Do you have that competitive switch you can’t turn off? Sometimes I wish I could turn mine off, but I just can’t! This past October, I ran in The Baltimore marathon and my result was not as I had hoped. I was about 7 minutes off my target time, finishing in 3:12, which, granted is not bad for a 54 year old woman, but not to my satisfaction. It took me all of about 24 hours before I decided I had to give it another go and will run The Palm Beach Marathon in December. I have done this several times in my life, that is, running in a marathon soon after finishing another. While I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone, I seem to be able to recover well and carry my training over for another few weeks to run again, particularly when I have a slower race then I felt I was capable of running. After all, I’ve been doing this for over 30 years, so I feel pretty comfortable with knowing where I stand as far as fitness levels.
While I am not a big fan of speed work, I know it’s one of those necessary evils, but 2 weeks after The Baltimore Marathon, I was not ready to beat myself up with a fartlek run on the roads. I thought it would be much more fun to go run a 5k to give myself a good quality run with other runners to push me a little. A little being the key word here! So, I show up on race morning to pick up my number and I spot this old rival of mine warming up on the roads. I hadn’t raced against her in probably 7 years or more but there she was and I recognized her stride immediately. Instantly, my heart rate picked up and I started feeling my hands getting damp and I knew this was not going to be just an easy 5k.
The gun went off and she took off. Of course she had spotted me too. She is actually about 5 years younger than me and I tend to start off a bit slower these days, but I know I can build my speed over the first ¼ to ½ miles and catch those who have busted out of the starting gate. But I was worried my legs would be a little dead from the marathon and she seemed to be pulling away pretty easily and pretty quickly. It took me about ¾ mile to catch her and from there my heart was pounding and my legs burning as I had to show off and blow by her building my lead because I knew that last ½ mile I would be holding on for dear life! I did manage to gasp out a “good job” to her as I ran by and yes it was sincere because we runners like to give each other the respect they deserve. No matter how competitive we are with our rivals, it is our own expectations and our own performance that drives us to be the best we can be, but the competition sure helps! And in case you want to know…I did keep my lead beating my old rival. Phew!