Saturday, April 4, 2009

Fifteen Days To Go: My Biggest Worries

It’s getting close; I can feel it. By the time I get this up, it will be fifteen days to race day. Fifteen days to find out if I’ve got what it takes to be a sub 3 hour marathoner runner. Ironically, fifteen is also a poignant number for the marathon because that is the mile right before the onslaught of four hills culminating in Heartbreak Hill is set to begin. In a way, it is the calm before the storm, a time for all the runners to assess their physical and mental state before tackling the toughest part of the race.

So where am I physically, emotionally, and psychologically with the race now just fifteen days away?

Well, physically, I feel fine, or as well as I could hope for given all the heavy mileage (for me) that I’ve asked this body to train through. I’ve suffered many injury scares over the past several weeks, a pulled hamstring here, an Achilles’ tendonitis there, but they’ve all subsided to the point where it’s not noticeable or only barely so even as I’m running at marathon pace. As long as I don’t push hard and remember to run constructive miles (which builds confidence) rather than destructive miles (which break down muscle) I should make it through the taper with a realistic change to physically run a great race.

Emotionally and psychologically however, it is somewhat of a different story. For one reason or another, I’ve been having a hard time visualizing my personal success in the Boston Marathon. Maybe it’s from the lack of support from those closest to me (like my parents who only recently found out I’m heading to Boston to run a marathon and isn’t so pleased with my decision) or just my own inability to see myself as a good athlete, but I’m having a hard time coming to terms with what I’m hoping to do on April 20th. In a weird way, I feel like a career minor leaguer suddenly getting the call to pitch Game 7 of the World Series. Does this even make sense?

In an effort to “build up ammo” and strategize my attack on all the frailties of the mind that will threatening my chances on Marathon Monday, I’m going to confront my fears and list the ten biggest psychological stumbling blocks I have heading into race day. I figure if I know what I’m dealing with now, I have a few days to prepare mentally to put up a good realistic fight.

In no particular order then, my biggest worries for the Boston Marathon are:

  1. I’ll forget my underwear come race day. Not really, but wearing inappropriate clothing is always a concern.
  2. I don’t run well away from home. It’s not a coincidence that in the last four marathons that I’ve run, I’ve averaged 3:05 at home, and 3:12 away.
  3. Weather is always a crapshoot in Boston. If it’s rainy, windy, snowy, hot or humid, I can forget about sub-3 and just hope that I don’t break an ankle or end up in the hospital.
  4. Catching speedsters. Did you hear Kara is running the race. And so is Ryan Hall. And so is this guy and this guy. If I find myself running with any of them at the start, I’m. So. Dead.
  5. Hills and me: not such BFFs? Like the setting sun, hills have been a constant companion on all my training runs. But what if on race day, those treacherous speed bumps along Miles 16-21 decide out of the blue to pick a fight with me? Will I have the mental fortitude not to be flustered by the dispute?
  6. I will meander off the course or meander off the pace. Ooh, look at that pretty statue there…or ooh, look at those beautiful houses…Hey, hey, where did everyone else go? Or…6:49, 6:45, 6:50, 7:30…hey, where did that come from? You get the picture.
  7. I will forget why I’m running. It always happens. Somewhere in mile 21,22, or sometimes 23. I start to lose focus and forget why the hell I’m running. So, why am I running this race anyway?
  8. I can’t say no to a kiss. If some pretty lady offers, can I not oblige? And if I just happen to fall off my pace by twenty seconds running through Wellesley, can you really blame me?
  9. I will be emotional…at mile 2. Again, if I have the sniffles even before my first water stop, I am not sick nor will I have tears of joy at mile 26.
  10. To spite me, they’ll cancel the race when I reach Boston. Who knows? It might happen.

Hope you all are having a good weekend.


Marci said...

You will do amazing. Wasn't it you that told Frayed Laces the mantra "don't deny your awesomeness?"

carpeviam said...

Oh, those damn taper tantrums. If it is any consolation, I'm feeling the SAME way! I laughed at your list of 10, because I've thought about some of those very things! I am SO your support and go-to gal, right now. Trust me, I need your support too! ;)

Internal Pigdog said...

this is old advice but trust your training. what's done is done. you'll line up in hopkington w your preparation in the tank. don't doubt that it's substantial. you've run thousands of miles that got you there. just focus and click off the miles. be tough.

aron said...

i agree with marci, dont forget those words :)

Andrew is getting fit said...

Way to go #8!

Kristina said...

Can't help you with the other ones, but I can tell you there is no way you'll meander off the course. It's lined with people so you basically have no choice but to run the course!

Running and living said...

well, some of those concerns are out of your control (like the weather), but some are within your control. perhaps trying to prep for this race as you would for any other marathon, and "forget" that it is boston. you mentioned "visualizations" and they really work. so try to picture yourself at the start of the hills (which, you will agree with me, are NOT that bad) being pulled up (or whatever imagery you like)and do that over and over, until it no longer leaves you with butterflies in your stomach. I am in the same boat, worried-oh-so-worried, and i don't even have the pressure of running a sub 3 marathon:). I say you did the training, now do the last bit of homework (race prep) and let go of what you can't control. and kissing a wellesly girl? that might just give you the boost you need up those hills:) Ana-Maria

Ms. V. said...

You have no idea how helpful this post is.

Michelle said...

Just don't forget your boxers on race day!!!

Your funny but I get what your saying here!!

You are pretty awesome!

M*J*C said...

You know the old saying "if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail", that also means when you have been successful in your preparing (which you have), you have prepared to be successful (which you will be)! You have been on top of everything that you can control (the weather is it's own thing, but even so you've trained in all kinds of weather so you won't be totally wiped out by the "variety" of weather that Boston has to offer).
You are going to do great!! One thing is for sure, we will ALL be pulling for you!

matpedw said...

Try looking at this the opposite way. Your mind is programmed into your goal. It's in charge no matter what pops up. Bottom line is that you'll run a good race and there's not a thing you can do to change that.

lindsay said...

have confidence! we all know you've put in a ton of work, solid runs, speedy runs, long runs... you are prepared; you worked diligently day after day to train and now it's time to rest up (physically and mentally). look over your training log and review your awesomeness - believe in yourself!

and ditto marci's comment!!! ddya!

The Laminator said...

Hey, hey, hey! I appreciate all the kind words and all, but you all are not allowed to use my own words against me!

J said...

First - the weather is going to be great for Boston. And let me tell you why! Because this weekend and next weekend has bit S**T and so that means we will be due for some good weather! You will not forget your underwear lol! I am so excited for you to run Boston!!

The Happy Runner said...

Your list cracked me up! Ha!

No underwear...pah!

Chic Runner said...

You will do amazing.... I think of those 10 things all the time when I race too. Don't worry about it and just relax, you will rock it.

Run For Life said...

You are stronger than you think!

sRod said...

1. There are plenty of running/athletic shops in Boston, you can find back up underwear that is your brand.
2. That's not a reliable stat because the base isn't statistically significant. This isn't baseball where you have dozens of games.
3. Actually this is worth worrying about
4. If you find Kara and Ryan get them to sign your bib number and then avoid them (and their kind).
5. I used to live by and run over Heart Break Hill when I was in college. Your Central Park training will have prepared you more than enough. It's just another Harlem Hill.
6. Um, I highly doubt this will happen.
7. I really doubt this will happen either--your race day strategies are too good to be derailed.
8. AND WHY WOULD YOU SAY NO? A kiss will take half a second (they know you're running a race!) and is not a memory worth passing up.
9. That won't stop you from kicking ass.
10. Hasn't happened in the past 112 years, it won't happen now.

Just some tough love to get you through the taper.

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