Oxy = Angst

Our fearless leader keeps it light, despite my best efforts to be Miss GrouchyPants.

Our fearless leader keeps it light, despite my best efforts to be Miss GrouchyPants.

This 5k tonight at Oxy High Performance has sent me for a loop the past two weeks. As the days ticked by, I got more and more uptight thinking about it, culminating in Picky Bars staff meeting last Tuesday when I erupted into a burst of negativity that left a trail of stink on the rest of my day.

The closer the race got, the less I wanted to do it. And as I packed my bags on Tuesday night I found myself shaking my head at the fact that I didn’t even own a pair of spikes I liked. Jesse proposed I race in flats. Maybe if I was in superwoman shape I could get away with that, but even with the best equipment on Earth and ideal race conditions, I knew I’d struggle to keep up with the pack.

Then as I flew down to LA with Jude, I figured out the reason behind my angst. Way back when I was thinking logically, I made a plan for 2014 that involved an intentionally slow return to fitness as a way to protect my post-baby body from injury and set me up with a good foundation for the next 2+ years. The plan ALL ALONG was to put myself in race environments that were more fun-focused and tip toe my way back into competitiveness. Choosing crazy fast races was not in the plan because I’m a competitor who, once unleashed, will drive myself into the ground to be world class. After a year of IT band syndrome followed by a year of donating my body to science for a baby, a gradual approach was CRUCIAL to a long term plan of health and enjoyment of my sport, not to mention reaching my ultimate potential. So how the hell did I end up entered in the Oxy High Performance Meet that is likely to be won in 15:00?!?!

Because I Can’t Have Just One Drink

I ran a lot of my first 5k alone, and wasn't in a hurry to experience that again. And yet...

I ran a lot of my first 5k alone, and wasn’t in a hurry to experience that again. And yet…

In March I entered a 5k in Australia, partly because it happened to be one week after a friend’s wedding I wanted an excuse to attend. A race on the other side of the world had anonymity and seemed a great opportunity to get my new race kit dirty. I fell apart the last mile and ran a 15:53, almost a minute slower than my PR, but 2 seconds faster than the qualifying time to get into Oxy. I got excited. Carried away. Just think of how much I can improve in two months! I entered the Oxy race, booked a ticket, and arranged all the details.

Eight weeks have gone by of hard training. Not the kind of training required to run a 15:00 5k, but the kind of training that builds a foundation for years to come. The kind of training that fit my original plan of staying healthy and being balanced: fartleks, grass intervals, tempo runs, skipping afternoon runs to hang out with Jude sometimes, and focusing more energy on work and supporting my Little Wing teammates. When I zoom out on my life, I know I’m doing things the way I want to, but then that Oxy race pops into my brain and I’m like WTF was I thinking?!

These are the spikes and socks I picked out from Snail's Pace Running Shop yesterday.

These are the spikes and socks I picked out from Snail’s Pace Running Store in Fountain Valley yesterday.

A lot of Flyer fans are coming to watch. My parents are fighting traffic for the occasion. My dad is staying up way past his bedtime. Several twitter friends I’ve never met in real life are coming to their first ever track meet to see me compete. My flock surrounds me with love, but with it I feel expectation to be spectacular.

My grandma used to tell us kids that she would often wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and think “Oh God! Who is that old lady looking back at me!” She said inside she felt like she was 21 forever. That’s what I feel like as a competitor. Inside I feel like the woman who won London with a ferocious kick to the sound of fireworks exploding in the stadium. And then I look in the mirror and remember that I haven’t done the work yet, and my heart sinks.

But yesterday I realized, or rather remembered something that made me feel a little better. I don’t have to win for this to be a success (which is good because I won’t win unless lightening strikes everyone but me, and the forecast is clear.) I just need to set my own definition of success and run my own race, and decide right now that I will be happy with that. You think by now the “C for Courage” attitude would be second nature, but it’s not. Defining your own success is a practice with no end.

So What’s the Plan?

My biggest fan will be there, so I can't go wrong.

My biggest fan will be there, so I can’t go wrong.

So for all the people who have my back, I’m going to give you the inside scoop so you have context for my race. Here’s the link to the meet website. There are two rabbits in the race. One is running 72.5’s for 3k (Kim Conley). That is 15:05 pace…way way way faster than I can run right now. Attempting it would be extraordinarily stupid and I’d get nothing of value out of the race. The second rabbit is running 75’s (15:37 pace) for 2k. That is 14 seconds faster than I ran in Sydney in March, and would be an extraordinary day for me.

The conditions will be hot, even at 10:20 at night, and the field is relatively small (12) so it could string out and turn into a solitary pursuit. For those watching online, you probably won’t see me on camera much. For those coming in person, the more interesting race will be in front of me. But I’ll be there, running 12.5 laps in the direction of my dreams. And goddammit if I’m going to let the fishbowl make me feel bad about it.


Flyer Fan Clubbers in Attendance: find Jude in the stands and show him your card and you’ll get a prize :). He’ll be with Christine Babcock’s family and my family.