I like a bit of drama. Why else would I put the “F” word so declaratively in my title?
One of my favorite blogger buds, Bobbi, over at Fail, Laugh, Learn, and I are constantly discussing the idea of failure and how as a culture we’ve collectively decided it’s one of our biggest fears. In the past year or so I like to think we’ve cultivated this informal but sincere and rebellious pact to fail as much as possible. The idea being that if we are leaning into failing, unafraid, then we are leaning into life, and living it to the fullest extent that we can. If I’m failing a lot, it’s a good indication that I’m trying to do hard things. That’s a great feeling for me, it’s how I want to live my life. It means that when I set out to reach a goal, as long as I do the work, I’m gonna achieve something at the end, no matter the objective outcome.
Funnily enough, I don’t actually know if I did or didn’t make my goal for yesterday’s women’s Mini 10k in Central Park. I guess my “”A goal, as I told you guys here, was to finish in 55:25, which would give me an 8:55/mile pace. My “B” goal (which emerged as I was running yesterday) was just to average under a 9 minute mile. Officially, my time on the NYRR site is 56:04, with a pace of 9:02/mile. I made my hubs pull it up for me just seconds after I crossed the finish line. I was bummed cause I really thought I had it. Mostly because these were my Garmin Stats:
I forgot to switch off the auto pause on my watch so it did pause VERY briefly when I walked slowly to chug some gatorade at one of the fueling stations. So that almost 5 seconds off the time seems right to me. What I’m not sure how to judge now is the distance. I took my time off of the site and declared to myself I had failed. Later on that day though, following a hashtag from the race, I noticed how many women had posted their watch stats as well. Every single one of them indicated that we had ran a minimum of .12 and up to .19 more than a 10k. More than 1/10 and almost 2/10 of a mile longer!
With that taken into consideration, it looks like I may have in fact reached my goal if we had actually run exactly 6.2 miles. That being said, I am aware that this happens in almost every event, and it’s almost impossible for them to ensure that everyone runs that exact distance. (I’ve just never had it this far off before!)
The conditions of the race were definitely not easy. I pride myself on loving the warm weather and thriving in it, but I have to admit that the 76 degree temp and very sunny skies at the start had a significant impact. For me, it’s not so much about “feeling” hot. I’m probably the most efficient sweater that I know so I cool down pretty quickly. The only issue with that is that I also tend to lose electrolytes at a rapid pace (as evidenced by the white crust all over my skin at the end of most runs.) I normally use salt tabs at each mile to balance this out, but while waiting in my corral for the race to start I realized that I had forgotten them. This is one of the first times I’ve run in the heat without them in about a year and I could definitely feel a difference. I felt fatigued and dehydrated in a way that I couldn’t seem to conquer. I chugged more water to try and compensate which left my stomach feeling bloated and eventually brought on a good deal of nausea.
I also could have probably used a good deal more hill work than I put in. I’ve run in Central Park a million times. I know there’s plenty of elevation. I just decided that 10k was not that far of a distance and I would be fine. It wasn’t until I got on the course yesterday that I remembered what makes it so tough. The hills are long and they are frequent. I reckon starting my hill repeat workouts 2 months ago instead of 3 weeks ago would have been pretty beneficial. The fact that so many of my fellow runners made it their strategy to walk them made the hills also very challenging mentally.
Speaking of my mental health–it had it’s ups and downs throughout the 6.32 miles. I started out in a really serene place. My hubs came with me and wore his hat that says “Go Cat!”, so I felt super loved and supported. I also felt emotional—in a good way–since the Women’s Mini 10k was the very first race I had ever run in NYC 8 years ago. That first mile or two I glided steadily down Central Park West and tried to energetically send love out to all of the women who may have been running a 10k for the very first time. After that though, I allowed my discomfort on the outside to really start to mess with my peace on the inside. I lost control of my breathing and was doing most of it in and out through my mouth, which not only dehydrates me, but also almost always elicits my fight or flight response. All I wanted was to not be where I was. I was squirming around like a 2 year old trying to free themselves of their mother’s grip at church. I just wanted out.
This state made each mile feel a lot longer and harder than it had to be. I’m finding that these shorter distances are almost more challenging for me mentally than the half and the full marathon. With longer distances I get to settle in and log a lot of miles at a more comfortable pace where I can easily control my breath. I’ve got plenty of time to progress and build and find synchronicity between my mind and my body. With the 5 and 10k, I haven’t got time to ease into anything. I think at this point, my mind just doesn’t yet believe that my body can sustain the pace I’m trying for. I think what it’s going to take to get it there is just more running and more racing. Evidence of this is the last quarter mile of this race. In all honesty, the whole final 1.32 miles felt awful, I didn’t think I was gonna make it. (In fact in an attempt to encourage one woman who was walking I said, “You’re gonna make it! I’m not sure I am going to, but I KNOW you are!”) I thought I might have to walk through the finish line, that’s how diminished I felt. But in that last quarter mile, something I still don’t know how to access consistently, kicked in. I gave it everything I had. I eyed this girl whose selfie taking had annoyed me the whole race, and I decided to beat her. I ran hard, almost violently. At the pique of this last stride I glanced at my watch and saw 7:30. Although I wanted to collapse across the finish line, I didn’t–and my first thought was–I wonder if I could have flown like that for the last half mile instead of the last quarter mile. Never satisfied. That’s the athlete I know and mostly love.
Not officially getting my time is fine by me. It leaves a little chip on my shoulder. I’m that much hungrier to meet and even exceed my goal the next time. In fact I got online this morning and signed up for another 10k in October. Same course. Cooler temps. Plenty of time to improve. Hill repeats, I’m coming for ya!
Thanks to all of you for your support in this little endeavor. It’s great to know that whether I meet my goals or not, I’ve got a wonderful community that just like me, looks at “failure” a little bit differently than the rest of the world.
Oh yeah, may have forgotten to mention one of the highlights of yesterday’s race (see pic #3). I got to meet a certain Superwoman…miss Boston 2018 herself!