Last fall I enrolled in a daylong bootcamp about asserting your voice, knowing your worth, and going after what you want. I've long considered myself a go-getter, a high-achiever, talented and capable and able. But in the midst of challenges or uncertainty, it can be easy to forget your worth and power. Far too quickly, you can forget, lose faith, and find yourself full of doubt, instead of brimming with the joy and confidence that comes with having worked hard. So I signed up for this bootcamp and took a day to invest in myself, revisiting my goals, rediscovering my worth, and reminding myself of my inner "boss."
It took some time for these reminders to take hold. I'd drawn great strength and confidence after my Olympic Trials-qualifying marathon debut, but in the weeks after 26.2, I struggled. Recovering and rebounding from a marathon, especially your first, is tough, and combined with the harsh New England winter, I was doubting myself and my abilities. Yet somehow, in the midst of punishing snow and endless treadmill days, I rediscovered my fitness. My workouts were better than they'd ever been, and I was running FAST! I just had to find my faith...
Before the Gate River Run/USA 15k Road Championships a few weeks ago, Coach Dena was encouraging me to have that faith. Searching for it, I spent many a run visualizing race day, working up the confidence to "race with the big girls." I've run the 15k champs a few times now and have earned plenty of Top 20-25 finishes -- I've been there, done that. But I was lacking that stellar performance, that top 10 finish. Returning to Gate River this spring, I asked myself why I was coming back, if not to go for the top 10? Why return, and why invest so much time, energy, and emotion into running if I wasn't going to "go big" on race day? It's a fair question, and Dena challenged me to answer it.
So putting my uncertainty aside, I did my best to ignore other people's credentials, erase their stats and PR's from my brain, and brush off any whispers of self-doubt. I was going to race like a boss, tackling the roads with the same strong sense of self I've had in the past. I'd go big, or dying trying, but at least I would have tried.
Try I did. The gun went off and I shot off the line, wedging my way into the lead pack like I belonged there. Credentials be damned, I thought, as I ran along the streets of Jacksonsville, sticking close the top 15. Moves were made, and I covered them. A gap started to form, and I closed it. As each mile passed, the field thinned and my confidence grew. I was in the top 10!
After 10k it started to get hard and the ladies I'd been running with, Kara Foster and Mia Behm, opened up a gap on me. The old demon of doubt reared its head briefly, and I faltered, letting them go. And then we hit the bridge, aka "The Green Monster." I ran the bridge poorly, losing ground and places, allowing too big a gap open. But I still crossed the finish line in 12th, 12 places and nearly a minute faster than 2014, and not far outside the top 10. It wasn't a perfect day - if I could run the last 5k again, I'd do some things differently - but overall, it was a breakthrough.
Dena says that it just takes one race to change everything. Your perspective, your faith in yourself, your belief that it is possible. One race to prove to yourself that you can run just as fast as you've dreamed.
Gate River didn't change everything - it wasn't the best race I've ever run. But it was my top performance at a national championship in recent years, and I've been riding a wave of confidence since then. With faith restored and belief instilled anew, I'm eager to let my inner "boss" out on the roads and on the track.
Next up, Stanford Invite 10k on Friday!