Sunday, October 30, 2011

Winning with Mistakes

Three weeks ago, I ran the Blue Sky marathon, my first trail "marathon" and my second marathon. Blue Sky covers over 27 miles of some of my favorite local trails. Not only was it listed by Trail Runner magazine as a "must-run" trail marathon, but it is put on by the most fantastic group of people I have ever met. It is an honor to call these folks my friends.
Me getting aid from Celeste and Maddie at mile 13.

The race is small, but the safety and comfort of runners is their top concern. For me, this is the most important test of race quality. Aid stations were well-stocked with necessities and friendly faces even when supplies had to be driven on rough roads in 4-wheel drive vehicles or hiked in. The course was patrolled by park rangers as well as EMTs on mountain bikes. It was really an amazing event.

I did not come close to my goal for finishing the race. I say that heat is my kryptonite and with temperatures reaching 85 degrees and no shade after mile 11, it was not an ideal race day for me. While I would like to say that my slightly disappointing performance (slightly because, hey, I finished) was all the heat, it was not. I made some mistakes. And I am very proud of these mistakes.
Still smiling at the beginning of the second half

What?!? You ran a less-than-ideal race, didn't make your goal and you are still proud? Yep. You see, normally I am very conservative in races. From my first step, I maintain a pace that I know I can maintain no matter what. I run happy and comfortable. However, I do not push myself. I do not race.

For Blue Sky, I attempted to race. I went out hard, but not too hard. I carried only what I needed and I was focused. I did not spend a lot of time waiting for people or making friends along the way. While I did enjoy the spectacular views and have the occasional exchanges with my fellow runners, I attempted to push myself each step of the way.

By half-way, I was ahead of my goal pace. I was running strong. I had some ups and downs before then, but I felt great at the halfway point. Then I got hot. I was not able to maintain pace. I slowed and felt "bonkish". I did not completely hit the wall, but I was in pain. I slowed. My legs cramped and I found even the most gentle downhill on easy trail almost unbearable. It was a great experience, because I learned a ton.
Slusher, the masters winner, greeted me with a smile at the finish.
Major lesson... It hurts to go slow. The heat causes my heart rate to spike (I learned this last year with a heart rate monitor) and I have a hard time maintaining pace. As I slow, my stride shortens and my hamstrings and calves tighten. I will have to figure out how to deal with this in future races.

Now I have a new goal for Blue Sky next year. I know that I trained hard, and I know that I can train harder. I broke through a mental barrier and I can take that with me to the next race.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome, Mindy! You are amazing! I love how you can take what some would consider failure and turn it around into a success for future growth. I am proud to call you my friend. Love you tons and look forward to running with you soon!