Patience, Patience, Patience...

Okay, so it’s easy to want to rush this whole life thing right?

Waiting, for me, is one of the most difficult things. I like things quickly or at least the first time I work for it and try.

This weekend was humbling. This last year has been humbling. I love running. I know I’m good, but for the first time in my life I’m competing at the elite level. If it’s easy everyone would be doing it.

Rusty and I have had countless conversations. What does it take to be that good? How bad do I want it? Can I do it? Ugh. If I’m being honest, I get distracted. A lot of days I think of everything going on in life. I’m a people pleaser. And often I get caught up in all the people and things in life. Often it’s worldly things. I get stressed by how much money I make, how good of a wife people think I am, how good I look in my racing singlet, what people see me as and I lose sight of the goal, the bigger picture.

So often I just want things to come easily. I just want everything to click. However, life doesn’t typically work that way. There’s usually a lot of hard work, years of preparation, patience, prayers, grace, failures, ups and downs, and a lot that goes unseen. The countless hours I spend running, sleeping, cooking, hydrating, reading more books on running, figuring out proper nutrition, lifting, stretching, rolling, coaching, mentally preparing…I can’t count the hours. So much of it has just become part of life. But for the first time in my life I’ve chosen something that requires my full attention. I can’t do everything, be involved in everything, please everyone, go to every social event, be good at everything. And it’s HARD.

As I ran my race Sunday, I started off feeling SO good. My legs were fresh and the first couple of miles felt like a breeze. For the first time in my life I was running a 5:30 something mile without a problem. I was pretty stoked! I ran a 17:20 5k COMFORTABLY. HA! I went into this race shooting for a 1:15:00.
I spent the hours running, eating, sleeping, stretching, etc…but the one thing I didn’t focus on was a strategy. I didn’t prepare my mind for what I was about to try. I knew 5:43, that’s the pace. I can do that.
But I didn’t think about how good my legs would feel at the start, how easy it would be to go out fast, how a half marathon is still a LONG race. There is a lot of strategy to this. No, it’s not a marathon, but it’s not a 5k either. I didn’t think about conserving energy. I just went for it. It’s funny this would be one of the things I tell my clients, but for some reason when it came to racing it for me-this didn’t cross my mind.

At times, that's not always a bad thing to go in without thinking too hard. Overthinking a race can often bite us runners in the butt. We get to caught up in a pace or time and forget to race and listen to our bodies. But as I reflect over this past race I really think about my lack of mental preparation and strategy. I was talking with Ryan and I just sat there thinking I HAVE SO MUCH TO LEARN. Yes, I’ve been running forever, and yes I know how to coach, but competing at this level is different from the past (I also need to practice what I preach-I ALWAYS tell my kids not to go out too fast).

It was humbling. My first 5k was a 5:35 pace…Ryan told me, absolutely do NOT go any faster than a 5:43 pace until mile 8. Whoops. I was excited and my watch was going a bit all over the place. But I went out too fast. And it came to bite me in the butt. I told myself. Make it to mile 10, then see how you feel. You can drop if you need to. So I had two miles that fell to over a 6:30 pace and my heart sunk. So I stopped at mile 10 for 2 minutes. Bah. I thought I should just drop. I can’t race my potential, I’m burnt out. I screwed up. All these negative thoughts. Then I was like heck, this is only a half, I can at least cruise in and finish. Whatever, just finish. So I did. I could not move my legs any faster than a 6:19 pace. Not the goal. Ouch.

So I finished disappointed and mad at myself. Tears flowing from my eyes and not the best of language coming from my lips. All the while getting texts from my family, great job! New record! And all I could think at that moment was-dang it, that was so off pace.

Then I talked with my coach. I hit my max too soon. I need to go out more conservatively, save the push for the end. He reminded me “you can run a 1:15, it just may take another take.”

This sport is so unique. I put so much work in and race these long distances a handful of times a year. And for the first time I’m really pushing my limits. I’m seeing how hard my body can push. This is no longer a reasonable race, but fast, and one not many women can do. I’ve also never truly raced a half. This was my first time. Yes, it was a bit of a disaster, but I’m learning. I also need to remember to focus, because even though I’m not racing a marathon, I’m trying to do something that requires a lot of focus. Especially when you only get to truly race only a couple of times a year, you want to make them count. It’s weird. Think of how many basketball games the pros play a year, how many tennis matches, soccer games, football games and even short distance runners, how many races they have a year. Endurance sports are strange in that way.

It’s moments like this one that shape us. It shapes me for sure. When I was younger I would have let this consume me for weeks. It would have shattered my confidence. And yeah, I was disappointed for a bit, but as I thought and prayed and talked, I’m proud and encouraged. I tried doing something I never have before. I ran my fastest 5k and 10k, I tried to do something hard and scary. Yeah, I didn’t succeed, I messed up a little, but I tried. If I keep living in fear of failure, I’m never going to get anywhere. I can at least learn and grow. I’d rather the pain of failing then never know what it feels like to try.

And note to self…let’s plan a little better. I forgot to book my flight till 2 days before, than booked the wrong one getting home. Mistakes like that show me that mentally I was not fully prepared for this race. Also, it makes me understand why athletes have agents….it’s a lot to keep track of. I’m booking a lot of flights and places to stay in racing season. Praise God I got a desk to help with focus.

Thanks for the cheers and the encouragement. I’m ready for a great race, but I also know all of this work is progress. I’m excited for these next couple of months!

Jo ButlerComment