Lessons learned from training during the pandemic, then jumping into the racing frying pan.

  • I was trained but my times were not as I expected (or wanted).
  • I was physically ready but the mental side was not, my confidence was shaken to my core when I realized I was being “sized up” by my competition and her coach.
  • I just kept thinking of my coach’s guidance and words from my team-mates “run your race and stay on pace”. (easier said than done when competing at the National / Regional Level).
  • The gun went off, things that crossed my mind:
    • I felt my heart pounding away and thought I don’t want to get lapped by the person “sizing me up”
    • Crap, I have 12 and a half laps, I hope I don’t lose count.
    • Oh God, please let the photographer get my good side and no jiggles as I run.
    • What does my form look like?
    • How many laps is this?????
Photo Credit: Euleen Josiah-Tanner

As I kept running in circles like a hamster in heat (no not that kind of heat, more like a burning pit in the hot sun!) – My confidence was kicking in, then saw my competition who sized me up, at that point I knew I had to kick it my rear in gear. As I comfortably passed, her coach kept giving her tips on staying with me.

  • Alas, my confidence was back, felt strong, then when I had 3 laps to go I passed the lap counter, in my delusion, I asked is this my last lap? He laughed and said with a firm “NO – you have 3 more to go!”
  • So as I headed towards the bend, I heard my “bell” lap (which means it’s my final lap, it’s time to kick it in gear).
  • I began to move and pick up pace then at my final 200m, I felt my legs accelerate just like in practice, and I kept pumping my arms and they just wouldn’t pump (I knew at that moment, damn, I REALLY need to do more upper body weight training for arms ~ I pumped and pushed, then said “the hay is in the barn”.
  • Crossed the finish line without dry heaving. I knew at that point I didn’t give it all I had because my legs still felt fresh.
  • Needless to say, my coach had some words with me (which we will not go into – lol)

I ran my race and won my division, was 3rd Overall and the official SE Regional Champion.

The lesson: Although it was a win, it truly wasn’t a victory, I didn’t run the pace I could have and felt the weakness in my upper body = more weight and core conditioning. My confidence was once again restored after a long year of the pandemic and returning to the “Oval Office”.

Next was our 4 x 400m relay. My teammate was getting a team together, needless to say, I’m not a sprinter or run short distances (other than warmup, acceleration and deceleration drills).
I love her spunk, enthusiasm and confidence she has in everyone, especially me.
She said, alright, we need 2 additional runners, You and Me, and two more. I thought she was out of her ever loving mind. My response “I’m a distance runner not a 400 meter sprinter!”

  • Her words= No excuses, think of these as practice, you’ll be the second leg, we’ll get a sprinter to run the 1st leg and stronger runner for the 3rd leg, and she would run anchor.
  • And once again, my confidence was shaken to the core, I told the ladies, “I don’t want to let anyone down for being the slowest but I’ll give it all I got.”
    • The first person running the leg said, I’m a 200m sprinter, I don’t run long distance (ha, 400 meters and up is long distance for her).
    • I said, “I’m a distance runner, I only run 3 miles and up”
    • The next athlete told both of us, it’s just one lap, first leg, just go, “Tina, it’s only 1 lap” and don’t drop the baton!”
  • Okay, now, no pressure then once again I thought Oh crap, one lap and don’t drop the baton, NO PRESSURE- YEAH Right!
    • The Gun Goes off, the first leg was in her starting stance sans the starting block and off she went like a fire works shooting into the sky. Next thing I know she’s running around the bend and coming towards me. My other teammates kept shouting: stay in your zone, it’s only 1 lap & don’t drop the baton – run fast.
    • I was in position for the hand-off, then my teammates yelled, don’t drop the baton and keep running, and running I did, the whole time I was thinking, I don’t want to let my teammates down this is for them, if they have this much confidence in me, I have no excuse but to run and give it my best. I kept repeating to myself, it’s a wrap, the hay is in the barn, run and don’t drop the baton.
    • I came around the bend hearing the cheers and yells and other coaches yelling, “get your knees up”
    • I handed off to the 3rd leg, she ran then came around the bend and handed off to the anchor.

We won and are now the 4 x 400 Regional Champions. Yes, we train like beasts but run like beauties.