Post-race is a daze

IMG_2539.JPG

It’s been a few days since the meet, and my outlook is deteriorating. Lauren Paquette is another runner training in Mammoth. I see her on the trip back, and she mentions how says she thinks of post-race emotions as a series of stages, akin to the stages of grief. At first, I’m done — physically spent and sheepish. Then, I’m reassured by Jerry and focused on the positive progress and on Shelby’s breakthrough, maybe denying the sadness of my result. Over the next few hours and days, I move to disbelieve, embarrassment, anger, and the slightest bit of doubt.  

The questions start coming: Am I cut out for this program? Will I thrive under this system eventually, like other people have? What happens if I don’t? I try not to linger too long, but the thoughts do arise. I joined last October, it’s now been seven months, and my results at this point are subpar compared to last year.

I try to reframe my thoughts. Do these results fit in with my greater understanding of how development in this program will work? Yes. Shelby and Courtney both talk with me about how they felt in their first year of racing, they describe a similar, disconcerting, sense of tired legs. It’s helpful to get that first-person perspective. Though the question still lingers: when faced with a series of mediocre results, when do I continue forward with resolve, and when do I reevaluate the underlying assumptions?

I know I’m supposed to be all-in, but my theory of training is that the best results come when you can honestly reflect on what’s working, and what’s not. One size does not fit all. One size doesn’t even fit one, if you take the length of their career, or changes in outside variables. You have to be able to take results (good and bad!) into account, and iterate if necessary. Wait forever and you’ve missed your shot.

But I trust my teammates and their shared experience; I believe this training is a new and needed stimulus, and that my body will respond; and I have faith in this program.  I redirect my questioning from the training to myself. Am I doing everything to support myself in my goals? If I’m going to give this my best shot, the answer has to be yes.

Photo by Al Lacey

I raced the Prefontaine Classic

IMG_2540Blah.

Pre is the premiere track meet in the US, the only Diamond League meeting on American soil. Every year, the best of the best converge on Eugene, Oregon. It’s my second year racing the 1500m at this meet. Last year I went out hard, sharing the lead momentarily. The pack overtook me, and I ended up barely beat at the line by another American, Brenda Martinez. This year, the plan was to stay in the back, let the race play out, and kick to pick up any carnage on the final lap.

In terms of process goals, I executed the first part well. I felt more aware in this race than I have in past years. In my view, I had been treating 1500s like long 800s: go out hard, and try to not die more than the other people. But that’s not how the race is best run (it’s usually more of a sit and kick situation, with a negative split between the first and second half).

But if you are playing the waiting game, there has to be a switch. On Saturday, everyone started gearing up for their move with 400m to go, and I just… didn’t. I had been keying off Shelby for the first three laps, and her race was the picture of how this plan is supposed to work: she moved up starting at 400m, and unleashed a monster kick coming down the home stretch, to win the thing.  She’s been crushing workouts, and it’s transferring to competition. This is a huge win for her.

My last 400 was slower than my other laps. The end result was a poor place, and a slower time than last year. Part of that may have been mental, when people started pulling away and I didn’t have it, maybe I let a few more seconds slide. But there was also a physical component.

After the race, all I can say to Jerry is that I felt… tired. I’m not a cheetah waiting to pounce, I’m more a cheetah at the end of a long run, who wants to get off my feet and curl up. That is not the ideal spirit animal!! He sees improvement with the way I handled the first part, and admonishes me to keep head to the grindstone. It’s all a part of the program.

Photo by How Lao

Bryan Clay Invite

IMG_2143.JPG
Our sea level block has come to an end. It was a great seven weeks of training, and we finished with a race at the Bryan Clay Invitational.

The race itself was more a test of fitness for our group: no big stadiums or awards. I ran the 1500👆🏼(with Shelby, Colleen and Courtney) and placed 3rd. ⠀ ⠀
The whole experience – race prep, mental fortitude, body perception and calm – was a million times better than my indoor races. I have to be happy with that. But I‘d be lying if I said I was thrilled with a time of 4:08.

Everyone says to be patient with a training group change, it takes time. I say that. And yet, the truth is, I’ve never fully believed it. In every past experience working with a new coach, I’ve set a personal best within the first six-ish months. I’ve always thought the advice to be patient can easily turn into an excuse to be complacent, and one has to be vigilant to keep them apart.

I am also someone who tends to rely on intuition in my decision-making. Complacency only kicks in if I know something is off and I don’t address it. In this situation everything indicates good progress. Training is going well, and my mood is high. The only outlier is a race result. ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀
So I’m adjusting my cynicism and staying patient and resolved. I trust I am not being complacent, and things will continue to progress. Is that just a rationalization to make my principles consistent with my actions? Maybe. But I believe it. And really, that’s all that matters. 👊🏼💥

Photo by Brett Guemmer

You win some, you lose some

IMG_1566.JPG

You really lose some…

I ran at @usatf indoor champs yesterday. Suffice to say it wasn’t an ideal race. I’m not reading too much into one result, but I am using it as the starting point for a weekly training update. I’ll post a progress update on my IG each week on Sundays (or Monday if it’s a holiday weekend 😊). There have been a lot of changes over the past 4 months and I don’t want to make people text me or wait for race interviews to hear how it’s going. Also, I’m learning a lot and want to share things. ⠀ ⠀

To begin… Lessons from last week:
– You can never fully control getting sick, but I could use a self-evaluation on hygiene and nutrition, to make sure I am doing everything in my power to stay healthy.
⠀ ⠀
– And this is just another reminder that adaptive planning is usually better than stubborn adherence to numbers. Whenever I hold too tightly to mileage counting it bites me in the bum. Last week even though I missed a workout, I kept up high mileage through a fever. I was trying to maintain fitness with an eye toward World Champs. But in retrospect, slogging through slow miles does nothing in the week before a major race. And it’s a pointless use of energy that could be going toward getting healthy.
⠀ ⠀
Of course I can never know if that would have made a difference. But I’m going to say this is my reminder for any future unforeseen circumstances this year… when something throws you off your plan for the week, in most situations, it’s better to re-adjust the plan. Cramming miles at the end of the week puts unneeded stress on the body that doesn’t know the difference between 67 and 70 anyway.
⠀ ⠀
And in vein of practicing gratitude, I’m grateful that I was given this lesson (again!!😑) with only a bruised ego, not injured body. ⠀ ⠀
To end on a positive note, it’s inspiring seeing @shelbo800 and @steeple_squigs crush their events at US indoors. I hate not being there yet, but it reminds me to trust the process. It’s been great getting to know them and @mariellehalll better over the past week in ABQ. Now, it’s back to Portland and sea level. 🙃

Photo by Jess Barnard