10 mile recap – Raw, Negative Emotion – Beware

I won’t make you scroll through an entire long post to find out how today went – I finished 2nd in 1:04.xx (my watch was 1:03:57) at Stillwater’s Log Run today. My goal  was sub 60.

So at least I’ve warned you that you’ll likely waste the next few minutes of life listening to my rambling self. And yes, I realize that I’m just feeling sorry for myself, being negative, etc. But you’ve been warned!

But, I also have to show that for all the positivity I possess, practice, and preach, there are moments like this where I break down and question things.

I was really, really excited coming into this race. It’s that kind of confidence you get when you just sort of “know” you have something. Even during the warm up, I found myself smiling. I had this, and couldn’t wait to set at new PR!

I ran my planned 5:55s through mile 3 or 3.5.  Then I could feel my quads beginning to fire oddly. I’ve had this feeling before (I’ve been around the block a couple of times) in training. It’s that “not good” fatigue level, and in races it’s either the “you’ve gone out too fast” or “your body is not handling the heat well”. Could have been any of those things, really.

Too fast?  I did move to the front of the race (overall) from early on. Dumb racing, perhaps, you’re thinking? I’ve thought about that, but don’t believe that was the case. I ran exactly my planned pace. Was the plan too aggressive? I really don’t think so. I 100% believe that there is a sub 60 min 10 mile in me, the same way that a 2:42 is in me. Perhaps I’m irrational in believing that? (thinking out loud)

I am not a donkey.

Fatigue?  The legs actually felt better on the warm up than they have the rest of the week. I have been running tired since vacation, and think training in the heat and humidity did put me under. But I also know that the last two weeks (1 week of vacation, 1 week post-vacation) haven’t been great in terms of quality, and volume has been lower. I would have thought that would have led to fairly fresh legs today?

Weather?  Perhaps? I do exponentially poorer than most in heat and humidity. I wonder if training early this week put me under a bit? I did notice I was 2 lbs down mid-week, which I’m assuming was hydration related. So there might have been some of that going on, perhaps not enough electrolytes either.  Plus, something I really, really need to figure out: I get somewhat dizzy during races. I think it’s predominantly when it’s hot, but I also want to switch up my pre-workout and pre-race fueling routine based on recommendations from several other elite runners and a lot of research on my own. I am going to start using Generation UCAN before and after every run, and am really excited to see if that will help. I didn’t take it before this race because I wanted to experiment more extensively with it and be more comfortable with it during a race (I am too dependent on gels!). More later! 🙂

What else? I’m not sure what else could have caused me to feel so crummy, other than the potential for doing too much or not training right.

Doing too much?  Obviously, this is a big risk for me. I love to beat myself into the ground, and am much happier doing that than, well, not. Like I said, though, my mileage the last two weeks hasn’t been very high, and really hasn’t been for the first part of this cycle. This week was planned at 91 with a day off, and I actually think I’ll be in the 80s because I cut one run short because of the heat and I skipped the cool down (gasp!) today.  If I take tomorrow off as well, that would mean I’d just hit 70 for the week. That’s the lowest in a pretty long time – so you would have thought the legs would have turned around. But whatever “the number is”, it could very well be too much (50 could be too much! I know there’s no magic “number – it’s just what helps make you fastest) – or too much other stuff (strength, yoga, massage…)? I’ve only been doing strength once a week (I gain muscle very, very quickly), yoga once. I did get a massage Thursday before the race, I was in the area and it was convenient (it was a trial massage, actually the BEST I have ever had, perhaps another post). In hindsight, I should have known better. Duh.

Caring too much (there is such a thing.)? Too much of any other thing?

Not training right? I really don’t think so. I’ve put in a great speed block and I know that’s what I needed. Perhaps the only thing I’d change is taking out some of the doubles, exchanging for more medium-length runs?  Taking out some of the “junk” miles?  But typically they’ve treated (and rewarded me) very well.

Missing the taper?  Perhaps there is something here. Sometimes  I feel like I hit the taper into the week AFTER the taper (mid-week after the focus race). But, on the other hand, Jerry and I experimented with the Fargo taper, holding my mileage higher for longer and then had a more severe short taper, and I felt like that worked much better. So, who knows. Could there be such a thing as needing a more elongated mid-cycle taper and needing a short steep taper for a focus race? I’ll have to think about this one.

I’d be lying if I said during the race when I was struggling to jog 6:45s (say what?) that I was my positive, focused self. I allowed myself to question my running and racing ability. Have I lost it? Perhaps I wasn’t meant to make it back to 2016. All of this effort, focus on the little things – and for what? Am I kidding myself thinking I have more potential than this?

I shouldn’t allow one crappy race to question my ability, potential, or my overall journey. Deep down I FULLY BELIEVE there is a lot more in me. I know I am not the most talented runner out there, but if there are a few things I am one of the best at, it is attaching myself to a goal, believing in it with 100% of my being, and being smarter about the process than others. It is out-working, out-smarting, and just simply being the best at the entire picture that has rewarded me.  With that, I stubbornly refuse to believe that either I’ve reached my potential OR that repeating at the ’16 Trials isn’t within my reach.

I apologize for all the raw emotion and negativity this post entails – probably shouldn’t publish, even. But, it’s also important for me to capture the entire process here and not present something that’s fake, pretending like the entire journey is filled with fluffy puppies and rainbows.

And, to end this in a positive note: my athletes COMPLETELY rocked out this weekend. As bummed as I was after my race, I received notes from both A and S (and was with 2 of my others at Stillwater) which totally made my day.  A rocked the world and ran a 50 second PR to finish in the 17:20s. Holy, wow, that makes me so excited (and makes me so proud to have helped her get there in not that long of a time span!), and S battled heat and humidity to run just 3 seconds away from sub 20 (equally impressive, since she’s in the same marathon block as I am – so I can only imagine if I wasn’t beating her up with consistent mileage where she would be!).  Must also mention that I think that’s a big outdoor 5k PR for her – 30 seconds from when we started working together not too long ago. C also ran her sub 21, also crushing her PR by 45 or so seconds to get there (21:0x to 20:2x).  R and K ran the 10mile and 5k with me, respectively, and are in fabulous places for just starting their plan – makes me excited to tap their potential. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me! Love, love working with/alongside this small group!!

If you’ve made it through this entirely too-long post, thanks for listening. I’m a little better now 🙂 I’ll converse with Jerry, devise a plan, and be back with my typical Nichole smile and my irrational goal chasing, by even late tonight :).  Because I KNOW it’s there. I’m not doing anything different from my athletes, there isn’t anything that I think I’m not doing correctly. Bad races happen.

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  1. Thank you for being honest. I appreciate hearing about the good AND bad days. It shows that even elite runners (ie you) have struggles that we all can relate to. No matter what your goal, if you don't dream big, why dream? I KNOW 2016 is in your books and if it takes some bitching on the blog to get there then write it on out sister! Congrats to all your athletes! Aaaaaand Vizsla puppies are SO CUTE!

  2. I had a very similar experience at that race many years ago, so I know a bit of how you feel. Yesterday was a funny weather day, the dewpoint was a lot lower than it had been but it was still above 60 which is pretty humid. But the drop from tropical 70+ dewpoints made it easy to think it was much drier than it was.

    On missing the taper, one thing you might find helpful as a high mileage runner is the 2 week out taper. Thinking in percentages of peak weekly mileage you might approach a taper like this
    100, 60-80, 80-90 with the race at the end of the third week. The idea is that if you're used to 100+ miles a week then the sudden drop can make the legs feel funky being out of routine. Get the freshness a week out, and then pick things up again (tho' obviously not too intense if it's a key race).

    It feels counter-intuitive, but it's a surprisingly common thing for people who thrive on mileage to need to do.

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