Chasing My PR’s

By: Amy Baker

Personal Record—for me, and I think for a lot of runners, a PR doesn’t just mean it’s the fastest you’ve run.  It’s personal, a part of yourself, one of the things that define who you are, it’s about more than just one day where everything comes together.  It’s about the decisions and sacrifices you made to get there.  It’s about what is important to you.  It doesn’t seem to matter if you came in first or 500th, it was absolutely the best you could do.

My PR’s are recorded in my memory with a permanent maker.  I remember what I ate that day, how I felt, and even my splits from the first few miles.  The days in between somehow get forgotten and seem to matter a little less.  I mean, I sometimes won’t remember breakfast from that morning, or how far I ran just yesterday.  It all blends together and I just pick out the few highlights… Of all the other successes and failures in my life, I remember the races where everything just came together more than anything.  For me it’s been several years, but at 3M half marathon last Sunday, I felt I finally gained my momentum back and I’m confident that I will see PR’s in 2012.

I ran all my PRs in 2007… from my 1:21:40 half to my 1:00:23 10Mile to my 36:52 10k.   I was lean and mean and tough.  Some of my training partners would save everything till the end, or go out fast and slow down.  I ran 110% the whole way, often running my fastest miles in the middle of the race.  I was living in Northern Virginia at the time, coaching and training myself.  Then over the next several years obstacles got in my way–I got hurt, I moved across the country, I started a more stressful job.  I now was going 110% all day every day just to stay afloat.   The mind and body are connected and when my head was elsewhere I got hurt and tired.  I moved to Austin – in with my boyfriend, and then moved out.  I started teaching high school math at a title I school, and then starting coaching.  The whole time, I was running high 37s 10ks and 1:24 or 1:25 halfs. These were not bad times, but they were far off where I knew I could be and I couldn’t be satisfied just sort of going through the motions.

Although 3M started off 2012 without a PR time, I think I will remember it as a PR (Personal Record Recovery).  I ran 1:21:47 and a 6th place finish, only 7 seconds off my previous PR.  It was the race that will pull me out of the 4 year plateau where I felt stuck. As I’m looking back at the last few years, I have realized that I’ve slowing been digging myself up.  I put a ton of work into it, more than I had the past few years.  I consistently ran 60mile weeks.  I changed my priorities and left coaching even though I really loved it.  I came to every Tuesday and Saturday workout with Carmen and even met Chris and Greg for long runs on Sundays.

The reality is 2008-2011 was not an “unlucky” 4 years. I wanted to go out on Saturdays so Sunday 6AM runs just didn’t fit in that well.  In the short run, the decisions didn’t seem like they should matter that much, I could run later on Sunday, but in the summer that meant going in the heat so maybe not running as far. If I missed a workout because I had to coach, I could always do it later, but I was more tired, and doing the workout alone somehow just wasn’t the same.  When I coached I would often get in a run, but it would be 2 miles warm-up, talk to kids for 10 minutes, and jog some the opposite way on the track during their workout.  It added up to 6miles, but somehow it wasn’t the same as just going out and running 6, there was no time to focus on my own running.

In running, you are held accountable, you can’t blame others, and you can’t take shortcuts. I honestly believe if more politicians/citizens were competitive runners, we wouldn’t all be pointing the finger at others.  We’d stand up and take responsibility, make ambitious goals, and do everything we could to accomplish them.  When we got a rainy day or things didn’t go our way, we’d do the best we could and still keep training through. Competiveness is not a speed, its an attitude—a desire to get better and a willingness to make sacrifices to get there.  I’ve always believed this, but I think I forgot that.  Luckily, I had my Rogue coach, Carmen Troncoso, to remind me.  Carmen works with many athletes of all abilities, she helps them make goals that reflect their commitment to the sport.  I think that all the runners in our group are competitive, many are fast too J

I guess the proof is in the PR. Well, I guess it’s the almost PR for me. The little decisions I make do matter. If I spread myself too thin, I won’t make progress in my running, coaching, or anything else. Some may ask if the one almost PR was worth it, for all that. I know for me it is.

Thanks for reading. Keep Austin Rogue and keep chasing your PR’s. I promise it’s worth it for you too!

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