The Anatomy of a Race

I’ve been thinking a lot about racing this week.   I’m currently involved in planning and organizing two upcoming events and working on my own race calendar for 2011.  This weekend is the annual St. George Half Marathon.  This race has been going on for years.  It is a staple in the area and one of the largest running events of the year.  With 2700 racers, it brings out some of the regions finest.  This year could be one of the largest fields ever.

For me, a half marathon is perfect.  I’m not a speedster and 5k and 10K distances have never been my cup of tea.  I’ll run them and I enjoy the challenge, but they hurt!  Really hurt!  Long distances hurt too, but they are more of a long dull pain rather than a sharp stabbing, vomit-inducing pain.  I tend to really enjoy the dull ache of distances over 10 miles.

I’ve been running quite consistently over the past few months.  I usually struggle in the winter with running, but this year I’ve stayed the course.  After the St. George Marathon in October, I took about a month break from long distances and gradually worked my way back up to a 12-17 mile weekly long run (I run another 2 days during the week ranging from 4-6 miles) in November.  I’ve managed to stay healthy and can tell that my body is adapting nicely to a consistent dose of middle distance running.  So I should be ready to race the half………..Right?

I don’t know!  I feel so unprepared!  I feel that I should have low expectations.  I dropped speed work out of my running training after the marathon and haven’t planned on picking it back up until after this race.  I’ve been focusing on high intensity speed training on the bike with some nice tempo work on my runs……nothing spectacular, but solid…….But am I feeling so ill prepared to “race”!  I can finish a half marathon.  I do that almost every week.  But can I RACE a half marathon.  I just don’t know the answer to that question.

I believe this is where the handy sports psychology book needs to come into play.  Racing is definitely a physical challenge, but you can’t ignore the mental aspect.  Your body can be ready to perform, but your mind must be ready to support the effort.  My body is ready.  I haven’t really pushed it since November, at a sprint distance triathlon.  My legs are somewhat “fresh” (as fresh as my legs get at any given time) and I’ve got all the training mileage I should need.  I just think my brain is a little rusty!  I’ve been running non-competitively for the last few months and just kind of enjoying the scenery usually behind the handlbars of a jogging stroller.  It was a much needed break from a long-hard season of racing, but now it is time to turn the engine back on face the challenges 2011 is ready to dish out.

So its time to get my head in the game and my race face on.  Saturday will be a great experience.  I need to step out and take it up a notch.  I need to rid myself of some of those winter cobwebs.  I’m hoping to have a willing body supporting me and I know that the racing spirit won’t be far behind.

Here’s to racing!  In this world there are not many things that compare to crossing a finish line.  Good luck to everyone.  Let’s bring it!

Now if I could just do something about this cold that I have…………. 😉

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