Nervousness has always been a big part of how I feel prior to a race regardless of size, venue, discipline, competition, etc. This weekend was even worse as I had not participated in a race in 8 months, 8 months! Now, to me, nerves are not a bad thing. It means I am focused on what I am about to do and am ready to move it, to test myself. This race (the Just Move It 5k in A. Heights) was a little different though as I didn’t have ANY expectations since I took 5 of the last 8 months completely off of training. You’d think that would take some of the nerves out of the equation, but no. Ask my friend Ben Lin, he warmed up with me and kept asking why I looked so nervous…which made me even more nervous! Thanks Ben! 😉
When the gun went off, I chilled out and just focused on the goal of pacing it well, not by time, but by perceived effort. We all feel good the first mile so I knew to stay controlled. However, I was scared when I saw my mile split, too fast!, especially since I couldn’t get to that pace during my few speed workouts this month. The next mile I backed off a little more yet it started to hurt anyway. My head played games with me after seeing my 2 mile split. I was upset because it was 17 seconds slower than my first, yet relieved as I knew I still had more in the tank. I tried to pick up the pace again and oh did it hurt! At the 2.5 mile mark or so, my legs were actually feeling pretty good, but all I wanted to do was throw up. Mental toughness played a critical role here, when my voices really started going off. I’d hear, ‘this is great, I’m racing again and I’m fortunate my body will allow me to do this,’ to, ‘this really hurts and I just want to throw up and walk.’ Luckily, I decided to suck it up and see what I could do. And that is the best feeling when crossing a finish line, to know you put it on the line even when you have to fight it tooth and nail. I didn’t give up. Whew!
It’s not often I am content with my race results (for a plethora of reasons), but I am with this one. I was happily surprised not just with my time, but how I handled my nerves, the banter in my head, and my race strategy. This makes me even a bigger believer in 1) the theory that workouts aren’t about the mileage, they are about the quality 2)nutrition, and 3)rest & recovery, as I have worked even harder at all three this year.
Racing is funny sometimes; while doing so, sometimes I wonder why the heck am I putting myself through this. Once in a while, upon finishing, I swear I’ll never do that race or that distance again. In the end, I always find myself daydreaming about how I can do better and that’s what keeps me motivated.
Now get out there and just move it!