If you read my recap of my most recent half marathon, you might remember I said something about trying to not look at my watch during my races. Basically, I have it there for insurance and so I can look at my data afterwards, but during the race I’m there in the moment and not worrying about mile splits. I’ve been working a lot on my focus during races and figuring out how to turn negative thoughts into positive affirmations.
None of this was purposeful. I’ve been listening to podcasts during my treadmill runs and I’ve found a few really useful bits of info that have stuck with me for some reason. One podcast in particular that I loved was this one from Runner’s Connect: How to Make Sure You Condition Your Mind the Way You Condition Your Body. It’s definitely worth a listen. Another piece of advice that I heard recently was to seek pleasure, not pain, with your training (I think this was from another Runner’s Connect podcast but I can’t remember which one). I like to run (obviously) and I love to race, so I’ve been listening to my body and trying not to put too much pressure on myself to hit a certain number of miles per week.
Back to race day… I started my warm up with my teammates but had to turn around early to make it back for the kids race (which we thought was a half mile but ended up being a full mile). Emmaline did great- she ran the whole way and was so happy when people on the streets cheered for her. By the time her race finished we only had 15 minutes until the 5k, so I dashed into the McDonalds to take off my warm up clothes and use the restroom. Then when I got back out, Emma had to go to the bathroom, and by the time we were finished it was 9:55… and my race was set to go off at 10 am. I looked off into the distance and saw everyone lined up, so I booked it there and made it with a minute to spare.
The race started and I was feeling pretty good, just trying to stay relaxed and run tangents as best as possible. Then as we approached the first mile, I saw the clock and it read 6:19 and my watch beeped a second later. I didn’t bother to look at my watch since because I thought the clock was accurate, I just figured I must have misjudged my effort. So I picked up the pace and immediately felt terrible- in my head I was reasoning that I must not be recovered from that half marathon last weekend. I tried to maintain my pace and just kept talking myself through the discomfort. My watch beeped as we crossed the 2 mile marker (and that clock wasn’t working) and I figured I’d rather not know my splits anyway so I just rode the pain train home in the last mile. Imagine my surprise when I saw the finish line, and then the finish clock just turning to 17:00. I was expecting to see 19:00 based upon my first split, so that was a complete shock.
Afterwards, I looked at my splits on Strava– that first mile which I thought was a 6:19 was actually a 5:35 (seriously?!) and then I somehow managed to run almost completely even splits for the next two miles (5:36 and 5:36) with a final time of 17:20.
So, I guess the takeaway from this race is that the mental side of racing is even more of a factor than we probably think- maybe if I had seen my real splits I would have backed off. I am going to keep working on conditioning my mind, especially because I think I’ve gotten a little lazy over the years. Sometimes I fall into the pattern of thinking that I’m getting older and that a certain time is beyond my capability, but I know better now from the research I’ve read recently and the podcasts I’ve been listening to.
Also, I got a lot of compliments on my Pro Compression socks (and no, that’s not an affiliate link, I just like them… and PS they are always on sale so just do a quick google search for a discount code). Thanks for the photos, husband!