Saturday, April 26, 2008

Running and Learning

Wow, thanks for so many thoughtful responses to my race report post. It really is helpful to get the perspective of other runners and friends. That is why I love reading race reports because I learn a lot from them, even if it was something the runner wished he/she had done differently. We're all in this together!

I've had a pretty good week. I didn't end up needing much recovery, so I was able to do some sort of workout every day. That always helps my disposition :) I guess because of the wind, I wasn't able to really pound on my joints as much as in a normal race, so I didn't need to take much time off. I guess that's good and that's bad.

Okay, on to things I learned:

1) No matter how badly I would like to be a focused runner, it ain't gonna happen. That whole pace chart, watch focus, just about undid me. I feel bad that I can't get my mind around the structure of racing, but I've decided I'm like the kid that is in the complicated math class who really needs to be in the theater arts class. My brain just doesn't work with the clock. It causes me so much stress that I end up hating the running. When I run strictly by feel (with good results and bad), I am a much happier runner.

2) As Olga said, you have to have a bigger purpose in a race. Because I was going for pace, once that went out the window, I couldn't come up with a reason to keep going (other than pride). With my other races, I was running to run - the sheer challenge of it, the excitement of doing it, the mixing of energy with other people who also loved to run. That was absent from this race for me. I had left the running for the sake of running piece in El Paso and made the race a task to fulfill. Yuck.

3) I can crew for myself if I have to, but it's not nearly as much fun. I had no stomach, fluid, or electrolyte issues, so I know I managed my body well, but I missed having my family on the course. Seeing them here and there throughout a race really makes a difference in how much I enjoy it. They remind me that it is supposed to be fun - hard, but fun.

4) Winning isn't everything. I have felt better about races where I thought they might have to send a search party out to find me because I was so far behind. My attitude was so internally negative during this race that I was embarrassed to be keeping myself company. As they say, it doesn't matter if you win or lose, it's how you play the game. I played like John McEnroe (throwing tantrums and racquets) and I wish I had played like Arthur Ashe (with dignity and class). The only thing that gives me any comfort is that I directed it all inside and (hopefully) didn't show it.

5) There's always another race. This was one race. Why I got so wound up about it, I will never know. But there is another race around the corner, and then another, and another. The road (and the trail) is long. I've just got to keep running and enjoying it.

Happy running!


olga said...

What great lessons, thanks for summing them up in your experiences!

Bob Gentile said...

Lessons Learned!! Way to break it down and be better for the next one...I am so with you on that pacing thing, I get so confused when I try to factor in what my pace is ---etc.... I just need to keep it a feel thing also and just make sure my fueling is good.

KM is coming look forward to meeting you and your family, it's going to be a blast (and I am sure some other stuff as well--LOL )

Rooster said...

I love the summary and I think the biggest lesson learned might be how YOU like to run a race. I often get a lot of grief for having crew and a rather large one but for ME having my family and my closest friends helping me and believing in ME is how I like to run a race. Running ultras has to be fun or it's just too much. The races and hours are long and with the fun factor gone it can be so gruelling.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

great way to break it down and understand what happened.

Scott said...

Great reflection. It's apparent that you're such an exceptional athlete not just because of your physical skills but because of your intelligence and ability to learn from each experience. Finding faulty areas and then making adjustments is the way to improve!

Stay fit!

Bev said...

Now that sounds better. You're awesome no matter what so just get over it.

kendra ralstin said...

Your Emily Dickinson quote caught my eye from back in January. Then I realized I've visited your blog before! ;) It truly does, like everyone has said here, sound like (more than sound like) you have made lemonade from lemons retroactively. And that's the best you can do! It's neat that you've incorporated so many reflections about running and life into one list, and that you've clearly learned things from race reports and blogs like Olga's (from which so much wisdom springs). I like the "bigger purpose" idea. I think I could apply that just to every day in general. "This day needs to have a bigger purpose than just to get my work done and my run in." Oh yeah, like, just enjoy the feel of the sun for 5 minutes. Thanks for sharing, Carilyn!