Thursday, July 7, 2011

Firecracker 5K

Thanks to a sweet friend who gave me an encouraging pep talk during a grueling hill workout, I decided last minute to enter a 4th of July race, the Firecracker 5K.  The talk was the result of a statement I made, "I'm afraid to race and I don't really know why."  My friend tried to draw out where that "fear" was coming from but I just couldn't pinpoint what it was all about. 

In Sunday school my husband (the teacher) said something he says all the time, but it hit me in a different way...
We do what we do because of what we think...we think what we think because of what we believe.
I got to thinking about where that fear could be coming from.  If you've been reading for long you know I have a "fear of success".  I went back and re-read that post and a couple of things struck me.  First of all back then I was shocked to see myself running a 10:15 pace comfortably.  That's my warm up pace now!!  Now the shocking-to-feel-comfortable pace is more like 9:00.  The other thing that "slapped me in the face" was this:
...as long as I'm not trying my hardest, I'm failing before I even start.  I'm obviously NOT very afraid of failing since I run into it with arms wide open as if to embrace a long lost love.  Failure is my trusted companion, my comfort zone.  Success on the other hand feels as foreign as I imagine it would feel to walk on stilts or ride a unicycle.
When I wrote that post my friends had challenged me to embrace my inner racer.  I took the challenge and ended up setting my 5K PR in the Rudolf Run (28:45).  After that race, I set a goal of running a sub 25 minute 5K by June.  That was before I decided to jump into tri training.  With all the workouts I feel like I've gotten stronger, but racing tests that thought.  As I said before, "failure" has been comfortable to me...going all out, laying it all on the line, giving it my "best" is (has been) foreign.  So, I've developed this unreasonable fear to race.  It's not like the fear is new.  It's been there for a while.  This is why I have set myself up as a pacer.  ("Well, I didn't run my own race, I was pacing...")  Now that I'm not coaching, I can't use that excuse anymore.

So...I wanted to "face that giant" and RACE Monday's 5K.  I did something I know you aren't "supposed" to do--I picked three people I believed to be faster than I am and put targets on their backs.  One of them is considerably faster so she was my "shooting for the moon" target.  I thought my main competitor had a 26:00 5K PR (I was wrong about that), and we ran most of the Rudolf Run together so I felt like I should be able to keep up with her....but I wanted to beat her!!  I just hoped to keep the third target in sight.

When I went to warm up I realized just how stinking hot it was out there.  Not only that, pretty much the whole race was going to be in the sun.  Daisy was going to run, but not as a race, so I started thinking I might just hang out with her instead of racing.  Thankfully, just as the gun went off,  I caught myself attempting to run into the arms of "failure" (stopping myself before I even start) and regained focus on my targets.

The fastest target shot off, and although I could see her, it was clearly not going to be possible to stay with her.  Target 2 was just barely ahead of me.  Within seconds I was beside my "Bullseye".  She had told me she wasn't going to be running her best, but I knew if I was running beside her she's competitive enough to bring it for a race.

My watch had not acquired satellites so I didn't have my pace and had no idea how fast we were going but it felt a little slow and VERY comfortable.  My best guess was 9:15/9:30.  Bullseye told me we were running 9:15....and seconds later 8:45.  I honestly felt I could run that pace all day at that point, but I also knew it was early....and HOT...and we were running in the sun.  Mile 1--9:15.

The course was an out an back on a greenway.  As we neared the turn around the front runners were headed back.  Katie was going for a sub 20 5K PR (that's a 6:26 pace in case you were wondering!!).  Jane was about mid-way between Katie and me.  Target 1 was just slightly behind Jane.  I had no idea what pace I was running, but Bullseye and I were side by side.  It felt like I was slowing down a bit so at the turn around I made up my mind to pick up the pace.

There wasn't a split timer at mile 2 but the 1 mile guy was still there and that time was 18.  WOW... I had sped up, considerably!!  And...I was feeling good.  Not to say I didn't have pangs of doubt that I could hang on.  The sun was so stinking hot and there was no shade to speak of.  I could see the finish line but it looked so far away.  And then I heard Coach Eric's voice in my head...telling me to PUSH and to give it all I had.

I have this little "game" I play with myself when I'm doing faster runs.  I basically count down distance or time.  It never fails to speed me up.  (.99 to go, .99, .99... .98 to go, .98, .98...)  Yes, it's INCREDIBLY boring sounding, but it works.  Almost without fail it's right on target and it takes my mind off what I'm doing and how I'm feeling.  The game didn't work this time.  I wasn't being able to count backwards!!

Just before the race my pep-talking friend had given me an FCA bracelet to wear.  It was big enough to bother me when I put it on my wrist so I had sort of wrapped it around my fingers.  When my "game" started failing me I remembered the bracelet and started praying.  I remembered the competitor's creed (see the right side-bar)...and particularly the last line:  The results of my efforts must result in His glory.  I remembered that He doesn't care what my finishing time is...only that I rely on His strength and not my own...and that I don't listen to doubt, but that I run the race in such a way that I might win the prize (1 Cor 9:24).  Verses I have hidden in my heart came popping into my head and I was renewed.


About that time I saw a lady who had been just ahead of me the whole time walking over to the side.  I said, "Come on, we're almost done now!!" and she started running with me.  Then I saw Target 2 walking.  (I told you--the sun was BRUTAL!!)  So I said the same thing to her and she started running.  I had lost Bullseye but I knew she couldn't be far behind me.  The thing about her is her killer finish line KICK.  I knew the only way to beat her was to put time on her before we got there and then bring my own kick.


At the end of the greenway is a little rise.  It's too small to be called a hill, but it would have been easy to slow down there.  Instead I told the walking girls, really telling MYSELF, "DIG!!!!" and surged up the incline.  At that point there was about a quarter mile to go.  I tried to calculate what I needed to PR, but I just couldn't do math.  I decided to do my best to do my best and leave the results out of it.  I reasoned that if I didn't PR at least there was the sun and heat to factor in.


At the 3 mile mark Target 2 had fallen back and walking girl was still beside me...I had no idea where Bullseye was, but my best guess was she was putting on the wings she uses to sprint past everyone at the finish!!  I told walking girl, again, really telling myself, "ONE TENTH TO GO...HANG ON"  She said she was hurting and I told her I was too, but I realized that wasn't actually the truth.  I knew I hadn't pushed with all I had.  I glanced behind me and sure enough Bullseye was right there so I kicked as hard as I could...in time to see "27:37" on the time clock as I crossed the finish line.  Bullseye was 1 person back.  Walking girl ran through the chute and straight over to the grass to puke!  One of these days I want to push myself that hard!!  (She thanked me for pushing her...but I did feel bad seeing how sick she was.)


Negative splits and one minute eight seconds off my 5K PR.   GREAT RACE!!!!  Afterward a friend of a friend was talking about how she doesn't race she just competes against herself.  I realized I actually seriously enjoy RACING.  I liking thinking through how it is I need to run in order to best a competitor.   


Next up...Wet Dog Triathlon on July 16th.  Time to put my competitor to the tri challenge!


Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

1 comment:

Don't hold back, tell it like it is....