Nearly a week removed from my final college indoor race, I guess it's time to talk about it. I really hate making excuses, but I do want to offer explanations. I understand that bad races happen and that it's really important to use those as learning experiences so I don't repeat those mistakes when there's something big on the line, like a conference or national championship.
So, what happened last Saturday? I think I made 2 major mistakes that led to my disappointing race (aside from getting hit by the "Flotrack Curse").
Nutrition is extremely important if you want your body to perform well. My normal pre-race breakfast is cheerios with rice milk (I try to avoid dairy as much as I can because it seems to gunk things up, but if I use it for just that one day it's fine) and scrambled eggs. If our hotel doesn't have eggs (or they're really bad), bacon or ham work too. I just really like to have some kind of protein, but I hate peanut butter. Usually, we stay in a hotel with breakfast that perfectly fits my needs, so I don't usually think to bring my own breakfast food. But from now on, I will bring plenty of my own food just in case... Our hotel in NYC had such a disappointing breakfast selection that I was left with simple toast and apple juice for breakfast... not exactly sufficient race fuel.
I was too confident. I entered the race as the top seed and knew that I was capable of a big PR so I didn't think I had anything to worry about. I was hoping someone else would take the lead at the beginning and that I could sit on their shoulder for a while before going ahead to chase down the school record I so desperately wanted. But that's not how things worked out. I went out in a perceived effort level very similar to my usual pace and no one else wanted to take the lead, so I just went with it. The problem was that, even though the pace felt really comfortable and easy, it was a lot faster than I should have been going (and by that I mean faster than my best mile pace). Everything felt great for the first several laps and I opened up a big lead, even though at the time I didn't realize how far ahead I was. I felt so sure that I had the win and the record in the bag...
And then at about 1200 meters I completely ran out of gas. I felt so unbelievably drained and I didn't think I'd even be able to finish the race. With each girl that passed me, it felt harder and harder to keep things together. I still managed a decent kick to nab my 3rd All-ECAC honor and run my 3rd fastest 3k ever, but I know the result could have been a lot different if I had thought to bring the food I needed with me and if I had kept a cool head at the beginning of the race. So, I'm disappointed that the race didn't go the way I wanted, but it's only a failure if I don't take these important lessons from it and use them to make future races better. And that's exactly what I plan on doing.