Running And Racing On My Home Turf
The heat was on this past weekend. The running club that I belong to (Tamalpa Runners) held its monthly club race on my home running course on Sunday. I had no excuse not to enter. The starting line wasn’t even half a mile from my house, I had no other plans for the morning, the course is part of my running route at least twice a week, the entry fee was just $3, and last but not least — it was the annual breakfast event. So you know what people say in such a situation? “Hey, it’s your home turf, you should do well.” That’s what friends were saying and it started running through my mind like a nagging inner voice that wouldn’t stop. Talk about pressure.
In the last couple of weeks I have seen several people from my running club out on the course practicing. It is not a particularly challenging route but does have a good amount of uphill running — and some beautiful views of the San Francisco Bay area when you reach the top. Since I know the running course like the back of my hand I didn’t need to practice. Instead, I decided to stick with my current routine — running a track workout on Thursday and hill repeats (with some Kettle Bell exercises thrown in between sets) on Saturday. Yes, even with the home turf pressure, I was training through my race.
It’s not often that I can enjoy the luxury of walking to the start of a race with my husband. It was a good warm up for me. I had done the ChiRunning Loosener Exercises (see pages 195-208 of the ChiRunning Book) before I left the house and felt quite relaxed. On the way, we met a couple of neighbors out walking their dogs. One of them, called “Scrappy” always greets us by running round in circles. For a few people it had been a full weekend of distance running — just the day before was a very popular 50K trail race and another friend who is training for a 100 mile event had run 36 miles. Made my hill repeats seem like a walk in the park.
Knowing the course, I had no distractions and was able to just focus on my running technique. Even navigating the mud and the rocks and roots on the single track section I focused on keeping my lower legs relaxed and lifting my ankles and smiled as I watched a number of runners bouncing up the trail and trying to get ahead with their version of power running. Soon I passed a couple of women in my age group and knew that they would be trying to catch me. The challenge I gave myself was to not try and stay ahead of them but to relax and enjoy the feel of my midfoot strike in my new NB-790 shoes, one of the minimal running shoes listed on Danny’s Blog.
It was an out and back course and I was surprised to see a couple of people ahead of me run off course. I was close enough to them that I could yell at them and get them turned around. About 200 yards from the finish line I passed a guy with whom I had been going back and forth — every time I would start running past him he would speed up and pass me again. But this time one of the guys who had already finished yelled at me “Hazel, you’re on your home turf” so I dropped my attention to my feet, felt my midfoot strike, relaxed my ankles, leaned one more inch and let gravity pull me to the finish line. I like my home turf!
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