Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Race Reflection

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. :)


Jordan said...

Came across your blog last week and It's been a great read! I like the "don't think, just run" I actually have that same problem so often that my road id bracelet says "stop thinking! Run!" Thought that was a funny coincidence.

jt00ct said...

I understand where you are coming from on the psychological aspect of the running and racing. I don't have a great answer for overcoming it other than get in a few runs without looking at the watch and pace, push yourself the last few miles of these runs to what you think may be your limit. You may be surprised at your pace. Second - believe in your training, try not to over analyze things, then just go run. Good luck Jeri!

Dwayne said...

"Don't think; Just run." That's EXACTLY what I say to myself when I'm racing, along with "Take what the road gives you; no more, no less."

Most of running is a big head game IMO, and I think that's why I like it so much.....

Congrats on a great 2010 and good luck in 2011!!

Dom and Trey said...

2011 will be a new year, new races, and a new mindset about running for you. It's easy to focus on PR's and speed, but I think it's something a lot of runners struggle with too. So many runners can relate to this post, I know I can. We train hard for a race and when that day finally arrives...sometimes we panic and we allow fear to creep in. All we can do is keep running and remind ourselves to enjoy every minute of it.


Evolving Through Running said...

Less of a hohum post than an honest assessment of your racing year. Didn't get a chance to comment on your race recap, but based on what your body was throwing at you it sounds like you made the best of it. The races may not have gone how you wanted this year, but you did great with your training. Really enjoyed following your blog this year, and looking forward to reading about your next race when the stars will align for you. Good things happen to good people.

Need you to whip up one more magical week for your boy Jennings. By some strange twist of fate/luck I've actually made it to the championship in my Fantasy Football league, and I'm going to need some serious cheesehead help to get a win.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you!!

Anonymous said...

Your comment about fearing vs. respecting the marathon is something I've been wondering about since my lackluster Chicago. It's a fine fine line because you absolutely HAVE to respect the distance...but not pushing it at all leads to, I dunno...not improving? Psyching yourself out? Things being less than ideal? Whatever you call it, it goes along with what you're saying: don't think too much as it leads to bad things. ;p

Also, mixing short races in between key races has been a big help for me as opposed to say...long cycle/short cycle/long cycle. I find that going more than 3 weeks without even a low key race fucks with my head.

Unknown said...

Hey girl! I have been a blog reading slacker! I just updated myself on your blog. I hear ya. I kinda felt the same way about my running. I was focused on minutes and seconds and not enjoying the run. Since I took the focus of races & times, my runs are better and I'm a happy girl. I know you will be too. :) Your Vegas time was great. It was Vegas Baby, Vegas!!! What an awesome adventure!

The Boring Runner said...

Yeah, I hear you on the missed opportunities. I have a post in my head that talks a bit about that next week.....

BUT, the good news is that 1/1/11 is a new year and a new begining!

Generation X (Slomohusky) said...

Merry Christmas!

Paula said...

Hi, Jer! I have been reading your blog for quite some time (I have another blog for my husband and me that unfortunately has gotten ignored lately), but I really enjoy yours! I am very new to the running world, so reading about your experiences is very helpful! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

I'm like everyone else - I love the "don't think, just run."

Anonymous said...

I had a race that taught me ALL the wrong things I had done leading up to it - and have since relaxed about times, PRs, etc. Every race I PR'd in DC I was running for FUN, wihtout any intention or real serious training (aside from the marathon). It's amazing how well we do when we RELAX and enjoy the activity for what it is! I was so nervous to put a "number goal" in place for Denver, but it worked out because I let myself enjoy the process and the training...balance is key? Yes, easier said than done. :)

Susan said...

It's crazy how my best marathons weren't the ones where I was staring at my watch trying to figure out strategy, but instead were the ones where I just kind...went. Same with my runs. When I don't think about it, I run faster. That being said, a marathon is definitely something you need to think about not just randomly show up and do so it's a fine line...but I think over thinking is dangerous as well. It's bad to let you mind actually know what you're getting your legs into!