This past weekend, I ran the Green Bay Half Marathon. Maybe saying I "ran" it is a bit generous; much to my dismay, I walked all of Mile 10. Yes, my stomach revolted and yes it was 95% humidity, but neither completely excuses away my poor performance. The reality of it is that I didn't adequately train.
But why not? I didn't roll out of bed on an arbitrary Sunday and have some militant runner czar say "you! woman! Run as fast as you can for 13 miles." I signed up for the race months ago and had plenty of time to train. Why didn't I?
The problem, my friends, is success and the complacency that follows.
I had trained many hours for the 1:57 half marathon time in Sept '13, and worked equally as hard for the 8:58 min/mile in the Ragnar relay last June 2014. Once I achieved my long-coveted sub-9 min/mile, I subconsciously checked out. I stopped religiously cross training with Nike Training Club 3x per week. My quality mid-distance speed work with hills became more and more sparse. I was still working out, but I shifted into auto-pilot. Big time.
And it showed. I don't know what I expected, but this half marathon was tough both mentally and physically. My shins groaned at Mile 1. I entertained walking the entire thing at Mile 4. I puked right before Mile 10. I crossed the finish line with a an average 9:28 min/mile and negative personal pride. I was better than this. I am better than this.
I'm noticing a similar situation as I start the next phase of my career. For the past 3 years, I've worked on a team that helped the finance department understand our company's accounting software, solving ad hoc problems along the way. While on this team, I conditioned myself to become proficient. With time, experience, and some late nights, I became--allegedly--an expert. In other words, I had achieved my professional equivalent of a sub-9-min/mile.
With that expertise came a certain level of comfort. The comfort wasn't detrimental to the role I was in, but it was detrimental in preparing my mental faculties for this new role. In the new role, I'm running a new race, and I'm realizing that parts of my mental muscle aren't in shape. I'm not fast enough.
To get my mojo back, both professionally and on the race course, I'm going to need to put in some serious sweat. Lace up, we're in for the long haul.