The marathon is a serious race. It demands a serious approach to training if you want to run well on race day. It takes a serious effort to run to your potential.
For the 0.5% of the population who can claim to be a marathoner, describing the final 6.2 miles of the race as “serious” is a tremendous understatement.
For most of us however, we are running marathons for our own personal reasons. Very few of the athletes who toe the line down in Houston this January are there because it is their “job”. Sure some are there to chase prize money and awards, but for the vast majority of the field they are racing one of two people.
The marathoner they used to be – hoping to better their PR (personal record) at the distance or
The marathoner they think they have the potential to become.
For us that means racing the clock and breaking through the three hour barrier.
If I had my choice of winning an age group award in Houston and running a 3:02 marathon or finishing 25th in my age group with a time of 2:59:59 the choice is an easy one. I am fortunate enough to have plenty of nick nacks, medals, trophys and ribbons from races in the past. What I do not have however is a 2:59 finish to my credit. Not for another 3 months anyway.
There are a few things that I have been trying to remind myself during this training cycle as I know it may be the last “serious” one for quite awhile. I have been telling myself to focus my effort and my mind only on the workout in front of me. Do not look ahead to bigger weeks, races, long runs or my highest mileage weeks. Just look at the workout immediately in front of me and give 100% effort.
That does not mean that I am going to perfectly nail each one of the remaining 73 runs and 759.30 miles left to go. In fact, I know for certain that I am not. Training has a way of breaking you down to build you back up. There are going to be quite a few times when my confidence is shaken by a “poor” workout. But there will also be many times when I feel invincible after a workout that I really hammered away at. The key is to take them one at a time and not get too high or too low. The truth like most things in life is almost always in the middle.
I’ve also reminded myself to be humble and grateful for our good health. We have been training hard now since April 2, 2011 with no injuries. 3,635 running miles without taking any serious time off due to a training injury. The longest streak by far in our time as a runner. Add another 2,962 in the saddle and more laps in the pool than I know how to count and I am enjoying quite a run of good luck and smart training. I am going to treasure these next 759 miles on the way to Houston and enjoy all of them. Hot, cold, wet, dark, windy, fast and slow. They are all part of the story surrounding race day. I am going to love them all equally.
But the one thing that I needed to be reminded of on Sunday night by my daughter Landry are two key lessons that every marathoner should remember.
1. No matter how many times you get knocked down. Keep getting back up.
2. Remember to have fun.
If you want a visual of what I am talking about – click below to see Landry practicing her tumbling.
It is so easy to get caught up in your emotions on race day, especially when things don’t seem to be going your way. Whether you catch a bad break with race-day weather, which has happened to us quite a bit actually when it comes to this distance, or things out on the course just don’t seem to be coming together for you. You have to keep fighting. The pain of missing a goal narrowly is going to stay with you much longer than any physical pain you are experiencing trying to hold on to race pace. Don’t let the fact that you’ve gotten knocked down keep you there. Gather yourself and keep trying, keep pushing, even when things seem impossible.
That describes just about every great success story.
More importantly however is that this is all “supposed” to be fun. If it stops being fun, why on earth would we be teeing this race up for the 9th time in 6 years? What else do we have to prove to anyone that we haven’t already?
I told myself after the Kerrville half-ironman that I would not get back on my bike until I felt like “I missed riding”. I wanted my first post-race ride to be for the joy of it, not out of some kind of training obligation or duty.
On Monday afternoon on a beautiful Austin Fall day I saddled up and went out for a quick 20-mile ride over the hill route on Parmer Lane. No real time goal or pace in mind – just a hard ride because I missed it.
|Avg Pace:||2:45 min/mi|
|Avg Speed:||21.7 mph|
|Elevation Gain:||623 ft|
Best training ride I’ve had in a long, long time – and the first thing I thought of when I hit the driveway at home and kicked out of my clips was, “Man, that was fun.”
I’m determined to remember that as I glance down at Dom’s initials on my Houston race flats and point to the sky as we cross the starting line at 7:00 a.m. on January 13th. At 10:00 a.m. I am going to point skyward as well as a final thank you to Dom for helping put me in position for this moment, to go out and run the race of my life.
The only question that remains is whether or not we are pointing from the finishing chute or the race course. The marathon is an unpredictable race. I’m not entirely sure where we are going to be when we cast our eyes skyward, but I do know this. It is going to be fun finding out.
Thank you Landry for the reminder on Sunday. You are the best little girl any Daddy has ever had.