I had a great trail run Wednesday. About halfway through, I found my groove and felt like I was just flying down the trail. I thought a lot about things, too.
I do a lot better when I open myself up to failure and I have to remember that. It's why I still think going for 3:30 was good at Whistlestop, even if it didn't work out right. I've always done my best when I decide it doesn't matter if I crash and burn - it seems I sell myself short a lot and could really go harder then I thought.
First experience with this was back in middle school, really. It was the Princeton cross country meet in maybe 8th grade when it was still out at that campground. On the bus ride down, I was informed that I was cut down to JV instead of Varsity for this meet. I was pissed. To make it back up to Varsity for the next meet, I would have to beat the time from someone running Varsity at Princeton when JV and Varsity were running separate races so I wouldn't be able to directly race the people I was trying to beat. The JV race also had a TON more runners than the Varsity and the course was simply not built to handle the amount of kids running at once (probably why it was moved off the course the next year or the year after). So I decided I was going to run like mad - much faster then I thought I could maintain for the whole race. After all, you aren't expected to do well at Princeton so it'd be okay if I crashed and burned. Well, I ended up getting 2nd! All because I let go of what I thought I could do and just ran.
Maybe similar is how I've run my best time for the Trail Series races that very first time I ran each one (with the exception of Rolling Stone). Perhaps because I didn't know what to expect those first times around - I didn't know the course and didn't know who I 'should' be running with.
I guess my moral from the story is that you'll only be as fast as you let yourself be. Just let your mind go sometimes, take the risk and go. Whether this means for a race, a section of a race, a training day, an interval or even long term goal setting. Wednesday, I was running up a hill in the middle of the run, nothing too steep or bad, average trail length, average trail steepness when I realized I was thinking along the lines of "Okay, get to x point and you can walk if you need to." Wait, wait, wait! Evaluation time! Just what exactly is hurting enough to think about walking? Quads? Fine. Calves? Tight but fine. Those sore hamstrings? Just fine. Why was I thinking about walking? Could my mind have just decided without me that this seemed like the type of hill to walk some on or even the type of hill I would 'normally' walk some on? As soon as I stopped (mentally, not physically) to realize my legs were fine, I was able to keep going no problem. I'm trying not to let my mind psyche my body out.