Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Anxiety, Race Report, and Mental Prep

This post is long overdue, but I have my reasons. For one, my spring break came! ...And so did a cold. It's pretty typical for me these days. The second I get a little time off, I get sick. The cold totally slaughtered me. It lasted over two weeks, and made exercise impossible. I couldn't breathe at all, and I was getting frequent headaches. But when I was just a couple weeks out from the half, I told myself I had to run no matter what. I got on the treadmill, ready to do my long run after two weeks off, and got started.

I couldn't do it. I BARELY lasted four miles - I was limping and struggling through every step of it. Everything hurt. Every part of my body ached. After the first mile my feet were in the same amount of pain that I felt after I finished my TENTH mile a few weeks prior. Um, not normal.

I limped to my car and was just furious. I went to the grocery store and while I supported my weight on the cart, I mindlessly picked out food while going over EVERY second of my day. What had I done differently? What had I eaten? What shoes had I worn? Was it my state of mind? What was it? And then two things occur to me:

1. I hadn't run (and had barely done much of anything) in two weeks. Of COURSE my body would feel beat up when I got back on the treadmill.
2. I hadn't eaten Skittles that day.

Wait, what? Skittles?

Yes, Skittles. Every other time that I'd done a long run, I'd eaten Skittles first. It started as a joke. I really wanted Skittles that day and I was like "carb loading haha" - and then the run went great. Since then, it's turned into a sort of ritual. Well, on Thursday, I couldn't find Skittles. I looked EVERYWHERE and couldn't find them. So I went for it without eating my Skittles first, and whether or not that's actually to blame, it is the ONLY thing I'd done differently. Needless to say, I'll never do that again.

But here's the problem: After that "run," my mental state had gone to crap. I had gone from fairly confident and excited about my half marathon to absolutely TERRIFIED and thinking that I was such a freaking idiot for thinking that I could do this. I spent probably about 40 hours mentally beating the crap out of myself, until my race on Saturday.

I didn't want to run on Saturday. I didn't want a replay of my awful run. I didn't want my mental state to get even WORSE. But I made myself do it with two motivations: FINALLY being able to wear my shiny new Newton's:

(Yes, that's right. The kid OBSESSED with orange found orange running shoes. Heck yeah!)

And FINALLY being able to use my new Garmin.

Well, the motivation got me to Salisbury. And once I got there, I realized that it was WAY colder than I thought it would be. It was in the low 30s with INSANE wind. For the first time ever, I kept my sweatshirt on for the start.

(Yeah, I like neon colors. What of it?)

The race itself was extremely well run. It was well organized, and as opposed to the New Year's 5k that had NO water (no stations, and impossible to find at the finish), this 4 mile race had two water stations and a guy thrusting a bottle of water at you at the finish. It was run by the same people so I was a little wary, but it was great. My ONLY complaint is that at the second water station, the guys manning it were smoking cigars. Um, what? WHY would you do that to the runners?

Also, happily, at the end of the race I had not only gotten two PRs (best 5k time on the road - 36:00 / best 4 miles EVER - 48:02), but I'd also kept up a perfect 12 minute mile pace the entire time. I was so worried about pacing myself while running on the road, but the Garmin was truly a lifesaver. I'm definitely in love with it. Additionally, running in brand new shoes for the first time for a race was risky - but I had absolutely no pain afterwards. Winning.

Also, this is the first race EVER where I didn't walk at all. I usually hit a mental wall around the 3 mile mark where I think "I must have to walk by now" but I ignored it and pushed through, and was perfectly fine. I KNOW I'm capable of doing it without walking, but something misfires in my head or something. Shut up, brain. I even kept it up when I got hot. So instead of stopping and taking off my sweatshirt like a normal person, I unpinned my bib, took off my sweatshirt, tied my sweatshirt around my waist, and repinned my bib - all while keeping up my exact pace. Yeah. Pretty proud of that (despite the funny looks I got).

Lastly, the half marathon is on Sunday. I'm really looking forward to being done with it. However, I'm still anxious about the race itself. I've been mentally prepping myself to try to calm myself down, and I've been doing pretty well. Saturday's race helped reassure me that I'm not crazy for doing this. I do love to run, I just needed the reminder. I have a series of mantras I go through any time I get anxious, and it's actually working. It's hard not to be nervous, though. The race is in my town, so I see at least five reminders of the race every time I get in my car - ROAD RACE SUNDAY or EXPECT ROAD CLOSURES SUNDAY 11 AM-3 PM. But that's ok - I don't need to avoid thinking about it. I just need to focus my thoughts.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...


  1. You are going to kick butt this weekend! Just stock up on the skittles now...maybe you should go with family sized ;)

  2. You are going to do AMAZING!!! I really bet it was because of the lack of skittles. Girl, you are gorgeous! LISTEN to your body and you will do the right thing. Keep remembering that you LOVE to run and keep up those positive mantras. I am CHEERING you on!!!