Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Back At It

Well I said I'd post back here after I had a race under the belt, and I've got one, the Colorado Club Champs race up in Boulder last Saturday--only 4k long but a race nonetheless and a pretty good indicator of where stuff is at.

Initially this post started out as one of my, how shall I put this, Immediate-Post-Race-Emotional-Vomit-Rant...things. But I deleted that after I actually had time to mull it over and figure out it wasn't the end of the world (surprise!), and not even bad for that matter, and that maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea to pick out the positives and--gee I dunno--actually be thankful for the outcome. I don't really know what outcome I was expecting in the first place, but I didn't really want to go into it with a "this is just a rust-buster" mentality, because I kind of feel like that's a ready-made excuse to pretty much run like crap and feel okay about it. I guess I just thought I'd pick up right where I left off, go right out there and run the race of my life and have it feel effortless like it does every time you have "the race of your life". Amazing how easy it is to forget that racing actually hurts, a totally different kind of hurt than you can give yourself from a workout. In any case, I came away with 11th place, a really hard-to-get-hunched-over-hands-on-knees-at-the-finish-line 11th place for that matter, and our team got 2nd, which I was admittedly feeling salty about.

So that said, I spent a solid 36 hours beating myself up in the following fashion:

"I didn't spend that long on the sidelines, I shouldn't have lost anything. This is inexcusable."
"I crossed-trained like a mofo, if anything I should be in better shape than before. This is inexcusable."
"I feel fat. This is inexcusable."
"Usually I'm (fill in the blank) number of seconds ahead of (fill in the blank), definitely not today. Not even close. This inexcusable."
"Usually I'm up there with (fill in the blank), but nope, not even close again. This is inexcusable."
"Umm helloooo I've done like 3 actual workouts in the last 2 months, I should be in like, PR shape right now today, this is inexcusable."

Irrational much?

But later Taskmaster Cody presented to me the mind-boggling and radical notions that 1) You got knee surgery 12 weeks ago for s**tsakes. 2) You did, in fact, not run for a few weeks following. And this does, in fact, affect performance. 3) It was a loaded up field, and you were right up with people who are fit and ready to go.

Okay. So maybe he was just going all Dr. Phil on me in order to stem the crankiness and quell the oncoming tide of neuroticism that was rapidly impending like an inescapable wall of molten magma erupting forth from deep within the bowels of Mt. Vesuvius, threatening to engulf and destroy all in its path, leaving naught but death in its wake...but either way it did sound sort of completely sensible and rational and sound and reasonable and logical and basically like the opposite of anything that I normally come up with on my own on any given day. I was positively dazzled, and I ate it up.

And then, there is such a thing as being grateful that you're out there. Yeah yeah, I know. we've all heard it before: "It's okay that you're running like dookie*, at least you're out there!" That's not really what I'm going for here. For one, as mentioned above I am forced to concede to the fact that I'm actually not running like dookie, it's just kind of where stuff's at right now, and it's not so bad, it just needs to get better, which might not happen right now today because immediate gratification just isn't really part of the whole running thing, otherwise its popularity as a sport would be unmatched...which it clearly is not. But what I'm really getting at is that less than a third of a year ago, I felt like there was an angry little man with a pickaxe just going at it on the inside of my knee, every. Single. Run. For almost two years (how'd I even do that?!). And now it feels like nothing ever even happened, actually I think I forgot what normal even felt like. And for the record normal feels pretty neat. 3 months ago I was walking around like a peg-legged pirate, nevermind even thinking about running for 5 minutes, or even pool running for that matter. Just a few weeks ago I was pretty sure I wasn't really going to feel the same as I ever used to. And now racing on an absolute ankle-breaker of a cross country course and being back to doing what I was doing before and having no issues whatsoever? That's nothing to sneeze at...the body's a freakin' miracle. Sometimes you've really got to get off your own back, you actually are pretty ridiculously fortunate to be back at it.

So with that being said, that was a dang good starting point and there's really nowhere to go but up. And if we thought last Sunday's course was an ankle-breaker, by the sounds of things it was just a baby ankle-breaker compared to what's waiting for us in Bend for Clubs.
Bring it.

*If you're not sure what dookie is, refer to the following: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=dookie

Fake It Till You Make It

This last weekend I got to participate in the first US National Road race championships 12k in Alexandria VA and had such a great experience. I can not say enough how much of an honor it was to be involved in the amazing field. USATF did a great job with everything! The course, hospitality, location and competition were all top notch! I can't wait for next years event.

Unfortunately my race was not as top notch as the event. The last couple weeks before the race I had thoughts of dropping out. I knew my speed wasn't back yet and lining up with girls going for the American record was really going to make it show. Yet ultimately being invited to this event was a big deal. It was the first one ever and you had to place high in a USA championship race to be allowed in. Since I knew what an honor it was I figured let's just go and do what we can and enjoy the experience.

As we were walking to the start line Sunday morning we ran in to David Monti who gave us some good advice...fake it til you make it. I figured yeah why not. I know I can't hang with these girls but lets just pretend. Well right after the gun went off I realized how funny that was. You can not fake it in a field like that. At a mile I found myself very close to last place and started to have a pity party for myself. No matter how much you prepare yourself mentally to get a butt kicking seeing it happen is a lot worse. It's a weird feeling to be racing and feel so good but not be able to make your legs turn over and I was frustrated. Luckily I had my teammates in this race so I just focused on catching up to Mattie as I figured we would be able to work together to pick some girls off. Let me tell you though that was a rough mile working my way back up to her. She is one tough cookie! I have had 6 weeks since my marathon she has only had two and she was doing so good. Well it was so good to catch up to her I think after 5k it just helped me relax to run along side her. I was feeling fabulous and at the turn around was so happy to see Laura Thweat and Brianne running so well I couldn't help but cheer for them. My pace didn't change much while me and Mattie were running together. We were talking to one another and trying to encourage each other during our lack luster performances. Honestly at times it was almost comical. Yup it was happening we were not even close to what we should be but sometimes it's good. I came through 10k in 34:15 which is actually only 12 seconds off of my road PR and just pushed through to the finish. I knew top ten was probably not going to happen unless somehow my legs just magically came back but it's still not any easier when you actually cross the finish line out of the ten. Good for me when I crossed I saw the super sweet amazing Laura Thweat with a flag draped around her! I didn't even care about my pity party I yelled for her and gave her an air high five! Those of you who don't follow her or know her better get on it. She is just starting to show everyone what she is made of. Plus she is a great young lady so it's even better to see her do so well!

I'm taking away the positives from the weekend and actually am not at all upset. I have to be 100% honest. After Twin cities heart break I was planning on doing CIM. I wanted redemption and I wanted it now. So I jumped right back in to running full steam ahead and more excited than ever. Well once everything settled down me and Scott talked and with tears in my eyes and a broken heart we decided it was not the best idea for my future marathon career. I know it's the right thing to do but after that decision I was not super excited about training. The thing is speed is something I have to work super hard at! It does not come easy at all to me so I knew this was going to be a humbling time of getting my butt kicked at every workout for the foreseeable future. So I was going through the motions. Speed sessions, predator runs, long runs, easy days just doing what I was suppose to without as much heart as I normally have. Well getting your butt kicked at a race will sure change your motivation :) I'm now super excited about speed work. I'm actually even excited about going to Club XC with my team and actually finally running a great XC race! Plus I am even more motivated for the usa half marathon champs!!! I want a new half PR so bad and it is on my birthday so it'll be a fun race! Also it probably doesn't hurt that I now have a marathon on the schedule. I can always focus better on speed when I know it'll help my marathon down the road and it is going to be so amazing to run Boston!!!!! So no more faking it til I make it. Time to put in some good old lung burning 400's, 800's and miles to kick this old ladies butt back in speed shape. Full steam ahead to the half champs and a new PR!!