It's that time of year again. The weather is (slowly) changing, school has started for the area students and last night The Woodlands hosted their annual Friday Night Lights Cross Country Races. Given I do a lot of work in track and cross and the event is practically on my way home from the office, I have attended regularly over the past few seasons. After having to scratch last year due to injury (shocking, I know...), I was able to throw on the Oiselle singlet and a pair of Saucony spikes and try my hand at something so familiar yet so new for me and I may be working on a new favorite surface to race on!
While it was just a fun community race put on to fundraise for the local HS girl's team, I took quite a bit away from this very fun experience.
|Luke's Locker's Giant Finish chute: a welcoming sight|
in the Texas Summer Heat!
What I loved was that race day was such an ordinary experience; I saw some clients in the morning, did my usual notes and paperwork in the afternoon, and even got in a power nap before leaving for Bear Branch Park for the evening race-yes, I finally summoned the ability to take a pre-race nap and it was fabulous! After a very positive phone call with Coach Doug the night before my mind was gravitating towards a positive place where it hasn't been consistently in quite some time. I simply planned on going out, having a good time, pushing myself and letting my legs just turn over. The rest will unfold as it will. I had a time goal range, mostly because it was 95 or so outside and fixating on numbers is almost useless in a situation like this.
I only started to get jittery after I switched to the spikes (my first time in my adult life to use them) and we started to line up. There was a nice mix of ages and abilities up there with youngsters decked out in kid xc shoes and singlets, members of local racing teams to masters runners. The gun went fired and off everyone went in the typical fury to get in position. I started faster than I usually do, but since it was just a 3200, I could hang on if I needed to.
The first mile came up quick and the pack started to become less chaotic and I had more running room. I was loving the quick feel of the xc shoes and bounding up and down the inclines (just to be clear, there were no hills in sight!) and there was virtually nothing in my brain for some of that stretch in third female position. Then I came up on the two girls ahead of me-and I will add they were considerably younger than the
Even though lactate bomb was slowly ticking down, this is where the 'moment stuck': I could take the lead, so I surged a little and made two quick passes. Of course this is part of tactical racing, but after seasons of racing decent, but not to my potential and considerable confidence loss- as soon as I had no other chicks in front of me my mind went from basically empty to all kinds of positive and I felt strong and just made sure I held off the others through the finish. ~I didn't have to be so cautious and deferential in races anymore~not that I ever really needed to be in the first place.
The last half mile I was feeling the temps and the work, but I wasn't going to let my mind talk me out of easing up this time. I found the energy to kick hard at the end and kept my lead snagging First OA Female in a sprint finish. Once the wooziness went away, I walked around pleased not as much with where I placed, but how I pressed and raced differently that I have in the past-more focused, more enjoyment, and more confidence. The new surface and format vs. the roads and triathlons seemed a refreshing change, even after just one event, I'm now shopping other open Cross Country races to participate in-this stuff is no longer just for the kids and college students and these races are starting to pop up more. It's fun and freeing to run in the woods and on the dirt!
|Get your game face on, people!|
Photo by Jon Walk.
After just a summer of mostly base, the time wasn't crazy blazin' but I am only going to get faster from here and I could feel the strength I was building in the hot months. What was awesome about racing in Bear Branch Park, where I train several times per week, was the energy and hearing people cheer for me that I knew-whoever you were, you guys were really helpful when it was starting to hurt!
While I have mentioned this in previous posts, I have been working on my mental game a lot more than seasons past-emphasizing enjoyment of what I am doing and focusing highly on good experiences and thoughts vs. the static that overstimulates. If it works for my clients, why not consistently do it myself! I think with my head in the right places, I can only get faster from here. Here's to new races and more fun!
Anyone else try a new type of race lately?
Stay the course.