Getting Back In The Game

Once in a while you have to move on from a bad week. The stress of life collides with the physical toll of training and, well….it’s not pretty.

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Friday night when it was time to leave for the one-mile race that was to have redeemed me from my misery, my husband had just driven three hours to get home and had fallen fast asleep sitting in his chair. I couldn’t bear to wake him and as if the very heavens agreed with me, the bottom fell out of the sky and it thundered and rained for an hour. There would have to be another way to get myself back on track.

About a year ago it was decided a bridge spanning a portion of my favorite long- run route would be replaced. For several months of Sundays, I crawled down the ravine to the train tracks below, crossed over to the other side and climbed back up to finish the run. All this rain made this maneuver quite messy and I was forced to find a new long-run route.

Finally, the bridge is in place and this became the sight of my half-marathon race. No one knew of my plans but I set out yesterday morning to run a race.

For the first few miles I controlled my pace deciding whether to stay at marathon pace or truly devote myself to a half marathon race with only myself as inspiration.

It was a cool, clear morning and I felt my body responding to the challenge – it felt so good to run and I let my feet go. All the doldrums from the last week vanished at last.

I crossed the finish line 5 seconds faster than the half marathon race I ran in April.

It’s hard to say why my spirits were so low last week. I read an article once of a female cyclist that went through a similar bout. As an advanced athlete, she trained with and competed against men, but was also a wife and mother of small children.

One Saturday, she had promised her husband she would finish her training ride by noon so they would have the afternoon together. Her training partners decided to take a different return route and she didn’t get home until 2pm. It sent her over the edge emotionally.

Her husband was at home on his day off from work watching the kids so she could train… and she was late.

Maybe it’s the pressure of blending training with the rest of your life that takes its toll. Or, the sheer number of weeks you maintain focus on this pending event.

When you reach the halfway point of a long run or a race and say to yourself, “I’m halfway there.” and immediately you realize “I’m only halfway there.” – it’s like an emotional stab right through your heart.

It was just past the halfway point in my race yesterday that I realized I was ready to get back to work. It was the point in which I mentally regained the desire to win.

There are nine weeks of training left. Two 4-mile runs, two 9-mile runs (one at race pace) and a 19-mile long run this week. Next week begins the peak of training with three 20-mile runs spread over five weeks’ time.

The cyclist in my story was also training for a big race. It was grueling and she described the fear and self-doubt she felt on race day. She dug deep and found herself on the podium – a winner. The only female on the podium in fact.

It is possible to go through a bad patch of the doldrums…..and still finish the race. It’s good to be back in the game.

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