Saturday evening was my first official X Country Race. It’ race #2 in the Pete Glavin Upstate New York Cross Country Series and it’s held at the end of the McQuaid invitational at Genesee Valley Park. Pete Glavin is a Rochester running legend who passed away of brain cancer a few years ago. His legacy is amazing, and it’s strong. It shows in every event. It shows in the hearts and performances of those who were honored to know him.
Leave a legacy of inspiration like he did, and you did something good in this world.
As I drove home from Allegheny State Park that afternoon… I smiled and thought…. Mar you have every excuse to not do your best tonight. (The race was at 5:30pm). Only my second week of hitting 40 miles, no rest into it… announcing the Score-This Xterra ASP that morning, sleeping in a cabin, on an air mattress and then the epic drive home. The excuses were legit. But that was part of the goal. To run hard despite that. To use that as an advantage. My coaches have always assured me “No one does tired better than you Mary.” And I know that’s true.
I arrived at the park with about an hour to spare, and as an added bonus Curt and Luc came to cheer. I spend so much time behind a mic at races, or traveling out of town to some remote race (because I announce the local ones!) that having them there is always always a huge treat. I will never take that for granted.
They were pretty psyched to not be spectating another Ironman! A 5k? Easy!
It was a full day of racing for the high school teams across Western and Central NY. This meet is a big deal. We spent some time watching some awesome high school runners. This was new to me. High school x-country meets were just never something I did (I was in the pool in the fall during high school).
I checked in and received my official GVH singlet from Coach Reif. I felt like I was part of the team for real now!
I loved seeing all of my GVH teammates. They are amazing people and have welcomed me with open arms into all of this. I feel like I got adopted into a really amazing family and I can’t be more grateful. I found Colleen…. whom I run behind during practices (and stare at the bottom of her shoes, they are pink). I was really glad she was there…. I knew that I would be aiming to keep her in sight for this one! Colleen is the sister of one of my long time friends and competitors, Kathy Hayden…. another one I was happy to see… she helps me stay grounded.
What I really appreciate about these and many women is their ability to be competitive yet leave it on the field. I love working together as teammates and friends and when the gun goes off we are competitors, yet it isn’t personal. I have run into many women over the years who develop unnecessary rivalries that blossom into hatred and years of grudges…. over who beat whom in races. So when I can find women who can use their competitiveness to help one another and push one another and not take it to where it doesn’t belong…. then I have found gold. You don’t find that…. move on. Don’t let it get to you. It’s them not you. It’s their insecurity. It’s always amazed me when some people don’t speak for years over something that happens on the field. I am lucky to not have to experience that kind of person. So keep on keeping on.
At the same time never be apologetic for being a competitive athlete. We all are in our own right. Some of us use tools like heart rate monitors and structure our training. Others prefer to run free. In my opinion it’s all good, it all fits if it fits your life and turning that into personal hatred…. is frightening to be honest. This is a sport! I have found gold in all of the athletes at GVH. And in Rochester as a whole for that matter.
Back to the race………Coach Reif pulled us all into a team huddle. The man is the KING of pumping a team up. He ran around like a crazy man, with more passion for what he does than anyone I know. That is exactly the reason I came to run for him. That. Right. There. He is downright infectious!!!
The gun went off and we bolted across the field. Here was the course:
This is where we practice every single week so I was very comfortable with the venue and the course. I settled into a good solid pace and did my best to keep Colleen in my sight. My goal coming into this was to keep her in my visual field throughout the whole race. She’s SUCH a powerhouse!!!!
Nothing significant crossed my mind…. except gratitude. I kept thinking…. I am so happy to be healthy, I am so happy to be out here, I am so happy to be on the upswing again. I am so happy Ironman is over. I must have had a permagrin on my face. I was just so…. HAPPY. I still have that feeling like there is another gear in there that I can’t access. It will come. I am only 2 weeks into this run thing…. so it will come. I have faith in that.
As I came down the finisher’s chute my husband screamed at me…..
“You are SMILING! You are not going hard enough! NO SMILING IN 5K’S”
I shook my head as I finished, He was right. 100% right. Later on he told me…. I saw no agony. I saw no fight. You were smiling. So spot on. I got caught red handed.
If I don’t learn something…. one thing during a race of any kind…. then it’s a wasted effort. As I sit here writing this just a few hours later I feel no soreness, I feel no hangover from the push. I have been a distance athlete for so long that my comfort in being uncomfortable has been in how FAR can I go over how fast can I go.
It resonated with me. It excited me. I have room. I have space to dig, to hurt and that’s what I need to be focusing on. That right there is my missing link. It makes me hungry to think about it. Hungry to hit that blood-in-the-back-of-my-throat feeling.
I loved this race. I loved racing on a team. I loved having the support and competition of my teammates. I love the whole damn thing.
Now I just have to get in there and get dirty. Get real comfortable with a different kind of uncomfortable. As always my awesome husband, nailed it on the head.