When Chrissie Wellington was asked, right after finishing the 2011 Ironman World Championships at Kona, how she had managed to win the women’s race, she said, “I had to dig really deep.” How deep? She crashed her bike two weeks prior to the race, had huge areas of visible road rash, and, according to Competitor.com, had actually torn pectoral and intercostal muscles. This forced her to hold back on the swim, putting her 10 minutes off the lead coming out of the water. She worked her way through the field on the bike but didn’t take the lead until deep into the marathon. Once in front, she hung on like her life depended on it.
How deep is “Chrissie deep?” I asked myself this several times during the Army Ten Miler the following day. Am I digging deep? Am I digging “Chrissie deep?” I was running with a training partner who is usually several strides ahead on the track, and had questioned the wisdom of trying to hang with him. On the other hand, I knew this was a great opportunity to run a fast time, and I had surprised myself by managing to hang with him during a set of fast 800s during our pre-race track workout, so that gave me the confidence to go for it. We planned to – and did – run between 7:05 and 7:15 pace. During the race I replaced thoughts of “this is crazy, you can’t possibly hold this for 10 miles” with “you feel relaxed, you feel comfortable, this is easy.”
Did I dig deep? I think so. When it got hard and I felt tired, I pushed harder. This is a tactic I learned a few years ago and I find it really works. When you feel tired and want to slow down, instead, pick up the pace. Just the change can make you feel better. I know it sounds crazy but what’s crazy is that it works. I finished in 1:11:20 for an average pace of 7:08.
I was looking at the shoelace on a new pair of Brooks Launch while on the drive up to Hershey last weekend. I noticed something was written on the plastic piece on the end of the lace. I took a closer look and realized it said “DEEP.” Then I looked at the end of the other lace.
So I’m off to Austin on Friday for my first Half Ironman. 1.2 mile swim. 56 mile bike. 13.1 mile run. I’ll be packing my shovel because I plan to dig deep…Chrissie Wellington deep.
How deep do you dig? Do you know how deep you’re digging? Do you use a shovel? What do your shoelaces say?