Its taken me a long time to publish this one. There has been a lot to process and rectify but I am feeling confident I am back on the right path. Below is what I wrote right after the race last year, I was going to edit it but then decided against it as it is a true reflection of how I felt at the time. I am not proud of some of the things that happened in doing what I thought had to be done to get faster, in fact it is a shame that sits quite uneasily with me.
Lessons I have learned by failing
Standing on the start line at the Gold Coast Half Marathon this week was surreal. There right in front of me were the superstars of the sport, Jess Trengrove, Sarah Hall, Cassie Fien all warming up and getting ready to take on the race that one of them would win.
Here I was lining up to try and set a new PB of 84min and watching these ladies I began to finally think that it was possible.
Running buddy Kate stopped by and wished me good luck and then there was nothing but us and the noisy silence of waiting for the start gun.
The first few kilometres of this race is always a blur. Trying to settle into a steady pace, and get a rhythm going. I slotted in a little behind Kate, found my 4min/km pace and settled in. I only had to hold this for 15km trying to keep something in the tank for the final few kilometres of the race – I felt right on track.\
That feeling continued as I headed over the 10km mark fairly well on pace and knew that the turn around wasn’t to far ahead.
Hitting the turn I started to get cramping in my abdomen. I decided a quick toilet break was worth the lost time so ducked into a portaloo. Once back in the race I felt much better and decided to ignore the watch and run to how I felt. As the km’s ticked over I came to realise that the PB was out of reach. Both the 84min pacers had passed me and I allowed myself to have my gel to sip on, thinking I could still achieve 85-86min. I was certainly enjoying the run, taking it all in.
Then at the 17km mark the cramping started again and I struggled through the last 4km to finish in 88min – way off my goal.
I tried to tell myself at the time that I was ok with this result, I had been sick leading into the race, had cramped up, hadn’t been performing well in training – I had lots of excuses – but only one real reason.
So what did I learn by failing?
You have to really want it – like really, really want it and I just didn’t. That fire in my belly had long since died. If you don’t have it what do you have to push you through the hard time in the race when it is just so easy to quit, back off, make up excuses – well you have nothing really. And you have to really want it every day, not just race day but every day you train, if you aren’t pushing yourself you just don’t get the rewards.
Not getting a PB is one thing but the guilt of knowing you never had your head in the game, never really wanted it is another thing. Makes you feel like you have wasted your time, your coaches time, your families time and is hard to come to terms with.
As well as wanting it, it has to be your focus. How many times is our coach telling us “Your focus determines your reality”. Well hears the thing, getting the PB hadn’t been my focus. But what I was focused on I had achieved.
On reflection I could see that my focus had been on getting to race weight – not running the actual race. I’m not sure what planted this idea in my head but I had put on 5kg after having a month off training after BCU.
The biggest thing I learnt was that you cant run on soup. You cant be an office worker loose 5kg in 12 weeks and not expect your performance to suffer. You cant starve yourself for three months while training and expect to feel shit hot on race day.
My whole focus for twelve weeks had been loosing what I thought was unnecessary weight and yep I achieved that goal. I now wish I had focused on the PB, maybe I would have achieved that instead.
At the time I didn’t thing I was doing anything wrong. People were saying things to me but I was just ignoring them – what did they know. I was probably not a very nice person at times during this period. On reflection I was quite unwell, physically and in my head. The obsession with counting every kilojoule that entered my body took up my every waking moment, it was my whole world. It was quite an effort to change that obsession but I’m happy to report that I have again gained those 5kg and am much healthier and a better competitor as a result.