Monday, January 24, 2011


That's how my head felt during yesterday's half marathon. It's actually my crash landing in the ocean after the race, but the view is how Id imagine the inside of my head to look. After all those miles we put into my legs, running & swimming the night before the race too, my head hurt worse at the finish then the legs. SO...mission accomplished. I had a workout of the mind more challenging than the legs, in hopes that in even the smallest way it will make me even 1% stronger mentally than I was last season.
Norman Vincent Peale wrote, "If you start believing in little miracles you can work up to the bigger ones". Totally agree, this was my first baby step in the direction of working up to stronger battle fields of the mind. During my evening run the most beautiful rainbows were popping up, double ones too! I was sort of hoping the race would be beautiful like that, but I was reminded those pretty rainbows only come after storms of hard work. I sort of figured it out then that tomorrow would not be all sunny skies in my head. And it wasn't.
The start was cool, I liked my position and was in my own little world just focusing on running positive. Then the race began and the lead men took off with one girl hot on their heels. Then 2 more grabbed the next pack, I was solo and then the head turned on..."Bree. do your own thing". I did a mile of my "own thing". That landed me with another girl, we reeled in another. Then the mind, at mile 2 it became annoying to me that already in the race my head is being a complete B!^c#. Wishing I could just focus on the ocean or a whale or something, then I remembered THIS IS WHAT I WANTED out of this race, for my head to have to work harder than the legs. Junk was coming in, I was doing that mean thing where you measure up your competitors and my head was saying, "Bree, look, 2 of them are for sure serious road runners, one of them even has those ribbon things in her hair that they wear with their school colors! One is so thin her bones are popping out the way those pro runners look, feed her your gels, you don't belong up here, you are kinda big still in the off season and well, not really a runner".
The third mile it got more frustrating, I actually slowed down. Then I called myself a a few cuss words to fire myself up, the "look for whales" wasn't working for me, I had to play dirty with my mind. I got back in the mix and decided I had to get in front so I don't have to look at them. I know what you might be thinking, "hahahaha, nice pass, really, you are pooped and tired from the hard week of training and you want to pass them". I had no choice, my head was hurting so bad and it was only mile 3. One girl came with me and we ran a few miles like that. The head had so much stuff floating in it, not good stuff, but I was making myself stay with her because the leg pain hurt less then the head pain and I needed this if I was ever going to break out of all the self doubt I allowed myself to harbor in sport. Somewhere before the turn a man passed us and I went with him, together it felt good being the first woman and running up to a couple other men.
The way home was a little nuts too. The wind picked up so strong a guard rail nearly ate me alive, the course was running a little long on the Garmin, things that didn't matter, they were conditions that all of us were in together, however I could tell the head was trying to use it against me. Then the announcers voice popped in, "Woman's course record 1:35, set here in 2009". I don't even remember taking notice of that at the start, I must have been focused (thankfully), but now it was entertaining me, not because I wanted it, but because it was trying to play a negative in my head. "Why 1:35?, that's slow for a record, oh this must be a hard course, this course is long, the head wind must slow us down". It was as if my mind was telling me its okay to slow down because its a slow course. I got so fired up at myself for even considering it! Seriously, its as if all the things a brain could ever think in a race mine thought.
I put my head down and ran all the way to the finish. My head was in so much pain crossing the line, more than my legs. They told me I got the record by almost 11 minutes, it wasn't a half PR for me but it was by far the best PR of my brain, ever.
I don't know why I just told you all that story, maybe you deal with it too, (hopefully not). All I know is that its true what they say that racing doesn't always come down to the most fit, but often times the most mentally tuff. My mind and I got lots more work to do, I want out of my body as much as I can get out of it in this sport and for that to happen I have to get out of my own way. Baby step number 1, pau.

I did get my rainbow at the end of the race and a lot of spectacular Maui views too. Then I got lost, that's what happens when a girl with only 2 main roads on her island drives on an island with more than 5 stop lights and several main roads. Maui was good mentally. From that island to this one, the training continues nonstop into REV3 Costa Rica :) Speaking of REV3 Costa Rica, tune in (click here) Wednesday at 2pm Hawaii time (8pm Eastern time), for a live chit chat with me & the REV3 crew, it should be good times.

Oh, and if Maui doesn't get any more exciting for this girl, look at my "way to hold it together mentally" prize. It's a hula vase, loving her coconuts! hahaha...


Shan said...

Congrats on an amazing race, even if the mind was playing dirty!! And WAY to blast the course record - rockin'! Such lovely pictures - how I love Maui!!!!! :-D

Ange said...

ohhh..Bree it is SO about the head!! This sport is A MASSIVE mental game. You did a GREAT Job on that. COngrats on a HUGE record and a win in the big picture race!
Those pictures are Amazing!!!
(-18 here this a.m....dreaming of the beach in Hawaii!!!)

Elizabeth A. Rich said...

YESSSS!! That is a brain I understand.. thank you for writing this. you are not alone, you are faster than I am, but you are not alone. Keep up the great work :)

Suzanne said...

Thanks for the awesome post Bree! My mental game has always been a challenge and absolutely love your approach. It was no half marathon but I sure had a great run after reading your pre-race post. PB on one of my run loops even though it was cold, snowy and windy :) I'm also a single mom so reading your blog is super motivating. Please keep posting and congrats on the hula vase :)

Jennifer said...

WOW!! Nice job. Thanks so much for sharing and being authentic.
Funny, the more we embrace the negative vs. pushing it away, we discover there's nothing there... just ourselves, in all of our goodness.

Furacán said...

Congrats for the PR of your brain!

gelmertri said...

..that was a great read and very helpful.. in my half on the same day (Carlsbad) I was thinking in mile 2 - "oh my quads hurt from the century last weekend, its gonna be a bad race today.." but, fought through that and other negative thoughts thru the race - more than I have done before - and ended up with a pretty good race and a negative split. After reading your thoughts - I know I have to fight with my brain even harder! Thx for the help and congrats on your race!

Christi said...

You go girl! Running and endurance sports take a great deal of mental power. I am glad that you shared your battle because it is nice to know that I am not the only one that suffers through this problem. You kicked it and I now know that I can do the same thing!

Kathleen @ ForgingAhead said...

Headwinds are tough -way to push through Bree! Lovely photos too. Breathtaking.

Charisa said...

you are on your way to TOUGH! Nice work.

:(&) said...

You are truly amazing, Bree! Thank you for sharing your story and for keeping this blog. You are absolutely an inspiration.

Dawn said...

Way to break the course record, nice job!! And way to stay in the mental game - so hard to do, been there! Thanks for always inspiring us to be strong and showing us how to kick some booty. Love all your beautiful pics, thanks for sharing. ;)

Lucy Francis said...

what a great result Bree! congratulations and thanks for sharing your thoughts during the race. lots of people forget that aspect of racing. I can confirm that i also think of a lot of stuff during races. for me there's lots of random things that pop into my mind usually related to my childwood. I also call out a lot to God :-) and to my grand mum who's up in heaven.

Lucy Francis said...

hey ange! hope the weather warms up for you soon where you are. we're up to 3 degrees celsius where I am. cycling today felt good with 3 thick layers on but I couldn't really stop or I froze.