Sooo let’s see how do I wrap up all of my feelings on the Falmouth Road Race (7.1 miles) from this past weekend? First off, I honestly don’t know how I managed to PR in this race. Granted, I hadn’t run the race with an official number since 2007 and I was able to run 50:42 then. BUT, here’s the catch, I was a high-school junior training for cross-country at the time. I was at my prime; I was in great shape, committing my time to tempo runs and interval training, strengthening sessions, eating well, etc. However, that all backfired when I completely died mid-way through the season. Clearly I was training too hard and putting my body through hell, something it was certainly not used to yet as far as “serious” running goes. From there on, I’ve had up’s and down’s throughout my entire (8 year) running career. I’m sure many of you can relate at one point or another. Running is easily the one sport out there where I’m at a constant love/hate battle with it. I’ve had times where I was in all my glory and then there have been moments where I thought I’d never want to run again.
Take for example that time I quit my college cross-country team. Yet for some OBSEEN reason, I continued to train every day and was only able to stay away from the sport for just one season. It took me just a few months after quitting to realize I just couldn’t resist the joy AND the tears that this sport ignited in me. Give me a few days off of running and I will literally be fighting tooth and nail to get back at it and truly realize how deep my love really is for it. Now don’t get me wrong, I obviously LOVE the physical part of running, but there’s SO much more to it. There’s the teammates, coaches, friends, significant others, family – all that support for you throughout every moment, good or bad, over the time of your running career. That to me has been the most obvious factor in motivating and inspiring me every day to get my act in gear and train. Lastly, it’s the thrill and excitement of finishing a race that you’re actually happy with that brings joy. Truth be told, runners are the toughest critics out there on themselves. Runners tend to establish high expectations and goals for themselves. This can be good and bad. Personally for myself, I’m an EXTREMELY mental person. If I’m having a bad day and go into a race with a negative mindset, that will almost 100% of the time reflect in my race. However, the Brightside of runners setting these high expectations is that you certainly don’t take a fast race for granted. That one moment every now and then becomes the ultimate feeling of achievement and only pushes you to get to that point of satisfaction once again shortly down the line.
So, where am I going with this and how does this relate to the road race? Well, my point is, I finished my LAST college spring track season this past May and decided why not just sign up for the Falmouth Road Race. Who knew if I’d even make the raffle!? To my surprise, I was able to get a number out of the 13,000 participants who ran it this year. However, knowing I’d be racing in front of friends and family come August, I knew I had to continue my training without much of a break. So, I pushed through it this summer. And not going to lie, I honestly had no idea what kind of shape I was in. I hadn’t done a single “workout” per say. Sure, I did fast runs, but to my knowledge I could have been running 8 min pace or 7 min pace, I really never can tell! I also may have snuck in a few fartlek runs here and there, but I was really just winging it. I didn’t set any expectations for myself, I had no goal or idea of what I wanted to race in the road race seeing as I couldn’t even base where my training was.
So, come race day around 9:40 AM, I hopped into the second corral, new hot pink running shorts on, hair in my typical high pony tail, awkwardly pushing my way through to the front, waiting for the gun to go off. Before I knew it, I was passing the first mile mark at 6:58, then the 2nd at 13:55, then the 3rd at about 21 minutes, and then the fourth at about 28 mins flat. I was shocked, never in any track race had I ever hit laps as consistently as I hit my first four miles of the road race. How was I possibly doing this?? I hadn’t even taken training that seriously! Of course, the one time I don’t really “care” I run spot on. Hmm…at this point I was beginning to feel incredibly dehydrated, but I knew if I started overthinking it, my negative mindset would have taken over.
So, I continued to trek on. The water hoses, the water cups, the music, the beach, the live bands, the crowds all really became a blur during the last 3 miles as I just tried to focus on staying as consistent as possible. By the beginning of mile 6, I was realllyyy beginning to feel the impact of the heat and dehydration. Quickly, goose bumps and chills whipped across my body. With a few 5-second stops along the way, I knew I had to just brave the last mile and kick. Plus, I couldn’t possibly stop with the hundreds of supporters that came to cheer on the road race! Finally, I’m making my way up the last hill almost completely defeated, when I looked down at the end of the stretch by the finish and realized the clock was rolling through at 49:40. NOOO! How was I this close to being under 50?!? I didn’t even think it was possible! The kick I threw in for that last 100 meters was something that caught me completely off guard. I ended up coming into this race with 0 expectations or goals, and ended up PRing by 30 seconds rounding my time out at 50:12. (FYI, I’m blaming the slow crowded start on those extra 12 seconds -_-).
At first a feeling of frustration hit me finding out that I was THAT close to breaking 50 minutes. But then I realized that I had to be proud of myself. That feeling I talked about before came back to me and I stood there appreciatively knowing that I had successfully ran 7.1 miles at a 7:04 mile pace. I could FINALLY learn to be happy with my race. I pushed away those negative thoughts and finally took it for what it was. I can finally race without the added pressure I’ve put on myself throughout so many years of competitive track/cross-country competitions. Those days were over (or so I hope).
My hope is that after a few months of cross training and partaking in other forms of exercise, I will rejoin the world of running once again and compete. But this time, I’ll attempt to go into with a new mindset, I won’t let the added pressures or negative thoughts get to me. Only I have control over what I do and what I make of a situation. If I go into a new race like I did this past Sunday, it’s going to be to ENJOY my run and truly appreciate why I’ve committed so much of my time over the years to train like I do. It’s truly for moments like Sunday, after that race where I can feel accomplished and find pleasure in the sport of running. This will be a new chapter of my running career and I couldn’t be more excited for it.