Before I get going, no, I didn't PR in the middle of the summer in south Alabama. (That would've been awesome, though.) I did, however, have a Summer PR. *Sidenote to say that many runners down here categorize their summer races separately because the weather is so miserable, and that keeps us more motivated to race more.
Not that it's a secret, but I've been pretty angry and disappointed with my racing since Houston 2012. I had about 6 months of crappy racing after Houston, realized I needed to change some things, hired a coach, then ran another YEAR of crappy races and then...
Maybe I shouldn't have used the term "crappy." That's kind of harsh. I have run some decent races over the past year and a half, won some, placed in a lot. The problem was I hadn't improved. I'm the kind of person that wants reasons for everything. I became increasingly frustrated when I was absolutely rocking workouts that I *knew* should translate to faster races, but they didn't. Coach decreased my mileage, increased my workouts, tried different stuff, and still nothing. I kinda considered firing him (sorry, coach!), and he probably considered firing me. Lord knows, though, I had no clue what to do with myself, anymore, and the thought of trying to trust another coach when I had finally started to form a solid relationship with this coach kind of made me sick to my stomach.
And I pressed on. "Faith. Trust. Believe." It's on my Road ID bracelet. The more and more I thought and analyzed my own racing, I came to the conclusion that the majority of my racing failures were in my head (aside from stomach issues; that one owns itself). The problem with being an experienced runner is that you KNOW what it feels like to fail. And that feeling is scary and depressing. And the more I was afraid of failing, the more I failed. (That makes no sense whatsoever, but seriously, it happened that way.) The more I failed, the more I felt like a failure at everything involving my running. (That's also stupid.) I've been a runner for 20 years, yet I got to the point where I couldn't even make basic decisions for myself like what shoes to wear, how to hydrate, or what to do before a race!
And something happened after San Diego. I got MAD. And anyone that knows me personally, knows that I am rarely angry; it takes a whole whole lot for me to get mad. I sorta took it out on my coach (well, a lot actually, sorry about that) and I took it out on Keith (oops, yeah, fiancés are awesome like that). And in my mind I kind of gave up on running. That's another thing I do when I'm really mad; I shut down. It's basically the reason I stayed miserably married for two years longer than I should've, all along knowing my ex was a cheating POC. And then...
I was doing an easy run with two of the guys, about a week after San Diego. I didn't really know what, if anything, I had up next in the running category. The guys and I were talking about my good friend that I'm coaching. See, since I've been working with her, she's PRed in EVERY distance- 5K to Marathon! (Yeah, rock star, I know!) We were talking about how awesome she is running lately, and how she pretty much has her upcoming marathon PR in a bag. I mentioned that I felt like her only weakness is her own self-confidence, and that she had shown in her workouts that she has all the fitness needed to blow her old marathon time out of the water. I thought they were going to fall down laughing. They couldn't even tell me what was so funny until the next block, and finally one was like, "Um, Rebecca, do you know anyone ELSE like that???" Hhhmmmm... yeah I do, actually. They went on to tell me that they had had a lengthy discussion about me on their recent LR and decided that if they were my coach, they wouldn't tell me about my next marathon, just pick me up one morning and drive me to the start line. Then they would steal my Garmin and tell me to GO.
And I couldn't decide if that was a compliment or a putdown. I'm pretty sure it's not good. Haha. A few weeks passed. I have been doing my workouts, happily btw, because coach has given me these really cool tempo/interval combo workouts that are challenging, but a lot of fun. Coach and I didn't plan anything past a month, but did look at a couple of half marathons in the fall, nothing in stone, though. And then I mentioned a little two mile race.
Being my racing suckness, and that I had zero self-confidence, I had no idea what to even shoot for in a 2 mile race. My PR is 11:53, but that was on a super flat loop in cool weather. My summer PR was 12:08 on an out-and-back course, also flat (but hot). HOWEVER, I knew I was nowhere NEAR PR shape. Why would I be? I haven't run close to a PR in a year and a half, remember?
Coach mentioned targeting 6:15s, and I felt like I could do that. Here was the deal- no Garmin. I did NOT like that idea. And I will keep *some* of the client/coach relationship private and just say that Coach really knew how to bargain me. I can be bought, yes. So, I agreed to not wear the Garmin, and when we left for MS yesterday, I didn't even take it. I didn't want to be tempted. And just because he's awesome, Keith decided to leave his at home, too. (I think he was afraid I might steal his at the last minute?)
We got to the race, and I discovered the course was NOT flat, and it had five turns. (I think that's a lot for two miles.) I was kind of baffled by this considering there were many flat areas in the town, but I guess it was a traffic issue. I saw some fast girls and my head started its usual games, "You're not faster than them. They're young and fit. You don't even know what you're doing!" SHUT UP AND RUN! I told myself. Truth juice: I stalked down some middle-age fastish looking guys before the race and overheard that they were shooting for 12:30. Hhmm.... 6:15s. The gun went off, and we immediately went downhill. After maybe quarter of a mile, I was already ahead of the guys that were running 6:15s.
"Ease into it!" says the Postman in my head. (He tells me this before nearly every race we do together.)
I slow down a touch and notice that I am just behind first female. And she looks awesome. By awesome, I mean perfect. By perfect, I mean bun shorts, ripped abs, cute hair, perfect tan, young college fit. And she's very relaxed, looks like she's hardly moving.
And then there's me. "Slow down!" says my head, "You have no business being with her!"
"RELAX!" is what I tell myself the first repeat of every track workout. So, I slow down a bit and chug up the hill. I try to focus on how *I* feel and not pay attention to every Sally, Dick, and Jane out there. Okay. This feels good, hard, but okay-hard, not about-to-die hard. We crest the hill and turn left. We immediately start down again, and first female has extended that gap on me. We're running back up, and I can see the clock for Mile 1. My vision stinks. It's so humid the air is thick, fuzzing the clock a little. Is that a.... 5???? Crap, no!
Mile 1 6:01 Crap, crap, oh crap, way too fast. What have you done?????
Think time. I assess myself. It actually doesn't feel too fast. Could I maintain this? I'm asking myself this for the next half mile rougly, lol. We make 3 more turns and start heading down for the last time. Something crazy is happening- I'm making ground on her! Is she slowing down? Am I speeding up? I look at my watch. Ok, 9:40. What does that mean?
Forget the watch, just run. JUST FREAKING RUN! Seriously, that is my new mantra. Motivational and inspiring, huh?
One more hill to go up, but it's not too bad. I am within 10 seconds of her, I think. We make the final turn, and I try to kick because I know the finish line is near. Um, by "kick" I mean try not to slow down. I have no kick. Then she looks back- TWICE! I feel like an elephant chasing a gazelle. LOL.
I cross in 12:06, a new summertime PR.
Pretty long RR for just two measly miles, huh? And then my brain is so twisted that I can't even decide if I did well or not, and have to seek affirmation from my coach and fiancé about 50 times to really believe that I can be proud of myself.
What's significant about this race, is not the 2 miles, not the 2nd place finish, but that I finally, finally, finally have seen much-needed improvement. And no, I don't consider 2 seconds to be some bombastic revelation, but I consider it a much needed catalyst that will lead to better and faster racing.
In San Diego, while running with Josh Cox, he told me that he spent 6 training cycles working towards a PR once. He talked to me about some of his "failures" and how he struggled so badly to improve. And if you follow him at all, you know that he is a total work horse, very admirable. I try to think about that when it seems I'm running on the hamster wheel to nowhere, with PRs not even in view. And there's truth in the belief that if you work at something long enough, eventually you will get there. Faith. Trust. Believe. RIGHT?
Run Happy, friends!