Sunday, May 25, 2014


I could complain right now.

I could show my vulnerability and emotionality and cry.

But I won't.

Not because I don't want to.

But because, sometimes, as an athlete, you need to be humbled.

You need a reminder of why you are chasing your dreams. And the dedication, trials and tears that may come along the way.

Back before Ironman Cabo, Coach Bill had told both Ryan and I that, while we have great potential in the triathlon world and will go far if we choose to, we will have very humbling experiences that we must handle with class.

Though it wasn't a triathlon, that experience for me was at the Soldier Field 10 mile.

2013 Soldier Field 10mile: Hands down, best post-high school (running) race of my life.

The week leading up to Soldier Field wasn't ideal, and looking back, we probably should have scratched the race or modified the plan accordingly...but as the saying goes, "hindsight is 20/20."

Monday I chose to sleep in. After running 17 miles with 5x1mile workout on Friday, 11 miles on Saturday, 11 miles on Sunday (split up), and traveling from ORD--MEM then driving to Jonesboro, driving from Jonesboro to Memphis and then traveling MEM--ORD, my body just wanted to sleep for an extra hour.

Unfortunately, I'm not quite sure my legs received the memo to wake up until I had my massage with Dave Davis on Thursday.

The whole week my legs just didn't feel fresh. Coach Dave (he's a pilot so knows a thing or two about traveling) and I knew that my traveling plus lack of sleep was the cause, so I selfishly went to bed at 9pm on Thursday and Friday night. I've been using my FitBit Flex (awesome birthday gift from the hubs) to monitor my sleep...and if it is even 75% accurate, I think I have a lot of work to do in the sleep department...

After our night out on Beale Street...the pink line is ironically when I normally wake up. 
My body just knows...

Sad but true. Longest night's sleep in a really long time.

Regardless, my easy morning run on Friday felt pretty good comparatively to everything else during the week, so I was confident going into Soldier Field. I saw my PT friend Earl on Friday after school to get a few strengthening exercises for my hamstring as it was sore for TWO weeks post-Palos 1/2 marathon.


The good:
-perfect pre-race meal the night before with perfect company
-perfect pre-race breakfast (banana, small Dunkin coffee, Peanut Butter & Jelly PowerBar finished by 1 hour before the race)
-decent race warmup (minus the waiting in the bathroom line part)
-hamstring never once flared up during the race (always flares up in runs over 9 miles)
-met Saucony Hurricane teammate Whitney Lazzara, who WON the whole thing!
-ran with a group of fast girls for the first four miles

The not as good:
-1 minute slower than last year
-legs "locked up" at mile 5....which is only halfway through the race
-I said "I can't"....something no one should ever say

I was pretty happy with how the beginning portion of this race unfolded. The plan was to run the first 5-6 miles at 6-minute pace and then hammer home from 7 on. Looking back at my races last year, and knowing that I am in better shape than last year, this seemed like a great plan.

 Photo credit: Wendy Shulik
National Anthem.

Mile 1--5:59. Felt perfect. Ran with the three Team New Balance girls (Kristen, Amanda and Christy) and that really helped me get into a good groove.

Smiling 'cause I get other girls to run with!!

Mile 2--5:49. Oops. Maybe I got too excited about running with other girls.

Mile 3--5:51. As much fun as it was running with a group, I knew I needed to back off a bit if I wanted to have a strong final 3 miles.

Mile 4--5:59. Christy and I lost contact with Kristen and Amanda. I knew it was best to let them go and hope for the best at mile 7.

Mile 5--5:59. There's the consistency I'm talking about...

...except that going over the turnaround I clipped my calf (I'm truly a klutz) and it was tightening up.

Mile 6--6:14. Ryan saw me right after 5 and told me after the race that I gave him "the look," meaning my facial expression told him I wasn't feeling it and that I wanted to quit (pretty accurate, actually). Two guys ran past me, and I tried to go with them and my legs wouldn't respond.

Glad my face isn't wasn't pretty...

The easiest way for me to describe how I was feeling is to compare my legs to how they feel in a triathlon: breathing-wise, I feel like I could go SO much faster, but my legs just won't go any faster. I know to expect this in a triathlon, but in a 10-mile race? This was the exact feeling I experienced at Palos three weeks ago, too. I made a mental note that this was something I needed to figure out asap with Coach Dave.

Mile 7--6:14. Really? This is when my March Madness 1/2 marathon partner, Jonathan Cain, had run up from behind and told me to go with him.

It was at this point that I uttered the words I wish I could take back,

"I can't." 

Physically, that was very true. Mentally, that probably made fighting the pain and continuing on 100x worse. Definitely one of my weakest moments and something I am not at all proud of.

Mile 8--6:13. I picked off one guy here, so that increased my confidence a little bit. But, my legs still wouldn't respond and I was just praying for dear life that no other girl would catch me.

Mile 9--6:13. Did I tell you I'm really good at being consistent? Because clearly, I am.

Mile 10--6:02. Honestly, the reality of breaking 60 had faded after mile 8. I was on pace all the way until mile 7 so was not happy that I wouldn't be breaking 60, but I was not about to let myself get passed in the final mile. I'm pretty sure I had to work harder during this mile this year than last year... and last year's race came down to a sprint finish.

 "Well, only a minute slower than last year..."
 YAY Teammate for WINNING!!! Way to represent!
 Regardless of how awful I was feeling, this moment put everything into perspective.
 Hey girl heyyyy. RockSTAR.
 Thanks for introducing us, Wendy!
2013 and 2014 Soldier Field 10mile champs. 

Mentally, this was probably the toughest race I've run in awhile. Physically, this was by far the most frustrating race I've ever run.

I just couldn't wrap my head around the fact that I was having these great workouts and mediocre races. I know a 1:00:36 is absolutely a dream for many people, and I am still happy with my time, but Coach Dave and I both know that I am in better shape than that so this is why the frustration occurred.

Luckily, talking with Coach Dave and running friend (and Team New Balance Chicago guy) Michael Lucchesi, the frustration was resolved as we figured out my issue.

Aerobically, I am super fit. I ran a 4mile recovery run at 3pm and had to slow myself down to avoid running sub-7's.

Anaerobically, I am super weak. The reason I was able to perform so well at running races last year despite training for triathlons is the fact that I was putting in anaerobic work.

Regardless of the outcome of this race, my goals are still focused and I am even hungrier now than before for that breakthrough race!

A fellow blogger had posted this quote, and I couldn't think of a more appropriate way to wrap this up:

“I also realize that winning doesn’t always mean getting first place; it means getting the best out of yourself." ~ Meb Keflezighi (2014 Boston Marathon Winner)

1 comment:

Ramon Valdez said...

The simple fact that you feel humbled and bad about your performance speaks volumes. Only someone that passionate about their sport will feel like that after bad days, otherwise you wouldn't care. Keep working hard. All good things take time, otherwise every one would be doing it.