My flawless Pam Beasley inspired fast, fast, fast race plan for last Saturday's Soldier Field 10 mile didn't exactly pan out as planned. The race turned into more of a fast, doddle, scoot kinda day for me.
Sometimes PR's and finish times just don't do race day justice, and the 2012 Soldier Field 10 Mile last Saturday was just that for me. This race offered confirmation for me that not only am I a wuss to running in heat and freezing cold temps, but I'm also a mental mess when it comes to racing into the wind. Basically I'm learning that my best races come only on partly cloudy days with temps in the high 50's to low 60's where there is no wind and my legs and stomach feel awesome...so pretty much once in a blue moon.
I toed the line on Saturday morning ready to hit this 10 miler hard. Temps decided to play nice that morning and the legs felt pretty rested and ready to turn it on and hit my goal pace of 6:25-6:29 miles. As I stood at the start, I had no idea that there were some fairly strong winds coming off the lake and pegged the conditions perfect for a finish under 1:05. When I should have been mentally pumping myself up to compete before the gun went off making myself aware of my surroundings, instead my mind was just off in la-la land about how it wasn't 90 degrees and sunny out like the week prior.
When the gun went off I tried to start out controlled and had the intention of clocking 6:40 for Mile 1, but the course wove through a tunnel where my garmin lost signal. At that point in time I decided to just run by feel and not look at my watch until the 3 mile marker. Just after mile 2 I realized there was a fairly strong wind at my back that was helping me settle very comfortably into a 6:20 pace for those first 3 miles. I felt relaxed and completely controlled and even started thinking that there was a small chance that I could squeeze in just under 1:04 and wiggle my way down to the top 5 women.
|Photo courtesy of Charlyn|
As the miles clipped on with the wind at my back, I begun to slowly realize around mile 4 that the wind that seemed to be guiding me along on the way out was going to be blowing directly in my face for the 5 miles back right off the lake. Even before I got to the 5 mile marker I had already begun to acknowledge how much the wind was going to suck the life out of me and justified slowing my pace a bit. The first 5 miles I was running with some dude that was shooting for the same finish as me. As we turned into the wind, he was holding steady at 6:30 and I begun to let myself drop back. He turned back for a second and basically told me to get my act together and get up with him. Instead of saying "okay...you're right. I'm not a pansy and I can run with the boys" I said "I don't know how to race against the wind".
|Photo courtesy of Charlyn|
I don't know how to race against the wind???
What? Who says that?
Before I even was experiencing the challenge I had already begun to make excuses and told myself that the wind was going to slow me down. At the half way point my split was 32:23 where my pace felt manageable for the remaining 5 miles, but as I begun to battle the fairly strong winds coming off the lake my pace drastically slowed. My mind begun to stray like crazy where the only thoughts I seemed to be processing all had to do with the wind.
This wind is eating my quads alive.
This wind is sucking the life out of me.
There isn't anyone or thing to even draft off of.
I can't keep my pace when these gusts are blowing me all over the place.
Blah blah blah.
I lost it all in the mind, and that is a tough pill to swallow. I had no post race soreness, no aches, and I wasn't really even tired afterwards. I actually felt like I could have pumped out another 10 miles at 7 minute pace right after crossing the finish line, which is never a good sign.
Still managed a 57 second PR, but I also allowed myself to pick up 2 minutes in the back half as I mentally checked out, and those 2 minutes are a tough reality to face. All and all, this wasn't a terrible race and my finish time is still a PR for me. But when you know that you ran a race like a putz mentally giving in at the half way point and walk away from the finish line feeling like you've still got a full tank of gas, it's like shooting yourself in the foot. Not every race is going to be amazing and produce a PR that leaves you feeling like you can do anything, and that goes for all runners. Professional or amateur.
I would love to walk away from this race proudly saying that I earned those 57 seconds, but I don't want to ignore the fact that I'm capable of running a race 10x better then the one I produced. Instead this PR will serve as a gentle reminder that even though I've made baby steps as an athlete in the past year, there is still a lot more work for me to put in to achieve my goals. Being a running rockstar will never come easy.
But now I know that it's time to step up my mental game.
If I want to run with the big dogs, gotta start thinking and racing like the big dogs.