I had intended to set a personal best at the BMO Half Marathon on May 6th, 2012. I had about 3 good weeks of training behind me, after 5 weeks off from running. My training times and my proven ability to hold a high degree of effort while on the run gave me confidence I was going to make my goal.
|Sugoi, Compressport, and New Balance race kit|
I got up at 5:20 and my first thought was a negative one: "I'm going to be tired during this race".
I parked my car downtown, hopped the train, and got to the start line with my two gels. I brought only 2 instead of 3 as I figured I would grab the 3rd one on course. Mistake.
I ran into a few friends at the start line. Most asked "are you ready for a PB?" No, I said. I'll probably run around 1:30:00 to 1:32:00. Another negative thought, considering I knew I was fitter than that.
Race started and I actually felt pretty good. I was hitting my paces for the first 3km of downhill, being conservative, but taking advantage of the slack start. Once I hit the flats, it was another story. I couldn't find the energy to get into my race HR. My legs were feeling strong, but I just couldn't find that top gear. Then I hit the first roller and my negative thoughts came in: "I didn't think there would be hills. This is going to mean some slow times for me today". Still, I was on track. Then I hit an aid station at the 8km mark to take my gel. I let the 1:30:00 pace bunny get by me. I never regained. They were always in sight but I couldn't find the kick I needed to catch them. The more defeated I felt, the worse my technique got and I stopped pulling my feet underneath me. I would hit another uphill and think to myself I'm going to lose more time. I'd take the downhill with speed and think I wasn't making up enough time. This cycle continued for the 236m of ascending and descending over the next 13km.
It was only with about 3km to go that I looked down at the time and saw that there was a chance I could still hit my goal. I'd need to push through one last tough section to do it. Then I let myself think that I should have just toughened up earlier. This thought ended up holding me back during the last 3km.
Finished at 1:31:14. My fastest run of the year, with only 3 good weeks of training. In my heart, it was my worst of the year.
I'm taking away two lessons. First, I need to stick with my nutrition plan. I needed more calories before the race. I needed that second gel. Second, and more importantly, if you believe you're going to fail, you will fail. You can't succeed if you don't believe it will happen. No matter how good the performance, if you don't judge it as a success it will not be a success.
I am going to work hard for the rest of the year to stay positive during racing and training despite setbacks and motivate myself with my own thoughts.