Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Mental Game

The marathon is in 18 days.

If you've given up on my blog and started reading my tweets and facebook status updates (what are you doing here?) then you know that my Ragnar Team recently completed the Ragnar Cumberland to DC 201.5 race.  All I can tell you until I have time to put my thoughts into words was that it was awesome and I encourage anyone who enjoys running even a little bit to do it at least once.

One of the girls on my team has decided to form a new team for the Ragnar Keys (Miami to Key West), so I'll be heading down to Florida in early January for that epic awesomeness again...and if you're interested, I might have one invitation for you, pending someone else deciding whether or not to lose their mind.

This weekend, I somehow talked Chadd into doing the Warrior Dash 5k up on Pennsylvania where I finished with a respectable time of 30:28.  A 5k with mud pits, a flame leap, cargo net climbs, climbing over tankers, sloshing through a pond with logs, a mud hill climb...we had a blast (see below)

As far as training goes, I've been pretty good about getting my running in, though lately I've been letting the short runs slide (not good), though my cross training is pretty high.

When I did my 18 (coming down from 20), I was holding between an 8:10 and an 8:20--consider that in training I take a 1 minute walk break every 10 minutes, bringing my average mile pace up to about an 8:40.

This is enough to make it under 4 hours...provided I don't cramp up, my knee that got a bit swollen after running down a mountain for my first leg in Ragnar doesn't give up (like it did at the end of 15), etc. etc. etc.

I told myself after I did the last one, two things:
1) I would never do another marathon
2) I would only do another marathon if I didn't put a time limit on myself.

I mean, I know I can do it.  That part isn't the scary part.  It's the doing it in less than 4 hours.  Because then I'll feel like I need to do another one to prove...prove what?

Welcome to my train of thought for the past month.

I feel like I spend hours chewing on this thought of: this is my last marathon (thank God), but it's my last chance to do it under 4 hours....and what if I don't do it in under four hours?  What then?  I don't want to train up again for another marathon.  I'm fine with half marathons, 10 milers, Ragnars, etc...I don't even WANT Boston.  I've been that runner who never had a Boston dream and I still don't, but I still go "well, what if I qualified?" (that would be a 3:40 time I'd have to get at the Marine Corps)  Of course I'd run Boston and I'd run Boston without a time goal.

But the bigger "what if" in my mind is "what if I don't do it in four?"  It's a hard feeling to describe.  No one is pressuring me to do it in less than four.  No one is pressuring me to give up marathons (aside from my own body that is oh so tired of long training sessions).  Everyone I know will be proud of me for doing the marathon, much less doing it under 4...

On a similar train, Chadd and I were having dinner post Warrior Dash and I was telling him how I wanted to do the Tough Mudder--it's essentially the Warrior Dash on steroids.  It's between 7 and 12 miles of running and very difficult obstacles.  It was designed with the help of the British Special Forces and encourages "Just finishing" because you cannot win without teamwork from the other mudders in the race.

It looks hard.  I would have to hire my personal trainer for specific training workouts.  I tried to explain that I kept looking for something that would say "this is it, this is as hard as your body can do, and we can't go any further."  One one side of the coin, it sounds like a glorious chase for bigger and better, but for me, it feels like a hunger that cannot be fulfilled--a longing of sorts--and not in a good way.

Perhaps I phrased it incorrectly to Chadd over dinner, but what came out was:
"I feel like I'm constantly running away from who I was in high school, and I am afraid that no matter what races I do, no matter how fast I do them, I will always be the unathletic sweater vest wearing debate nerd that I was.  I don't want people to think about me and see who I was."

Granted, I doubt anyone that I don't already talk to even thinks about me much less cares or judges who I am now or who I was then.  It's an insane thought that sits in my head and pokes at me when I'm not expecting it...

Is there anything wrong with being a sweater vest wearing debate nerd?  Hell no, I loved myself and I believe 100% that debate was brilliant for where I am today.  I would change nothing aside from my physical fitness.  That's all I'd change.  It's just how I see myself.

Sweet, wonderful Chadd says this:
"You know, who you were in high school wasn't a bad person..."

Maybe it wasn't the words he said so much as it was the way he looked at me.  Keep in mind, we met, started dating, and fell in love while we were in high school.

Maybe it's not about high school.  Maybe it's not about anyone else, maybe it's about that dreaded self image and fat days and bloated days and all of that.

Where do I get my trophy that says "I've conquered myself.  I can achieve no higher!"

I'm betting that a lot of this is also weighing on my mind because I have to have minor surgery (yaay hernia repair!) that will take me out of action for 6 weeks.  I can "go for long walks" after 2 weeks.  GREAT!

Prepare to see some posting about salad eating...

anyway.  I'm burnt out on thoughts.  does anyone get how I feel?  Or am I just getting the effects of marathon training again?


  1. My dearest the only thing you said you wanted to change was your physical fitness. You have and you are brilliant at it, as you are at everything you put your heart into. Your life is an amazing example of what you can do, you are doing it every day, hour, minute. I wonder how many athletes from your class have done anything as difficult as this with or without somebody chasing them around a field or gym with a whistle. You did this on your own. Your heart alone got you through one marathon, countless other races, and crazy fun Ragnars and Warriors. Please think on that, you have reached to the moon, the stars and infinity and have achieved. You won, you have our hearts. xoxo

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