I Choose My State of Mind
Ready or not, January 11, 2014 had arrived. Only 11 days into the new year and it had already been a very long year. I had missed two consecutive days of workouts, and one was a break-through workout and a run. I hardly ever miss a workout and never in two years had I missed two workouts in a row. My heart just wasn’t into running and feeling good. Running these past two years has been a very happy place for me and after losing a family member quite suddenly, I just didn’t feel it. When Coach Suzy and I talked on Friday before the race, I told her of my doubts that I could finish this race. We talked about how I knew what I was feeling wasn’t rational, about how my long runs had gone pretty well and all the training up to the last week and a half had been right on target. I had been training to run 14 miles along the Lake Shore for months – not just these past 8 days. Then she said something to me that just hit home and stuck with me.
“You choose your state of mind. Find your happy.”
Those nine simple words became my focus and helped me get to the starting line. My running gear was purposely selected; I was going to wear my “Run Happy” shirt, even if it is summer running gear. The forecast for Saturday was finally a little warmer than it had been but still freezing. After the rain on Friday it was sure to be icy on the path. Saturday morning I got up and chose my state of mind. I was ready and I followed my pre-race OCD routine down to the letter. My “Run Happy” shirt was my first layer, so nobody but me knew it was there.
I got to the starting corrals and started to feel the wind going through the two layers that I had on. My first thought was, “This could be a really long 14 miles with this wind!” Ahh, but didn’t I roll up my wind breaker shell and stash it in my race belt … just in case? Well, out it came. The race started … here I go 14 miles. It was a rough 14 miles. I wish I could say that it was sunny and 80 the whole way. The warmer temperatures on Friday along with the rain didn’t do any favors for the trail conditions. The race crew really did try to do their best. You could tell they had put salt down in many places and tried to clear as much of the snow as possible from our path, but when you are fighting Mother Nature, really there is only so much you can do. I saw many people slip and fall in the first few miles, and even one person being loaded into an ambulance. The woman running with her said she thought she broke her ankle. I got to mile 2 and saw a few people already heading back. This was an out and back race; at first I thought, “Wow, those guys are really fast!” Then I saw another woman slip. She didn’t fall all the way so I stayed with her just a little bit and we talked. She had fallen three times already and said she was done, she was turning around at the 10K mark. That is when it hit me, all these people I saw going back already hadn’t run the full 14 miles, they had cut their race short and turned at the 10K turn around.
After I passed the turn around there weren’t too many of us that kept going. I have to admit that the thought crossed my mind very briefly about turning around with most everyone else … But I didn’t train for a 10K, I trained for 14 miles. I was feeling pretty good and was navigating the ice and water puddles fairly well, slowing down as needed, walking in some spots and going off trail to ensure that I stayed on my feet the entire time. As I was getting to the 14 mile turnaround, I heard one of the volunteers say, “You didn’t know you would be doing a polar splash and dash did you?” I actually chuckled, because that pretty much summed up the race conditions.
I was following my hydration and nutrition like I had done in training, so when I hit mile 11 and my calves started cramping I was not a happy camper. I slowed down, drank a little more Gatorade and the cramps seemed to fade, so I started running again and bang, there they were again … What was going on? By mile 12 I have to admit I was the most “unhappy” I had ever been running. At this point I told myself I had to keep going because really, how else was I going to get back to the car? Mile 12 to 13 was the iciest portion of the path so I slowed down quite a bit.
At mile 13 I got this little rush and was able to finish the last mile pretty strong. The sense of accomplishment as I crossed the finish line can’t really be described, but then again I am sure all who read this already know that feeling. By the way, I told Coach Suzy following the race that I was taking credit for the full 14.5 miles that my Garmin said I ran. I knew we were going off trail quite a bit, but never really thought it was a full half mile more of running.
This may not be a race where I earned a PR, but it is a race that taught me a very valuable lesson of which I will always remember. There are things in the course of a race and preparation for a race that we cannot control, but what we can control is how we respond to them. “We Choose Our State Of Mind.” I choose determination and happy. Thank you, Coach Suzy!