Beyond Room 119


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No words…

…from me tonight. Instead, I’m turning to some from one my favorites, Rascal Flatts. Genuine, classic, so beautiful, and they speak right to my heart.

Take Me There

There’s a place in your heart where nobody’s been.
Take me there.
Things nobody knows, not even your friends.
Take me there.
Tell me about your momma, your daddy, your home town, show me around.
I wanna see it all, don’t leave anything out.

I wanna know, everything about you.
And I wanna go, down every road you’ve been.
Where your hopes and dreams and wishes live, where you keep the rest of your life hid.
I wanna know the girl behind that pretty stare.
Take me there.

Your first real kiss, your first true love, you were scared.
Show me where.
You learned about life, spent your summer nights, without a care.
Take me there.
I wanna roll down Main Street and backroads like you did when you were a kid.
What makes you who you are, tell me what your story is.

I wanna know, everything about you.
And I wanna go, down every road you’ve been.
Where your hopes and dreams and wishes live, where you keep the rest of your life hid.
I wanna know the girl behind that pretty stare.
Take me there.

I wanna roll down Main Street.
I wanna know your hopes and your dreams.
Take me, take me there.
Yeah.

 

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Great (race) expectations

I ran possibly my worst race ever today. Time-wise, this is my second slowest half, with the slowest one being the first half I ever ran, almost seven years ago now. There was a reason for my time back then – my redheaded runner friend told me, “Oh, you could absolutely be ready to run that half-marathon with me! You should do it!”…without mentioning that the typical training plan is a wee bit longer than the 5 weeks I had to prepare. That race was hard, but there was a sense of accomplishment that came with it. I pushed through, and I fought for every inch of those 13.1 miles.

Today was different. I haven’t run a half marathon in almost a year, and I sat out this past spring, nursing an injury. This season, I’ve been training for a full marathon, and haven’t had the time, discipline, or mental energy to regularly work on speed. Nonetheless, I thought this race was a great idea and would be a good tune-up race for the marathon next month.

I set a goal for this morning that was (in hindsight) too fast. The first six and a half miles started great. I kept my pace steady, and it was right where I wanted it to be. I knew I was pushing myself more than I had in training this season, but I figured I could do it. Running is a mental sport, and if/when I got tired, I could just talk myself through it, right?

Wrong.

In psychology, there’s this idea of parsimony. It basically says, don’t overcomplicate things when there’s a simple explanation. Well, to use parsimony here, I fell apart. Which, to be honest, is really hard to admit to myself. Sure, I pushed too hard physically during the first half of the race, but that wasn’t what caused the second half to be so bad. My mental game was just gone. I was tired, I didn’t want to finish, I was so done with the hills, I didn’t want to push through, and I couldn’t shake any of that. So I walked. I slowed my pace way down when I ran. And then I walked some more. I didn’t enjoy a step of miles 8-12.9 (12.9 to 13.1 were straight downhill. That was fun. It probably also helped that the finish line was just around the corner). And that’s the most frustrating thing to me. I love running. I love challenging myself and pushing myself to and through new limits. I love race days, when you get to put your training into action, and encourage fellow runners. But as I sit here writing this, I’m just disappointed. Disappointed in the race and more importantly, disappointed in myself and that I couldn’t rise to the occasion.

I wanted to use this race to prepare for my marathon in four weeks. The preparation didn’t quite happen the way I hoped, but there’s still value to be gleaned from today’s experience that can better prepare me for the next race.

  1. Be realistic. Sure, race pace is faster than a training pace. But I can’t pick an arbitrary number and declare that to be my race pace, just because I want it to be.
  2. It’s more fun when I’m having fun. I love encouraging other runners along the course. I was not a big fan of this course (what race organizer in their right mind makes the entire last mile uphill?!), but one nice aspect was that it doubled back twice, which meant that I got to see the three other people from my training group twice and encourage them. I loved how each of them perked up when I yelled their names from the distance. I also cheered on the Ainsley’s Angels, runners who were walking along the way, and those who looked like they were struggling. I just love doing that during a race. I also love high-fiving the kids along the course. I just didn’t do that as much the second half because I felt so miserable, and by extension, didn’t enjoy it as much.
  3. Bad races happen, and that doesn’t define you as a runner. I suppose I’m fortunate that in seven years, this is the first “bad” race experience I’ve had. It doesn’t mean that I can’t do better next time, or that I’m stuck at this pace forever. It means that I had a bad day, and that’s it.
  4. Start out slow. This is something I’ve struggled with for, well, going on seven years now. You think I’d learn.
  5. And a question for me to consider over the next few weeks: Do I want to even run the marathon at a race pace or do I want to just stick with my training pace? If I run it as a training run, that adds almost an entire half hour to my last race time. I’m not planning to PR this race, but still – that would be something that I would have to mentally prepare for. I want to push myself and I want to spend it all out there on the course, which makes me want to race it. But, if I run it slower, the trade off is that I would probably enjoy those four and a half hours more. Perhaps a good compromise there is to start at training pace (see #4!) and adjust in the last third of the race if I feel up to it. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, right?

 

This morning wasn’t the best morning. That happens, and that’s okay. In the grand scheme of things, if I had a bad race, that’s negligible. I had the ability to run 13.1 miles today. That’s a blessing and a privilege, and one that I don’t take for granted anymore. At the end of the day, that’s the takeaway that matters most to me.