Getting over race anxiety: Practice, practice, practice

IMG_3334.JPGAsk and I shall deliver.

My coach suggested I run more short races as hard training efforts to help me get over my race anxiety stomach. Even though I don’t tend to get an upset stomach when I run races for fun, it’s still practice getting into race mode. Just like I did with all my mental strength exercises last marathon cycle, I need to make a habit of positive thoughts when regularly running so at crunch time, my toolbox is equipped.

To this end, I signed up for the Revolutionary Run for Veterans on Saturday. My plan was to do an easy to moderate effort depending on how I felt race morning. I’m only 3 weeks past my marathon, so all out effort would be dumb. I also did a hard track workout Wednesday that left me a little sore plus Friday I ran 6.5 miles followed by a tough metabolic workout with my personal trainer (who I accused of trying to kill me 😅). In other words, not in any shape for a PR attempt.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I had a hint of a hope I’d magically pull out a PR without even trying. Spoiler alert: didn’t happen.

The race was held at Fort Hardy – Schuyler’s Canal Park, which is the site of the British laying down of arms to the surrender to the Americans at the first major American victory during the Revolutionary War. Now it’s a gorgeous park with baseball fields, trails, swimming and boating on the Hudson River.

It was chilly that morning — around 38 degrees — but not terrible because there wasn’t much windchill. Our entry got us a cool long sleeve technical shirt with a blue camouflage print, a notebook with post-its, a knit beanie, a tote bag… and a tube of silicone.

IMG_3335.JPG
^^Strangest race goody bag item. So glad it’s “mold-free”. Can you get the kind with mold included?

The race started kind of late and it didn’t have a timing start mat. No biggie. I wasn’t planning on looking at my watch anyway. The course was marshaled by servicemen, and I made sure to thank as many a possible as I ran past (this was also a good way to ensure I was running at conversational/ish pace). I ran without an iPod, which I am really not missing during races. When I get to my half marathon in New Orleans, I plan to soak up the live music on course.

The course started in a field, which I’m not used to running on. Something to practice. It was pretty congested as we made a narrow turn behind a ball field. We’d had some pretty heavy rain the day before, so the grass and trails were a little muddy. But just past a half mile into the race, things cleared up enough for me to start passing people. Much of the course ran on a towpath between a canal and the Hudson River. It was really gorgeous and I bet during the summer and peak leaf color it is even nicer. It was primarily flat, but it had one super steep downhill that slowed me down a bit (I always imagine myself tumbling head over heels, with a skinned face and twisted ankle. Need to work on more positive visualizations on downhills.) and a couple short uphills.

IMG_3336.PNGI was really relaxed during the race, although I’m not quite adjusted to the colder temp, which burned my throat a little. I passed quite a few people, although I was overtaken by some strapping men in last .1 mile. Ha. Overtaken by a strapping young man sounds a lot more sexy than it was. It kind of annoyed me.

I assumed that I was passing so many people because they had taken off too fast and we’re losing steam. After the race, my splits showed that I was speeding up throughout the race. Pretty cool to negative split a 5k. I though I had further to go at the end, so I wish I had started my final kick sooner. Also, we finished on grass, which, again, I was too hesitant on, worrying about invisible potholes.

Official time 25:58
83/331 overall (top 25%)
5/54 age group (9%)
15/159 females (9%)

IMG_3413.JPGSo, I guess this was a PR for a trail race? I’ve only run three, one of which was untimed. Given that it was on a trail, I ran at a moderately comfortable pace and it was my 3rd fastest 5k race, I’m not unhappy. I’m liking this trail running thing, although soon the weather won’t be conducive to running trails. One of these days, I’ll get brave enough to really race a 5k. I probably should because the run-til-I-feel-like-puking sensation probably will help me with my race anxiety stomach for longer races. I’m a chicken, but I will try to do the things that scare me so I can stop letting fear get in my way.

This week I get to run the practice 5k with my Girls on the Run buddies then on Saturday I am pacing a friend running her first 10k.

Meanwhile, any ideas on what to do with my new tube of caulk?

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8 thoughts on “Getting over race anxiety: Practice, practice, practice

  1. I’ve seen some interesting things show up in goodie bags, but I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to top your caulk.

    Your concerns as to the hill and mud and grass are not unreasonable concerns, but yes, better visuals would probably be helpful. 🙂 Go You!

  2. Amazing that you got a tube of caulk in your race bag. Have a tub or sink that needs resealing, perhaps? I love practice races. And racing a 5K? You’ve got to do it. It’s so different than racing a half-marathon or marathon. It’s incredibly painful, but over so quickly. I love them. Want more of them.

  3. I think that might be the most bizarre swag bag item I’ve ever seen.
    I like the way your coach is thinking though…so smart! I hope it helps and congrats on a great race! Do you have any areas of your bathroom that need caulking? I do.

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