Season openers are always interesting. You never really know how they’re going to go, and this past weekend was no exception. After my month and half break, and only a few weeks of training on solid ground, I had even less of an idea how the race would turn out. Usually my nerves don’t disappear until the gun goes off and the adrenaline kicks in, but this time it was different. When I stepped up to the line I felt a sense of calmness I haven’t felt on any start line in a long time. I wasn’t calm because I knew I was fit and ready to run fast, or because it was a fun low-key race. I had absolutely no expectations of myself other than to run to the best of my ability at that moment in time. If that meant running 10:15-well darn, if it meant running 9:50-great. I was prepared to run anywhere within that range, but wasn’t eliminating the possibility of running faster or slower. Splits didn’t matter, position didn’t matter, I just wanted to run and to try to compete.
The race is mostly just one big blur, but I do remember one main thing: I enjoyed every moment of those 9 minutes and 52 seconds I ran around that track. Crossing the line I felt so happy that I had decided to race, relieved it went as well as it did, and tired, but not exhausted. This made me frustrated knowing I could have maybe squeezed under the Commonwealth B standard had I run a little less conservatively at the beginning of the race. However, its exciting to know that I had more in me, and that I have another chance to race in a week.
I’ve spent the last few years chasing standards, only to come up short both times I wanted it most. Chasing those times was more mentally exhausting than it was physically. There’s a fine line between putting the proper amount of pressure on yourself and too much pressure on yourself and I crossed WAY over that line a few times, with disastrous results. This weekend served as reminder of how racing should be. It’s not some big complicated thing. I train day in and day out for this, I have full confidence in my coach and my training, and I know that no matter what my fitness level is on race day I will always give it everything I have, and that’s all I could possibly ask of myself. Ten minutes, that’s all I have to get through, so why overcomplicate things by stressing about times that if I’m capable of running, I’ll run.
It was nice to get back to Palo Alto after not having raced there in a few years. I loved seeing so many familiar faces and being able to watch and cheer for my Canadian teammates who across the board had some impressive and inspirational performances. The morning after my race I got to be a bit of a tourist and see part of Stanford’s campus on my run. Even though I’ve raced there a handful of times, I’d never actually seen anything besides the athletic facilities. Beautiful would be an understatement, the pictures don’t nearly do it justice.
I’m back in Flagstaff for a few more days and plan on spending them enjoying my easy runs along the trails, taking in the view as we drive down to Sedona for our last workout there, and drinking as much Macy’s coffee as I can. One week until my next race and then up to Victoria, BC for more training!