Since I am still on my quest to find female African American elite runners, we are going to take a hiatus and talk about shit that happens in our daily lives. It seems like forever since we last have spoken. Well, shit happens.
It’s funny when I first started marathon training a few weeks ago, I remember Josh telling me that I should build into my training “shit happens weeks.” I told him, “Nope! I’ll be fine.”
It’s been a bad few weeks. Traveling, bad weather, a minor obsession, and my basement flooding—yup, shit happens. But I’m glad to report, I’m back on the grind.
A few weeks ago, I had the chance to travel to New York City and run in the NYRR Queens 10k. Anytime I have a chance to go to New York, I hop on the opportunity. I love New York. I spent my young life growing up in Brooklyn. They say if you live in New York for 10 years, you can officially call yourself a New Yorker. Seven years doesn’t qualify as ten, so I am out.
After my mother became terminally ill with diabetes, we moved to Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania. The woods became my sanctuary. Adventures in the woods became my new pastime. I liked the idea that I didn’t have boundaries like living in the city. My parents wouldn’t let me travel past a city block, which was a total of 50 yards. A trip to the bodega was my joy and even that became old after a while. Living in Pennsylvania, I could go and come as I pleased without a leash on my neck. It became my haven; I left the city life behind and never looked back.
For once in two years of running, I had been consistent with my training. I will admit, I felt physically good. In the past, I felt overwhelmed with races. Last year, I ran two races one in the spring and another in the fall. This year, I was determined to put myself in the lion’s den as much as I could.
Majority of the time, I run on my own in the woods of Spotsylvania, Virginia. Every once in a while, I like to change my scenic views, challenge myself and run with runners that are advanced in speed and skills.
After picking up my bib, I put on my racing sneakers and head to the corrals. I stood in the crowd observing the different runners lined up. Standing in the corral, it felt like everyone took this 10k very seriously. Runners in the countryside tend to spend time in the corrals helping the kids get ready to run or talking about what kind of beer is at the finish line. These runners all looked like “elite runners.” Everyone seemed to be in the best shape of their life and were focused on running the 10k in under 45 minutes. I put my headphones in my ears and tuned out the sub 45-minute conversations.
The gun goes off! I began my race. I felt really good. Somewhere after the two-mile mark, I noticed that I hadn’t checked my pace, so I looked down at my Garmin and I realized that I was running a sub eight-minute pace. On a daily basis, I like to keep the eight-minute pace at bay and only unleash during track workouts. I had never used it during my races. On this day that eight-minute pace, felt comfortable, like a jog. At that moment, I had a mental meltdown.
At the three-mile mark, I had convinced myself that if I walked a bit, it would help to slow myself down so that I could continue the race at a pace that I was comfortable in. After a few walk breaks and running spurts, I still couldn’t slow down. My Garmin was reading at an eight/nine-minute pace. Towards the last few miles, I just said screw it and ran like a maniac to the end. A sub one-hour race with a 14-minute personal record.
Runner’s anxiety can be lethal. It can happen to any runner. Your nerves and pre-race anxiety are at its peak, which can affect how you perform in a race. Sometimes runners can develop a fear of racing. After the run, I spent the next 10 minutes listening to Josh tell me that he was proud of my performance. We all want our coaches to validate us, but all I could think about was my mental anguish during the race. All of his praises fell on deaf ears.
The Chicago marathon is 14 weeks, 96 days, 21 hours and 31 minutes. But who is counting? If I can’t shake my mental block, then all of my work will mean nothing. I am a work in progress.