Swiss World Cup - Longhttps://photos.app.goo.gl/XpSQrdkHZnLbjziQ9
So after the middle a lot of people were asking me about what had happened and what was going through my head when I stopped. The error was pretty simple; I didn't understand how the mapper had generalized and walked into a parallel error. Once I had made the mistake I was standing on a hill feeling about as far from a race mentality as I can imagine. I just felt like I was standing in a field in Switzerland. I had almost no clue where I was and wanted to be removed from the race. I thought that I could at least salvage the long the next day so I stopped. Once I started running I saw the houses and started making sense of the things around me. I felt some motivation to get back into the race since really there wasn't much left. But my legs were going to the finish and I was decided.
Later on talking with Timo we went through what exactly was going on in my head. I kept telling him that I didn't have the race mentality then. He responded, "Again with this racing stuff. You handle far more technical terrains in Pennsylvania on your own all the time, with autogenerated maps, and no flags. You could just take this event as someone finally putting out flags for a training."
And like that a switch flipped in my head. I had always been so focused on how I haven't raced enough to compete here. But I've certainly trained enough to take these events as another training session.
So the morning of the long I wrote two reminders on my arm: "Stay positive" and "Just another training". On the cable car ride to the top I only felt excited to run a truly savage course that some friends had designed and put out the flags for. I was so happy to have the chance to run there.
The change in mentality was obvious from the very start. Everything was flowing better. As Jagge said, I slowed when I recognized trickier entries and ran faster when I could. I was enjoying the process of a brutal long and looking forward to the physical challenge awaiting me.
Between 8 and 9 I was with a Ukranian and Latvian who I let run on their own. My mind initially told me they had caught up to me and I was running horribly. Then I got a glimpse of their bib numbers and realized I had caught them. Stay positive. Things weren't as bad as I thought. Throughout the course I continued to have moments when I was expecting to be caught by some faster runners, but I kept looking at my arm. Stay positive.
Starting at 18 I started making some very simple mistakes. My mind was going so I took another gel, but I let the mistakes go. It was just another training after all.
Until 27 I had run almost completely alone, but at 27 and going into 28 I finally caught a train. My legs were starting to cramp and the uphills were getting even more challenging. When I caught the train I was reminded that I was not the only one suffering. In fact I seemed to be handling the hills better than them. Stay positive.
At 28 I finally saw Ricardo. I probably should have trained up with him and the others there, but I'm quite used to running alone. So I didn't. It wasn't a conscious choice. I just kept running where I wanted to at the speed I could.
I finished the race actually outsprinting the Slovakian who had caught me. I was hurting, but I was surprised that I still had a bit of energy to dig into.
Ultimately I can see that I need more physical preparation to race longs at a competitive pace. But I walked away from this race very happy. I did what I could that day and changed the inertia from a very negative race the day before, which is no easy task.
I am quite excited to take more "races" with this approach. As long as I can remember and in every sport I've taken seriously, I've almost always trained better than I've competed. So I guess the question is: Why do I keep bringing MY competitive approach to races if I do better taking them as training and stepping stones on a journey? I suppose because that's what I've learned. But really I have no idea. Just need to keep exploring and experiencing.