What gives a person that competitive drive? I think there's competitiveness within yourself- always gunning for PRs, racing the watch, aiming for a certain time goal, etc. I also think there's competitiveness with others- trying to beat/race others, without much regard of other goals. For most of us, these overlap or one might outweigh the other, depending on the situation.
I think I have lost my will to beat other runners. I don't think it really happened overnight, but more a slow process over the past year. Let me back up to a race in Feb, just a 5K. It was the race where Sam beat me. Towards the end, I knew that I could've probably out kicked her, but I didn't. She's one of my very best friends, had never beat me before, and was running an awesome race. I didn't totally cherry pick, but I didn't give the race my usual final kick. Also know that TP and I used to have a tally of how many times we beat each other. It was pretty close, as he would blow me out on short races, and I could get him on longer ones. Well, someone how we lost track or stopped caring, and now it's a complete non-issue. We don't even DISCUSS who beat who or by how much.
I had some small goals that I kept to myself for this race. First, I wanted to run as even splits as possible, and I did accomplish this, minus the surprise hill. Next, I wanted to run 25 minutes (6:15 pace). That is a tad faster than my 10K PR, which seemed reasonable. I also wanted to place in the Top 5. From what I know about races in Louisville, this also seemed reasonable.
I take my place behind a fast-looking group of girls, clearly all younger than me. I was thinking they were all college age, and a few had on college singlets. We were off, and I stayed behind them for the first 1.5 miles. I did NOT feel fresh. I did NOT feel fast. Mile 1 6:19
We ran up the hill that I assumed was the only hill (based on the course map). For some unknown, ridiculous, and stupid reason, I decided to pass the group of girls on this hill. Any cross country coach in the entire world would likely agree that this is wrong, being that a) you should preserve as much energy as possible on an "early hill" b) we were not even to the halfway point c) given I could've BIRTHED these girls, they would likely blow past me late in the race. But, it is what it is, and I then went from 6th place to 2nd place (or so I thought). The hill plateaus and Mile 2 6:19. I am hoping I can still hold on, but then we turn and... WTH???? ANOTHER hill? These was a surprise.
At this point, I really lost steam. I got in this sort of apathetic place, my calves burned, my legs o-so-tired. And this thing was steeper than the last. Mile 3 6:30 I start thinking some really dark thoughts, mainly one question over and over, "All the speed work I've been doing and THIS is what I get?" It just seemed unfair. I thought about the workouts I've been doing since May, honest to goodness busting my ass, but I can't run any faster than this. I even thought about dropping out. Who thinks about dropping out of a 4 mile race? Someone mentally weak. Then I see my friend, John. He starts screaming stuff at me to get me going and I am able to pick it back up to the finish line. I'm noticing that my Garmin is getting awfully close to 4 miles, but the finish line is obviously farther away. Crap- course is long, Garmin is off, or I hadn't run the tangents. Awesome. Mile 4 6:20.
As I'm coming down the hill, I hear the weirdest thing- my MOM squealing! Yeah, she's saying, "Ooooohhh, she's WINNING! Come on, Bec!" I'm like, what? Winning? No. Couldn't be. Then I realize, I am in fact WINNING the race. Garmin beeps 4 miles and the finish is ahead. Then Speedy Gonzales races by, leaving me in her dust. She beat me by 6 seconds.
Last 0.07: 24 sec, 2nd Female
Final Time: 25:52
After the race, John was telling me that HE was yelling at me that I was winning, but she wasn't too far behind. Haha. What's weird is that I wasn't even disappointed about getting beat. I looked at the results and of the Top 5 females, I was the oldest by 12 years!?!
Reflecting on the race, there are a few different things racing through my head.
1. Am I plateaued? I really hate that I even mention that. It IS a legitimate thought. I'm 33, been racing 20 years. It could happen. What I hate about mentioning that is it was my ex who used to say that after I had a crappy race. Even though I wasn't even 30 at the time...
2. Am I training too hard? Meaning, am I putting TOO much into the training? Is this a sign of over training? I've been reading about actual over training syndrome, and I don't believe I have it. It's just another random thought flying around in my head.
3. Is this the way it is supposed to be when you gear up for a marathon PR? I'm definitely putting in some work, and maybe I'm actually doing well for the workload? Maybe I just have basic fatigue (not over training) from the 8 weeks of challenging speed work I've put in?
I really, really, really want it to be #3. I am forcing myself to believe this. My coach believes this, as well. I chose to "give" my training over to someone more educated in the marathon than me, someone who knows the final (and only real) goal is Sub 3. While it's unpleasant, I will put in as many crappy races as necessary if it means Sub 3. After all, that's the whole REASON behind this training.
Of course, a few fast races during the journey would be nice... ;)
In other big life news- LOOK BELOW!!!! :O