A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting Nashville for my dear friend Levi's wedding. The wedding happened to fall on my birthday, and the Rock n' Roll Nashville Half Marathon was also that morning. I love racing in new places, and wanted to get a long run in that weekend anyway, so I couldn't resist jumping in the race. A quick search of previous race results indicated that I had a chance to win, which was also exciting.
|One of over 20,000 runners starting in Nashville. Who can find me??|
As I'd hoped, I was able to contend for the win. On a humid, rainy morning, I decided to throw out any time goals and just see if I could run with the leaders on the hilly course. I did exactly that, holding back until mile 10 and then moving into the lead. I enjoyed a mile of glory with the best lead cyclist ever (who kept informing spectators that I was winning and asking them to cheer) before being overtaken by an even stronger finisher (whom I later met and cooled down with, which was super fun!). I ended up in third place, with a time well over 1:20. It was my slowest half marathon in 4 years! As much as I'd just wanted to race and have fun, I was pretty disappointed that I ran so slowly. Luckily, I had the wedding festivities and time with my Colgate friends to cheer me up.
|So happy for the #twogrooms. Picture from our Lake Placid wedding!|
|14 years later and still one of my best friends! #gogate|
On my shake out run the next morning, I entertained some negative thoughts, wondering if I'd be better served "running for fun" and giving up my dreams of competing at an elite level. I'll always love running, but was it worth making it such a priority when it suddenly seemed like my progress had stalled?
Over the course of my 8, sweaty miles, I concluded that I was being ridiculous. Progress is never linear, and sometimes you have to step back before moving forward. This spring has been a rebuilding season after putting so much emotional, mental, and physical focus on the OTQ for 4 years. On top of that fact, I really hadn't even trained for a half marathon. I run enough mileage and long runs to make it possible for me to finish 13.1 miles, but my workouts had almost solely focused on speed in pursuit of shorter races this spring. I couldn't get too upset about the outcome of a race when I hadn't put in the work in the first place. As much as it sucked to have such a "slow" time to my name, I decided to call it a fun run and get back to work.
Eight days later, I arrived on the start line of the Tucson 5000 determined to get that 5k PR I'd been training for. Due to my slow marathon recovery, I'd adjusted my goal from a 17:30 to "even a 1 second PR is fine," which would have put me at 17:50. I picked some mantra words and prepared for a short suffer-fest. Then we were off!
|Tucson 5000 start|
|1-2 for SDP!|
I came through mile 1 behind Autumn and Lucas and feeling like I was in a comfortably hard place. I was happy to see a 5:37 split and pushed the beginning of mile 2. In retrospect, I probably pushed too much, too soon, but this did help me get through the uphill mile in 5:46. I only needed to run 5:44 pace to PR, and it was time to make it happen. I was in a world of pain in the final mile, and knew I was teetering on the edge of missing my goal. I pulled out every mental trick in my arsenal to make it happen, and was absolutely thrilled to cross the line at 17:49. With a mere two seconds to spare, months of track workouts suddenly seemed worth it. I believe I can run faster in the future, but this was a victory for my spring season.
|Rbar = PR!|
Specificity is important! If you have specific goals for certain races, you might sacrifice your best races at other distances in order to achieve them. That's ok.
Progress is not linear. A slow half marathon doesn't negate the progress I've made for the past 4 years.
With that said, I'm still dreaming of the 2020 Olympic Trials Marathon cut. I can't let it go, nor do I want to. I've had a blast running with more "fun" goals in mind this spring, and sometimes even staying up until 9pm (gasp!), but I'm the most satisfied when I'm intensely focused on really big goals. Deep down, I believe there are much faster times in my future, and I'm ready to work as hard I can to achieve my potential.
Up next, I'll be racing the Meet Me Downtown 5k and Mile on Memorial Day weekend, then running all over the East Coast and Ireland on our summer adventure!