Monday, March 15, 2010

A successful race... based not on results, but on process

The first race of 2010 is now behind me. Alice and I drove up to Calgary on Friday after work to run in the St. Patty's day 10km race on Saturday. The weather was beautiful that evening, and once we arrived in Calgary we ordered some pizza and relaxed for the night in the hotel.

For the race, Geoff instructed me beforehand 'under no circumstances are you wearing a watch'. The idea was to go by feel and perceived effort instead. I was all for the idea as I tend to get really caught up in my splits during a race and typically this does not work in my favor, as I become disheartened if i'm even slightly off pace. So to completely avoid the temptation, I left my watch in the hotel. The plan was to listen to the body. This was the first ever running race where I hadn't worn a watch.

Alice and I were able to jog the couple blocks to the race venue, which was great as we didn't have the added hassle of searching for a parking spot! The race started exactly at 10am, and I was actually chatting to a friend (Chad), whom I hadn't seen in ages, and didn't even hear the start. I went out at a comfortable pace, with tons of people sprinting away from me. But this time, I held myself back and stuck to my plan. I just told myself just do your own race and don't worry about anyone else!' I continually reminded myself of this throughout the race.

I felt strong and stuck to a pace that was comfortably uncomfortable. The only split I knew of in the entire race was the first mile, where an official was standing calling out splits. '7:28' was what I heard as I went by, but I put it out of my mind and didn't think twice about it. Normally if I would have seen that split I would dig myself into a negative headspace, which would more than likely end up derailing my race. So I simply put it behind me and kept pressing on. It turns out my final average pace per mile was faster than that first mile anyway, which is a first for me.

My legs actually felt great, floaty and springy, and I pushed myself as far as I thought I could without falling apart. It was of course still hard, but it wasn't the kind of usual typical pain I get in a running race (when I go out too hard) where I become negative and want to back off and slow down or walk. At no point in the race did the thought of wanting to give up cross my mind. I feel like I went as hard as I possibly could on the day. I didn't blow up or fall apart, my legs felt good, my technique felt strong and efficient, and I kept a positive mindset for the duration of the 10km.
So my heart sank when I saw the clock at the finish line approaching 46 min as I was coming up to the finish. My chip time turned out to be 45:57, about 30 sec above my best time. Based on how the race unfolded and perceived effort and feel, I thought for sure I was running a personal best time, at least a sub 44. Wrong! I couldn't help but feel disappointed.

However, during a lengthy discussion with Geoff after arriving home, he put it all in perspective for me. Do I really want to be doing personal best times right now, in March, or during the summer and early fall where the big races take place? I am a triathlete, not a runner. We have not been doing specific 10km training. And I went out there and executed the race to a 'T', exactly according to plan, based on feel and perceived effort alone. I didn't slow down or positive split; in fact, I may have even negative split the race (which would be an absolute first for me).

All of this is why the race is considered a success. Not based simply on the end result, but the entire process and all factors involved. I am working on moving away from the mindset of being preoccupied and focused on time/placing results and basing the success of a race strictly on these factors, when there is so much more to it than that. This is a work in progress.

Geoff asked me to re-visit some of my 2010 goals to further confirm that I am on the right track. Here were several of the relevant ones:

1. Have fun and enjoy myself in training and at all of my races.

2. Give my best effort possible in every race I do, no matter how much it hurts. NEVER GIVE UP!

3. Compete in more running races of all distances throughout the year, in addition to adding in more frequent and shorter tri's.

4. Perform weekly core/strength/yoga/weights sessions throughout the year to build and maintain strength and prevent injury.

~I am definitely on the right track, as I have been and will continue to follow all of these goals. :)

1 comment:

runningman said...

Good job Lisa, keep focussed on your goals. I kept the watch off for the police half one year. It really helps you focus more on yourself and how you're feeling rather than letting the numbers change your race.