Ever since I fell in love with trail&trek this time last year, I haven’t been participating at road running races. Hey, we are not the same – we choose different sports and disciplines within them. 😉 I love mountains, nature, wet feet and mud on them. 🙂 I can’t wait for this season’s first snow, call me crazy. 🙂
However, Zagreb night 10k race, is, personally, another story, symbolic, as it was my first race two years ago following a long break. These were the times when my poor training basically consisted of dragging my ass for 7k every now and then, and chocolate was my best friend. 🙂 The goal of the 10k race in 2016. was the finish line – just to make the whole 10k and I was relying on the muscle memory of my better running days and the crazy head of my every day. I remember it was raining cats and dogs and I just couldn’t shake the “WTF am I doin’ here?” feeling. Two years have passed, and all I have left is that feeling of pain in my legs and that extra hyperventilation in the middle of the race as I started to reminisce about my hometown of Split, the sea, my late father and that night in the summer of 2013 when we went squid fishing on Hvar. Weird is the mind during a race – it will strike you to your muscles, then straight to your heart and then it will play the “Don’t get mad. You can do it.” game.
Result in 2016: 1:05:25 Grinning. 🙂
A year later, 2017, there I was again at the same start line, hoping for an under-one-hour, first time ever. I played the two-month regular training card with my running club, Zagreb trekking school (#ZTŠ4ever) and the crazy head of my every day. 🙂 And of course, within the first 300 m of the race I felt those 30k of hiking the day before. “WTF have I done here?”, but you suck it up. The human atmosphere did its thing, both on the course and next to it, and the training sessions made all the sense. And then, step by step, 10k.
Result in 2017: 58:10 Grinning. 🙂
It is 2018. Five days before the 10k race I depleted myself at a trek race – 4 hours, 20k, check points, downhill fly, uphill cry, streams, branches, leaves, thistle, thorns…and cramp paralysis first time ever, both quads. Great. Inexperience, one great desire and a decision to give my all no matter what. The following three days I’m walking like a cowboy but I am filling myself with magnesium and positive input from experienced people. And it works! The pre-10k warm up goes well and I am dancing the hip pain off. I’m starting to panic a bit, but my man reminds me of my 67k Istria trail race back in April. “But, but, road is different. And, and, I can walk at trail races.” 🙂 My goal is to beat the Margita from the previous year; I am playing the regular training card, the countless kilometres crossed at my trail&trek races of the season, and, of course, the crazy head of my every day. 🙂 I am led to believe that I could run 55 minutes. Yeah, no pressure. 🙂 I also have a last minute pacer. Given that I run with no watch and my brain usually slows me down even when the legs are OK, it seems that Christmas came early this year! 🙂
It took us 66 seconds from the gun start to the start line, and this was followed by me trying not to lose the sight of my pacer and not to fall flat on my face given the sidewalk or the tram rails. I already figured that there is no way I can make it within 55 min as it would be difficult to make up for the slow start. Buuuut, that’s where the Early Christmas Present came in. 🙂 “Maaaarge!!”, my Pacer is shouting. “I’m heeeeeere!” And good thing he did as he would bring my race focus back, explain from time to time the Strategy 55, without giving away the current pace. 🙂 I am hereby confessing that of all the things you were saying I only registered “Maaaaaarge!”. 🙂
A rush of adrenaline visited as I recognised a dear trail&trek face 🙂 at the water station, which was followed by feet wetting in my attempt to have a sip or two. “Mmmmm, wet feet, yessss!” I am speeding every now and then, trying to recall the cadence theory :), but my head keeps stopping me. “Maaaaarge, let’s go!” …..Silence…… “Maaaaarge!” I had no idea about the time, nor the pace, so as I saw 19:53 at the street clock near the finish line I just couldn’t believe that there was a possibility of me reaching the no-pressure 55. I am starting to half-sprint thinking that I could have spared myself of this if I had only distributed my strength better. Coulda, woulda, shoulda, right? 🙂 Crazy head, you will learn along the way. 🙂
Result in 2018: 55:38 Grinning. 🙂
Practice makes progress. Practice makes progress. This is all I was thinking about these days, as a mantra; both before the race, and after, as proof. The feeling is good. You set a goal, try hard, and then you achieve it. And you grin every time. 🙂 Sounds simple, right? Both before and after. However, during…during is another story…during is fighting against yourself.
But, don’t worry…as you will always have your Pacer next to you – either in body…or in spirit.