This one is a long one with three different issues…so I’ll be breaking it into 3 posts.
I believe that alongside physical training, mental and emotional training play a very important part of going to the next level. I train hard and a lot and the lifestyle that I have chosen suits me and gives me a focus for my over achieving habits. It really is inevitable that sometimes things do not go smoothly. The last 3 weeks for me have been incredibly rough. My normal routine and confidence have been shaken and for the first time in my life I have been left with a question “What might have been?”
On February 19th, I entered the Winterman Half Marathon. I went into this race feeling very strong and very confident in my physical level. I had my eyes on finishing sub 1 hr 30 and was targeting a top 10.
This next part is a classic example of why you need to be prepared going to a race and expect the unexpected. I have raced a lot and I felt very comfortable with my morning routine. I decided to give myself a little bit of extra slack time in the morning and go a little later then usual. The race started at 08:30 am and I figured arriving at 07:45 am would be fine. When I arrived, I found that were I usually park was full and I had to park farther away. Go figure!! I did not think it would be much of an issue, so I parked and went and collected my race kit. When I went to get my chip, I was a little shocked at the size of the line. There had to be almost a 100 people. I had never seen this before..and started getting a little stressed. It was 08:15 and the race was starting in 15 minutes. I still had to go back to my car and prepare and I did not have my chip. I made a decision to run back to my car, thinking the line would go down by the time I got back. Once back at my car, I started assembling my race stuff. I made another mistake here. The Winterman runs alongside the Ottawa River, which means there is usually a slight wind. The temp was about – 8, but with the breeze it felt cooler. I chose to leave my coat on. This meant, I had 3 layers of shirts and a coat. BIG MISTAKE! Anyone that runs, knows the general rule is about 1 layer per (-) 5 degrees once you hit zero.
I know better but the breeze was cool and I was not prepared..my mind was focussing back on that line that I could see was actually getting bigger. I put my stuff together and ran back to the line which had not gone down. It was now almost 08:25 and I was joining the line to get my chip. I was overdressed, feeling constricted and starting to panic about not having my chip. Of course, they held the race and we got off about 5 minutes late.
Once we started out, I felt tight, but okay. I was running into the wind at this point so the extra layers were not causing too much of an issue. I finished the first 5K in under 20 minutes and my heart rate was staying around 170 which is well within my performance window. The second lap also saw me complete around 20 minutes and my heart rate was still stable. I was in 4th and was keeping a close eye on the 3rd place guy. Then things started coming apart. Coming in on lap 2, the wind was at my back and the sun in my face. I started overheating quickly. I made a decision to ditch the coat. I took my gloves off, took my Garmin off, took my Car Key Fob (out of my coat pocket) and started taking my coat off. I dropped my Garmin and Key which slowed me down. I gathered the stuff back up and ran through the loop start. I threw my coat under the water table and bolted. I had been passed twice during this period and was eager to get moving again.
About 200 meters down the road, I was putting my Garmin and my gloves back on and I realised that I did not have my Key. Instantly my thoughts went back..did I ever pick it up? Did I throw it with my coat? Where was it? I started panicking and the anxiety took over my train of thought. I realised that I needed to know and I swung back around knowing that I was destroying my race. Back at the water table I grabbed my coat and could not find the key. I did however notice a drain right under the table and I was envisioning my key dropping into the grate and being lost forever. I asked the volunteers as I scrubbed the snow and they all said they saw nothing. I decided that I needed to backtrack where I originally dropped my stuff , and to do this, I need to leave the race. I gave my chip up to leave. What a horrible feeling.
Having now quit the race….I was looking for my key. I did not find it anywhere and my anxiety was going through the roof. I went back to the water table when suddenly someone stepped up and said “Did you lose a key?”. I nodded and they told me they had just turned it in. I went to the booth and happily retrieved it…but my race was over. In this whole messy situation, the only thing that was left was “ What might have been.”
The biggest lesson in this was to be prepared for anything. Don’t assume everything will go according to plan and give yourself ample to time to get to the race, get yourself set up and be comfortable. I thought I knew this, but I obviously needed a refresher.