Now I've always struggled with the mental aspects of running, I'm content to live in the moment for only a period of time, most often not the entire time I'm running. And while this is fine for some training runs, come race time it's to my detriment. It doesn't matter if I'm falling apart physically or not and 9 times out of 10 I'm physically a-ok. And so this has been my focus. There was no "official focus training" kick-off but rather something I knew I'd need to get a better grip on if I ever intend to move off this plateau I'm stuck on and start running to my physical abilities.
It started with attending a 4 week workshop at Kula. And although I didn't start noticing the effects right away, progress was being made. It started in the yoga sessions themselves. Regardless of what had occurred in the day already, I was able to gently shut down those thought processes and focus on just the physical movements and guidance provided by the instructor. I didn't go to some far away land in my mind but rather further engaged in what I was doing at that moment. In other words, I wasn't disassociating but rather connecting to my inner self in a deeper fashion.
And little by little as my practice continued, more and more progress was made. All culminating this past Sunday at the Broad Street Run. Here's the set up... I'm not in race shape, I'm not worlds away from race shape but I'm not there and I know it. I am, however, not prepared to take this 10 miler completely casually either. I'm down some lbs., I haven't been completely slacking and I'm hungry. Hungry for a taste of success. I arrived ready to give a solid effort both physically and mentally.
The race starts and I'm off with the yellow corral (wave)... only a minute or so after the official start, which in a race of nearly 26,000 people isn't too shabby. Because I'm fairly close to the front there is no need for bobbing and weaving. I set up on the white line between the right-most two lanes and start ticking away the miles. First thing I noticed is I'm not scanning around as much as I normally do. Sure I take in the crowd, more by hearing them rather than seeing them as well as logging the same information about my fellow runners - who's close by, who's running an even pace, etc. But I'm here
I continue to live there ...here.
I glance at my Garmin just when passing the mile markers. Taking note of my splits but not going any further with that data. In fact I didn't look at the cumulative time passed until I saw something out of the corner of my eye, on one of the big clocks, around 57 mins and for one brief second my mind shifted. "I'm pretty sure that's Tom's PR ...he'd be finished by now. Wow!" And just as quickly I was back.
I was doing this. I was fully engaged in the moment. I was strong. I was capable. I was proud.
And then I was finished. Crossing the finish line in 1:22:03. Not a PR by any means but really not too far off either. In fact had I not stopped for an emergency porta-potty break I would have been within a minute or so of my PR and with plenty of gas in the tank to have gone for it.
It didn't matter.
I'd already won this race. I was brimming with confidence, with pure joy and also quite a bit of rain (it was a wet one, again!).
Now that's what I'm talking about!