“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” ― Henry David Thoreau
I have an idea of where I want to be: but I was not there today. I signed up for the Moose is Loose Trail Half-Marathon literally as the last entrant (one over the race cap, actually) and thought that was a good sign that I should do this race. I have a goal race in September and want to know my current ability to help guide my training focus over the next couple weeks. I started out with a very fast group of women. It was fast, but not unmanageable. I was not in the lead, but wasn't far behind. I was running with Carla, a runner I've known since I first moved to Edmonton and we have both won and lost races against each other, a healthy comeptition. Perfect! A great way to see where I am at is to run with someone I know is a strong, consistent runner. There were two ahead of us, but we didn't seem to mind as we chatted a little about our racing season. Good to catch up in races too! Natalia was in the lead, but there were three more women behind Carla and I. As we grouped together with Natalia, two more caught us. For the next 4km there was a constant change in the lead. Another runner beamed "it's so nice to have so many women running at the front together": I agree. At about 5km, a runner took a commanding lead, with one chasing, and the rest of us, including Carla, Natalia and I, were left to jostle for 3rd to 7th place. I was never in the lead at any moment, but was happy to be running with such a great group of women runners for the time being.
I cracked at 6km!
How could this be? I have 15 more kilometers to go! I pulled back, my body was failing me. Or more realistically, I had failed my body. The last month has been busy with traveling to see family, a move to a new country, and wedding planning. This was a test of fitness, and I was failing it. This was the second race where I ran outside my comfort zone, deciding not to follow a race plan but run in the moment. I feel that my usually race plan is safe, but I want to test it and see if a different approach leads to a better race. No pacing strategy, no expected outcome, no time goal ~ my only intention is to make decisions in the moment. Decision time: this moment will pass, but decided to hang back and do my own thing. I don't know what I did, but clearly I must have been daydreaming (see HR data)!
Slowly, my legs came to life around the 9km mark, my slumbering mind was beginning to operate. Little by little my rhythm accelerated, but no one could see the driving force within, the heart beating, or the motions of my thoughts. Like the workings of a clock cannot be seen, the driving force is within. You only see a runner, like the many other runners. A runner of any age, with a history and story to tell, friends, family and a life of their own. To me, we are all part of the beautiful scenery. That is the great thing about running: we are a community!
Now back into the race, I kept steady, and focused on my form: something I can control. I came across so many familiar faces of friends racing or volunteering: André, Deborah, Kim, James, Heather and Steve, Christa, Del, and Rita are among the many faces I remember along the way. There were many high fives, WOOT, WOOT!, and "looking strong!". I was not having a bad race after all. Somewhere around 12km I started gaining on Carla and another female, and somehow I passed them. I could see Natalia ahead but I had lost track of how many women there were and where I was now in the placings. I was racing again, and it felt good. It did not matter where I was though. More cheers on the out-and-back portions of the course: more races should be designed this way because people were unpretentiously cheering on friends and other runners. The last 5km went by so quickly. I sprinted to the finish in a mad race with a runner from the 10km and it was done. I was physically and mentally exhausted, but exhilarated. Now time to start building on my foundation and get race ready for September. I am disappointed with my race, but I am always happy that I am able to race, have many great friends, and that I am part of a great running community.
Where my training needs improvement: