Pretty ambitious, I know. Last year I ran it in 29:20 something, a PR, and one I was very proud of.
Then the holidays happened, my shoulder got injured, everyone got sick (and then again), I gained 8lbs., and it all went to pot. I feel I've been inching my way back since mid-March.
In my efforts to improve on my racing techniques, I ended up swinging too far in the opposite direction. To wit:
- To not run extra on the turns I cut the corners tightly - but got boxed in and had to slow down.
- To not worry about the extra I might be running I didn't wear my Garmin - but I didn't bring a watch either or remember to look at the time when I crossed the start line.
- And I just don't know why I decided not to run with headphones.
The result? I started off fast, and had no idea how fast I was going. Never. Or how far I had come - I saw the first mile marker but not the second one. All I knew was that I was working very hard, and I didn't like it. I couldn't really take in what was around me, and I had no music to distract me. I got bored. And then I hit a point somewhere in the last mile where I was just tired of it being hard and I thought, do I really care? And I stopped. Oh, I kept on moving (walking), and after some time (probably less time than it felt like) I started running again, although not as fast, and with about a quarter-mile to go at the last turn I thought, well, I should at least try to finish nicely, so I picked someone ahead of me to pass. And by the time I did I was at the 3-mile marker and realized with some surprise that if I didn't totally bail out I could probably finish in under 29 minutes at least (remember I had no idea when I crossed the start line). And so I tucked down and ran as fast as I could and then I ran a little faster and then I sprinted. And then I was done and wanted to throw up.
(Except I have a cast-iron stomach and never do, even when it would make me feel better.)
Friends, I ran that race in 27:15.
I was 41st out of 250 in my age group, a fact which excites me even more than my first place age group finish from a couple of weeks ago (since that field was so small my placing first really was a fluke).
How did this happen?
And what would my time and place have been if I hadn't given up for those few minutes?
I guess if this were my favored distance I would find ways to work on my mental preparation and really figure out how to best go about running it and how to handle those "do I care" thoughts. (And find some other ones to practice on this year.) And I'm sure I will both to some extent. But it's not my favorite distance so mostly I will just find out what could have been, the next time I run one. And glory in the craziness of this one. (And reconfigure my marathon training plan.)
But not next year. Next year we have plans to run this as a family with another family from the boys' daycare/preschool. Four adults, two earnest small boys, and two running strollers with toddlers. Yes, we'll be one of those groups at the back spread out across the whole street and irritating anyone who got there late but thinks they can maybe still slip in and get their PR.
And then we'll eat pancakes.