A cupless race? What on earth is a cup less race and why would I ever let such nonsense concern me?
Well, it turns out that there are races that are "fully supported"- as in they have the water and Gu- but you need to bring your own receptacle for the water. A buddy like Garth would have come in handy at a race like this!
And that's where I landed yesterday as I attempted to run a fast half marathon test effort. I usually train right through my races and use them as a workout. It's been awhile since I put it all on the line and I was ready to run fast. My workouts indicated a 1:18 or better and I was excited to run well; to show off the fitness which hides in my training log, the workouts that beat 2011's log.
I started the race fast, but conservative, and ran into the aid station at 3 miles. I didn't understand what the volunteers saying about water and kept running. At the next aid station I started to understand and stopped for a sip (i.e. stop running and put my mouth under a spigot) but forgot the gel. I started to get nervous about my fueling (with my high metabolism I need a lot of calories) but had to wait until 8 miles with the next water stop. When I finally did take a gel and got just a splash of water* I was emotionally stressed out and off pace. Still looking at a season best of 1:21 or so, but not where I wanted to be. Then came the side stitch, the flat legs, and the WALL. I was out of fuel and lacking the excitement I had coming into the race. I basically jogged it in for the last 5 miles and called it a day. My time is unreportable.
But now, here I am with a 5 hour drive ahead and nothing to do but think about how I gave up. I totally gave up. I let the little things get me down and negative thoughts filled my head. Not cool!
I realized that I have lost my flexibility. I let things get me down and I don't practice the hard stuff, the weird stuff, the things that make race day just what it is- a gamble of elements and events. At this point I need to work on the mental as much (or more, some would say) as the physical aspect of racing. Like a good friends said, I need to view racing as a set of golf clubs and learn to bring the right club to the tee instead of playing the game with the same club every time. (it sounded better when they said it) Or, in other words, I need to be a real tool bag- pulling out all the stops for the job at hand.
While I am so irritated with myself I also realize that this lesson comes just in time to maximize on my fitness before I am burnt out and need a break. Before racing winds down for the year and I am left with a disappointing season. Here's to the harder lessons in running…
*(thank you to the lady who let me go first, as Miles 5 and 8 shared the same water jug, and you were still headed out. THANK YOU!!)