Patience, trust, and strength. I’ve been trying to think of what to write about my race at the Payton Jordan Invitational this past Sunday and these are the three words that come to mind. I learned a lot about myself and racing. This weekend’s lesson: push myself out of my comfort zone.
Going into the weekend I knew this would be a highly competitive race. That’s why you go all the way across the country to a great facility like the track at Stanford University. I was ready for a big PR and this was the perfect opportunity to do it. My previous 5k time was 15:56 and I had the 15:40 barrier on my mind. If I ran 75 second laps (5:00 miles) I could run a 15:37. And then I heard that the rabbit was going to take the race in 72-73 second laps. Though Ashley, Nicol, Amanda, and I were sure we would have a group at our pace in the race anyway, I was still nervous about the start being faster than I was ready for. I had my race from the Stanford Invitational two years ago stuck in my head, when I felt pretty amazing for 5-6 laps at a faster place than planned, and then hit the biggest metaphorical wall I have ever seen. I couldn’t let that happen again, but I knew that being afraid of the pace wasn’t good either.
Patience. When the gun went off, I put myself in it but continued to remind myself not to get too anxious. This was really hard for me. Not that I always go right to the front of races, but it usually goes one of two ways: anxiously on the shoulder of someone closer to the front, or completely shot out the back (and that’s when you know from the start it’s bad). After watching the race, I can see that I was very much so in the back, but this time it was different. I didn’t know at the time that I was the very back, and I felt more like I was relaxing and being patient than panicking while trying to stay in the race. I also let myself get closer to the rail and go for the ride instead of wasting energy on the outside to be on someone’s shoulder.
Trust. About half way through a race is usually make or break time for me. Between 2k and 3k I just barely started to think about that wall from two years ago, but quickly changed my mantra from relax, be patient to stay tough, you can handle this. Gaps were starting to form. Packs were breaking apart. It was time to put my head up and start moving up.
Strength. Okay 1200 to go. We do repeats at this pace all the time! You’re strong, you’re strong, you’re strong. Just finish it strong. And I did. 15:30.33. New PR 🙂
Of course I can never help being critical of my races either. After my excitement died down a little bit, my first thought was if I could go that far under 15:40, where were those last 4 seconds for the A standard? Could I have started pushing myself a little sooner? But I’ll always have those thoughts after races. They fuel me for the next one.
So despite some travel issues with my bag getting lost both on the way to and from San Francisco, I had a pretty good trip. Traveling with Coach Gag and my NJNYTC teammates was really awesome and Palo Alto is a beautiful place. And I’ve always loved being able to race with my teammates. Congrats to them on big PRs as well! I also got to spend a good amount of time catching up with the Syracuse team. Finally, west coast races often mean a large contingent of bird supporters! So in addition to Gags on one end of the track, I could hear a great Oiselle group cheering each lap at the other end.