The late Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote that, “The heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good.” Well, sure he was talking about LOVE, but he could have been talking about racing just as easily. The last time I came to the New Haven 20k I bombed and told the elite coordinator, John Tolbert, that I was never coming back. But, as I was planning my racing schedule for this fall, all I remembered about this race was winning a few years ago and having a great time.
In the midst of marathon training, I was not quite sure what to expect with my body, but I knew my fitness was getting better every week. I was more than an excited to toe the line once again. My coach, Bob Sevene, is not one for pep talks, and frankly we didn’t even talk strategy except that I was to ready race and beat some people. Though he was not there, I could still hear him saying in his thick Boston accent, “Don’t do anything stupid, my Dear.” Well, simple advice, but necessary advice because I have been known to do crazy things. And as my friend, Jim, pointed out before the start of the race, “This is going to be a race of atttrition with the weather.” With it being similar to Beijing marathon conditions, it was comforting to know I was only running about half the distance.
The gun went off, and I found myself in sixth place with 5,000 meter American record-holder Molly Huddle and recent 10k National Champion Amy Hastings pulling decisively away in the early miles. I went out at a comfortable 5:20 and settled into lots of 5:35′s and 5:40′s, yo yoing back and forth much of the way with Brianne Nelson and a few men that kept pushing the pace. Despite the weather, I felt very comfortable and was not miserable as I had expected! I worked my way up to third by 7 miles and briefly enjoyed the bagpiper at the top of the hill at the 10 mile mark, before tackling the long 2.5 miles to the finish. I was even was coherent enough to aim for all the sprinklers on the course. Maybe I had too much at the end? As Amy Hastings said afterwards, “I could have gone farther, just not faster.” I felt the same so, I guess both of our marathon preparations are going as planned.
Well, the legs are pretty sore, and I am tired, but energized by a solid race effort. Time to put my head down and train. I love working hard, but I love even more when the hard work pays off. And my memory…I’ve already forgotten the pain.