Saturday I competed in the, Best Damn Race – Safety Harbor, completing the Double Challenge consisting of a 10k run followed by a 5k distance. I came across both finish lines feeling two different sets of emotions, pissed and elated. Since then, I would say the “pissed” emotion changed to a “motivated…get serious…” one but I’m not satisfied. Here I’ll share my experience from a fantastic race morning with team and friends.
I have competed in this run race more than any other since beginning this run and multi-sport adventure in 2014. I have fantastic memories of this race. My 5k personal record was there and it’s in my back yard, so it is special to me. In addition, it’s one of the best organized races in the country I’ve participated in.
I set out to compete in the challenge like I did two weeks ago at, Ronnie’s Run, to improve my ability to race a 10k followed by a 5k on tired legs. This matches what I will be competing in at my biggest race of the year, the USAT Duathlon National Championships, at the end of April. The race day simulation to fight was also a focus area for me.
The morning of the race I set my pace goals for each race and had a pretty edgy feel going on as I knew from training, my goal pace was possibly unrealistic from what I had been putting out in practice. When the horn sounded, I took off and at the end of mile one I was running a good pace, slightly slower than my first mile goal pace, but more importantly I worked to get that pace more than I was hoping. At 1.5 miles into the 6.2 mile course I knew I was in trouble. I was working really hard at the pace I was running. At that point I knew my goal pace was in major jeopardy.
I started my typical mantra of, “fight, give yourself a chance” earlier than most races. Going into mile three I knew the goal pace was most likely not going to happen and I narrowed my perspective to not giving up the fight. I was not going to pull back on my effort one bit not having my ‘A’ physical game together on this day. So I continued on keeping up that mantra as my pace stuck, but still off my goal. With 1.5 miles remaining we made our final u-turn to head back to the finish line. I immediately saw a competitor about 20 yards behind that had closed the gap from about 50 yards around 2.5 miles into the race.
That was just what I needed as I had an additional goal to add to the ‘fight.’ I wasn’t going to let the gentleman catch me. I picked up the pace going up our final hill and then just kept the pace rolling. I looked back briefly with about a quarter mile remaining to see if he was anywhere near and I didn’t see anyone. One goal down as I continued to press through the finish satisfying my goal of fighting the entire way and I did. I failed on my pace and as I passed through the finish line I was pissed! It was like a punch in the gut…a failure to progress through training as I hoped.
I went back to my truck to change into dry clothes and refuel before the 5k. The pissed feel I thought would help me in the 5k. I warmed up and felt like I thought I would feel at the start line. Somewhat refreshed with fuel and legs feeling a bit worn but ready to go.
My only adjustment to plan for this race was to start a bit slower in mile one than my original plan…experimenting a bit. The first mile felt better than expected. I immediately felt like I was in my second run of a duathlon feel coming off the bike…worn but in a good rhythm feeling I could potentially sustain the pace for 3.1 miles. That feel in a run race challenge usually goes away after mile one where true hell sets in. True hell didn’t set in at any point in mile two but my pace slid just a bit to where I was two seconds total off my overall time goal for the race. That was motivating but in mile three I continued my slight slide in pace but was also working harder so I knew I was in trouble but I really kept that mantra going.
At the u-turn this time we had just under 3/4 of a mile remaining and my pace was at a point I didn’t think I could make up to hit my big goal, but my secondary goal was still in reach. I kept battling as I took the right turn with about .1 miles left. I saw the clock and was pleasantly surprised. My big goal was within reach and I had one kick in me left on this day. I went into a full out sprint and crossed the line three seconds faster than my big goal time which was a PR for a second 5k run (19:57). I crossed the line this time in total jubilation! It was more of a, “F*ck Yeah!” that went through my head and out my mouth…
It has been a bit of work for me reconciling the two races. I really gave myself a C- for my 10k race, an A for my 5k, and two A’s for my mental game. For the mental game aspect of it, I’m extremely happy as on some days you just don’t have your ‘A’ physical game and this was one of those days. And it wasn’t really about the physical game on this day that was the biggest of the route causes. It was my training leading up to this day that set me up for not hitting my big target. There are a few variables in there I know about and I’m addressing. I’m a long way away from being ready for Nationals but I’m in control of making myself ready.
After the 5k it was great catching up with friends and team, hearing their stories about the races. We celebrated so many great efforts. I pulled out winning my Age Group in both races and finished 2nd Overall in the Double Challenge. Great competition at this race and again, no wonder as the Best Damn Race is one of the best damn organized events around.
Back to work and I can’t wait to train with team to get us FASTER!
– Add Health to Your Life