Where to start? When you prepare for a race, there are a lot of factors that go into your training. Hours of strength training, running, cycling, and swimming. But it’s the mental training that I believe is more important than anything. I mentally prepared for this race, whether doing mind-numbing treadmill runs or bundling up when my weather app told me it was minus-7 outside. I covered all my bases, training for the wind, training on tired legs, training with stomach cramps. But what I was about to experience was nothing I could have prepared for.
The week leading up to the race I haven’t heard from my coach about a time goal (or any goal for that matter). Usually I get an email the night before, explaining how I should approach the race. Saturday night I got an email, nothing faster than your Disney half pace (7:50) in the park after that you have flat terrain to crush it. And if I played my cards right I can PR (my personal record was 1:41:07 in Long Branch, May 2013). “What, a PR?!” I thought to myself. I was not ready to do that! I haven’t been doing speed work, and I just didn’t feel ready. But if he believed in me, I knew I could do it.
Disney Princess Half 2014
I was numb at the start, to say the least. And before I knew it the gun went off and the race began. I started off feeling great I was soaking in the energy from the crowd. I felt at home, I’ve run in central park countless times – I got this! First mile was in 7:48, second in 7:28, and third in 7:35 – I guess a bit aggressive but I felt so great I slowed down on the hills and took advantage of the down hill! My massage therapist James found me and joined me at mile 2, Mile 4 took a turn for the worst.
Mile 4 was right near a water station, so James stopped to get water I continued on. He caught right up to me, I looked up, and told him “I thought I lost you there.” As I said that, I slipped and flew what felt like 100 feet, landing right on my hands and knees. I quickly got up and kept going. Everyone around me was concerned, but it didn’t matter if I had bones sticking out of my knees. And while I am the type of the person to never stop, it has gotten me in a lot trouble! (Update: 5 months later I found out I tore my meniscus from this fall! I was not messing around when I said I would continue even if I had bones sticking out of my knee)
I glanced at my knees around mile 6 and became concerned. I noticed blood was dripping down my leg, and I was really shaken up. A million thoughts were going through my mind, but I tried comforting myself: “it’s okay if you don’t PR, today is not your day! You took a bad spill.” But I was just so upset. How could I be so careless?
Around mile 8 my Garmin totally lost it, telling me I was running 3 minute miles…um yeah I wish! I knew that I now needed to run based on effort, but boy was I tired. I was seriously giving up on myself, wondering: “why do I inflict such pain on myself, why am I doing this?” The plan was to pass a lot of people once I got out of the park, but people instead kept passing me. Those who passed would yell “ you look good!” Note to self: you never tell a runner “you look good” when they actually look good.- I knew I didn’t look good I was hurting.
I’ve done this race before, I knew what the course was like. I pushed like I never had done before in any other race. A PR would mean more than a PR, as this would be a PR after my injury I had this summer (stress fracture in my first metatarsal). I knew it was still in reach. As I was approaching Mile 10 something cool happened, I saw Meb! Meb was running down the West Side Highway on his recovery run. He nodded at me and said “go!” Seeing one of my running idols cheering me on was all I needed! I turned my Garmin screen off and just ran. I ran my heart out, ran till my lungs couldn’t take it anymore. I crossed the finish line in tears. I did it, I finished.
I noticed everyone at the finish line was coughing uncontrollably, the air was so cold it hurt my chest, and I was coughing as well! I knew my mom was tracking me and would text me my time. So I ran to my phone and saw my text: “1:40:58”. There is nothing like accomplishing something you didn’t know was possible.
But as I reminisced about the race, I went through many fazes. I was upset, how could I fall? I should have pushed harder, I could have done better. Then I saw the fall of Mo Farrah , one of the top elite runners in the field. He got up and pulled himself together to make a second place finish.
I love challenges, I thrive under pressure, and I think this was another example about how when we fall and we get back up. We then finish what we started, and we finish strong. Like my coach always says, you learn something from every race. I learned that I am stronger than I give myself credit for… and that I should probably work on my coordination!
PS. originally placed 5th in my age group, but looks like two other people in my age group were “borrowing” someone else’s bib, and got caught. Moving me up the ladder to 3rd! 🙂 to read more about this check out- http://citycoach.org/wait-til-your-mother-hears-about-this