I left you last with an optimistic post as I eagerly anticipated the USA 15k Road Champs/Gate River Run. I felt prepared and ready, and more importantly excited for the opportunity to compete. I approached the race with that attitude, but the day didn't come together exactly as I'd envisioned. In running as in life, things don't always work out as you planned.
Man plans, God laughs, as the saying goes...
Knowing that this was the most competitive women's field in recent years (if not in race history!), I went in with a goal of finishing in the top 20-25; cracking the top 20 would have been excellent. I ended up 24th in a personal best of 53:32, just behind my Cleveland training partner Nicole Camp.
Usually a PR is something to celebrate, but both Nicole and I felt that our races left something to be desired. Despite finishing together, we only ran together for the first mile. I went out with the lead pack while Nicole went out more conservatively, but after 2 miles we were both in no mans land -- we settled into similar paces, but about 150 meters apart.
I ran comfortably strong for the first half of the race, but when I hit the bridge (aka huge hill!) at mile 8, everything fell apart.
I struggled miserably up the hill, losing all momentum and any hope of breaking 53:00. Nicole made up massive ground on me and passed me on the downhill. The race photos of me in the final mile tell the story of my suffering. I crossed the line feeling defeated and oh-so-relieved to be done!
Dissecting the race and looking back, I think part of my struggles stemmed from a breakdown in form. My aerobic engine and my muscular-skeletal strength don't match up, so when my heart and lungs tried to keep pushing in the final miles, my legs said no. My form fell apart, limbs flailing far from gracefully. I know that if I want to be a marathoner, I've got to identify my weaknesses and work on my functional strength to keep it together in the later miles of a race. I've got my work cut out for me!
But before I got back to work, I enjoyed some Florida sun and time with friends post-race. Race reunions are my favorite kind and it was wonderful to catch up with teammate Steph Dinius and hang out with running friends from far and wide.
While I'm not satisfied with my performance at Gate River, it isn't entirely a bad thing. I'm hungry and motivated. I know what it takes to get to the next level, and I'm close. I've got work to do, but I'm ready for it... there's no better mental state to kick off the track season than hungry and inspired! It's GO time!