Regained Confidence

Saturday morning Jason and I ventured to John Rudy county park to run the 5 mile race that is part of the York Winter Series.  Last year I stunned myself breaking 40 minutes on the course particularly since it occurred only a few days after a nasty stomach virus.  Going into the race this year I felt stronger than I had the first 3 winter series races, but definitely not as in shape as I had last year.  I felt breaking 43 minutes was a good goal.

The weather was rather mild for this time of year, enough so that I chose to race in shorts.  If you had told me several years ago I would be racing in January let alone wearing shorts I would’ve laughed at you and said I’ll see you in the spring.  I chose not to wear my gloves figuring my hands would warm up within the first mile, a decision I might weigh more carefully as it was closer to two miles before my fingers felt fully functional.

I joined the pack at the start, staying farther back than my dad or Jason.  There were so many people that I didn’t even realize the race had started until everyone started moving.  I made a guess as to when to start my watch and proceeded to start weaving in and out of people.  The rail trail path is a bit narrow, but last year didn’t seem too bad.  This year, however, it took me nearly a mile into the race before I felt that I had finally “broke free” of the crowd and was running with people at my pace.

Despite the somewhat slow start I clocked the first mile in a 7:59 much to my surprise.  I didn’t feel half bad and wondered if I could push breaking 40 minutes again.  The second mile was a 8:04 and I thought well ok, if it’s close to 40 that’ll still be pretty decent.  As I neared the halfway point I saw my dad and Jason running together on the way back and cheered them on.

Once more I began to feel a tad crowded as I kept coming upon people I wanted to pass, but I didn’t want to go out and around them and risk interfering with the runners who were already returning.  I kept my impatience at bay figuring I could always just push harder at the end if needed.  Heading back the trail I caught up with Leigh, the girl I met and chatted with during the Wildcat 10k a few weeks ago.  She was pushing the slight downhill grade and I paced with her until I began to want to push harder and started to pull away.

The last two miles I was finally free of any restricting crowds and really worked.  There is something about a relatively flat, but not 100% flat course, that gives me reassurance that I can continue to keep pushing and won’t burn out.  I caught and passed my one track girl and offered encouragement before catching another one with a quarter mile until the finish.  I spurred her on and she pushed right alongside me.  I saw the clock ahead counting upward towards the 40 minute mark and I pushed, but had nothing left to fully sprint.  My final time was 40 minutes exactly with an age group finish of 4th.

I felt so good finishing that race knowing I pushed nearly the entire course just like I did last year.  Although my hamstring injury last spring didn’t keep me fully down and out for long, it certainly killed the speed and strength I had built up.  My performances at the first 3 races reinforced my mindset that I wasn’t as strong as last year, and that I was still needing to get back to where I wanted to be.  My race on Saturday gave me confidence back that while I’m not quite at where I was at this point last year, I’m a lot closer than I thought I was and I’m strong enough to keep pushing hard in races.

Have you ever lost confidence in your ability to push hard in a race?  Did you regain it and if so, how?

About TracyNicole

Runner. Writer. Reader. Environmental advocate. Work from home Workforce Specialist. NASM Certified Personal Trainer. Assistant Varsity Track Coach. Fascinated by the ocean, waterfalls and Christmas lights.
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7 Responses to Regained Confidence

  1. Way to go! What a great way to start the new year too!

  2. runeatralph says:

    I’m glad the confidence is coming back! 🙂

    • TracyNicole says:

      Me too! It’s something I wish I could figure out how to coach my track kids to have. I offer plenty of encouragement but sometimes I think you just need to push through this pain barrier on your own and make yourself realize that yes you can run hard and survive to have it sink in.

  3. Laurie says:

    Great race, Tracy! Way to go!!! It must feel good to pass people (especially one of your track kids) at the end of a race like you did. I am so glad to read you are getting your confidence back. I feel like I am getting mine back too. My hamstring plagued me for 2 years. It is taking me a long time to build my speed back up. It’s a longer recovery process when you’re my age, unfortunately. I have been feeling really good lately and would like to try a flat 5k to judge my progress.

    • TracyNicole says:

      Thanks! I found out later after she had actually ran the 1 mile fun run first and was battling a cold which made sense because I really shouldn’t have been able to catch her. Building speed definitely takes time and I agree recovery increases with age unfortunately. It sounds like you’re doing very well lately though and I think you should find that 5k to see where you’re at! I found out recently that the Northeastern 5k (last one of the winter series) is going to be the same course as last year… 3 loops around the school campus as they feel it’s safer than having everyone go onto Board Rd. I was really disappointed as I find that to be super boring, but it should be a good test for me as I almost broke my 5k PR there last year. Depending on the weather maybe this year it’ll happen!

  4. Pingback: Rail Trail Fail (Kinda) | The Writing Runner

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