Turning a So-So “Grape” of a Race into a Fine Chardonnay

ChardonnayFinish2I know, I know, the saying is really “turning lemons into lemonade,” but since I’m referring to the Chardonnay 10-Miler I ran last Saturday, I’m going with the wine analogy. You get the idea.

It wasn’t my most spectacular race, but since a lot of good things came out of it, I’m choosing to dwell in the positive and “make wine out of grapes.”

First, let me backtrack a bit.

About three weeks ago when I was pushing it a little too hard doing 800s at the track, several ribs popped out of place in my back and strained my intercostal muscles (the muscles between the ribs). That probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but if you’ve ever experienced this, you know the piercing, knife in the back, can’t breathe feeling. No fun. And no sleep for days because every time you move, it’s like being stabbed all over again.

Training came to a halt just when I had planned to do my longest and hardest runs to get ready for this race.

It wasn’t until last Wednesday, four days before the race, that I could finally breathe deeply again and run in an upright position without pain. Thank you Stephanie and Larry for working your magic!

When I showed up to the starting line, along with 376 other runners, I was both happy to be there, and apprehensive, knowing I hadn’t trained like I had wanted, and worried that my back might blow out again. To add to it, of all stupid things, I had a knot in my calf that I could not roll out.

Waa waa waa. Yes, you can hand me some cheese with all of this whine-ing.

That morning before the race, I kept trying to get myself fired up, but wasn’t feeling an ounce of race day adrenaline. Normally I’m wired and ready to go, but I just wasn’t “feeling it.” AT ALL. Not even after a big slug of coffee.

I gave myself the old “Suck it up Buttercup” pep talk several times, but finally decided that my body was trying to tell me something. So instead, I gave myself permission to “just run” instead of “race,” listen to music, enjoy a beautiful 10-mile cruise along our gorgeous coastline and see what happened.

So what did happen?

A lot of positive things:

• While I didn’t run the original 8:00 pace I was working toward before my back went south, I did run 10 miles @ 8:34, which is a pretty great tempo run for me, especially with several hills.

• My back/rib held up, which was big because I didn’t want to go backward in the healing process. I was also able to ignore the knot in my calf (compression sleeves helped).

• I ran nearly the entire race by feel rather than gauging my effort by the numbers on my Garmin. I’m trying to practice this more and more so I automatically know what a 7:50 minute mile feels like compared to an 8:05. I paced myself fairly well, and kept from going out too fast on the first uphill mile. I even saved up enough fuel in the tank to finish with a strong 8:04 final mile.

• I finally took a leap of faith and ditched my fuel belt, opting instead to drink at each aid station. It’s the first time I’ve done this during a race of this length, and man, oh man, what a difference not lugging that extra weight around my waist! Now I can trust that this will work during a marathon. It’s kind of like giving up your security blanket and feeling liberated.

• I hit my target finish time almost dead center. “Blue sky” was 1:20 (8:00 miles) and my “no matter what, you can do this” was 1:30 (9:00 miles). I finished in 1:25:33 (8:34 miles).

• I burned 1000 calories, which is always good when you want to enjoy a decadent celebratory meal later in the day. Like I said, I’m dwelling in the positive!

• Because I participated rather than opting out (which had crossed my mind), I’m still in first place in the Grand Prix series. I came in 9/36 in F 45-49 and 3rd place amongst the GP racers. If you know who my competitors are, please join me in chuckling at the absurdity of this. The number one runner in all of Santa Barbara, Cindy, is in my age group, but she didn’t compete in this race. The other two fabulous women who raced, Lisa and Andrea, finished 6:00 minutes and 11:00 minutes ahead of me, running a 7:27 pace and 7:57 pace. These ladies always inspire me to try to step up my game

• This race reminded me once again that racing is always relative and personal. The third place overall female finisher ran a 6:58 pace and rated her performance as a “B.” If I had run that pace I would have been calling it an A+++++, doing a happy dance like no there’s no tomorrow. Another friend ran a 9:42 pace and was excited that she ran a PR. Then there was somebody thrilled to finish it at a 16:58 pace. It’s all relative, and the only person who really cares is you.

• Another great thing about this race is that it got me fired up to get back on track with my training, to find that fine balance of pushing myself hard, while not overtraining. Hill work, core and strength are at the top of the list. I have a lot of work to do.

• The best part of  it all? Simply that it was a great morning to be a runner. I had a blast celebrating with friends and sharing our mutual love of running. What more can you ask for… besides being cheered on by my number one supporter?


Now it’s on to the Gaucho Gallop 5K next weekend.
Life is good… just like a fine chardonnay.

6 thoughts on “Turning a So-So “Grape” of a Race into a Fine Chardonnay

    • Thanks, Jessica. Like I said, it’s all relative. And compared to all this Boston excitement today, it’s not even worth mentioning!! I’m just sharing the journey because no matter how sucky a run or race, it’s still a great day when you get to run.


  1. Becky, you are awesome!! nice job on the positive psychology AND sharing it with us! I’ll see you tomorrow at the Gaucho Gallop!


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