Monday, January 16, 2012

Only a ___________ Drops Out of a Race

It looks like I’m not going to London. Qualifying in the last six weeks with only two seconds to spare and entering the race with the highest seed number (F200) who could have possibly seen that coming?

Such ambitious dreams, such an underwhelming performance, so many friends and family supporting me both in person and from afar, it begs the questions: Why would I drop out of the most important race of my life and how do I feel about it? Because my body told me to, and pretty darn good.

To quote Linda Holmes in the funniest sports editorial I have ever read regarding UConn’s win over Butler in the 2011 NCAA men’s basketball championship:

It takes a series of hard-fought wins to even be in the position to put on that kind of unmemorable championship-game performance.

This is precisely how I feel about my experience. Like all but a few serious contenders, qualifying for and being part of the trials was the goal I was striving for. I was there first to enjoy the privilege of taking the line with all of the best runners in the USA and second, to see how competitive I could be within my ability range.

I have no regrets. I ran my race according to plan. I went out conservatively, progressed through the race and was catching up to and passing people from miles 8 through 20 where things started to fall apart. It turns out that when you only do one training run longer than 2 hours 15 minutes your body isn’t prepared for the last six miles of a marathon. Oops. And by “oops” I mean I really shouldn’t have gotten hit by that car and cost myself 5 months of preparation. I’ve made a personal note to be less cavalier with my training “plan” in 2016.

But still, why did I drop out? It was the Olympic Trials. So many friends and family members have supported me in getting here. Didn’t I owe it to them to at least walk/jog my way across the finish line? I did it because I know the difference between injury pain and “I’d sure like to not be doing this anymore” pain. Furthermore, I have the confidence that there will be other even more important races in my future. I wasn’t in contention for an Olympic team or even for placing in the top 10 for the USA Championships. I was out there for myself striving for a personal best. I have dreams of getting to that next level, but I’m not there yet, and staying healthy is an essential part of the process.

Of all of the decisions I’ve had to make in my life and especially in the past year, dropping out of the race was neither regrettable nor damning. I used to put so much pressure on myself to perform. I would run on stress fractures, under eat, and over train. I hated any sign of weakness or bodily suggestion that I was human. I more than occasionally sulked and cried after disappointing races (which was any race where I didn’t run a personal best) and on several occasions fell into serious episodes of depression. Over the years, I learned that I don’t need to torture myself with my “livelihood”. Now I trust that life itself will provide a healthy dose of suffering and never cease to blindside me with strange new catastrophes. Running has become my escape. If I perform well, that’s great, if I have a bad day, I still got outside, released some endorphins and likely spent time with some amazing people.

Saturday was one of those days. I may have exceeded my body’s physical threshold then exhausted my capacity for pain four miles too soon, but I still had the opportunity to toe the line with all of the best runners in the country and some of the best in the world. I’ll be back with a vengeance in 2016 and looking forward to what the next four years have in store.

Life is hard. Running should be fun.


RM said...

"It turns out that when you only do one training run longer than 2 hours 15 minutes your body isn’t prepared for the last six miles of a marathon."

When you do one run of 2:15 and another of 2:05, your body isn't prepared for the last 8 miles of a marathon. Haha.

Brian Godsey said...

When someone says, "Only a _____ drops out of a race," what they're really saying is, "I am a huge ______ and I usually think about dropping out whenever it starts to get hard, so I tell myself deluded little saying to keep going." Serious runners usually know what the smart play is. Great job this race and this year, Chrissie!

Eileen said...

Well said! I'm glad that you have a healthy perspective on running :) Making the smart decision not to keep running can be much harder than just continuing to the point of injury.

Terence aka LT said...

WE LOVE YOU CHRISSIE!!! I'm still a huge fan... SN: I need your autograph to put in my scrap book.


David Ploskonka said...

That's putting things in perspective. :) At the risk of stirring up controversy, I'm glad that you pushed yourself just below the point of injury, then dropped out, as opposed to some of the slower/injured women that Meb was lapping at the end, who were smiling and mugging for the camera. I'm not against that sort of thing in a marathon, but this is the Olympic Trials, and the point is to give it everything you have and put forth your best possible performance. While I acknowledge that the goof-offs showboating in the back amuse and inspire on some level (regardless of the race), and I can respect the value in that to some degree, I have far more respect for somebody who puts it all out on the line in a big event, flirting with their breaking point, and either puts in an amazing performance, or blows up trying. That's something special (and it looks a lot better trailing behind Meb :P)

Dart said...

Great work Chrissie!

Does the next 4 years include a HUGE race on February 26, 2012 in Columbia MD at 8:00am with alias Team CC? I mean, wee don't even have to stress its' importance!

wcaitlin said...

Thanks! I was in the same boat on Saturday. Congrats on making it to the trials & I'll hope to see you in 2016!

Tim said...

Congratulations on a tremendous year Chrissie! I agree with Dave, and am glad to see you're keeping things in a positive perspective. You have much to look forward to between now and 2016.

Scott Dunlap said...

Very impressive and gutsy that you toed the line at all. Congrats!

c-rad said...

Regardless of whether you win, lose, or draw, I have loads of respect for you because YOU have loads of respect for yourself. (And I hear Rio de Janeiro is quite nice in the summer...)

Michelle M said...

Thanks for sharing, Chrissie. On another note, your comeback alone last year was quite a feat in its own rite. I found it very inspiring and it gave me some much needed hope.

Best of luck in 2012!