After a somewhat disappointing fall racing schedule, I've done quite a bit of reflection to solve the why. I tend to be a problem solver through and through, so this is pretty natural for me. My two disappointing races were the Sioux Falls Half in September and the Vegas Marathon in December.
I trained hard for the Sioux Falls half, including two days of speed work per week in my schedule coming off 6 weeks of racing 5ks. On paper, I should've knocked a PR out of the park. Instead of my 1:45 A goal, or even my sub 1:50 should-be-a-gimme goal, I had a disappointing (to me) 1:53:47. Still a course PR, but very far from what I felt I was capable of running.
Vegas was to serve as redemption for my spoiled half. I was sure a PR was in the bag, and thought that I had put in the work for a sub-4 finish if I worked hard enough in the race. Granted, my legs/hips/knees wouldn't have allowed for a faster finish than the 4:31 I pulled off, but I'm not sure I would've gotten my sub-4 goal even if all the stars did align that day.
Somewhere along the line instead of just respecting the race distance, I became fearful of it. And fearful of the pain that it takes to run that hard for that long (26.2 or 13.1).
Thinking back on some of my best races, I had put no pressure on myself. Dallas White Rock Half Marathon 2009: I'd been injured and wasn't even sure if I could run the race. A PR was out of the question. Yet to date, this is my fastest pace for the 13.1 distance (it was a long course, so ends up being a longer time over a longer distance, but faster pace than my actual PR...confused yet?). In August, I met up with Alyssa to do the Urban Wildland Half for fun. Sioux Falls was my goal race, so I was just taking this as race to see what my legs could do. No pressure = PR. Granted it was a 27 second PR, but a PR nonetheless. :)
In Green Bay I had some time frames I thought I would finish in, but more than anything I just wanted to leave Wisconsin as a marathoner. And I had a very strong marathon finishing time.
Even going back as far as my sprinting days in high school, my best 100 m. dash was in the semi finals at conference where I was the #1 seed in my heat. Since I knew I was supposed to win my heat pretty easily, it wasn't a big deal, and I just ran. Naturally, this is the one and only race I would run faster than the 100 m qualifying standards for the SD state meet. Regionals? Choke Fest. State meet? Utter chokefest.
Maybe I'm entirely too wrapped up in times and finishes. Maybe I'm taking the fun out of the running and racing by obsessing over all the minute details. For sure I'm way too scared to try and fail. And scared to push myself to the limits in a race and crash and burn.
Don't think; Just run.
Much easier to say than it is to do. :)
Sorry about the hohumness of this post. I've 100% moved past being bummed/upset about these races, just needed to put it all down on words before I could close the book on 2010. :)