Friday, September 24, 2010

Marathon time!

It's two days before the big race. I've got major butterflies in my stomach and have had a hard time controlling my nerves this week. I'm trying to rest and find peace in the fact that I've done all I can and if I'm going to succeed, I have to trust in my training and let God do the rest.

After my last post, I ran a 5K and didn't do so well. Granted, I was tentative from coming right off my back injury and the course and weather weren't ideal, but I was still very disappointed. I ended up with a 23:10. That didn't do anything for my confidence! I sulked around for a few days, but then decided not to give up on all that I had worked for. I kept seeing my chiropractor and little by little, my back started getting better everyday. Thankfully, I was able to keep up with my workouts and do all the speed and goal pace that was on my original schedule. We had phenomenal weather the Tuesday after my race and I remember running my tempo pace at 7:30's and feeling comfortable. I was even able to talk some! That gave me a little boost of confidence and helped me realize that I hadn't run the 5K at my best. I started focusing my energy on doing well at the Labor Day 5K in a couple of weeks.

Everything finally seemed to fall into place for Labor Day. I woke up ready to race and my body was finally cooperating. Eladio told me I needed at least a 22:30 to make my marathon goal so I was shooting for a minimum of 22 minutes. Anything beyong that was extra. I decided not to hold anything back and just race without much concern for my pace. The gun went off and I went for it. My first mile was right at 7 minutes and my second mile was 7:10. Not willing to give in to slowing down, I fought back and finished under 22! My watch read 21:52, although my official time showed 21:55. I was very happy! I had reached my goal, and then some. Now my job was to stay healthy as I headed into taper mode for the marathon.

Taper is an interesting time. While it's nice to run fewer miles, the workouts don't necessarily get that much easier. I was still working on speed and doing even more goal pace miles during my runs. I wanted to make sure that I knew without a doubt what 8:24 felt like. (That's the pace for most of miles in my marathon).

Even harder than the physical part is the emotional/mental aspect of tapering. Every workout feels so important at this point because you're running out of time. There is no cramming or playing catchup at the end of training. You have to accept that you've done most of the work. Now you're just staying sharp until race day.

This week has definitely been the hardest mentally. I did some goal pace miles this week, but no real distance or speed. I can't do anymore work that will benefit me on race day. My legs and body need rest. While I try to give my body what it needs, my mind starts going crazy. I start obsessing about race day, the weather, and my strategy. All sorts of questions float in and out. Have I done enough? Will it hurt so bad I won't be able to carry on? Will I be strong enough? Can I do this?

I think some self-doubt is helpful, even necessary to run a smart race. It keeps me from feeling so confident that I'll do something stupid, especially in the early miles. But, too much self-doubt and it can backfire big time in the race. I need to have enough confidence that when it starts to hurt, I know, I TRUST, that I can handle it. That is my hope. I don't expect it to be easy, I just don't want to crash and burn.

So far the weather prediction is looking promising. The temps couldn't be better, 46 to 65 degrees. It's the 30% chance of rain and possible strong wind that makes me nervous. I like it on the cool side, but if it rains and there's a wind, that can cause some problems. I guess I'm going to have to pack extra to be on the safe side. I want to be prepared for whatever type of weather comes my way. I have no control of it, but I can control my response.

With no more work to do, there's nothing left to do but pray. I know my God is a God of mercy, a God of might, and a God of miracles. He can do anything! I've seen Him work minor miracles in my own life. Perhaps there will be another one for me on Sunday.

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