Things I learned from the New Bedford Half Marathon: a race recap of sorts

Last weekend, after having three cancelled races (1 marathon, 1 twenty miler, 1 half marathon) I finally got to run a race! It was really fun-especially since I have been basically shunned by any and all races in my area. It was the New Bedford Half Marathon, and it was a really good time.
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The only picture I took of me at the race!

I held off on doing any kind of review for this race because I really didn’t want to be judged on my poor performance that day. Yup, you read that right. I don’t always love the negativity via social media that can sometimes come with being a running blogger. I make the fact that I want to get faster extremely clear. I know that I put myself out “there” into the world by having this little public space. And that’s ok. I love the encouragement that I receive from my fellow bloggers and friends that I’ve made by writing as “The Girl Who Ran Everywhere” (A little sidenote: In case you’ve ever wondered, I do know that I’m 32 years old and calling myself a “girl”-But, “The Woman Who Ran Everywhere” just wasn’t as catchy 😉…) I know that by opening myself up, I’m subjected to criticism just as much as I am praise. It is what it is, and I’m learning to shrug it off.

As some of you already know-My time for this race wasn’t great: 1:42:47. It was an “off” day for me, and I just want to go on the record here by saying that I am 100% okay with that. My coach had a goal for me, and I didn’t make it, or even come close to it. But, honestly-it’s not a big deal. There are plenty more races to run. In the past, I’ve gotten pretty down on myself for not hitting a “goal” time that I set for myself, but I know now that in the long run, it doesn’t do me any good. I decided that I wanted to do a non-traditional race recap for this one. Instead of telling you in detail about how this was the biggest half I have ever run (huge!), the porta potties at the start, or, the fact that it was windy and I had a terrible leg cramp for almost 3 miles of the race, I wanted to instead tell you some things I learned from my race. Maybe you can learn something that will help you.
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Biggest half I’ve ever been to!

1.) Its really important for all runners to remember that not every day is “Your day” for racing. Sometimes I feel like all the things in the universe need to align and Mother Nature has to cast great weather in order for me to have the “perfect” race day. Traffic, your period, a snowstorm, ice, wind, a late night, cramps, constipation, diarrhea, bad sleep, bad sneakers, wrong foods-any or ALL of these things (and I think I could list PLENTY more issues) can go wrong for anyone, on race morning. It is what it is and you shouldn’t sweat it if it doesn’t go your way: There WILL be more races in your future.

The feeling of “today is not your day” also carries over into your every day runs. There are some days where I will head out and I’m on FIRE, and others where I’m just “meh” and not that into it.

I didn’t really have a whole lot that went wrong for me race morning. It was more that I had a day that I wasn’t really in the mood for “pushing” it during the race. I can’t explain it any better than to say that I was tired, and that feeling translated down into my tired legs. Not a big deal, it happens. I’ve realized that I’m not always the best “racer.” I get really nervous and psych myself up WAY too much. I think we all have felt the overwhelming weight at one time or another to “run more/run faster/be better.” I put a lot of pressure on myself to do just that, end up overthinking things, and it messes with my mojo. Sometimes, my brain doesn’t feel like taking over and going into “race mode” I don’t know if it’s because I didn’t technically start “racing” until about 1-2 years ago? Who knows-I know its something I need to work on. But anyway, there are days that I am not feeling the amazing-ness of racing, and I had one of those days during the New Bedford half.
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2. Silence the noise. This is a big one for me. I’ve heard the words “Can’t” and “won’t” a little too often for my taste. Tuning the negatives out is something I’m working on. I believe in me, my husband believes in me, my friends believe in me…that’s enough. Sometimes we get in our own heads a little too much. Sometimes we let someone else in our heads who doesn’t think we can do any better. Don’t focus on the negativity and focus on your own strengths.

3. You can cross the finish line of a race but you are most certainly not “finished.” You may “finish” a race, but you (most likely) are not “finished” with running. It’s important to remember that in the back of your mind. Crossing a finish line is just one more step on your own personal running journey, whatever yours may be! I might hit a new PR, or bomb a race, but I know that I’ll be right back to running my next possible chance. Running is a lifetime sport for me, full of ups and downs and I don’t intend to ever “finish.”

4. This last one is the MOST important thing: You are not the measure of just “one” race. You’re much more than that. A good race will help you put a new notch on your personal tallying stick of racing, but it does not define you. A bad race may make you upset for a little while, but it gives you something to learn from. You are so much more than your numbers, please don’t ever forget that. When I think back to why I started running, it had nothing to do with “the numbers game.” I knew that I loved to run, I was pretty ok at it, and it gave me a lot of joy. Don’t let a bad race rob you of the joy. I always tell fellow runners to remember WHY you are running in the first place. Take that reason and hold it tight. You should never forget your “WHY.” The numbers that you want will eventually come, because your “WHY” will drive you.

So, to any of you who wonder post-race if you’ll ever meet those goals you have set: remember these things! Never give up on your dreams or what you want just because of an off day. Even if some weirdo tells you that you are delusional for the goals you’ve set…ignore it, and move along. Believe in yourself and trust that you can. And as my best friend tells me “Even if you don’t PR and you do your best that’s all that matters.” —> truth.

Happy Tuesday!

Some lessons you’ve learned from racing or running?

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51 thoughts on “Things I learned from the New Bedford Half Marathon: a race recap of sorts

  1. Pingback: Reads and Recipes (March 28)

  2. This list rings all too true, especially the last one. You do not equal a disappointing race performance. The important thing is that you went out and ran and learned something and enjoyed yourself! I’m glad you were able to run after so many cancellations.

  3. This is all so very true. I’ve had quite a number of races in which I haven’t quite lived up to my own expectations. While having goals is a great motivator, whether we hit our goal or don’t should not define who we are. I’ve learned to be ok with the fact that not every race (or run for that matter!) will be great. The best thing we can do is move on and remember the joy we have in running! You are an amazing runner and you still have many great races ahead of you 😀

  4. This was a really emotional read for me this morning. I’ve been feeling so pessimistic over the past week and this was exactly what I needed to read. Thank you so much, Nicole. ❤ Congrats on your race. I think you did a fantastic job.

    • I’m really glad I could help! IT was really emotional for me to write it too, and I swear it took a whole week of revisiting the post in my drafts!
      I think you’re doing amazing with your running, shoulder injury and all! We can do hard things!

  5. You’re totally right about “off’ days. Some times are mind and/or body are just not there and easy paces feel inexplicably hard. But no reason to feel bad about your time – most people would kill to run that time. And you are not a number. Do our PRs really matter to anyone else but ourselves? Look at what you’ve done over the last year – at how fast you’ve gotten. And every race is a learning experience – and maybe thinking about how to focus on race-mode might be something you can improve on in the future. Cause we are always trying to improve, right?

  6. That time would have been the bomb for me! Would hate to hear what folks think of my 1:55 half PR! But hey, you finished, and did more in an early morning than most people do! That’s what I think about whenever I have a crappy run!

  7. Couldn’t be more true, everything you’re saying, especially that as runners we need to have the perspective that we will have bad days and some of those days will be race days. Everyone deals with nerves and pressure differently and running is so, so mental! There are other races, we can’t predict the good ones sometimes just as we can’t always predict the bad. These are all things I need to remind myself when it comes to racing, for sure. It’s easy for me to get caught up in expectations and really lose perspective of what I’m doing.

  8. Sorry you have had any negative comments!! The thing I like least about blogging and all of the social media is that people feel entitled to voice any and all opinions instead of just keeping things positive.
    Glad you were able to take aways so many lessons!
    And, even though your time wasn’t what you were going for it is a great time!!

    • YES YES YES…sometimes through social media, I feel like people forget that the people they are talking about are actually REAL people and not just droids writing these posts.

      Thank you! I keep telling myself that it WAS a good time, even if it wasn’t one that I had wanted!!

  9. i totally hear you that sometimes it’s not just our day. there may be no rhyme or reason. it can be frustrating, but overcoming whatever mental or physical obstacle is an achievement in my eyes. makes us stronger is so many ways. way to go nicole. your journey is awesome and cant wait to see what is in store for you this season…when you finally get to race 😉

  10. I’m sorry you experienced negativity through social media in the past.

    I sympathize with having a bad race. It happened to me in Miami. I had no real excuse to have a bad day, but a bad race happened. All anyone can do is just chalk it up as experience and go out and try again another day.

    You ran. That’s the important part.

  11. Such a great post! It’s easy to beat ourselves up but you are so right that we as runners and as people are more than our finish time for a single race. Off days happen and we can’t always control when – and letting go of that need to control each run is essential I think for achieving our goals, whatever they are.
    A 1:42 is still a good time, especially considering that it was windy! So often, as you point out, the value in a race can be not how fast we run, but what we learn for future goal races!

  12. Very well written … very well spoken … I would have posted this exactly the same twinnie so that makes one less topic for me to have to write about lol 😉 all those lessons you just mentioned, I have really done my due diligence to apply to this race season and I this that’s why I have seen such a turnaround in my running/racing after a 4 year slump. And I’m not judging on your blog title I think it fits perfectly. After all, I’m 39 for crying out loud and my blog is titled FLRunnerBoy not FLRunnerMan haha! And this past race totally doesn’t define you. It’s simply a learning experience for the “bigger fish” that you are going to fry in the future 😉 and on the positive side, any race no matter the time or performance is a good one especially after 3 cancellations 🙂

  13. You are so positive.!! I was just feeling super awesome about my run this morning, and than I read like 3 super fast runners blogs ..and I was like oh crap..guess I’m not that good. haha.
    but your positivenss just made me realize it’s not all about the numbers 🙂 WE’re not finished with running.
    Congrats on your race

  14. Well, I personally think you did a great job! You showed up and you finished! Boom! I do the same thing though and I’m much older and slower, but we all get up inside our heads and let that mess with our love of running! Every marathon, I’m always criticizing my performance, instead of thinking, I just ran 26.2 miles, even if it was slow going, I just ran 26.2 (or 13.1 or whatever the race distance should be the thinking) …..we all follow you, as you are an inspiration and you keep showing up at these races and you finish, ….you go girl!

  15. Thanks for sharing. I needed to hear this after the 15 miles I did last week. Was feeling defeated. I think as bloggers we put extra pressure on ourselves because we know people are watching. On race days I try to pretend it’s just like any other long run and just enjoy the energy and excitement. I wrote a post about 10 Reasons Why I Run. It created a lot of interest and was even shared by Mr. Hal Higdon. I like to look back at it when I lose perspective. Maybe it will help you too… http://runningwithskissors.com/2015/01/20/10-reasons-why-i-run/

  16. Good for you for addressing the negativity and a tough race day in such a positive way. I only recently found your blog and really appreciate how passionate and determined you are. The goals you set for yourself are personal to you so who cares what some random person on the internet thinks.

  17. Nicole, thanks for this post, it was so timely for me. I have my first race of the Spring season coming up in less than two weeks, and even though it’s not a goal race I find myself getting so nervous about it because it will show me where I’m at with my marathon training and I’m scared of how it will feel if the time I get doesn’t reflect where I need to be to meet my bigger goals. I have been working on telling myself many of the things you list here, and I keep coming back to a quote from Lauren Fleshman in the “Believe” training journal: “Make the race your playground, not your proving ground.” We runners get so wrapped up in our goals that we forget rule #1: this is supposed to be FUN. 99% of us aren’t pros and don’t get paid to race so if we’re not having a good time out there, what’s the point?

    Congrats on your race, even though you missed your goal. Between this and all your canceled races this has to mean that something HUGE awaits you! 🙂

    • I’m so glad that you were able to get something out of it! I also use the “believe” journal and I just love it. I feel like it really helps me work things out by writing down my running stuff!
      Thank you Hanna! And good luck to you in 2 weeks..don’t sweat it and you’ll do great! And if you don’t, there is always another race for you!

  18. Back in 1995 when I was training for my first marathon, I did the New Bedford Half. I remember the wind and I remember crying at the end swearing I would never run again and not sure if I could run a full marathon! I’m still running…

  19. I think you did a great job. We can’t be “ON” for every run or race. That’s what makes us human and humble. I can only dream of those times, so I think you are a rockstar no matter what! But I know what it’s like to put so much pressure on yourself. I do the same thing, but as I’ve been running longer and longer (20 years now), I’ve realized that it’s really about the journey and not one single day that defines us!

  20. Thanks for this post! I am really hard on myself when my time isn’t exactly what I want it to be. I need to think more like this.. And your time is great! I’m doing my first half marathon in May so I needed this encouragement. Sometimes you can fill your head with negativity and feel like you aren’t prepared enough which will just set you up to fail. I’ll just think positive and hope for the best!

  21. Sounds like you are having some trouble with this one. I think that you are putting too much pressure on yourself! You are entering taper, you have had 74957243 races cancelled, terrible training conditions, and you are still hitting times that make the rest of us drool. That is a minute off of my PR! I wouldn’t say that you ran a terrible time–say that it wasn’t your fastest time. Because that is was not. But Terrible? NO. That is like throwing the whole run into the terrible category. Like saying food is bad and that you need a detox. NO. Don’t put negativity where you don’t need it! That run and YOU running that race don’t need it or deserve it! And if anyone sits there and snarks at you, tell them to get off their asses and go run 13.1 miles. Now. Go on. Do it. Show them the door. They are the only negativity that you don’t have time for!

    • Suz this was JUST what I needed to hear. You’re so right and I was reminded by another friend that my PR for the longest time, was 1:43….so technically, I’ve come a real long way. I think what got me down is the “snarking” that I read about myself…people can be mean!
      I will do exactly what you said-I will show them the door!! XOXO

  22. So proud of who you are!!!
    You are an amazing, kind, caring soul who supports everyone
    and would never even speak a hateful word of anyone on this journey.
    I am sorry that life is that way.
    That people hide behind computer screens and spew awful nonsense.
    We all know people like that. In real life and those in hiding.
    The only way to deal with that is to smile, hold your head high and move
    on. Nobody has time to waste on that kind of negative energy.
    Time is precious. We know this.
    So proud of who you are.

  23. Way to go! I totally agree with everything you said here- without the ups and downs of racing, we wouldn’t be where we are! Each day/each race/every training session is different…our bodies are forever changing. I’ve learned to let go of perfection (on race day) and to just lead with my heart! I know I’m not always going to PR, but it’s a good day to just be out there. You are amazing! Your journey is amazing! You’re an amazing runner! XOXO

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