The list of dumb things I do when I’m racing could fill a book. Starting a race without looking at a course map? Check. Inadequately warming up? Yep. Track spikes on a cross country course? Is there a difference? (That answer, by the way, is yes).
But I kind of took the cake this past weekend at the Sundodger Invitational. The reason it was so egregious is that I knew better. Or, I should say, was inspired to know better by this great post by elite runner Tina Muir on body/self image and whether or not one believes they look like a runner. Read it, it’s great. I read it the day before Sundodger.
So what happened? I got to the starting line and decided that there were people who looked faster than I do. Seriously. This is the crap that goes through my head. Women who were more ripped, longer-legged, and just looked faster. And therefore I lined up behind them in the starting box. Why? Because I’d hate to hold someone back. Or slow someone down. You know, because I don’t LOOK as fast as they do.
And then the gun went off, and I got caught behind them. They didn’t go out as fast as I wanted to. This is by no means an indictment of anyone aside from me and my lack of confidence. The pack closed in around me, 200+ people with a quarter mile to get to a path that narrows to 5-6 people wide.
I ended up finishing the race in 11th place out of 218 finishers. I don’t even think I’m in 11th place on my team in this picture. I dug myself a big hole and had to expend a lot of energy to fight (literally) my way back to the front. And all because I doubted myself, my ability, and whether or not I deserved to be on the front line.
It’s one thing to have a bad race. They happen. But it’s another thing to doubt yourself out of a good one. Don’t do it, it’s a waste of your training. Yes, I eked out a 6k PR of 21:48. But could it have been faster had I not had to sprint the better part of a mile to get back into fighting position? I’ll never know.