Monday, May 29, 2017

Eagleman Run, Part 1.

Yep, it’s only day 2 and I’m focusing on the run, whaaaaaaaaaa???????!!!!!
Those of you who are reading this and haven’t done Eagleman (EM)….. the run is hot, literally hot as hell (and I love hot)… but it is ridiculous and it frankly isn’t running.  I always get a little pissed during the run thinking, this is not even a SPORT that I have trained! 
EVERY 2nd weekend in June in Cambridge, MD is 95 degrees (minimum) with 80+ % humidity.  It is frankly dangerous.  (there is also NO shade cover- actually, backtrack- last year they changed the course and there is now about ½ mile (of 13 miles running) of shade cover --- and still zero on bike)….
Anyway: you can run 7 min pace ½ marathons, and EM is just a blessing if you survive at any pace.
*you can kind of see the heat here... enough said:)
I have a hard time keeping my MENTAL “edginess”—not sure the word for it, but like my “hardness” or fierceness/ intensity/ drive……. I find myself “softening” and beginning to say things to myself like, Ohhh Sharon, just do what you can do….. enjoy the day!!!  And I do want to enjoy the day, BUT not jogging or walking.  I honestly before have like clapped my hands a few times to get myself to “harden back up” my focus and drive and to “snap” back into caring???  I know it sounds odd.  I take 2 No-Doz pills at the end of the bike because I also wonder if I’m running out of caffeine and I believe the caffeine helps me be MENTALLY ALERT and focused.  Main thing: I feel like I lose some physical performance because my mind allows me to “go soft.”
*********So… to work on this:  I’ve worked on my long runs on really trying to KEEP EFFORT to the end.  Even if I feel my PACE isn’t the pace I wish it was, I want my EFFORT to be where it needs to be (regardless of the resulting pace)..  I’ve done lots of fast finish runs, lots of runs with ¼ mile repeats at END, or 30 sec sprint at end to keep my legs fast even when they are tired.  But again: really… that is the PHYSICAL part.  I have to mentally never lose my DRIVE. 
The hard thing is BALANCING the drive with the length/patience/long term mentality of the race.   What I mean by this is:  I cannot use my drive in the first 2 miles.  Even though I WANT TO.   I have to coach myself to literally talk myself through staying CALM… and not using up any energy here- no MENTAL energy (and not too much physical also!).  A tendency I have is to get off bike, get to feet and think:  HERE I AM- last part of race!!!  HOLD ON there… this can be 1:40-2 hours…. This really isn’t “the last part”… there is a LONG TIME TO GO Batman….. so I need to shut my mind of and my plan is to mentally be a bit non-chalant for 4 miles.  I will coach myself through *transitioning, *being moderate, *being CALM, *not thinking too much about time or pace, just settling into what I know for me is my smart INTENSITY…. Am I at a good place.  **I will not let myself think about THE END at all here.  4 miles is just the first step of this run.  Just set the stage here.

 (above pic in 2014-- this is a part that I need to calm down on.  it is out of T2 and people there cheering and it is hot and I need to basically zone out/ not think about people/ not think about holy MOLY how am I going to SURVIVE.. I have and I will).
Eagleman happens to be a race of attrition--- I see it every year.  People begin walking and just doing enough to finish.  And you end up seeing more than half the people walking and so it becomes just… WHAT YOU DO…. AND NO.. IT IS NOT WHAT I DO.  I will NOT walk through the aid stations.  Just because I see others doing that, this is NOT MY RACE.  Walking 1 minute each mile through the aid stations leads to a 13 min slower race- NO WAY.  I need to remember.. there is no pause button at the aid stations.  I know I need the aid, I am so thankful  for the ups of ice, etc…. but I am committed to NOT  WALKING.
2nd FOUR MILES: (miles 4-8):  So, if my first 4 were settling in, this is… “settling in stage 2”… I know, maybe that sounds like no plan, but it is…. It is more mentally important to:
*keep my arm cadence
*run tall with my form/ get my feet off ground when they want to plod slower/ lean from ankles which keeps my momentum….
*use my mantras. I will be hot.  At Eagleman I sometimes think my face skin is going to start a fire.  And my shoulders.  I can feel it.  I love the heat, so it always surprises me how much I know this is working against me/ normally I welcome CRAZY INTENSE HEAT!!  But, I feel this and realize I need to be careful.  This year a focus I’m going to try is to when my mind wanders to heat/temperature/ and a whoa is me attitude about the extreme conditions, I need to stop the EXTERNAL focus on environment and go back to internal/ form/ MY RUN/ keeping MY RACE just as real!
*Every mile is a “race goal”- BUT… I cannot get too ahead of myself making something big (13 miles) into too many annoying small goals.  It is always a good reminder to myself during the run that a faster mile makes the race so much more doable—it often doesn’t pay to slow down and just be OUT there burning up for longer! 
*My effort for this 2nd set of 4 miles I want to be at maybe 8/10ish.  On flat- typically I would be loving to hold 7:30-s, BUT… my overall goal for this race is to average 8’s for the entire run (8 MAX is goal.. I want to be UNDER 8’s… so I would like to keep these at 7:40/45 if at all possible.) But… again, it is truly the EFFORT in this race that I need to guage.

When I hit mile 8, I am going to take a 1 mile “get ready” mile… TO FINISH. This doesn’t mean I lay down and try to roll along the ground for amile, BUT…. Stay relaxed physically and mentally and get my thoughts together for the final push (pain).
Mile 9-13:
Here it is:  there is no way I will be comfortable.  There have been times when I swear I am running with no legs and my run is all arms.  There have been years where I ask myself why I thought this was fun, and that I’m never doing it again… (and then 15 min after finish line I am SO set to do again)…. There have been years where I stop on the side of the road a few times waiting a few seconds to see if I”ll get sick.  But there also was a year when I KNEW, if I did my 100%, I could come in under 5 hours.  And I will never forget that feeling of using every thing…. Mind and body connecting… I remember saying to myself, run like your heels are on fire…. And I KNEW a HUGE goal was about to be… half scared, but I TOTALLY took it to my max that year!  It was an AMAZING feeling.  I want that again.
So, that is what I want to channel.  An AMAZING finish.  Make no joke, I KNOW this feels amazing to finish, but it TAKES guts and acceptance of pain and a willingness to let go of all fears. 
My miles 9-13 are going to be taken to 9/10 effort approx. (and last mile- just frankly all I have left).
*In my last 70.3 race, I felt pretty horrible and was very tired, but was so proud to keep it together and keep pushing strong.  One of the things I remember and will never forget was that I took about an entire mile (around mile 10) where I was HOT also there/ just in the open sun and roads and feeling beat down on…. But I knew we were going to the ocean the next day, so for a mile, I talked through all of these ocean things to myself- the sensation of the cool water on my skin, floating on waves, the feeling of soft sand on my feet, etc.  It helped so much for a mile.  Since I am going to the race on my own, I may end up taking a mile to visualize going into the water immediately after the race to cool off.  (last year I didn’t recover very well and I think I was in the heat for too long after without going to cool off) (as ONE of the things!—more on that later- I need to make sure that doesn’t happen again!!!)
So the run…. It is long.  I am ready.  I can do it.  It isn’t easy.  It will be a perfect balance of focusing and letting go, pushing myself with complete humbleness and truth to where my capabilities lie…
A balance of putting 6 months of training on the line, but taking patience to let it happen.

I was 3rd in my age group last year, and this year I would love to be in top 3 again.  (I want to qualify for Worlds in TN in September).  It will come down to the run- to not giving up, to remembering the training I did, and taking some risks on myself.  It is going to be worth it!

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