No, I didn't forget about you or this race update! I just have dreams & ambitions to do things that my schedule doesn't really allow for, but I try to make them happen anyway. Life is usually a struggle in one way or another and its often what we do with those struggles that count. So finally here I go......
It helps that a friend saw me on Tuesday morning and was like WELL?!?!? What happened?!?! You never told us. Ok...ok, I'll get to it. Part of me just wants to put my head in the sand anyway and be all ignorance is bliss, but sometimes it's not. So fine, I'll deal with it and talk it out.
For those that are on my social media, I did post a post race picture and only mentioned how disappointed I was. Now keep in mind, I am my own worst critic. I set the bar really high for myself. I push myself more than anyone else. We could theorize about the why behind that, but maybe I'll save that for a session with my therapist. I´d rather just assume that is the way I am wired. Move, move, move. Push, push, push. Go, go, go. Do, do, do. Yes, that can be a fault at times, but mostly it serves me well.
Keep in mind that my goals and expectations may not be what anyone else thinks is normal. While I'm far from any professional athlete, it's fair to say I'm not your average mid 40 year old mom either. So please allow me to just talk about this race and keep the perspective that this is normal for ME!! Maybe crazy as well, but hey, I'm good with crazy!
The Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon is a favorite race of mine. I went back and did some personal history look up and here is what I found. I first did this race in 2011 & have ran it 6 times, now 7. This is where I ran my half marathon PR (1:37.34) back in 2014 and I was the masters (over age 40) champion in 2018 (1:39:37). Interestingly the next year in 2019 I ran a minute faster and was not the masters champion. It always comes down to who is there that day & how they run. Sometimes it's enough to snag that top place, other times not.
Despite what people think I almost always never win a race. Well, I mean I have won races. Lots of them. I have a basement full of dusty, cobweb filled trophies to show for it. Those races though are local hometown type of races. Maybe 50-100 runners. Small in a world full of big races. I'm not diminishing what I've accomplished. A win is a win & I've won plenty of races. But you take this little fish and put her in a big sea and yeah, I'm not winning too many of those races. I have also been able to snag many age group awards. Those typically are either 1, 2 or 3rd place compared to other people in my age group. I have even placed in my age group in a slightly bigger marathon (the Illinois & Quad City marathon.) I have plenty to be proud of and while I dont expect a trophy every time I have won A LOT of them!
I wasn't sure how my body was going to hold up on race day. I've done a lot of training runs in preparation for my marathon so this should've been easy peasy. However my body is stuck in this icky phase with a lot of inflammation going on. Some days it's almost like my body has never been a runner and it is very frustrating. I made sure I got a lot of sleep and took care of my body to get ready for this race. When I headed to warm up I was feeling good. Not amazing, but fairly good, Now days I will take what I can get! Temps were on the cool side and there was this never ending wind that I've dealt with for the last few months of training, Overall slightly cooler than I would prefer, but not horrible.
Once the race started I settled in to a pace. Nothing slow, but nothing fast either. I'm notorious for going out too fast, which I can survive on a 5k, but not for a longer race. I was right behind the 1:45 pace group, but that was ideally a little on the slow side that I had hoped for so I worked for a few miles to get ahead of that group. Ideally I wanted to be around 1:40. Faster would be even better, it even crossed my mind that if I could have an awesome run and pull off a masters win then that would be total cake!! But knowing how my body has been I also knew that would be a stretch, I felt good and solid those early miles and saw several sub 8:00 miles on my Garmin. My knee started hurting at mile 6, an on/off side issue I've been having, but was manageable. The later half of this race has some hills, nothing massive, but certainly noticeable and would make my pace dip down and I'd have to work to get my pace back on track.
The last few miles I had to dig deep to keep on pace and not fall back too much. The 1:45 pace group passed me back up, but was just ahead of me the rest of the race. That did not help my confidence, but I focused on myself and just pushed to finish strong. When I crossed the line I had a time of 1:45.13. Not horrible, but not where I wanted to be either. At the moment I was just happy to have finished!
I walked around a little, hoping to see some friends finish, Tightness was setting in, the wind picked up and even though I tried to eat my stomach was just not having it. I was sent a link with the results and looked that up. I felt completely deflated when I saw that I didn't even place in my age group. I'll be honest that hit me harder than I wanted it to. I know that is not the end all measurement of success, but I suddenly didn't care about hanging around anymore. I just wanted to be back in my hotel room recovering in a hot tub & away from the race. I felt like a failure.
One of the hardest things for me right now is that after years of dedicating myself to running, which came oh so naturally and thriving so much, my body has hit a big road block. Yes, I am getting older, that is a big factor, but I've also done a lot to be proactive to stay healthy and strong. Those 2 elements are necessary to keep running as I age. But no matter what I do my body is still just fighting me. I tend to be a very black and white person in this area. You do A, you get B. I want answers as to why this is happening and there is no solid answer.
My big takeaway is that I CAN still run and this race, although not as fast as I'd prefer, was still a solid run needed to get me to my big marathon in 2 weeks. This may all be a struggle, but I'm going to keep on smiling and I will not quit!! That is a win-win no matter what.