When wine and racing come together

No, this is not a post about a new event – The Wine Mile. Although now that I’ve retired from the Beer Mile that could be something to consider…

I’m talking about what happens when you relax with a glass of wine or two and you happen to be online and suddenly your attention is seized by an upcoming race.  This is exactly what happened to me earlier this week. I somehow got onto the Nationals Cross-Country site, and was looking at the date and location and who was running.

If I had had no wine, my thought process would have played out like this:

“Wow, those girls are tough. I remember cross-country. It was a long time ago and it never didn’t hurt. It was always cold, hilly, long, painful and exhausting. I wonder if I’ll ever race cross-country again? Probably not. Anyway, this is Nationals and I’m not in shape for cross-country. Also it’s in a different city which is logistically difficult. I’ll be sure to check the results though – looks like it’ll be a good race.”

However, I happened to land on the page while sipping my second glass. So my thought process was more like this:

“Wow – Nationals! Exciting – look who’s racing! I want to be a part of the action. And it’s not even that far away! I deserve a night away from the kids. Also I’m super tough and what if I have a great race and totally surprise myself and everyone else and do really well out of nowhere? It could totally happen. Awe, remember the glory days of cross-country? It was so much fun! I’m totally doing it.”

Although the next morning my enthusiasm for racing cross-country wasn’t nearly as strong, I did remember the thoughts and feelings of excitement I’d had the night before. I mentioned the idea in passing to a few people. But in a non-committal “I had this crazy thought the other day” kind of way. Strangely, everyone I brought it up to thought I should do it. It’s possible I need a new advisory board since they seem to come to the same conclusion as myself after two glasses of wine, but too late to argue now. I’m registered and doing it.

I’d love to say I’m excited and ready to go. In reality I’m slightly terrified and dreading it, but deep down I know I want to do it.  Still, I think I’ll stay away from race sites next time I’m in a wine mood.

The "Glory Days"

The “Glory Days”

If 8 year-olds were in my run group

It’s official. I’m old. Not because I just turned 40, but because I no longer understand the words my kids use. At least not in the context they’re using them. I had an experience with a group of eight year olds recently which confirmed the fact that they and I have very different understandings of what certain words mean. It led me to imagine conversations if my morning running group were comprised of eight year olds.

Me: “Ok guys, we’re doing 5 hill repeats.”
Eight year old: “Random.”
Me: “it’s not random at all. We’re rebuilding our strength for our winter base building phase.”
Eight year old: “Wow – rare.”
Me: “???”
Group member shows up with a new, flourescent jacket.
Eight year old: “That jacket is so awkward!”
Me: “What are you talking about? It’s not awkward at all. It’s the opposite of awkward. It is in fact extremely functional and sensible.”
Eight year old isn’t listening because I’ve already talked for too long.
The workout commences.
Eight year old: “This is LITERALLY the steepest hill ever.”
Me: “Actually, it’s not. It’s not even figuratively the steepest hill ever.”
Eight year old: “You’re making no sense right now. Literally.”
Me: “I don’t think you’re using ‘LITERALLY’ correctly”
Eight year old: “Awkward.”
There is no possible reply to this so we continue doing hills.
The workout finishes.
Eight year old: “That workout was Legendary!!!”
Me: “Actually, we were starting again with 5 hills. We’ve done up to 9 before. So this one wasn’t actually ‘legendary'”
Eight year old looking at me funny: “What is wrong with you and why don’t you understand anything I’m saying?”
Me: “Ditto.”
We run home in silence.


When goal races go bad

Not all runners run races. I don’t need to race in order to enjoy my “training”. I enjoy running hard in order to feel good and to generally stay fit and fast. But every now and then I like to measure my efforts with a race, and sometimes I need to have a goal to help motivate me and keep me honest in working hard. I also like testing myself and putting it all on the line in a big performance. I love racing when I feel well prepared and fit and ready to go. I don’t feel the need to do this too often (because it is hard and stressful) but usually once or twice a year I’ll train for a big “goal race”.

This fall I decided it was time. For about eight weeks I ran weekend long runs with pace specific work, Wednesday morning interval workouts where I tried to get faster and fitter each week, did running specific strength training with core work included and daily runs to hit my mileage targets. I was doing all this to get ready to run a fast half marathon. I was getting excited to get out there and see what I had.

But then I got sick. I was still hopeful that I’d recover right up until the night before. But as I lay under the covers with the chills and body aches I knew I wouldn’t be able to race a decent race, so I decided not to go.

sometimes this ...

sometimes this …

... takes the place of this.

… takes the place of this.

Big goal races are like that. Of all my current network of runner friends, I would say that for big goal races for this fall they were about 60/40 for being happy with their races vs. not. And in the ‘not’ category are those who got injured, sick, or just had a bad race below expectations. It is really hard to put a perfect training block together and have everything come together perfectly for race day. The odds, although slightly on your side, are not great. It’s anything but a sure thing. We’re up against work stress, family circumstances, physical injury, poor weather, cold and flu viruses, poor nutrition choices (ok, that last one might be within our control). To add to this, training plans are not sure fire recipes for success and adapting perfectly to a training plan without over or under-doing it, taking all your other stressors into account, is a fine art which I think has a lot of luck written in.

This is not to say we should give up and stop trying. It is just a reminder not to beat ourselves up when we land in the 40% who didn’t reach their goal. I’m finally there. I’ve been doing this for long enough that I don’t feel mad or upset that I didn’t race. There will be more, and I will enjoy training towards a goal, and if it all comes together I will realize what a special thing it is and celebrate with all my heart. And then I’ll go out and buy a lottery ticket.

Like having the perfect goal race.

Like having the perfect goal race.