I’m still getting the hang of this racing thing. My biggest challenge so far is realizing that not every race is going to come with a personal record… and being okay with that.
It’s no secret I’m competitive, more with myself than others. I am Type-A, constantly striving to improve and exceed expectations. This is why running is a great sport for me.
It’s also why running isn’t a great sport for me… sometimes.
When it comes to races, a lot of external factors can have an impact on performance. Even if you’ve trained perfectly, you still might not run your fastest time or win the race (heh, winning a race…). With my personality type, this is hard to grasp.
On Sunday, I ran my third half marathon and fifth race in less than 90 days. Going into the Iron Girl Clearwater Half Marathon, I knew I shouldn’t go for a PR. The course is infamous for being challenging. The forecast predicted heavy rain and strong wind along with higher-than-I’m-used-to temperatures and humidity.
image credit: Meals and Miles
You probably figured out that I did not set a new personal best in Sunday’s Iron Girl. In fact, I finished 3-and-a-half minutes off my PR and ran my slowest half marathon.
A part of me is honestly (and surprisingly) fine with this! My family came to cheer for me and it made me so happy every time I saw them along the course. I had fun running the gorgeous route with stunning views of the gulf, and the steep causeway bridges didn’t kill me. I saw runners faster than me stop to walk the bridges, but I kept powering up them. The storm held off until I crossed the finish line (literally, the second I stopped my watch it started to pour). At the end, I received a sparkly, beach-themed medal that makes an awesome addition to my collection. Overall, I finished in the Top 5 for my age group and 32nd out of 1500 finishers.
All said, I should be thrilled with Sunday’s performance.
But, it’s hard not to get down when I feel like I trained well for this race and still didn’t run my best time. As I lined up at the start, I felt strong. I put in more miles and got in some quality long runs over 15 miles. I focused on hill repeats to prepare for the
mountain bridges. I didn’t go out too fast, though I paced myself right, and never hit a wall.
Yet, that finish time has me questioning my training and, worse, my abilities.
Did I push myself to my limit on Sunday? What if I didn’t try hard enough? The race certainly didn’t feel easy, but there were times when I felt like I might be holding back in an attempt to save energy for the bridges. My boyfriend said I was “smiley-er” than in the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler or Disney Princess Half, that I looked “too happy to be running hard.”
So, of course, the past few days have been filled with some seriously ridiculous self-pity and self-doubt:
Did I get too overzealous with my spring racing schedule? Did I not try enough in the race? Did I count myself out because of the weather and difficult course before I even gave myself a chance? Did I push myself too hard or not hard enough in certain workouts? Did I peak too early? Did I give myself too few recovery days? Were the other races just flukes? OMG, am I never going to be fast(ish)?
And, now, it’s time to stop fretting over the race and accept it’s okay NOT to PR, that you can run a great race and still not hit your fastest time. Reading Lisa’s post, 7 Ways to Rid Yourself of Negative Thoughts, helped me get back on track, mentally.
The bottom line is I love running and enjoy the adrenaline rush that comes with racing. Even though I didn’t break any records on Sunday, I still had fun. Until that feeling goes away, I’m going to keep filling up my bank statement with registration fees.
When it comes to racing, there are a lot of unknowns and this is what keeps the sport fun and challenging. As the old saying goes, “If it were easy, everyone would do it.”