July 23, 2012

Competitive Drive

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


  1. First of all, congrats on the house! It's adorable! When do you move?

    Ok, back to running stuff...

    My not-so-expert opinion is that you're not overtrained. It doesn't sound like you're over running. When I start to do too much and cross that overtraining line, I don't want to run. Period. It has nothing to do with beating other people.

    It just sounds like you've lost a bit of that competitive edge. That girl blew by out in the final 10 seconds of a race, but it doesn't sound like you even cared to try to give her a run for her money (of course, you may have...just basing this off the report).

    Maybe you just need to get back into it to remember how much fun it is to beat other people. Can you race your cross country kids at practice - just for 100yds or so? I used to do that with my older swim team kids, and the teen boys definitely gave me a run for it. It was fun! Maybe that will remind you that you really do LIKE the finish line fight.

    I think getting some of that fight back will help you in your sub-3 quest. No, it's not about beating other runners at all, but sometimes just staying with the faster runners is the motivation we need to push harder.

    Did this make ANY sense? I have ultra-brain today. ;)

  2. I am very competitive (driven) with myself, but much less competitive in others. Placing in my age group/overall is a new thing for me though, and I see how wanting to place leads to competitiveness with others (all in good spirit).

    Sorry the race is not what you hoped for but congrats on the 2nd place!! I had a 10k that was just like that in my last marathon training session. It was the day after a tough 18 miler and i had high hopes of setting a huge new PR. I did win (small race) but my time wasn't what I hoped for and it was hard and I felt slow the whole time. I agree with you that you are in the middle of a tough marathon training schedule and you cant be in top condition for short races and be training right for a sub 3 all at the same time. Stay focused on the big goal! I think it is really common to worry about being overtraining (I have worried about that on tired days too, even though I don't have any real symptoms and don't believe I am) and I think we ALL worry about plateauing. I am 35 but newer to all this and just keep hoping to keep making progress.

    You rock! Keep up the great work and trust your coach and I know big things will come. I can't wait to line up with you at a race one day. :)

  3. Oh! And the house is DARLING!!! Huge congrats!!!!!!!!

  4. Okay, so many things I want to say. I think you're my new fav blog to read...or one of them. I can relate to so much of what you say. First off, I thought you were like 22! ha! Why did I think this? We are the same age. :) I was like 12 years younger than you you? Holy crap those were some fast 10 year olds. ha ha.

    I'm saying this race was because of #3. Totally. Although I'm much slower than you, I experienced this same frustrating with my speed during marathon training. It is just different. But dang girl, awesome race anyway. The mental part of it all is as if you were in MY head. I am not big on competing with others anymore. I don't know that I ever was really...it is all about beating myself...and even then I suppose I need a healthier dose of competitiveness when it comes to getting my mind in gear for racing. I know I'm capable of SO much more than I've done in races and this frustrates me. I should be able to run 18/19 min 5ks but my mental game has always taken a big hit...frustrating. Okay, enough about me...you now. How was it having your dad at the race? Didn't you say that this was the race he was going to be at? And love the house.

  5. So, when's the housewarming party!?:)

    Silly as it sounds, perhaps you finally being totally in an environment you're comfortable and in control of may help you on the running front-definitely quieter for recovery.

    I must be one of the last few competitive jerks out there! I still see a 'w' as almost as satisfying as a time, but who knows?

    One thing that's not on there is regardless of what times you're running and the results, you are one tough lady, like indestructible. Motivation is one of those things that comes and goes, but you've totally got the intangibles that you need to be successful.

    Ok, how's that for random comments!? CANNOT.WAIT.til.next.week!

  6. Plateaued? WHOT?! Absolutely not! You are just entering prime marathon running territory, your best is still to come. The reason I know this is that I am older than you and have some tough goals to achieve therefore it must be true ;)

    Boy do you beat yourself up in a race! I would seriously consider ditching the watch and being 100% present in your races (also some training runs), it's important to me to run this way. What benefits are you gaining from knowing your mile splits during a race this short? Sounds to me like they are doing nothing but feeding negative thoughts. As it happens I am going shopping for a bog standard stop watch today so I can lay the garmin to rest, that thing gives me the sh*ts!

    Another thought, I appreciate it's important to hit paces for those tempo/speed workouts and for me I have just decided that during summer all my tempo work will be on the treadmill in the comfort of my air conditioned Y. I find it very hard to hit the paces I need outside no matter how early I get up - there is no avoiding the heat and humidity and I know you run in similar conditions. I think it's so important to run fast in order to get faster (duh!) and the guarantee of hitting my tempo runs in the cool is a no brainer for me.

    I am very competitive, but more so with myself than anyone else. As for motivation, just tell me I can't do something and I will make you eat your words - definitely a stick and not a carrot kind of a gal :)

    Keep plugging away at that speed work it will come!

  7. Anonymous7/24/2012

    Aw, I would totally not be surprised if it's just fatigue - that, and focus. If you're thinking about a marathon PR, shorter distance pain is something else entirely. Plus YAY for being the oldest in the top 5! (That is usually my position, as well - although in much smaller races, and of course I am mumble-mumble years older than you...)

    Focus on that sub-3! You WILL GET IT!

  8. Congrats on the new home! You must be so, so happy to move in! With regards to the majority of this post, I am going to guess it's number three and that you can't be in peak shape for the short distances and the marathon simultaneously. You are focused on the marathon now. If you chose to focus on shorter, you would be faster at those distances! It's too bad you didn't realize how close second place was behind you. You just never know until they pass you!

  9. Yay new house! Love it, it's so cute.

  10. OK. I will have to comeback and red the other comments. Sorry if mine is an echo..

    I read the part that you said you could have BIRTHED these girls and just laugh to myself. Then I realize that this is probably true for me too. Yikes! WHen did I get old? Then I read you are 33 and think...What the heck? I am REALLY old. I am 4+ years older than you!! So that brings me to my second point: it is completely impossible that you are at a plateau, because i for DARN sure, am NOT ready to be done. I have to have at least 10 more good years in me :)

    Now...on to the question #3. YES. You are really training specifically for a marathon PR. This is going to alter your ability to race a short race well. Do NOT use this to predict your performance after a taper. You will be in a sweet spot for your race.

    Also- SO sweet that your mom was able to cheer for you.
    Beautiful new house :) So happy for you!

  11. My goodness. I need a proofreader.

    Yes- I too am interested if your dad was able to make it and if he enjoyed making a new moment watching you. :)

  12. This happens to me EVERYTIME I start transitioning into marathon training. I get flat and my legs get super fatigued. Fingers crossed...It has gotten better EVERY time. I still have a hard time dropping down to 5 and 10K, but after a good marathon its so worth it. Good luck and keep pushing on! Good luck!