Saturday, August 29, 2009

Rocky Balboa And Lizzie Lee From Ireland (not me)

My neighborhood hosted a 5K and a 10K this weekend, Run-A-Muk. I wanted to avoid the 5K. Being in the middle of my speed training (week 4) I was afraid of finding out that my 5K training plan was not working. A 10K time was not on the hook, so I was about to push the button to submit my 10K online registration when I looked above my computer, and reminded myself that my training plan called for a 5K test race.

For me the testing was nothing else but knowing how my speed was going, but... I didn't want to know. Not now. Then I looked over again the plan, and asked myself: What else can I test? What am I really afraid of?. I hit the "cancel" button.

Instead of testing my speed, I could test a racing strategy, or something else. Why don't I go and test that "something else"?

While googling for a strategy I got McMillan's Go-Zone. He divides the race in approximately four quarters/zones. I pretty much use to run the first half of the race as his strategy tells, but never the last two. The third zone, the Go-Zone, calls for putting the hammer down, step up the intensity of the attack, and expect pain. The fourth zone, the Get-Time Zone, calls for a sprint. Not for the last tenth of a mile as I always do but for the whole last quarter.

I bought into it, and decided to test the strategy. Went back to the race site, and registered for a 5K. A test race.

On Thursday I had two 'revelations' that would support and complement the Zone strategy. The revelations came from Rocky Balboa and Lizzie Lee from Ireland (not me). In a "close encounter" with Rocky Balboa, who I love, he reminded me the words he told to his son: "It doesn't matter how much it hurts... It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward (*). That's how winning is done!". I carved the lines in my brain.

At the same time, Lizzie Lee from Ireland was winning a 5 miler in her country in 29:13 min. Yes, a 5:49 min/mile. From her own words in a recent aquathon, she dug deep, gritted her teeth and really really hurt herself to catch the one running on first place. She won by 12 seconds and "it hurt like hell". Then she told me yesterday, "Lizzie, pain is temporary, PRs are forever".

Could I emulate Lizzie? Not physically because she runs under 6 min/mile, but definitely mentally. Her strategy applies to everyone. Her 5:49 is to 6 what my whatever 'number lower than my PR' is to my PR.

And there I went. Nervous as always, got my bib # 439, reviewed the 4-zone strategy, got a gel (never do for short races but L. Lee recommended it...). Get ready, set, go.

The "Start Zone" went smooth as I always have avoided to "Run-A-Muk" at this stage. Second quarter was tough as was hilly, and I wasn't sure if I had a good fast leg turnover. Besides, my watch is distance wise out-of-sync and couldn't tell me what my real pace was. Third quarter was the time to put the hammer down. I did, and thought of Lizzie's comments: Grit your teeth!!! And then, the last K, sprint time. I ran as fast as I could, and when I was able to see the finish line, about 200 yards away, my Ipod started Gonna Fly Now, Bill Conti - Rocky Balboa. I thought of Rocky and Lizzie. How much you can take and keep moving forward... Pain is temporary, PRs are forever....

Then I saw this lady and I targeted her. I passed her and told her "come on". She accelerated. When she started to loose speed, I yelled at her, "come on, come with me..." I wanted to share my winning attitude, I didn't want it only for me.

I tested it. I got it. It worked. I got a PR by some seconds. Not three, not four, but 44!!!!

Official time 27:38
, for an 8:54 min/mile pace...

Division 1/29 - Overall Female 27/158 - Overall 87/282

I won my division!!!

(*) Tomorrow August 31st is Luis birth's anniversary. Rocky's advice is more valid for life than for running. I have taken the challenge of moving forward no matter how hard life gets.

Meeting Donna Vitellaro after sprinting together...She was my target!!! She came few seconds behind me with also a new PR


ShirleyPerly said...

I LOVE that 5K strategy! I don't have much experience running short races (less than half marathon) and have always struggled to figure out the best way to do so. It's actually not that different from what I do running marathons and may suit me well.

Congrats on your PR and thanks so much for sharing your race strategy!

Susan said...

Awesome, LL! You did wonderfully!

Petraruns said...

What a great strategy. Haven't heard it before but it beats my "bat out of hell" strategy I think..

Great advice and an even better attitude! Love it!

JeffM said...

Great race and a PR! I like your many race idea, I haven't done much after the ironman and am thinking of just doing a bunch of races. Very strange in your last post about someone stealing your number- how desperate is that? Let me know if you do any races down this way.