Monday, June 10, 2013

That wasn't the plan

Ever have one of those days where things just didn't work out how you'd planned or hoped? I had one last Sunday. It was marathon day in Christchurch and I was signed up to run. I ran the same event last year and had a great race taking quite a bit of time off my previous PB and finishing strongly. I was hoping to do the same this year. In fact, it was pretty much what my race was all about - I had to go faster or I wouldn't be satisfied. I didn't have a great lead in to the race with both injury and a bit of sickness. When I woke on Sunday morning though, I was feeling good and felt the plan was ready to execute. I went through my usual race morning rituals and when I made my way to the start line I felt 'today is the day to push it hard'. The Christchurch marathon course is particularly boring. Lots of out and backs, flat as a pancake and not in the least bit scenic. The only thing to keep it interesting, I thought, was to push the pace and run a faster race. That plan went pretty well - for half the race at least. As I ran through the first half I felt strong and crossed through the half marathon point under goal time. All good. Things started to change at around the 27km mark. I started to feel a bit tight and sore in the lower back and the hammys and quads were beginning to feel like they were running out of a bit of juice. I felt my pace start to slow and two runners who I'd been running with started to move away from me a bit. I turned a corner and hit a strong head wind - oh dear, didn't need that at that point. I kept pushing and the previous chirpy persona I'd tried to maintain started to turn to a bit of a grimace. At about the 32km mark I felt my first cramp. Basically, the whole hammy and quad of my right leg went into lock down - ouch! I had to stop at that point and try to walk it out. After a few hundred metres I felt up to running again and set off, albeit at a pretty slow pace. I managed another 500m before, bang, more cramp. This pretty much continued right through to the end of the race. I kept a bit of an eye on my watch and saw the pre-race goals slip away. In my head I reconfigured my goals and worked to try to achieve them. By the last couple of k's, this reworking had pretty much got to "I just want to make it to the end so I can stop this hurting". I managed to run / walk my way to the finish shoot, and about 20 metres from the end I experienced another cramp. There was a collective groan from the supporters on the sidelines - the shouts of "you can do it, keep going, you're nearly there". I crossed the finish line... 30 minutes slower than I'd hoped to. I went and lent on the fence hoardings, my legs feeling leaden. The event Dr came up behind me and asked "apart from the obvious cramping you've got, do you feel ok". I grumbled a reply that I was alright and I just needed time for my legs to work again. I remember feeling pretty mixed up emotionally. On the one hand I was relieved to be finished and it wasn't the worst time I'd ever run either, on the other hand I was really disappointed that I didn't achieve the goal I thought I could. For the next hour I felt like rubbish - not only in the legs but physically wrecked all over. I just wanted to lie on my back and not move. Family and friends were concerned, wanting to make sure I was ok. In my head I kept going over and over things, trying to work out how I'd got it wrong. I felt sorry for myself for about half an hour, but then decided that wasn't going to help. Since then I've reflected lots further. My thinking at this point is that I went out too hard early on - it was a pace I couldn't sustain for the entire length of the race. Had it been a 25km race I would have been right, but it wasn't, it was a 42.2km race. I've also decided that how I respond to and feel about the event is up to me. I can choose to dwell on the result, feel like a loser, or even decide to never run again cause I might fail to achieve a goal... or I can choose to use it as a growth exercise and try to learn from the experience and grow stronger from it. I've just purchased a book called Mindset by Carol Dweck. This is a book that a number of colleagues have read and given positive feedback about. I'm looking forward to getting into it and learning from it. Hopefully I can add more 'growth mindset' to my picture, and be stronger and wiser for the next parts of my running 'hobby'. Maybe getting back to the original plan I had when I started running- that involved enjoying running, trying new events, and being fit and healthy. Maybe I've been closer to that than I thought - I've generally been achieving the big picture plan, but missed a couple a small parts on the way. It might be part time to refocus on the bigger picture again. The bigger plan.