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.

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