Sometimes you just know how races will go, particularly when airing on the side of not so well. Somehow I still hope that some miraculous legs with arrive as soon as I start these races. Unfortunately not the case when I did America’s Finest City Half-Marathon a few weeks back. It was by far my worst race to date. Maybe it was spending the week before in altitude or the ridiculously hot and humid weather at 7am or…. Doesn’t really matter because a mile in I gave in. I walked, after a mile. My legs were cramping (a first since the Olympic trials), mentally I was stressed, and then I calmed myself down, jumped back in the race, and just simply got to the finish.
I melted about 150 times out on the asphalt. I tried to bring perspective: hey at least I’m running! It was no use, I was miserable… sweaty, hot, and miserable. I trudged up the last climb, disappointed with my slow time, and frustrated by the comments about my great pace --- what? No this is 11 minutes slower than what I am capable of I wanted to shout. It didn’t matter, they were trying to be supportive and I was just disappointed. That was until I realized on my cool down, in conversations with others, and in the weeks post this crappy experience, one race doesn’t show fitness. In fact, the race conditions affected pretty much everyone out there. I highly doubt many folks were setting PR’s. It seems most of us just wanted it to be over.
A week later, I showed up to the Dirt Inspires Women’s Trail Half-Marathon in Aptos, CA. I had done this race the year prior and it is still by absolute favorite course. It has it all, climbs, descents, river crossings, and single tracks. Within a few steps of the start I sensed a repeat of last year. I took the lead and within the first climb could no longer hear anyone behind me. There were a few moments of panic when I could sense some heaviness in my legs. But, soon I didn’t even notice as my surroundings completely distracted me. I didn’t feel like I was racing, but just enjoying the terrain. If only I could find this sense of peace in a road race. I only looked at my watch once during the race as I started wondering if I could beat my previous time. I came up a bit short, finishing about a minute slower this year. But, I took the win and I had another phenomenal experience on this course. It once again allowed me to regain some confidence. You can read more about the race here and here by another Caitlin (congrats on your trail adventure!).
But here is my dilemma, when I have a poor race on the roads I go to the trail for confidence. I want to feel confident on the roads, but they still feel foreign and stressful. Maybe I just like the peace and quiet of running by myself after all this is frequently how I train. Some things have started to come together in training for the road. Just yesterday I went out for a good marathon pace effort at Alameda Creek Trail and averaged a 6:05 pace. But, again I was by myself. So maybe I don’t like crowds. And maybe I just really love the trails. Well duh! But truth me told, I am also starting to fall in love with tempo runs and speed work. Maybe it just all goes back to the idea that one race doesn’t define me and that I need to be patient. Every day is different and eventually the hard work does pay off, maybe just not always when we hope it will. Regardless, I am enjoying the training and days like today where I spent 20 miles in Redwood with Sam, enjoyed some post run food while watching football, took a nap, and nearly forget about that one crappy race, well until I wrote about it.
One final note, thanks to the girl in Aptos that told me she reads my blog. Hope you enjoyed the rest of your bike ride! You helped inspire me to get back on here and put out an entry. Something that I’ve been severally lacking on!
|Photo courtesy of Robert J. Schroeder|