Everyone, athlete or not doubts themselves at points in their life. Doubt has been heavily on my mind the last two weeks. Starting the week off with a sinus infection, missing a key workout and closing in on Friday pm wondering what the hell am I doing, I’m not good enough.
I had three very challenging races scheduled for the weekend. Track still the race of choice for me these days, I wasn’t sure I belonged on the track anymore and definitely shouldn’t be going to World Masters Track in August. The goal for this weekend was brain training and club records. PB’s were not on the agenda, but that didn’t mean the weekend was going to be easy.
The 5000M was first on my race schedule. I showed up, early and with the weather still holding out I did my warm-up. Right away the trouble started. The stomach. My F**king GI issues AGAIN! Reassuring myself everything would be fine; I laced up my spikes and reported for duty. It wasn’t fine, but I finished the 5000M in one piece and took the club record. Mission number 1 accomplished.
Almost immediately after the race ended, the skies opened up and the rain came fast and heavy. I was told, if the rain came, I was to go home and not race the 1500M. My one half wanted to stay and race, I don’t like quitting. The other half knew it was the smart thing to do, so after many frantic text messages to Timo, for reassurance, I said my goodbyes and headed for home. I’ve never scratched a race in this way, so practicing the word “No” last week paid off this weekend.
Sunday was now double the distance. 10000M. Firstly I have only ever run one 10km, so this was my second time running the distance and it was on a track. That’s 25 laps people! 12 laps is mentally tough so 25 was going to kill me. I looked around and everyone was wearing regular running shoes. I was wearing spikes. Shit! I couldn’t stop thinking I had made a big mistake. Since I didn’t bring my racing flats, it was going to have to be spikes.
The race started in a very controlled way. I was told to run 1:40, but with headwind down the backstretch my pace was going to be off. To my surprise I crossed the first lap in 1:35, a bit fast, then every lap after that was exactly the same. This was my comfort zone so I stayed put.
What happened at this meet and particularly during this race was amazing. The whole week, I’d been questioning myself as a runner and trying to figure out what kind of runner I am. It was exactly 400M after crossing the 5km threshold where my legs felt really good. My breathing was steady and I felt happy. A thought popped into my head and for some this will seem very obvious but I needed this reassurance the most. My inner voice said, “You’re a long distance runner, this is what you’re training for”. It was one of those amazing moments where you sound crazy for saying it out loud. I never thought I would feel this way, but I really enjoyed every single one of the wet, windy, cold 25 laps.
I crossed the finish line with the biggest sense of accomplishment. I not only beat the club record, I crushed it! Previously it was 42 minutes that has held up for almost 30 years, and I easily grabbed it in 39:55. The best part was being sort of tricked into doing the 10000M by my clever coach who knew I would fall in love this event. Monday with a new week ahead, I have a new set of goals to attain. It’s back to training mode for the next few weeks and I’ve been given a green light to put bike ride back in my week. I did a happy dance in my living room. The next month, more than ever, focus, mental toughness and restraint will be things I need to continue to work through to stay the course and get to Lyons healthy and fit.