Friday, May 4, 2012

Racing Anxiety

You would think after running over 50 races that I would be used to racing but I am not.  At all.  I feel like the more I race, the more pressure I put on myself.

Running the Boston Marathon in ridiculous conditions has really caused me to question my confidence in my running.  Running an 8:30 pace for 10 miles caused me to hit a wall.  That is 30 seconds per mile slower than my goal pace that I would love to run at Vermont.

My running has been great, post-Boston, but I have  pretty much thrown out my goal of PRing at Vermont.  Why?  Because I am scared of failing again and shuffling in the final 6 miles like I did less than 3 weeks ago.  And I am not alone.  Last week at the gym I saw a friend from my run club.  This year's Boston Marathon was his 30th Boston Marathon!  He ran 30 minutes slower than last year and could only shake his head when speaking of the race.  I was thankful to see that I am not alone in my frustrations with how I ran that day.

This past weekend was my daughter's big race that I promised her she could run.  The town over from us puts on an amazing 5k/10k and kids run every year.  Since I promised Bridget she could run the race, I decided I would run the 10k.  Unfortunately, I forgot about how hilly the race was when I registered.

The day of the race was incredibly fun.  I love spending time with my husband and kids at a race.  The kids race was a 2k.  Bridget was going to do it by herself and Eric was going to run with Gabbie.  Let me tell you, when the race started and I saw my girls run by, I had tears in my eyes.  My girls looked so happy to be running.  Bridget finished the 2k in around 14 minutes and Gabbie in 15:30 or so.  I was so proud of them!

Next up was my 10k.  Because my confidence had been pretty low after Boston, my anxiety for the race was at an all time high.  I hate 10k's to begin with and here I was running a difficult one less than 2 weeks after the hardest marathon I have run.  I decided to let go of any hope of PRing in the 10k and just try to run the race as hard as my body would allow.

The race started out pretty good.  My goal in my mind was to keep the pace under 7:30 for the entire race which I figured I could probably do.  Mile one was a 6:55.  Way too fast but I knew I had plenty of hills that would soon slow me down.  Mile 2 was 7:20.  This included some pretty big hills so I was happy that I was still maintaining a pretty good pace.  I hit the 5k point in 22:30 (average pace of 7:15) and I was running out of steam pretty fast.  At that point I just ran as hard as I could up every hill and tried to mentally not quit.  I crossed the finish line in 46:34 (average pace of 7:24 pace with the extra distance that I must have run).  This was 2 minutes slower than my PR but over a 3 minute PR on this course.  (My PR is on an incredibly flat course.)

Overall, I was pretty happy with this race.  Since I decided to not pressure myself to PR, I feel like I never gave up out there when I was slowing down.  Normally, I would see my pace dropping and totally give up.  I may have slowed down, but it was not due to lack of effort.  I was spent when I crossed that finish line.

And to round out that day, I decided to run home from the race.  I added on another 5.6 miles to my 7.2 that I had already run and felt like I had a good weekend of running.  Obviously, I didn't leave everything I had on the course that day or I would never have been able to run as strongly as I did after the race.  That short 5.6 mile run really boosted my confidence back up a bit.  I needed to know that my 46 minute 10k was not my best effort and that I could still run faster.

Because the lack of pressure on myself to PR seemed to help me mentally push through my race, I am thinking of taking that same pressure off for Vermont.  I need a strong race, not a fast one to get my confidence back.  I hope in the next few weeks, I can find a time that I can be happy with that I know I can hit with confidence.  I would love to see a faster time than Disney, but I don't think I am ready for that yet.  What is funny is, I am OK with knowing that I am not going to run as fast that day and am actually kind of relieved.  My priorities have changed as I have set goals outside of running that excite me just as much as my BQ goal of the past used to.  Thank you to Mel from Tall Mom on the Run and Erin from See Mom Run Far for opening my eyes to this.


Jess said...

Thank you for being so honest here about how you've been feeling since Boston. I wish I could hug you and tell you that you are SUCH an inspiration to me as a runner. I can only dream of running as fast, or as long, or as many races as you have. You are incredibly talented as a runner, and totally humble which I dig so much! I hope you can shake the confidence issue and really enjoy Vermont. That's truly the goal in the grand scheme of things - find something you love, and enjoy the hell out of it. That's how I'm going into this race of mine on Sunday too -- I'm there to enjoy it, bottom line.

See Mom Run Far said...

You did a GREAT job on the 10k! Congrats. :) And NO NO NO, you are definitely not alone in the "Boston 2012 shook my confidence club". I could be president. :) Everyone keeps telling me I can't be disappointed... it was hot... blah blah :) but I am disappointed. I definitely need a good strong (and fast, LOL) race to boost myself back up.

I am glad you have such a great attitude about Vermont and I hope it is a FUN, pleasant, strong, race for you. You are a tough, fast runner with a lot of heart and I am sure you will feel that again in Vermont.

I am glad too that the post helped! I had a lot of people say that it was like I wrote it for them, but I wrote it for myself. I guess we all needed it. :) hugs!

Misszippy1 said...

I could have written those opening couple of paragraphs, I'm telling you! I have zero confidence in my abilities right now, simply b/c I've had no chance to test them. And my horrible performance at Boston, even though heat-induced, makes me question my fitness level even more. Crazy!

But you, you did a great job with your 10k! And you have a great outlook for VC. I think you're going to do great.

Finally--congrats to your girls! Sharing running w/ my kids is one of my greatest joys in life. I'm glad you get to do it too!

Laura said...

As others have already said, I think EVERYONE who ran Boston is second-guessing themselves, but that time does not affect the effort you put in those conditions. It's not fair to count that as "what you're capable of" as it was such an extreme scenario. I love your perspective for your next full... as much as I love the blog world, it does lead to a lot of comparisons and I have to consciously bring myself back to my goals and my world and not get sucked up in it all. That being said, you may surprise yourself!
And great job on the 10k! I think that's my least favorite distance... and a hilly course would really be killer. Your girls look so excited to race- I love it!

Jolene said...

I must admit that I am glad that I am not the only one with racing anxiety. It's why I just don't do them. For me, I choke. But for you? you still flourish, even if you think you aren't meeting your goals, you really still are, and in most cases beating them. I am proud of you and think you are doing amazing, whether or not you believe it ;-) I also think it takes a fair bit of courage to admit some anxiety with this, it's easier to put on a face of confidence than it is to admit that it's still a work in progress. ((hug))

Christyruns said...

Great job on your 10k! I get racing anxiety too, but I haven't done as many races as you yet. Although given the Boston racing conditions I don't think you should factor it in as an indicator of how you will do in Vermont. Great job to your girls, I bet you were so proud of them.

Mattie @ Comfyconfident said...

All the races I have done have been super small. I definitely have anxiety about doing bigger races where I have to dodge people and maneuver around runners the whole time.

Kathy R said...

How can you not feel shell shocked after Boston? You ran a great 10K - AWESOME!!

Liana said...

The best kind of races can be the one with little expectations! I know the feeling post Boston. It makes me feel like my other races are a fluke and is still weird trying to get back in the groove.