Plan A was to run the race in under 1 hr, 30 mins. It was definitely "aiming big" as Trevor calls it. But again those pesky facts! I was not ready to push myself to that degree and stick to Plan A, and my legs and cooperative ego were telling me so.
|Back side of mile-splits|
wrist band I wore
That mid-week run guided me, and I was listening. I felt I was at 94% or so in terms of recovery from pacing Blue Ridge. But 94% is not where you need to be to achieve a big goal, no matter what the stage-coach driver in your head is telling you. Have the dream but hold it for another day. It was not until sometime Friday morning that I decided to accept my Plan B strategy and I tried on my band, B-side-up. I had reviewed my own running data from similar races; I studied the elevation and course map, and I even invested time going over the route virtually using Google Earth. Plan B was becoming solid. And Plan B was still a stretch.
|Scouting out the race route,|
Wildwood Park on Friday
Race day on Saturday was excellent with over 250 runners, fine weather, and lots of enthusiastic volunteers. After a teaser false race-start, we were off. Along with several potentially faster, adrenaline-inspired 8k racers, I held on to that holdin-on feeling, eased back the throttle just a bit, and followed my wrist mile-splits. Mile 1 and 4 were purposely slower to account for the half-mile uphill sections. As I had prepared my Plans I had also become familiar with the route - a very wise strategy in this case, as the leaders made a couple of wrong turns, and others missed turns along the way.
|Trail at about mile 6.5|
Wildwood Park, Radford, VA
Mile 10 was a peak. That was the last aid station and I even gulped a shot of Powerade, grabbed 2 small cups of gummy bears and a handful of some sort of jelly candies ... sugar = good! Muscles responding as I locked in to the runner ahead - dreams of catching him - Aim Big, why not? Right on track. I didn't know what place I was in - I just knew I had to keep digging in to stay on track. I kept him in sight, slowly decreasing the distance between us. Then at about 12.5 the guy took a wrong turn ... I kept going as we tried to discuss it between gasps to keep us on track.
|Plan B executed for a 3rd|
Place, 4 seconds faster
than my goal
As I peaked the final ascent and saw the clock reading 1:34 something or other, I thought, "Could I make it?" Sprinting, pushing, hurting, cross the final mat and hit my Garmin-watch stop button. Plan B had my splits so I would finish in 1:35:25. My time was 1:35:20.7. Nailed it again!
Plan A is still waiting. I have lots of time to evaluate it. But it was Plan B that got me there - and with surprising results. I was not thinking of places, or medals, or anything but B. Got it done by 4 seconds ... very happy with that, and I felt great. Plan A would have me running along, ignoring the facts. On race day Plan B was mine. Plan B was what I created as a result of creating Plan A, and as a result of listening to my inner voice, accepting that gut feeling, and adjusting accordingly.
|Hanging out with other runners,|
savoring our accomplishment together
Why write about my accomplishments in a small, local running race? The answer may be the same as that for the question, "Why run?" To me, this write up affirms the importance and value of introspection and of listening to that "inner voice" and heeding the resulting decision one makes after listening.
Why listen? Because we can. Because we *still* can learn. And I am still learning as I chose to listen to those fleeting thoughts and subtle feelings (and insightful friends) to help guide me along the way. Whether it be creating a race plan, actually running the race, or accomplishing other life goals, the plan for a Plan B will ever be in my arsenal.