to whatever that outcome might be: I’d just have to run whatever the day brought me. I felt strong through the first three miles, churning up the hills and doing my best to charge down the descents. But at the beginning of mile 5 I had nothing left. I was totally spent and losing ground to twins who were closing hard.
My Mental Game
The mantras and self-talk that happen when you’re fatigued can set the tone for your race. During the tough climbs and the moments when I felt drained I latched on to two phrases:
There’s no one who is tougher than me.
You are fierce.
You are worthy of success.
Getting passed with less than a mile to go was disheartening, but I did my best to hang on and keep pushing with whatever I had left finishing 40 seconds off of third and fourth.
What I Learned
Your body can do far more than you think it can.
My climbing has improved (my downhilling still needs work).
Sometimes the race is in front of you and sometimes the race is behind you. I prefer to chase down people than to run scared from whomever is chasing me down. When I came through the field with a mile and a bit to go, I went from feeling confident to running scared. And that dread ate away a bit at my ability to stay mentally strong despite the physical fatigue.
In retrospect and in comparison to Pack Monadnock (where I finished 11 minutes behind people I finished 40 seconds behind at Sleepy Hollow) I actually ran a strong race.
Pack Monadnock 10 Miler
I went into the Pack Monadnock race feeling “curious.” I’ve never done this race before and don’t know the course (other than it’s hilly with a really steep climb at the end), so my initial thought was to stay curious and run smart. I didn’t have any expectations of time or place until we were milling around the start line and I saw familiar faces from Sleepy Hollow. My “game plan” was to take it easy for the first two to three miles and then rely on my strength and climbing ability to reel people in at the end.
At the start I let a lot of people go, thinking: they’ll come back. There was a lot of self-talk in the first few miles about “running my own race” being smart and doing what was right for me. I know that you can’t force a race. You can’t manipulate the outcome in the first few miles of a ten mile race, especially by over-extending yourself. So I kept it safe believing that around the halfway point, I’d start to ramp it up and reel in a few of the women who had gone out ahead of me. It didn’t quite pan out like that. My heart rate felt high for the effort I was giving and I just wasn’t getting any closer to the women ahead of me, if anything they were pulling away. At the halfway point I was passed by two more women and that added to the defeated feeling.
I was made for mountains.
I am strong. I am fast. I am confident.
At one point the desire to quit was so strong. This little voice kept repeating, “I just want to stop.” And I knew I had to find something positive to dwell on to reverse the negative downturn. Just list all the positives: I had a good breakfast. I slept 12 hours on Friday night. I’m not injured. I had a good speed workout this week. This is a great workout even if I’m not racing well.
I had waves where things would click and I’d feel somewhat strong and think OK, lets reel them in, but no one was coming back to me. I kept tapping into these positive mantras.
What I Learned
Not every race will be magic, but every race is a learning experience, therefor every race is worth finishing.
If a race isn’t not going well, there’s still benefit to pushing and making it a good workout (physical or mental).
What I did learn is that I WAS strong on the hills despite having a crappy overall race. While Strava doesn’t track every runner, it’s encouraging to see that I was strong on the thing that I’m training for: incline.
I can’t pretend that I don’t care about the outcome. I’m working hard to be a contender in the Mountain Series, not just a consistent 5 or 6th place runner (which I was last year) but a consistent contender for those top three spots. I expected more from myself on Sunday, but my body just wasn’t having it. Thankfully, I have some explanation for it.
The Friday prior to Pack Monadnock, I went into my Doctor to address a persistent sore throat I’ve had for the last two weeks; no cold symptoms (other than that weird headache/fever/stomach bug I had last weekend) , just a sore throat and dry mouth all.the.time. for the last two weeks. In the appointment she tossed around things like “Type-1 Diabetes,” (to which I gave some serious side-eye). She also asked if I was constantly thirsty, hungry and had to go the the bathroom frequently. To which I laughed. “I run 5-10 miles nearly every day…those are all true.” She ordered a throat culture and blood work, the results of which I received this morning. The throat culture showed Non-Group A Strep and the blood work was all within normal ranges (so no Type 1 Diabetes…while my grandmother had Type-1 Diabetes, but I find it highly unlikely that I would develop it). Over the past few days the sore throat has subsided, so I think I’m on the mend.
I’ve got a few more weeks before my next mountain series race, so hopefully I’ll be ready to go!
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