Des Moines, revisited

Some time has passed since the dreadful death march that was my 10k at USA Outdoors. Wounds have (mostly) healed, body has recovered, and passion is reignited. Running so poorly on the national stage can serve as a big motivator, and here I am, on July 1, up before the sun more eager than ever to begin a new training cycle. July is a clean slate.

But before moving on, I'll briefly recap my race in Des Moines. Every race -- great or terrible or just mediocre -- holds value; if you take the time to review, analyze, learn from it, and improve upon it, it was worthwhile.

The race was hot - both in temperature (86 degrees at race time!) and in pace. Superwoman Shalane Flanagan took it out hard from the gun and everyone followed. I knew it was going to be ugly when I started to lose contact with the pack after 5 laps. 20 solo laps later, I crossed the line (oof). 3 cups of water, 2 pukes in a trash can, and 1 good cry later, I was glad to close the chapter on this race.

Photo credit Oiselle
Reflecting back, what could I have done better? Prepare. I wasn't in 33:00 shape coming into the race, for a variety of reasons. I'd accepted that and was ready to do what I could with the tools in the toolbox, but there's no replacement for the strength that comes from months of uninterrupted, consistent training, and that was evident. Next time around, I'll have the workouts under my belt to allow myself a shot at a top 10 finish. Good thing is, I know what I need to do to be better prepared. I've been prepared before and I'll be prepared again. Add to that some Vitamin D and iron and I'll be ready!

With a finishing time of 36:30, one might say that I didn't do anything well in that race. But I'm choosing to find some positives. What can I be proud of? That I came to the starting line confident, even when I had reasons to doubt my readiness. I got my head in a good place and at least gave myself the chance to run well. Things obviously didn't go my way, but it wasn't for lack of a positive attitude. So much of running is mental, so this is a big step forward for me.

I'm also happy that I finished. It took every ounce of mental fortitude to finish that race and not drop out; as Shalane lapped me for the 3rd time (yep, 3, not a typo), as my pace slowed to slower than tempo pace, as my body shivered in chills despite the heat, I slowly rounded the track all 25 times. Next time I find myself in a tough spot in a race, I will think back to USA's and say, "Ah, this ain't that bad - nothing compared to Des Moines!" and be able to gut it through.

While I may have run a disappointing race, others performed inspiring feats. There's nothing quite like competing at a US Championship to leave you inspired and hungry for more. I'm particularly inspired by Shannon Rowbury's valiant last 100 meters in the 5k. After failing to make the World Championships team in the 1500 the day before, Shannon came back in the 5k and reeled in the field in the last 400, punching her ticket to Moscow down the home strech. It was truly inspiring to watch!

Photo credit
So I head out for my run this morning motivated and hungry -- for the speed and strength of the Kaitlin of 2012, for PRs and podium finishes and so much more. Summer morning runs give way to big dreams, and the months ahead hold endless possibilities...

Letting the sun set on Des Moines, closing this chapter and looking ahead to the next one! A new season awaits!