Not my day

mini bibsNo one wants to talk (or write) about a bad race, least of all me. In fact, I’ve been trying hard to put my dismal performance at Saturday’s Indy Mini out of my mind ever since I crossed the finish line. Alas, something in my psyche just won’t let me bury it until I ‘fess up. It plagued me in my dreams, and I woke up this morning turning over opening lines for this post in my head.

So here’s the deal. For the second year in a row, I fell apart. It wasn’t my body that let me down this year. The weather was nearly perfect, I stayed reasonably fueled up along the course, and I was more faithful to this year’s training regimen. No, it wasn’t my body; it was my head.

Somewhere along the course, doubt began to seep through the folds of my gray matter. You still have a long way to go. You don’t really want to be doing this, do you? Why did you come out here? You’re going to need to stop soon. I tried to ignore the voices. I turned up my iPod. I even silently screamed back at them. Shut up! I’ve done this before! I’ve got this! I don’t have that much more to go!

I couldn’t fight the voices. 8.5 miles into the course, I took a break. I geared down to a walk, but I told myself I’d just regroup and then finish strong. I refueled with water and Gatorade, and a half mile later, I took off. Two miles after that, the voices had me walking again. I followed that start-stop routine to the finish, though thankfully I was able to gut out Victory Mile at my usual pace. The thought of walking past the throngs of people waving the runners to the finish line was apparently enough to drown out the jeering in my head.

I finished, but I didn’t accomplish a single one of my goals for the year. I’m embarrassed by my performance. Yeah, I know that a lot of people would have been happy to finish at 2:03, but I know I’m capable of more: I finished my first Mini at 1:44.  This year’s performance clearly wasn’t my best effort, and that’s how we should be grading ourselves, right? It doesn’t matter what someone else does; I have to compare me to me.

This year’s top female finisher ran the course in 1:12. I know I’ll never accomplish that, and I don’t feel bad about it. The last place finisher crossed the finish line in 4:29. In my current physical condition, that won’t be me, either. If, then, first and last don’t matter, then neither does any position in between. That means that the only real measuring stick of my success is whether I performed to the best of my ability.

Now I have to begin the process of figuring out why I didn’t. I have to find the right switch in my brain and flip it from What are you thinking?! to Heck, yes, you can do this! And I will. It may take awhile, but I will.

So here are the lessons I learned THIS year:

  1. Like most things, a huge part of running is mental. My psychological game plan is just as important as my physical one.
  2. I am my own measuring stick.
  3. I shouldn’t have to relearn lessons I learned last year. Even so, I only just now–well after the race–revisited them. (You can, too: Click Redefining success and Victory.)

Nope, Saturday wasn’t my day. But today is still up for grabs, and I’m going to make it mine.

P.S. My son also ran on Saturday, and he had a great race. My momma-pride helps take away some of the sting. Way to go, Jake Davis!

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9 thoughts on “Not my day

  1. Aw, Tammy! I’m so sorry to hear that you didn’t have the race you wanted, but I’m so glad that you decided to share what you learned from the day with all of us! “Being your own measuring stick” is something that I know I have to work on, for sure. Meanwhile, here’s a tune to help you make today your own: http://youtu.be/_r2CwihdLkc

  2. Shelby Fleck says:

    Good for you! Not just running the race, but talking about the disappointment. One of my favorite sisters (of the Dominican variety) gave me a good tip – Name it, claim it, tame it. My inner voice always “names” the negative, but I seldom “claim” it…which ultimately helps “tame it”. Maybe that wisdom will help with racing too.

  3. Hi, Tammy. If you run long enough (meaning both years and miles), you’ll hit some bumps in the road. I remember being mid-race and having some of those same negative thoughts. It might be worth considering running with someone next year. I generally prefer running on my own, but these things tend to snowball if you don’t find a different way to go about it. If you and someone who runs a similar pace go at it together, you can have another voice speaking to you that can combat the ones in your head. Then you tackle one again on your own. Good luck!

    • Thanks for the wise words, Anthony. I definitely need to do something different, and a running partner just might be the answer. It’s harder to quit with someone beside you!

      (And I’d run with my son, but he’s too fast.)

  4. But maybe you did perform to the best of your ability at that time, with those voices nagging at you. Your best isn’t your overall best, it is your best within that moment. You didn’t give in to the nagging voices, you triumphed.
    Not words from a runner, my no, just a different perspective.

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