Wednesday, December 31, 2008

santa monica-venice christmas 10k

okay, so it's been a few weeks since i actually did this run, but better late than never, right? i love this race. i've done it every year since 2001 ... though usually in a post-flu fog. i've never "run to my potential" at this race. it's fairly flat with just a couple of rises at the end, but like i said, i've always been a little behind the eight-ball when running it. but, i still love it. it's local. i see lots of friends. it's christmas-y (as much as you can expect in l.a.) and it's pretty.

so this year registration time rolled around and lo and behold it was scheduled for 6 days after the city of angels half marathon i was scheduled to run. i told liz i still wanted to run the 10k. i've never run two races that close to one another, but city of angels wasn't going to be my best (but you know how that turned out!) and i was willing to just jog the 10k if need be. in fact, come race day, i was instructed to "shuffle".

my friend rebekah and her friend lori had signed up as well. rebekah and i decided to meet up at 6:15am and bike to the start as a little warm up. i love doing that for local races ... makes it feel like i live in a small town and it seems to help with my pre-race anxiety. there was a slight misting of rain, but it wasn't all that cold.

we all stood at the start line together and agreed that a) none of us were "racing" and that b) we'd start out together, but didn't have to stay together.

since i was planning to shuffle, i started out nice and easy and didn't get all agro about the slow folks and the very narrow road we start on. i just plodded along chatting with rebekah. i felt great. when we hit mile 1 i was surprised to see the lap time. i felt like i was barely moving, but the number staring back at me didn't say the same.

here we are rounding the corner somewhere between miles 1 and 2.

i picked it up a little and still felt great. i wasn't making a hard effort, i was just enjoying myself, chatting with my friend. somewhere just past mile 2 i noticed that rebekah and i were no longer together. i just went with how i was feeling, periodically checking in on my breathing and making sure i wasn't pushing. i had promised liz i wouldn't and i took that seriously.

around mile 3.5 i noticed my "effort" a little more, but it still wasn't one i would call hard or even close to it. at mile 4.5 there was a slight rise in the road. i noticed my breathing for the first time during the entire race. i made sure to just stay steady. i had nothing to prove, no goal to catch and for the first time in a race i felt like it was just flowing, dare i say ... easily.

i reached the venice boardwalk and cruised along knowing i had less than a mile to go. at mile 5.5 i even smiled for the camera and waved ... something i never do. i decided that photo was going to be my proof to liz and j. that i hadn't pushed too hard (despite what was looking like a very respectable finishing time).

of course the photo folks didn't publish that photo, just this one ... but still that's not what i usually look like with just a little over a 1/2 mile to go in a 10k.

i rounded the last corner and hit the finish line. i had finished just :39 off of my 10k PR time. crazeeee! by this time it was definitely raining so i did a brief cool down, went and changed out of my wet clothes and met up with rebekah and lori. we had each done better than we had expected!

at our post-race pedicures i ran through the laps on my watch. i had gone faster with each mile! that's not something i have ever done. i was consistent, strong and didn't struggle. man, if i could bottle that recipe.

i've always known that the stress and pressure i feel when going into a race is one of my biggest obstacles. well, it's a two-sided coin ... that stress and caring is what gets me up on days when i don't feel like training, but it's also a funny little animal that can turn on me come race day and not allow me to just be in the moment. i've been working on it and i have to say there have been a few glimmers of it getting better ... but doing a race that i didn't "care" about and having it go so well is huge proof to me.

i need to continue to care enough to be nervous, but to trust that i am no longer the 165 pound, pack-a-day cigarette smoker that i used to be. funny that i've been on the podium at duathlon worlds, i've finished ironman lake placid, won my age group at smaller races ... yet that's the image i still sometimes carry with me. it's an old tape and as danielle would say, it's time for me to drop my bag of shit.

thank you to a great 2008 and here's to an even better 2009, filled with new experiences ... both on and off the race course.



Beth said...

Congrats Cat! For a great race and for also learning a lot about what you need to do when you really ARE racing. Easier said than done, I know but you can always use this race as a reminder! (plus...I think it tells of great things to come when you *almost* PR while running easy after a half marathon the weekend before) Great things to come in 2009! :)

Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

Great job Cat! You're right - it is WAY too easy to carry that "bag of shit" - I do it all the time. But you ARE strong, incredibly talented, and 2009 promises to be a great year! Looking forward to training together at some point! :)