Monday, April 27, 2009

The Mental Piece

On Saturday I woke up bright and early and so did peanut, but he did so happily.  It was nice to have his company while I sipped my coffee, ate my cereal and later put on my race outfit. Unfortunately mrp had to work and my mom's MS walk was later in the morning so mrp and peanut stayed home while I went to the race.  It would have been nice to have my fan club there, but seeing my good friends was a close second best. I found an out of the way parking space and headed out for a warm-up to find CV to warm-up more together. We hooked up, weathered the annoyingly long bathroom line and ran into another RP from work. The three of us did about 10 minutes together and then I continued on so I had about 2.5 miles warm-up total.  Then CV and I lined up and moments later we were off.  

We started off what felt easy, but CV said the Garmin said it was 6:26 so we backed it off. Like I said last week, I figured my fitness at best would allow a little under 1:10.  However, Saturday morning was HOT.  When the race started it was in the high 70's and by the end it was well into the 80's. Plus it was sunny and windy too boot. Not ideal conditions. Definitely not a good idea to go out too fast. We backed it off and our first mile was a little under 7:00. There were a lot of women who passed us in the first couple of miles, but by the 3rd mile many of them fell back. CV and I stuck together until about mile 4.  We were right on 1:10 pace, but I knew we had a little further into the head wind and I was nervous about pushing the pace too early in the heat.  Plus, I was excited for her to do well and I thought maybe I had been holding her back anyway.  So, I let her slip away.  Soon I couldn't even see her! A little after 4 miles we made the turn around.  I saw lots of friends running in the opposite direction and a nice guy ran with me for about a mile and chatted with me which were nice diversions from my slight dip in morale. At the half-way point I was just a hair over 35 minutes. But that was ok. That was my plan.  I planned to pick it up a little bit at the half.  

The cool thing was that shortly before the half I saw two of my teammates who told me I was 9th.  By mile 5 I could see a couple of women ahead of me.  They were pretty far up there, but I had 5 miles to catch up.  I focused on them.  By about 6.5 I caught the first one.  Then a mile later I caught the next one.  After her I could see CV and another woman in pink up ahead.  My mile 7 split was almost 50 minutes, even though I was passing pretty much everyone in sight. I gave up any real concrete time goal and instead focused on place.  Around mile 8.5 I caught CV andpink girl wasn't too far off. I asked CV to come with me to catch her, but she was stitchy from the heat so she told me to go on alone.  It was so hot, but I could taste 5th place and the finish.  I pushed on a little harder aiming for the pink girl.  We hit mile 9 and I don't even remember the split.  I then had to run down a twisty bike path and then under a merciful bridge (shade!) and once out I got smacked by the worst lakefront wind known to mankind. I pushed on and caught pink girl. I was worried she'd challenge me so I made sure to look strong when I went by and I even said some encouraging words. My fear of her coming back on me pushed me through that wind. I still couldn't see the finish. It seemed like the longest mile ever.  Finally we made a turn out of the wind and I could see the end.  I pushed through the blazing sun and finally, finally crossed the finish line in 5th.  

I was so hot and so thirsty.  But DD and JC were at the finish. Yeah! And then just 20 seconds after I finished, CV came through (she eventually passed pink girl too!)  I was so happy for her--a 4 minute pr on such a nasty day! It's an official 10 mile pr for me, but not the fastest 10 miles I've run. I am positive both CV and I would have easily come under 1:10 on a nicer day.  I felt very strong on the back half of the course, even though I ran it slightly slower than the front half (35:25). I think I lost more than 20 seconds on the last mile in the wind! The heat and sun over the last few miles was really rough.  So, I think the 1:10:32 I ran was pretty good all things considered.

Of course, my feeling are mixed.  I was elated after the race. The mental piece of my racing is the best it's ever been.  I think this was one of my all time best races mentally. I totally ran my own race and was very patient. I pushed the pace at just the right times and finished strong into wind (which is a huge weakness for me usually).  I was also fairly relaxed and stayed positive for most of the race--I nipped the creeping doubts I had around mile 4 pretty quickly.

Now I just need to get into shape! Physically, I was just hoping to be a little faster by now. I know. I know. But when I think about running a 1/2 marathon in a month, I can't imagine I'm going to be anywhere close to pr shape by then. It frustrates me a little bit. Yesterday, I ran at the park on the trails and got to thinking about it and even though I ran when I was pregnant I more or less took 10 months off from training.  Those 3 milers at 11:00 pace with 2 pee breaks weren't exactly the fitness place holders I was hoping they'd be! So, I can't expect miracles.  Plus, I'm still up 7 lbs. Sigh. This is my first foray into getting out of shape and then having to get back into shape, so bear with me. I suppose it's just going to take more than 4 months to get back to where I was a year and a half ago when I was at my peak fitness.  Do you think running a 5 mile pr in mid-July is too ambitious a goal? Any thoughts on what I can do to get there?


Clare said...

no thoughts as i have way less running experience than you. but to hear YOU say it, it sounds completely reasonable that 4 months isn't enough time to get back into peak PR shape. of course, i am not reasonable and i'm bummed that i am still slow (and not training, i'm still feeling like the 3 mile, 2 pee runs are the norm!). but your race sounded EXCELLENT! i'd love to finish any race feeling that good mentally!

oncearunner said...

I would never say "never" to a PR in mid-July at 6 months (?) post partum...But I would say, don't be so hard on yourself!! Especially as a breastfeeding mom, the first 6 months your body still really isn't your own. So you can "blame" your fitness on that, although, a 1:10 (ish) 10-miler is seriously awesome for being 4 months post partum. So remember your initial race feelings and go with those. You're doing great! Loved the race report, by the way.

DaisyDuc said...

Great race out there on Saturday. I know it is hard to not be instantly back to your peak shape but you have comeback strong incredibly fast and I can only imagine that things will continue to improve rapidly.

Way to tough it out and run such a well executed race!