Much to my disappointment, I've never really been the kind of person that can leave it all on the road race morning, pulling out my best performance on the course despite whatever's been going on at practice. Slight amounts of jealousy aside, what's left is nothing less than admiration for these types of racers. I'm, instead, the type of runner that puts my body through hell at practice, somehow still letting nerves/fear/bad luck get the best of me race morning.
I do have those miraculous kinds of days. But it's always on a random Thursday night when I'm extra amped up from work and need to shed negativity straight out of my sneakers. Alternatively, I'll knock out a PR when I'm pretend-racing my teammates on a long run, resting on my ego that in that I can push a little harder than everyone else at that specific moment in time. Mmkay, great. This doesn't serve me any glory on a course...so what gives?
Welp, this Sunday I raced the United NYC Half and I finally did it. After practicing for 8:15 min/mile at best, my body reached into its inner hard-ass and knocked out a 1:44! For those keeping track that's a 7:57 min/mile average race pace. Umm, what?! Look who put their wings on this morning.
So what was it that finally set me free this Sunday?
Here's a few general observations:
I didn't run for 10 days - TEN DAYS - leading up to race morning.
I'm a mothatruckin marathoner, and my sassy overconfident self has said on more than one occasion "It's just a half." As I make this admission I'm sure we're both thinking "Who does she think she is?" We’d both be right to ask.
10 days equals a real taper. Something I've not done in a really long time.
I actually ate pasta the night before
I'm not a skinny girl, and no article I've ever read has credited pasta for the coveted summer bod, so confession: I do everything I can not to eat it. I even foolishly avoid it the day before a race. Worth it? Hell no. Apparently there's truth to all the wise tale advice.
I went to bed at 9PM.
Even if it took me an hour at that point to fall asleep (it didn't) that gave me over seven hours of blissful rest and muscle rejuvenation prior to stepping on the course.
I got to the race on time.
I'm gonna level with you, I never do. I'm the queen of the 7:10 roll-in for a 7:30 race, leaving me scrambling to get my back on the late truck, jog up to my corral, beg to be let in, pant through the anthem, then take off (already exhausted).
I raced in the moment.
What does that mean? I raced in mile-by-mile bite-sized effort pieces. Each mile I focused on running as fast as I could handle...frequently doing a body scan to simmer if necessary, but picking it back up the second I could handle it again.
The result? I ran a 1:44! Holllllllaaaaa. Is it a PR? Nope. Is it a competitive time? Nope? Am I still pretty proud of myself? You bet.
After a single pleasing performance, there’s no way to tell if the variables above (separately, or only because they all occurred together) contributed to a better-than-expected race day. In fact, maybe it was just my self proclaimed “poo” attitude leading up to race day that shook the normal expectation anxiety when I feel like I’m on-the-line for a specified time.
It's a quite a bit less about the time, and more about the ability to reach beyond expectation by digging into the race day performance mentality and being brave enough to push beyond what I thought I was capable of. If nothing else this gives me all the reinforcement I was looking for around my 2017 run resolutions. By truly letting go, and letting the road take over, performance followed. This gives a huge amount of hope as I head into the next notch on the post… the Brooklyn Half on May 20. With 2 months to go, and one race under my 2017 belt, I’m feeling stronger than ever to hit the ground running (haha).