Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Marathon Motivation

"The more you frame the marathon as a stressful experience, the more negative messages you'll receive. But it's just as easy to frame it as a positively challenging journey."
-Jeff Galloway, U.S. Olympian, running writer, and coach

I have 6 days until marathon day!  The quote above is one I really connect with.  I have long told the athletes that I coach that for many of these longer races, you had better start your day HAPPY and joyful!  Because if you aren’t, you will REALLY not be feeling well by the end!  I often notice starting feeling so happy, full of joy and exhilaration and so THANKFUL for being there and for the volunteers.  As the miles tick by, I am no longer personally saying thank you to the volunteers which makes me feel bad, my naturally positive feeling dissipates and there are phases of questioning why I am doing this to myself, why I PAID FOR THIS!

 "You can never be sure. That's what makes the marathon both fearsome and fascinating. The deeper you go into the unknown, the more uncertain you become. But then you finish. And you wonder later, 'How did I do that?' This question compels you to keep making the journey from the usual to the magical."-Joe Henderson

I have now done the work.  Looking back at my buildup back into running since my hip injury and my training since January, I have done exactly what I have planned and asked of myself.  I am completely satisfied with every training week that I have had.  I could have done nothing more.  And THAT…. THAT… is the best feeling.  I love going to races being completely as prepared as I can be.  I’m not currently the fittest I have ever been, but I am where I need to be NOW, coming back safe and smart from an injury.  I’ve trained through the winter, logged days and days and miles and miles on the treadmill, had 50-60 mile weeks that I am so proud of.  When I have done the training or send an athlete off to race morning, it is a JOY to have had completely prepared thoroughly in training.  Training is the grueling work, the day in, day out, who you are, what you are made of, getting it done in the middle of LIFE!  Race day is the party and the celebration of the work!  I like to think of it as a “party on the roads”, even if it doesn’t always feel like a physical party!  Which brings me to:

The pain.  I’ve talked a bit about maybe developing a bit of “fear of pain”.  I am glad to have discovered this hovering “thing” which can press down on me both mind and body.  I am fully aware and have done enough self-evaluation to know that I need to separate pain of injury from pain of persistence.  The pain of the time spent in physical pain is nothing compared to pain afterwards mentally of not having done what you could have done, should have stuck with, if you give up.  There is NOT A WAY I will not stick with the race.  ***on a small scale it is like a morning workout:  the “pain” of getting up at o’dark thirty is nothing like the “pain” of going through your day thinking of yourself as a lazy bum for sleeping in.

The reality is that 26.2 miles is long.  It gives you much time in your own head.  You can discover quite a bit about yourself both in the training and during the full duration of the day.  You find your deepest fire.  To finish, you will need it.  Even if your training has gone perfectly, you need a fire to light your way through to completion.  It is not purely a physical event.  You will not make it without the strength of the mind.

I am both excited and nervous about marathon day.  As it should be.  I am excited because this is my passion.  I am nervous because I respect the distance.

I am so excited about the “story” of the race.  At the end of the race, there is always so much I want to tell my family (who really probably doesn’t feel they need to hear the WHOLE thing since they have just WAITED FOR ME!) But there are funny things, surprises, frustrations, moments of hope and anger and annoyance and total solidarity with the thousands of other humans experiencing their stories next to you.  Everyone is in their own footsteps, struggling, helping each other.  Everyone has had months of hard work, early mornings, tired legs.  It is so full of stories.   I am excited to run with full gratitude in my heart for having gotten in the race, for my hip and back injuries to be at the point where I am even ABLE TO RUN- at any level!!!  I am grateful that I have the luxury of traveling.

I am nervous because OH MY GOSH I am now a new marathoner again.  This will be my 10th (including the marathon in the Ironman I did).  I got relatively “used to” doing them about a decade ago.  Now, I’m kind of amazed that I had gotten to the times that I had gotten to!  I was actually “racing them” (for me.)  Ummmmmm this one will be different- more on the lines of my first- just getting it DONE IS ALL I AM ASKING!  I literally do not have a speed goal (other than I’d like to not be out there FOREVER because that kind of means I really was feeling not very good!).  It will take everything I have right now to go through the miles/ the struggles.  There WILL be struggles.  I will remind myself that what is the monkey on my shoulder at one point will be gone in another mile and there will be something else that will be hurting me.  That too will go away.  Those moments build me.  Those moments of hanging in there are my character, who I am, who I always have been.  I have and will make over and over the decision to go with my all.  This is my bucket list marathon, I am so lucky to be doing this!  I cannot believe I got into the race this year. I am beyond thankful.  It will be my privilege to persevere.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Am I feeling pain? Or is this the feeling of effort.

Pain vs. EFFORT.

Big Sur Marathon is 12 days away.  2 weekends ago, I had my last long run which was supposed to be 23 miles according to the plan I have written for myself.  I had done 22 once that actually felt okay.  I had also done 20 that was H.A.R.D. ugh.  I was mentally prepared (I thought) for 23.  It wasn’t an ideal day- I couldn’t begin the run until 11:00 after a few kid’s sports games, but I left as soon as possible.  By mile 8, I knew I needed some energy so I took my first block, which was earlier than I had intended, but fine.  At 10, I started getting some weird breathing cramps, which was odd- my intensity had not been too much at all, so I didn’t know why I was getting these unless it had to do with the “run gum” that I had started at mile 9.  Anyway, my legs felt heavy, fatigued, and my body was heavy/lethargic feeling and flat.  I was trying to stay calm and not panic with wondering what was going on.  I tried to mentally break up the miles as best as I could- I was doing some hill repeat sequences… because…..hills at big sur….. then I stopped home at I maybe 15 miles to go to the bathroom and got back out asap.  I was just slow and felt a bit miserable.  Each mile took forever and I really just barely felt like I was moving.  I kept trying to eat blocks for energy, but it didn’t really feel like it was giving me too much energy.  It was a beautiful day, in fact hot, so that could have played a role in how hard it felt.  Long story short:  I did 21 because at 20 I had stopped somewhere to refill my water bottle and when I stopped, my body was shaking and I knew I felt a bit light headed, felt like I was 80% on my way to having the flu with body aches, etc.  So, I finished. In a bit of tears because I didn’t do my goal/plan.

The day after this, I was telling someone how I know and accept that I am not going to be fast- there is no possible way, so it would be silly of me to expect some number that is out of my capability.  I just was hoping to be strong enough at this point for it to not feel terrible.  I was reminded that… IT WILL!  IT IS A MARATHON!  You don’t finish a marathon with EASE!  Even when you are appropriately trained!  It will NOT FEEL GOOD.  IT WILL TAKE EVERY SINGLE THING. PERIOD.  Have no other expectations besides putting yourself out there for that.

It was a good reminder.  My last marathon was 7 years ago and that is so long.  I have forgotten, and that is part of why I wanted to do another one this year.  The marathon is so mental.  I may be physically trained at this point as much as I will be, but I still need to work on my mind.  I have much mental prep that I need to do, and I will be doing daily until the race.

I was thinking about my wish for the marathon to not feel terrible.  I feel like I am slightly “afraid” of pain.  I’ve gotten older and softer (physically and mentally!)--- mentally I think I am not as full out committed to the extreme….. I’m not as angry (trying to prove something to myself), scared, which is a good thing.  It is no longer my everything.  I also have high on my heart some of the recent injuries- back and hip, that I am afraid to feel “pain.”  I am reminding myself right now that “pain” of injury isn’t pain of effort.  I think that is a big distinction, at least for myself.  That is helping me right now to mentally prepare for pain, without being fearful of the pain of injury.

The pain of effort:  THIS….. I am willing to go to this pain.  In fact, one of my first mantras years ago that helped me so much was, “No one said that this would be easy.”  I would repeat that to myself mentally, and it reminded me that I wasn’t ever out there for something easy to do.  It was ALL ABOUT doing the hardest things I could think of.  I am not out there to sail through.  I am there to find my grit, use my fire and inner will and power to make it happen.  It will be a fight.  It will be as close to a 10/10 effort as it gets (I usually say you never get to a 10 unless you need an ambulance) but this will be everything and I am prepared for nothing less.  I won’t be smiling the whole way.  I won’t be able to.  I won’t be loving every minute of it, that is not the point.  (at the end though, I will have loved every minute of it in retrospect!) 

I’ve done some races over the years and gotten my fitness to a place at times where I can tell I am the fittest version of my capability.  And sometimes even through that strong effort, when I am at my fittest, there is a sense of “ease.”  I know that is the weirdest thing to say, but it is a feeling of fitness- that I am ABLE to be working at my capability.  I feel like when I am at my fittest, it is easier for me to complete some races than the effort of some people who are doing it slower than me.  And that knowledge has given me a bit of fear of now BEING one of the slower people.

 I have done it before, I have finished 8 marathons (plus 1 that was in an Ironman Triathlon).  And I will be in my strength, step by step, powering through 26.2😊  I have some mental prep still, but I am going to be ready. 12 days.  I finished a strong workout today of 14 miles with 4x (2 miles tempo/1 mile easy) included and I pushed hard and got it done.  I have one more 13-14 miler and some in between runs.  I’m working to already be hydrated, to stay healthy and positive, and prepare my mind.  I’m excited.  Fitness should never be boring and I love varying it up between different distance tris and now going back to a marathon. 

I am fully willing to go through the pain of full marathon effort.  Nothing less.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

4 week out jitters

So, I am a bit overwhelmed by being 4 weeks out from the marathon.  Could be a number of things- I  knew this time of year was going to be craaaazy with kids schedules, weekend tournaments, every other thing on the calendar,  band stuff, other school stuff, my work stuff, etc.  So, I am just feeling a bit like I am drowning….and also very tired.  I should be fatigued from the training, but I’m also making sure I’m not going too far overboard, etc.  I am wondering if it is partially allergies? 

I have one very long to do before I start stepping down.  This Sunday will be a long run and I am hoping it goes well.  Unfortunately also playing mind games with myself with a bit of fear of if it doesn’t.

I realized today that part of the fatigue is that I’ve been doing basically ONLY running.   I got on the bike today to do a workout that wasn’t so intense on my body as the running- and it felt so good to do a low intensity bike… I look forward to the weather getting warmer and getting outdoors on my bike!

I’m also reminding myself that while I am “worried” about the race- I just haven’t done this distance in so long, that it is all about FUN, being OUT THERE on the course- on my bucket list course!  And I do truly feel lucky every single run I do to be healed in my back and hip enough to do what I am doing!!!  I am so thankful!

It is big in my heart to feel fully accepting that my races this year are all about progress instead of perfection.  I don’t need to place any pressure on myself to go fast because I am truly just lucky to be healthy and participating.  That is fully my joy to enjoy my training process and the fulfillment of the process on race day!