I always find it funny when someone hears that you have a race coming up and they ask, “Do you think you’ll win?” I don’t think I can ever recall a time where I ever thought I would win any race, not in 4th grade field day, not the gym class mile, not a single track or cross country race. Maybe that begs the question, well then, what’s the point? Well, what could be one of the most rewarding and yes, stressful aspects of running races is that so often you’re strongest competitor is your toughest, most critical, knows you inside and out, drives you absolutely nuts…well that competitor is, in fact, you.
You may have read my previous post and the stress I feel every time I set out to train for another race to achieve the PR, the personal record for that particular distance. Coming off a successful half marathon in 2016, I remember being shocked to see a 1:44:58 as my finish time. How exciting! How incredible! I never thought I could do that. Thinking back to the days where a “ran like a truck”, this just didn’t seem real.
But then, there it was…That little voice is my head saying, “how didn’t I break 8 minutes/mile? I was soooo close!” I know that this isn’t the right outlook to have and I think it’s something as a runner I will always struggle with when I race. However, even if I can be hard on myself at times, there’s something about it that I truly love. When you’re out there running and giving it your all, the rest of the world just falls away. How rare is it that we truly get to leave all of our other stress behind. As someone who is plagued with anxiety, that in and of itself is such a release.
So there it was. My next half marathon goal: break 8min/mile pace in a half marathon.
This certainly added to the stress of training, but I had to keep reminding myself that the goal was in sight. Sure, the voices in your head will keep telling you that it’s not worth it, or that pace is out of reach, but it’s the journey and the hardship to that goal that makes it so much more rewarding.
On a cool Spring day in Newburyport, MA I knew the PR was in reach. It all just seemed to perfect…It was a nice overcast day on what promised to be a fairly flat course and my sister was with me. (If you want someone to push you other than yourself, run with your sibling, because the last thing any sibling ever wants to do is get beat by the other 🙂 ) Even if you’re tired, exhausted and your legs are hurting they will keep you moving.
Mile one flew by and so did we. I anxiously kept an eye on my watch and was rather startled by a sub-7:30 pace 1st mile and I was thinking in the back of my head perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to slow down. There was my sister leading the way and I hung on as we pushed ourselves mile through mile. We took turns taking the lead pacing other runners as we felt we had energy. By mile 7, I would be lying if I said I was feeling any good at all. Then there it was. The hill. Okay, so it wasn’t anything too out of the ordinary, but it was tough. My mind raced with thoughts of “hey! hey! I thought this course was supposed to be flat”. Frustrated and tired I used that hill to re-energize me and pushed up every inch of it. The next few miles were tough but by mile 10, I knew the end was in sight. I had some left in the tank and pushed all the way through the finish. It’s a great feeling, knowing that you’ve got it, knowing that you’re running through the finish of a PR!
I was so happy to cross the finish line, crushing my “break 8-minute pace” expectations and cruised in with a final time of 1:41:24 and a 7:44 pace. but then again, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit…wouldn’t it be cool to break 1:40? 🙂