Former Instructor Learns the Value of Technique at Boston and Becomes 2011 Senior Games Champion
I hope all is well with you and the family and the bigger Chi Living family in general. While I've put my official Chi Running instruction on hold for a bit, I'm writing to give you a brief update on what I've been doing in an eventful 2011 as I've learned a few lessons.
I wrote you last year that since I was turning 50 in 2010, I was able to participate in the California State Senior Games and was quite happy to win both the 5K & 10K road races for 2010. Since turning 50, I decided I'd celebrate by making 2011 the year of running different types of races and having fun. I'd start by trying to run my first 50K trail race in March, 2011 in Woodside, CA to be followed by the 2011 Boston Marathon in April, to then be followed by the National Senior Games (5K & 10K races) in June in Houston, TX.
The 50K race: I trained pretty well for the 50K race and using good Chi Running technique through LOTS of hills, I ended up coming in 2nd place for my age group, which I was happy with for my first attempt. The guy who came in 1st place in my age group (who I ran with for about 15 miles or so) was one of my former Chi Running students who told me that Chi Running had changed his life. Needless to say, I was happy all around.
The Boston Marathon: However, I then made a mistake. By thinking I had such a great "base" in my 50K training, I thought I could back off and ran just once or twice in the 3 weeks before Boston. I decided right at start time that I'd try for a personal best (under 3 hours). I figured I'd try to stick with a group who was shooting for under 3 hours and see if I could hang with them. Well, I was more worried about sticking with that group next to me then about my technique. We reached the 10-mile marker with a nice fast pace, but I was already feeling some tension. By the halfway point, they were pulling away from me. I was barely on pace (1:29 for the first half), but I was already in bad shape and it was too late. I thought to myself, just hang on and see what happens. At about 18 miles, something that's never happened to me did happen. My legs completely seized up and I had to stop and try to stretch them out. At this point my mind was melting down and I was really not sure if I'd be able to finish. The only thing I could do was to ask myself what can I do differently? That's when I thought of focusing purely on the Chi Running technique. I realized I could combine ChiWalking with ChiRunning and alternate back and forth. I told myself I would finish no matter what. With that new attitude, I managed to make it across the line in 3:37, which was bittersweet. I missed my qualifying time for next year by 2 minutes, but just finishing was my new joy.
National Senior Games in Houston: Returning home from Boston, I felt a bit "broken." Knowing I had the National Senior games coming up in 2 months, I realized I could take one of two paths. Either feel sorry for myself, or "get back up" and focus on quality training and technique. I'm happy to say I picked the latter approach. Houston, TX was pretty darn HOT and HUMID in June. The 5K race was on a Saturday morning and the 10K race was the next day on Sunday morning. I'm happy to report that I won both races and am the official 2011 National Senior Games Champion for both the 5K and 10K (Age group: 50-54).
Moral of the story: As always, I owe a big part of my success to Chi Running and wanted to mention that even us old-time Chi Runners can have "lapses" every now and then. The question isn't whether we are perfect, it's more about what we do when a problem does pop up and how we learn from it and move forward. I don't consider my Boston experience a failure. Rather, I consider it a very valuable learning experience that helped me to grow!