Sunday, February 24, 2008

Race Report: Coach Bubba 4-Miler

"Inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that is where I renew my springs that never dry up.” - Pearl S. Buck

Sweating, spitting, grunting like a wild animal, pumping my arms and legs and lungs and spirit up and over the last short bridge. Crossing the finish line after a quick four miles, reborn again.

Man, I love racing.

My first one of the year was Saturday morning and it was good. I stayed true to my intention and met my goal time. More than that, I fell in love all over again -- with running, with competing, with my own power.

With only four miles in total, the race was over quickly. For the first time in running event, I took a place at the front of the start line. I looked around and couldn't quite believe I was there. Even though my plan was to go out fast, as I looked to my left (where my coach was flashing her thumbs up) and then to my right (where my super speedy Sage Endurance teammate Juliet was preparing for her own fast start), I admit that I wasn't quite sure that I belonged.

We were off with the gun and, as usual, I had my "oh, crap...why am I doing this" thought about half a mile in. Luckily, I've learned a couple of things over the last year of training and this time I was prepared. I dedicated this race to N and wrote his name on the back of my race bib. N is a boy who currently lives at Genesis Home with his family. Like most of the kids living there, he's had a very, very tough life. But, also like most of the kids living there, he has a smile and lightness that make me warm every time I think of him. When I experienced self-doubt on Saturday morning, I thought of N playing with his friends, laughing without care, and running freely.... and then I ran freely too.

Perhaps, just a little too freely during that first mile! At the 1 mile mark a race volunteer called out splits. As I ran past, I heard 7:26. Just six seconds more than the fastest mile I've ever run, I almost stopped right there and asked him if he was serious. Despite telling myself, "o.k. slow it down a bit, now" I was thrilled. I've been working on facing my fear of going out fast, on redefining myself as a faster runner than was I six years ago, on really going for it -- and that first mile was proof that the work is leading to progress.

I slowed a bit too much over mile 2, but regained a more balanced pace for miles three and four. I stayed mentally focused and practiced my stride counting technique when things got really hard. I would have loved to have finished just a few seconds faster, but I'm very satisfied. The year is long and this is just the beginning.

4 miles
32:39 (8:10/ mile)
Age Group: 3/24 (who doesn't love to place in her age group!)
Overall: 68/268