I am a terrible test taker. I have always been that way. The first time I took my SAT’s, I was in the 7th grade. And, I pretty much bombed them. Some people may say, well, you were in the 7th grade, of course you did, but it wasn’t lack of knowledge that was the problem, it was the pressure. I felt so much pressure that after a couple of hours, I crashed and just started filling in random answers. I just wanted it to be over. As I made my way into high school, I improved in this department greatly, but it took massive amounts of preparation and focus. Nothing came easy for me. I think it’s my lot in life to not be naturally “great” at anything. The amount of post-it’s alone I used, probably took out an entire forest of trees.
Anyways, I have always felt as though this translated into racing. After a bad race, I usually have a large array of excuses as to why things went awry. Most of them were preventable. In the case of the Boston Marathon, the pressure sank me so things like the heat, the exhaustion, the hunger, were magnified. My last half marathon, I ran in a time of 2:04 and by declaring that I didn’t want to try that hard, I removed the pressure off myself and just gave my body permission to slack off. During every race, there is a point where I allow the discomfort to sink me and I eventually say: “I just want to finish.” And so I slow down to whatever feels comfortable, ruin all the work I did in the first half and coast to the end.
The BAA 10K is on Sunday and I have always had lofty goals for this years race. My 10K best last year was 55:54 and I could have done even better except the last 2 miles I sank into a pit of self despair and did exactly what I described above, coasting to the finish. My training partner had wanted to hit 54 minutes and we were on target for that but somewhere along the way I got distracted, my spirit got broken and I just gave up. My goal for the BAA 10K is somewhere around 52-53 minutes and if I don’t get that time, it’s because I didn’t work hard enough. I am in remarkably better shape than I was last September (when I ran my 10K best). I mean, I have run two marathons since then and I have tremendous training under my belt. If I don’t hit this number it’s because I didn’t want to, not because I couldn’t.
Knowing this information, I decided last night I was going to run an 11 mile, hard loop this morning with my running group. Why? Well, it would give me the excuse I needed to bitch out. I could say my legs were tired. I could say there were forces working against me. I could say: “Race times just aren’t that important to me anymore.” Even though I know damn well I would obsess over this for months and months and months if it didn’t go well. So my training partner, Allison, called me yesterday and yelled at me. Told me I was absolutely not running those 11 miles. Told me: “what are you crazy, are you trying to sabotage yourself?” And she was right, because she knows me too well. After thinking about it, I realized, it’s time to put my balls on the table and just get it done. I never want to be one of those runners who does all the shit talking but never measures up, because trust me, I know plenty of those and they’re irritating as shit. I want to prove that I am just as good. I want to prove that I can, indeed, leave it all on the pavement.
I haven’t left it all on the pavement since Nov 2013 and I would say it’s high time, I did that again.
So tomorrow, I will put aside my fear, because yes, I am afraid of the pain. I will line up with the 9’00” pace folks (I need at least a mile to get cranking) and then I will push for the 8’30″s I need to make this happen. I will run that last mile like it’s everything and I will gut it out till the end. I will warm up correctly, get enough sleep, eat properly and recite all my mantras. I need to visualize that moment when I cross that finish line and I know, I’ve done my best, and that I’m happy with my performance. I may not be in it to win it, but I am out to prove something to myself.
I’m extremely lucky to have people in my life who won’t let me just coast. It’s tough being on the other side of that sometimes, as I am usually the one with the big ideas, saying lets do it harder, but we all fall into comfortable regimens, so thank god for the Allison’s who will say things like: “Bitch please.”
I have a few friends racing the BAA 10K tomorrow and I wish them all the luck in the world.
I’ll let you all know how I do. Cross your legs, I mean your fingers, for me. 😉