Saturday night I ran the race down broad street 5k in Woodbury, NJ. I hadn’t advertised I was doing this race because I didn’t want to stress myself out with unnecessary pressure. I just wanted to see what would happen. What happened was I got very sick last weekend with some type of flu and I missed a whole week of training. I went into that race only running 11.5 miles for the week.
I distinctly recall texting one of my teammates earlier in the day and saying I would be lucky if I broke 20 minutes. My races and workouts haven’t been quite what I had hoped for lately and defiantly not what I expected after running a ton of miles over the summer. Being sick had just added to this discouragement. In all honestly I seriously thought I would run close to 20 minutes. I wasn’t being a pessimist– I was being realistic. I barely ran all week, I was sick all week, and recent performances didn’t indicate I would have a great race so I decided to set an attainable goal of running under 20.
When I got to the race I did typical things. I signed up for the race, put on my sparkly soul headband, tightened my shoes, warmed up, and walked to the start.
I saw two of my teammates at the start which was nice. The race started and then it ended. I have no recollection of what happened in between aside from seeing roadkill within the first half mile and leaping over it. All of the negative things I wrote above didn’t seem to exist during the race. It was magic.
I didn’t PR but I had a great race. I ran 18:44. I was shocked. What was more shocking and actually spectacular was my ability to connect my mind, body, and passion for the sport(heart). There have been very few times in my running career that I’ve been able to do this. When I can do it I succeed because I am in this very focused state and it’s amazing. I can’t hear anything around me, I can’t see anything going on around me–all I can see is the ground beneath my feet, all my feet do is move faster. I also can’t recall details of the race. Often, I can’t determine if it’s reality or a dream.
I imagine this is how people excel at athletics. I imagine that professional athletes are professional athletes because they have the ability to go into this type of “zone”. The hard part is figuring out how to get to this place every time I compete as opposed to almost never.
I had one season in high school when I could do this during every meet. I had one race in college when this happened. Then the first time I ran under 19 in the 5k it happened. That was two years after college. The very next time this happened was at the same race last year when I ran my PR. The most recent time was obviously this Saturday. I’m not saying every race I ran in between was bad and I’m not saying all of these examples were the best performances I’ve ever had–I’m just saying that these races all have one common denominator– I don’t remember the middle. I only remember starting and finishing.
I’m now planning to practice ways I can focus and loose all connection with reality when I run. My goal is to find that “zone” during workouts and runs so that it is easier to achieve when I race. I’ll report back when I figure it out, in the mean time I’ll be spending the $100 I won for placing 2nd at the race.