Monday, September 7, 2009

A Test of Will, Not a Test of Speed

Today's race day was not given to me for a test of speed as I originally had thought when I planned to run this 15K race - it was given to me today as a test of will.

As the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) North Texas State Rep, I was headed to today's Fort Worth Runners Club (FWRC) Labor Day Run anyway because the 15K was chosen as the 2009 RRCA Texas 15K Championship so one of my duties is to go as an RRCA ambassador to the race and then present the awards the RRCA supplies for the championship. I was lucky enough to be able to go there the night before and stay in a hotel a mile from the race site - made life so much easier. Pals Paula and Sarah came along, all of us signing up for the 15K.

I wanted to run strong this morning, I wanted to reach for a PR (current is 1:50, an 11:50 pace). But just days before, I had the chiropractor's assistant break down a ton of knots I had in my upper thigh for the past two years (since Marissa was born). And I was in a ton of pain Saturday and covered in bad bruises. I talked to the chiropractor and kept doing all the right things he confirmed I had been doing - a little running to help move fluid, ice, tons of water, etc.

And after several back-to-back days of small runs, my legs were just hurting some in the places they normally feel tweaked, on top of the massively sore upper legs.

But the piece de resistance was getting 3/4 of the way to Fort Worth to suddenly realize I hadn't packed my Garmin GPS. Slight panic! There's not a run I had done in the 6 months of owning at Garmin where I hadn't had it with me - I had definitely become hooked. And I was worried my body didn't know the right pace to go because I had been doing speedwork non-stop for the last three weeks.

The morning started in the mid-70s with 88% humidity and no breeze. It was definitely going to be a hot day. I spent time before the race "mantra-ing" myself up - just see what I have today, break the crutch of the Garmin, my body knows the pace, etc.

After we start, I'm doing okay, but nervous. I have a tendency to go out fast and use the Garmin typically to make myself slow down.

The first couple miles are uneventful except for the terrain change! We move to what's either a small gravel trail or crushed decomposed granite trail - you can tell I don't run any trails. I always hear people say they prefer that to concrete or asphalt, but I'm feeling like it's about 10% of the way to running in sand - each leg pushoff is a little harder, I'm raising my legs just a little higher, that sort of thing. Plus with no pads in the balls of my feet (those disappeared back in 2005), I have problems generally with uneven terrain - I'm feeling every little pebble and it's making my feet hurt.

The aid stations along the entire 15K route have WARM water, the gatorade doesn't seem very diluted, and there are no portalets the whole way. Mile 3 was where I came up with the day's NEW mantra explained at the beginning of this post - "today's race was given to me not as a test of speed, but as a test of will." I would repeat that phrase about 50 more times on the route. Around mile 4, you can see people coming back, but, while we are running along the river, those coming back are running up the levee. And what enters my mind - somehow we have to get all the way up there!

Mile 5 I'm starting to feel pretty miserable. You're running right by everyone faster than you at this point of the partially out-and-back style course. I can tell I'm getting in a crabby mood. I'm normally quite the cheerleader during a race and will cheer on anyone I know...but today something's definitely off, and I'm thinking, "I'm tired and I am not wasting my energy on boosting up other people today! Besides would most of these people cheer for me if I didn't cheer first?" Like I said, I was just in a bad place. But not but 10 seconds later, Jill Norman passes me (and notices me first as I'm in that bad place where I'm not even looking to see if there's someone I know) and yells "Go Libby!" I smile and return a "Go Jill!" and then I'm all better. Thank you, Jill, for snapping me out of it!

At the turnaround they have iced towels. Oh man, that felt so good. It was just SUCH a hot morning. I'm now on the "back" section of this "out-and-back" portion around Mile 6, and I realize there's hardly anyone behind me! Okay, I know at an 11:30 to 12:00 pace I'm not Carl Lewis, but I know a lot of people that I'm faster than. Well, none of them came to this race. I end up 1257th place out of 1294 according to the results website (although I think they are including the 5K in that, which isn't really fair)

Mile 6 is where I started getting a little lightheaded and dizzy and had to alternate running and walking the rest of the way. There's a girl I had seen throughout the race, but in miles 5-7, we leapfrogged each other a lot. As I finished Mile 7, I decided that I wasn't going to let her beat me, and I got in front of her and every time I heard feet on gravel behind me, it got me to stop whatever walk break I was or to run a little faster. It was a good psychological game to play since I didn't have my Garmin, and it worked.

I was pretty proud of the last 1.3 where I felt like I ran a lot of it and at a decent pace. I finished with a 1:53:35, a 12:08 pace, and also 3 1/2 minutes from a PR.

I went to the awards area and presented the RRCA awards, and then we all headed home. No PRs for anyone today, but a good running day to learn a few lessons, at least for me.


  1. Hey, that was a hot day. You did a good job to finish. Way to hang in there and run your own pace.

  2. Hey, Libby. I'm thrilled to find your blog. I'll add it to my list of favorites. Congratulations on your race!

    I set a PR in the DRC Breakfast Bash 5-miler. (It was the first 5-miler I'd ever done.)