Every year for the past 4 years now, I have run Jason's high school Alumni Meet. Each year I had improved my time, until this year. It would be easy to be disappointed. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do better than last year just to follow the trend. What I had to remind myself post race is that this was a different year and you can't do great at them all. Even though I know the course like the back of my hand now as I have been training on it for the past month, lots of factors go into race day and it almost never plays out 100% like you envisioned. You DO NOT always get the race you trained for. The weather is unpredictable, maybe you'll not feel so great race day, maybe you didn't fuel enough; whatever it is, just take every race as a learning experience and keep working hard!
Uhg, it is so hard to type that last bit above because I even have to remind myself of it a million times when my race goes 'wrong'. I was so freakin' PUMPED for this race. It is kind of funny because this isn't even my high school. I LOVE that Coach Harder lets the community run with the alumni and current cross country students. This year there was no community besides me and that was really intimidating. So intimidating that I almost backed out of doing the race because I knew I would be in last or almost last place (which that does not matter by the way, I just let things get in my head).
Jason and I arrived at Rosemount High School around 5:30. We spent some time catching up with his former teammates and Coach. After getting our shirt, we set out for a warm up around 5:50. My bright idea was to run a loop on the course for the warm up. I quickly regretted that but I didn’t want to turn back. My legs were feeling particularly fatigued right away which is never a good sign. In hindsight, I wish I would have skipped a warm up this time.
After the warm up, they took a team picture and it was time for the girls to line up. I started out in the way back because I was going to try to negative split this race and see if it helped my time. Well, read on and find out how that plan played out.
Mile 1: I started out a little quick as usual but quickly readjusted and slowed down. The grass was super thick which was different than when I trained on the course. It felt like my feet were dragging as they were getting caught a bit on the grass. For the first mile I was ahead of 4 girls that were last years seniors. Man, they were chatty. They talked the entire first mile about their upcoming college plans and they were so excited. All I thought about was how are you so calmly talking and running at the same time, haha. I wanted to speed up but I promised myself I wasn’t going to sprint out that first mile like usual. So, crossing the 1 mile, my time was 8:37 - goal was 8:40.
Mile 2: Ok, so now that group of girls rushed out ahead of me and I was in last place. #egobruised . This mile I was supposed to be able to speed it up according to the negative split theory; but, I couldn’t. I instantly regretted not following my normal race strategy but you can’t go back. I ended up walking 4-5 times in the 2nd loop and my pride hurt. I saw Jason taking pictures and I was mad; mad at myself, mad at him for bringing me out here; basically unnecessarily mad. Coming around the last turn, I was able to muster up a little speed and went to pass the person ahead of me. So I ended up running 2nd to last. Even though I was super pissed at myself, today I am happy I didn’t back out of the race like I wanted to. My final time was 18:05 which was 30 or so seconds slower than last year. Probably not a big deal but still a bummer.
After the girls finished the race, it was the boys turn. I ended my pity party for a bit to cheer Jason on. He is so damn fast, still!! He did the first mile in 5:30 and the second around 5:40. It boggles my mind to comprehend someone running that fast; especially on this tough course. I was complaining to Jason on our cool down about how I felt about the race. Then, he told me he just got beat by someone who never beat him in high school. This person was talking to us before the race and told us he hasn’t run in over 10 years. This kind of made me feel better!
Jason decided to run home for the rest of his cool down so I had some time to myself driving home. Seriously I was in almost tears because I was so mad about the race. My thoughts; I had been training all summer for this; I have run on this course many times over the past month; how could I mess this up; there are no more 2 mile races for me until next year, now I screwed up my opportunity to prove I can improve. WHAT!? Looking back at these thoughts make me feel silly. Valid, I have been training hard for this race, but that doesn’t mean I get a perfect race day. Some races don’t turn out. It is not the end of the world.
When Jason got home we got cleaned up then headed over to Coach Harder's home for tacos #tradition . We got to chat more with Coach and his family. After we left, we were still hungry, so we went to cub and got more taco stuff. Hahahaha!
Thinking back on my performance, I think me and Jason’s date day the day before this race may have played into the fatigue I was feeling as we went hiking/biking all day Thursday. So next year, no strenuous activity the day before, just rest.
I am really excited to do this race again next year despite my sore feelings right away post race. Try not to ever let a race performance bruise you. Take the time you need to recover/be sad/ sort out your thoughts. But, come back stronger than ever to fight for your goals. It sucks when things don’t play out like you want but it sucks even more when you let that one time ruin the rest of your goals! Running is a lifelong sport with lots of ups and downs. Run for those up days and take the down days with a grain of salt!