On Saturday I race the Richmond Half Marathon for the second time. I am excited about the race and to see what I can run on fresh legs. I’ve been comparing my workouts between this year and last year, and it got me thinking about last year’s race and my mentality going in.
Last year, all I wanted was to break 1:25, which is 6:29/mile. My workouts showed that I should be able to do that. The night before the race, I randomly looked up what other people were doing in workouts to break 1:25, and it made me nervous because I was not doing those workouts. Luckily, though, I realized how silly this was and trusted my coach. I know that everyone is different, every course is different, and every runner executes races differently. I decided at that moment to run pace until I simply couldn’t. Even if it felt fast, I was going to give myself a chance at breaking 1:25. I also decided that my first mile was going to be my slowest. So, what happened? I ran 6:31 for the first mile, passed people the whole race, negative split, and went 1:23:57.
When I coached high school cross country, we would talk about getting the kids to commit to the training program – the team was never going to succeed until the kids trusted us to get them to state ready to race fast. It just takes one kid believing in the program whole-heartedly. Everyone sees them run times they didn’t think possible, and before you know it, everyone is on board. For example, one of the top guys this year on the team ran 13:50 for 3k at his first Freshman race. This year he ran 15:42 for 5k and was the top runner multiple times. It is amazing what hard work and faith in your coaches/training gets you.
I mention this, because I have once again had some self-doubt of whether or not I can reach my time goal. Last Friday, I finished 10 weeks of inpatient rotations – 8 weeks of Internal Medicine and 2 weeks of Neurology. I learned so much medicine, but it was exhausting. I worked 70 hours/week, 6 days a week. One of my best weeks had 72 hours at the hospital, 15 hours of studying at home, and 10 hours of training. I worried that I did not do enough training. I am not running as many miles as last year, I am not able to get in the pool as often, I don’t hit my time goals in every workout. You name the excuse, I’ve probably thought of it. But, when I think about it, I’ve actually done more than last year. This year, the one workout I did not hit my time goals on was the day before a big exam and I was sleeping 5-6 hours a night because of studying. I may not be getting in as many easy runs, but I am walking around the hospital for 5+ hours every day. And, I am getting in the quality work every week, including my long ride and run. The biggest thing that I have going for me, though, is that I trust my coach. He has gotten me ready for some pretty big races, so why wouldn’t I be ready to race this time? I also haven’t seen him this excited about some of the workouts – if he believes in me, I should believe in myself.