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I Just Ran My Last Race

I decided I am done racing for the year. Since it is nearly December, that is not such a big deal. I just ran my 4th anniversary Turkey Trot-the anniversary of my first.race.ever. I have come a very long way in those four years, and I should be thankful and proud of my accomplishments because running did not come easily for me. I literally started running 4 and a half years ago at the nudging of my former trainer.

Now here we are, four and half years and almost  70 races later and I feel like there is still so much for me to learn.

There are so many running thoughts going through my head right now and there is no way to separate them out from the person I am today. I have memories, expectations, attitude, habits and rationale that have been instilled in me from the beginning, and they have served me well. I achieved PR’s in all distances except my 5k this year, and that did not happen without a lot of preparation and hard work.

Since parting ways with my former trainer almost 7 months ago I have been trying so hard to start over and start new that I have been unknowingly setting myself up for disappointment. My daughter warned me (from something she read) that

..when you break up with someone it takes a month for every year you were together.

I had two thoughts at that time:

  1.  Oh my God I was in a relationship.
  2. 7 months is a long time, how about 7 weeks?

We were both right. I was in a relationship-for better or for worse, and that was both a good thing and a bad thing. And she was right, because every month that passes I do a little less comparing and wondering and am a little less angry and bitter. Which is why I need a break from racing.

I didn’t realize how hard anniversary races are, emotionally, and I felt unprepared. When I crossed the finish line my first thoughts were,

Why am I doing this? This is so hard, and I suck at it. I will never be good at this.

Putting it in perspective: new coach, new training schedule, new running plan, new route, all combined made for a very hard race. That and it being the anniversary of my first race.

I remembered my former coach and his girlfriend coming to cheer me on that first Turkey Trot and he told me afterward he said to his girlfirend, “She (meaning me) is going to kill me.” But one thing led to another and now here I am, 4 years later-a runner.

I realized I am nearly over my anger and bitterness toward how he handled ditching me as a client, but I also realize now there are things I need to remember and should hold on to because they were smart and they worked.

  • you need to prepare for what you are going to run
  • training is ups and downs and eventually you will plateau-the hardest thing is to train through the plateau. It happens to everybody.
  • 1 bad run or 1 bad race doesn’t mean it’s forever
  • remember why you are running; it should be fun

I remember I would get so angry at myself for racing poorly or having a bad run and he would always be able to put it in perspective.

It’s not the last race you will ever run, don’t worry about it. There are many more races.

A race was seen as an opportunity to run and try to give it your all. Some days were good racing days, others not so much. He was always very humble about his accomplishments when I asked, “So how did you do?” I would get an answer like, “I did fine.” He usually placed in the top 1-4. To him he did fine if his time was good, it had nothing to do with where he placed. He was competing with himself.

In a conversation about walking during a race he decided it really didn’t matter, because it was the time you crossed the finish line that mattered. My fastest race of the year (by a minute and a half) was a race in which I took at least 4 walking breaks.

He would always send me a “good luck, have fun” text the morning of every race, and then send a text asking me how it went. Then when we met we would compare notes, talk about the course, the conditions, the strategy and then with a few simple words of advice, we’d move on.

Things are different now and that is ok, but I need to adjust my expectations or it is not going to work. I need to remember how I got to this place I am in now and use that to my advantage. My trainer has been saying that all along, but I have only been applying it to the gym and not the road. There is no denying starting from a place of relative strength and trying to learn new skills can be very defeating; it does feel like starting over. Right now I feel like I am not good at anything. For about 15 seconds after I crossed the finish line this week I wanted to quit racing all together. Until I saw my daughter and her boyfriend (Was that you yelling my name and telling me to push through to the end?) and the first thing Katie said was, “THAT was hard.”

So, I didn’t accomplish either of my goals for that race. No PR and I walked the top third of the cavernous hill near the end of the race. I was disappointed because I felt unprepared and my legs were tired. But it was just one race. There will be more. And next time I will be prepared.

Wallis Sands

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