It was like déjà vu. When Jonathan won the 100, I responded, “It never even occurred to me that you could beat me.” When he won the 400, I thought, ‘It never even occurred to me that you could beat me by that much.” While the outcome was not what I hoped for nor anticipated, the whole shebang couldn’t have been better. Well, it could have. I could have won.
I am so grateful to John Zuehlke for his guidance and positivity. I gave him very raw materials to work with, and he was always positive. I would work with him again in a heartbeat. However, having done this sprint work, I have no heartbeats left. I was able to improve immensely, but ultimately, these legs are built for greater distance. As the sprinter at the track told me, “You just look like you pace yourself.” For sprinting, I had to unlearn all that and hit maximum speed from the get-go.
So here’s how it went down. I warmed up properly, and by the look of things, those who bet on Jonathan were probably rethinking their decisions. Coach Cane was himself, talking, laughing, and, well, not really warming up. Turns out, he figured he only had one bullet in the gun, and he didn’t want to shoot it on the warmup. If he was going to pull a muscle, it would be during the race. I knew that he was faster than I, but it was just a question of how he was going to handle the turns. One turn, ok, but two? Win was mine.
We decided to give him lane 2 hoping that he would go out scared and then pull up by the 200. We were right. He went out scared. But NEVER underestimate Mr. Cane. His drive is greater than his athleticism. He ran scared the entire race, and in the recap, I saw that he ran through the line (arms not raised), and didn’t even turn around until 5 meters after the finish. A speedy 68.88 seconds for the man who had surgery on both hips in the last year.
I was expecting to make up the stagger by the 200, but when he didn’t fade, and when I couldn’t kick into another gear, it was just demoralizing. Couple that with hearing my very own son yell, “Mommy you’re a zero.” (Apparently, he told Laura, “Mommy’s losing.” I came around in time to hear the zero part. That kid needs some good parenting. Who talks like that?) So, feeling like a zero, I “attacked” the 200-300 marks like an uphill, leaning forward and driving my arms. At the 300 mark, Cane switched to another gear, or maybe I down-shifted. The gap doubled, and I really wanted to walk. I am not even lying. I wanted to just give up. Here was where I was supposed to recommit and really bring it home. That last 100 for me was pathetic. I ended up losing by 8 seconds as I crossed the line in a blazing 77 seconds. So, it was a PR as I have never raced a 400 before. And I am not going to be the loser who tells you I could have run so much faster, but had my head really been in it, I am certain I could have run 76.99999 seconds yesterday. In fact, my goal was not that much faster than what I actually ran, and if I stick with it, I feel that I can make significant improvements. When I started, the lofty goal for me was to break 80. It’s all relative Folks.
Here are the takeaways:
1. Girls with muscles tend to take off their shirts to show you they have muscles. Doesn’t mean they are fast. And not all fast girls run shirtless. Stop sizing up the competition at the start line. Get out there and do you.
2. Drive can trump athleticism. If you think you can or can’t, you right.
3. Don’t let other people’s reasons for why you shouldn’t be successful negatively affect how you perform. Hip surgery, age, a more “talented” wife…Jonathan had no business winning. One thing he shared was how he wanted to prove people wrong, especially those who thought he didn’t have a prayer.
4. Involve your friends. I LOVED seeing so many friends out there and hearing how the race motivated others to go to the gym. I couldn’t stop smiling yesterday. And then raising money for Back on my Feet was icing on the carrot cake. The race was about us and a lot not about us.
5. Winning is what you want it to be. We’re not all winners at the finish line, but did you see the dope pictures Mark Pfeffer of Fife Images took of me in my killer Under Armour gear? Shit, if that ain’t winning!!! (Oh, I mean pictures of us. The whole family looked good. And my little spitfire was “protect[ing] this house.” I just didn’t realize that it was Daddy’s and not Mommy’s house he was protecting.)
6. Don’t underestimate what power there is in community. Jonathan and I both felt supported and encouraged to get back in shape. Workouts had purpose, and we had fun egging each other on. We even managed to train together for a bit. I know not all marriages have this competitive edge, but it works for us. Find out what works for you, and take flight.
7. Cross the finish line and hug it out. At the end of the day, nobody cares about your time (except the haters, and I haven’t got time for the haters or the pain. Only time to listen to Carly Simon). Get out there, bring some friends along, and laugh as long and hard as you can. And throw a few bucks to charity.
Best. Day. Ever.