A Bit of the Old Me

Posted by Connor Winter on

With the state that the world’s been in so far this year, I sometimes had a tough time being motivated to run hard and compete. I raced in August with the thought that I needed to “throw myself into it.” This didn't go as planned because the few months leading into the race weren’t good enough to perform my best. I didn’t think about running outside of training. I didn’t eat well, sleep well, or do anything else that would get me ready for a great performance. To be honest, I didn't want to. I didn't enjoy the process of training enough to just train without knowing if I would have a season, and I didn't like the feeling of one-off races.

I finished my weekend of racing in August upset, and I realized that I had to become more focused on the process if I was going to last in the professional world. I got home and made the commitment that I would pay attention to every moment of training and recovery. Eight solid weeks later, and I felt ready to race my first half marathon. I knew I was ready because I was consistently accomplishing the one big thing that I’d committed myself to improving: “Being in the moment.”

I got the ‘go ahead’ to race 10 days before the Michigan Pro Half Marathon, and I was excited. My focus sharpened and I was itching for the days to pass until I got to lace up and compete again. Three days before race day, I got news that Reed had come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID. I was totally thrown for a loop. I knew I wasn't at risk because I hadn't seen him since before he was exposed, but I was flustered and didn't know how to make my own plans. In high stress moments like this, my motivation starts to crack. Thoughts like, “Should I still go?” or “Will I be able to make this last second trip work?” started to pop into my head. I needed someone to make the decision for me, so I called Coach Cory and asked him what to do. He told me, “If you're fit, confident, and healthy, then we should go for it.” I took that call with confidence and booked my flights for that night to make my race the next morning.I got the ‘go ahead’ to race 10 days before the Michigan Pro Half Marathon, and I was excited. My focus sharpened and I was itching for the days to pass until I got to lace up and compete again. Three days before race day, I got news that Reed had come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID. I was totally thrown for a loop. I knew I wasn't at risk because I hadn't seen him since before he was exposed, but I was flustered and didn't know how to make my own plans. In high stress moments like this, my motivation starts to crack. Thoughts like, “Should I still go?” or “Will I be able to make this last second trip work?” started to pop into my head. I needed someone to make the decision for me, so I called Coach Cory and asked him what to do. He told me, “If you're fit, confident, and healthy, then we should go for it.” I took that call with confidence and booked my flights for that night to make my race the next morning.

 

Now started the journey to Michigan. I went for my pre-race jog with  strides and ordered a big lunch that would double as my dinner since I’d be traveling, and finished last minute preparations. After a long day of travel, I was finally able to sleep. Race morning came abruptly, but I was able to connect with my good friend Morgan, who gave me a ride to the race.

I didn’t feel nervous during my warm up. I felt determined to perform better than what the chaos of the previous day had set me up for. The gun went off, and I felt great. We made it through four miles and I felt more confident than I had in months, something came over me and I kept pushing at the front. Everyone else had a calmness and patience that I later found out comes with experience and maturity in road racing. I continued to take the front with Zach Panning, our pacer, until he stopped at eight miles. This is when the race began for the rest of the field. I still felt strong but I knew it would be hard in the last 5K. The field stretched out over the last two miles, but I held on well and finished in 8th place with a time 62:32 seconds, a debut I can be happy with. 

 

This race was the first time in a year that I felt sharp mentally. Although I made a few mistakes, I left Michigan with confidence. I needed this. Much of my running career has been filled with amazing performances met with steep downswings. I’m taking this as my next opportunity to keep momentum going and follow it up with another great race in December. I have climbed up from the drop off after my last great performance; now I’m getting ready for my next race rejoicing in training like I did in the last few months. 2020 has been tough for many reasons but deciding what I want in the midst of the chaos let me experience something very normal to me