Running Your Own Race

Oh, how I wish this [running your own race] was something I could list under “strengths” when it comes to my running resume (if I had such a thing.)  I never run my own race because I’m always stuck on the, ”what if I could have kept that pace for entire race’ theory.  It’s an awful mindset to be in and as far as running goes, that whole “what if” thing when it comes to a faster pace rarely works the way you wish it would.

If you watched the Olympic Marathon Trials, you saw as close to, if not completely, a perfect race executed by Desi Linden.  The weather was far from ideal and affected nearly every athlete.  Desi still did Desi.  A large group of women kicked off the race and stuck together, but she wasn’t leading the rush.  While the front 3-4 runners stayed together, occasionally alternating places, Desi did Desi.  She continued to hold her own comfortable pace, watching the lead pack thin slightly.  When the lead pack of 4-5 runners started to make a push halfway through, Desi didn’t waver.  Desi kept on doin’ Desi.  As the top 4-5 runners pushed even further ahead, when we all began to wonder what Desi would do, she seemed so far behind — could she make up the time?  Desi Desi-ed and started to pick up her pace, casually, gracefully, seemingly effortlessly and took over each spot until she finished strong in second place.

I need to channel my inner Desi.  Don’t we all?

It takes a shitload (technical words here, people) of patience to do what she did.  I don’t know many people, if any, who can truly say they’d have kept their cool in a race like that.  How many of us could really trust our training and not go for it — whatever your “it” is?

This Sunday, I have a half marathon on my calendar.  I don’t do well with running a race without giving it my all.  I think it stems a little from my middle and high school running — you have a race, you give 110%.  You don’t run races as “training” runs or “supported” runs.  You race to win, no if’s, and’s or but’s about it.  This weekend, I’m going to do this differently.  I have to do it different.

My longest run since training again has been somewhere between 8 and 9 miles.  Given that my goal race is May 1st, this isn’t an issue… except I’ve developed this tradition with the girls.  We run Lake Effect and we get boozy blues brunch.  It’s a must.  (Yes, I could drive out to Syracuse and just do boozy blues brunch but it never feels as rewarding — I know, because I DNF’d last year.)  So I must run Lake Effect; plus the medal is pretty sweet this year and I want it.  What’s a girl to do?

Booze Running MemeBrittany is gonna Desi.

It’s going to hurt me to run Sunday as a long run, but it’s the right thing to do for my overall goal.  If executed properly, this race should be closing in on a personal worst for a half marathon because my pace should be anywhere between 9 and 10 minutes.  This is based on my recent January 5 miler in Rochester and while I’m sure my fitness is better than that, my legs are also running 4-5 miles more than they’re used to covering!  I just have to keep in mind that for me, this is a long run.  Lo-o-o-ong run.  The goal is to warm-up during the race and keep it very comfortable until my last turn around (the course is a double out and back) which should be mile 9, and take inventory there.  Do things feel good?  Do I have more to give?  Any nagging pains?  If all lights are green — I’d like to gradually pick it up.  If not?  Well, it’s a long run anyways.

Weather is looking towards clearing up from here on out.  My legs and mind are looking forward to clear sidewalks (the latest storm that blew through has put a damper on everything) and warmer weather.  This race (to me) signifies the end of winter, most often.  This year, it signifies the start of “digging deep” and pushing towards my lofty goal.  As I keep on keepin’ on, I’m truly starting to rethink these goal races set in early Spring; my body does not adjust to winter running well.


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Just a 20-something homegrown Buffalo sports loving, distance running, gin drinking kind of girl.

17 thoughts on “Running Your Own Race”

  1. I can’t wait to see you this weekend!!!!

    Also, I totally get where you are coming from. Not giving it 100% feels freaking tough (I will also not be all out racing Sunday) but keeping the long term goal in mind is really important. So we won’t be setting PR’s but we will have a damn good time, get a fun medal and enjoy the heck out of blues boozy brunch after!


  2. Good luck this weekend! HAVE FUN!! I don’t think it has to be as extreme as a race can only be either all out effort or a slow training run. I often use races as fitness tests, where I don’t race them at full effort but I still allow myself to push the pace – basically, a glorified tempo run. I run by effort and tune into my body, so I can still run fast without pushing too hard because I’m not worried about time. And that way it also doesn’t bother me at the end if i could have gone faster, because that wasn’t my goal. Everybody wins! But I understand that the mindset of “110% or just stay home” can be hard to break out of.

    I love Desi. I’m always super impressed by her performances. She is great at running her own race….but she’s also a professional athlete. This is her JOB. Of course she’s going to be better at it than 99% of the running population. She’s a great example but don’t forget, it takes an insane amount of practice to get marathon pacing down to an art like that.


    1. Thank you! My mind set is still struggling with the race doesn’t mean race mentality but I’m going to keep practicing! I’ll definitely be running on effort, maybe just looking at heart rate.

      Thanks for the reminder about Desi doing this for her career. Even though I know that, spelling it out sometimes makes the point hit home harder. I wonder if she has worked with a sports psychologist at all to get so… Zen.


  3. watching Desi run that race and looking back at it was amazing. We could all learn a little bit from her patience and her knowledge and confidence in herself. Good luck with your run this weekend!


  4. Good luck this weekend. I always find it hard to run my own race. At least during the first mile or two but I’m getting better at it. It’s frustrating to get passed early–but I sure like it during the second half of a race when I’m the one doing the passing.


    1. Thank you! I agree the first mile or two is so difficult. There’s a 10k I’ve run a few times and each year I spend the first mile dodging and weaving…. So exhausting and bad tangents. Maybe I’ll learn one of these days 😉


  5. I think you are being smart. I remember seeing the interviews before the race with Desi and she said “people are not going to think I’ll make it because I am going to relax for the first half”. I cannot imagine how hard that was for her.

    I’ve run a few races as long runs or training runs (more recently) and I will say it’s challenging. Good luck this weekend!


  6. It was incredible to watch Desi run her own race and not lose her shit that the lead pack had pulled away from her. Good luck this weekend! May you and your inner-Desi be successful in treating it as a long run!


  7. I JUST signed up for this race primarily to use it as a long run/ gauge for my goal race in March. I know I’ll want to go out way to hard/fast for me – but am hoping to keep a pace that more resembles “comfortably uncomfortable”. I’ll keep an eye out to say hi! Have a great time – the weather looks like it’ll be good to us!


    1. The weather does look to be good, which always poses the “wtf do I wear” panic. I think I have three outfits packed to bring (got a hotel). I’ll keep an eye out as well; good luck!!


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