Monday, April 05, 2010

It's time to trust my instincts, close my eyes, and leap

So here we are - 2 weeks until time flies when you're training for a marathon!  Weeks and months of endless miles, speedwork, long runs in every bizarre weather condition imaginable [freezing cold? check. monsoon? check. 70 and blazing sun? check.] - the hard work is all behind me and now it's just the one huge question burning in my mind: can I do this?

I feel like most runners probably experience the doubt that seems to appear in the days and weeks leading up to a big race.  I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I trained harder and better for this race than I've ever trained for any other in my life.  But during taper all of the random insecurities creep in...will I be able to execute on race day? Did I REALLY train as well as I thought I did? And of course, the big one: can I REALLY PR by almost 10 minutes on a much harder course than Baystate?

I guess I'll just put it out there: I want to go sub-3:30 in 2 weeks.  Actually writing that out is terrifying to me - I think I often have goals in my head but I never put them out there because I'm worried that they'll seem overly lofty or ridiculous, and actually having a number on paper to chase makes me put infinitely more pressure on myself to achieve it [and thus, much greater disappointment if I don't]  But here are the things I know: both my 10K and HM performances during this cycle predict a 3:27 marathon according to the McMillan calculator, and the training I've done has put me in the best possible position to achieve that time.  It seems so simple.  I don't think at all that this is a crazy or random goal - I think with the way my training has been going I would be selling myself short if I "only" was shooting for a PR or say a 3:35 [and obviously, I wouldn't be unhappy about either of those...that's just not the A goal]

Why does it scare me so much to go for this time? I think it's the whole high risk/high reward situation - like, it's entirely possible [and frightening] that I could go out on pace for 3:30 and then have disaster strike in the Newton Hills and come shuffling into the finish - I don't want that. But at the same time, there's no way in hell I want to finish and feel like I could have run faster.  I am fairly confident that this is going to be my last marathon for awhile [though I will admit, I am slightly addicted to the training and living in Boston makes it quite tempting to want to do this again year after year, masochist that I am...] and it's the freaking Boston marathon. At this point, I think I have to take the risk, see what happens, and regardless of what DOES happen, look back on it with no regrets and know I left it all out on the course.  I think my problem is I'm still not used to thinking of myself as a decent-good runner and setting a goal that's maybe slightly out of my comfort zone scares the crap out of me.  I am trying to come to terms with the fact that if I really want to go for it and run a fast time, there are probably going to be points in the race that are going to hurt.  A lot. But I need to trust in my training and KNOW that I've put in the work to run this time and make it happen on the course.

Hmm well needless to say I'm getting quite nervous and excited for the race.  I'm really happy that I forced myself to do a bunch of long runs out on the course - seriously, I know every bend and up and down of those damn Newton Hills.  My last "long" run on Sunday was 17 on the course and it went pretty well.  The heat definitely got to me - hello, 70 degrees, where did you come from? And would you kindly go away until AFTER the marathon? I was doing pretty well until the way back, just after cresting Heartbreak, and I was looking ahead to crossing the street, when BAM, I stepped in a pothole and rolled my ankle bad.  Totally lost all of my momentum after that - and my foot is still bugging me a little bit, though not enough to really be worrisome, just another thing to freak out about during taper, obviously.  After that, my hamstrings and glutes decided they wanted to join in the painful fun and cramp up like it was their job in life - SO awful! I kept trying to slow down since I knew I was being an idiot as usual and running closer to GMP pace than long run pace...but nothing really helped the little balls of pain that my hamstrings had turned into - it was AWFUL.  Definitely a result of the heat/dehydration - if it's anything that even resembles warm on April 19, I am going to have to work my butt off to stay hydrated, because hot weather + me = disaster waiting to happen.  All in all the fact that I got through it at around GMP while really not having a good day at all was heartening [although it was nothing compared to the excitement of my crazy-ass 23 miler the week before...good lord.]

It's funny because I was just looking back at my entries from before Baystate and there's one from 2 weeks out that is REALLY similar to this one - basically contemplating strategy and what kind of time I thought I could run...except with the goal pace being 20 seconds different haha. It's weird being back again so soon to pre-marathon taper madness...literally, this damn race is on my mind every minute of the day. 2 nights ago literally the last thing I thought about before falling asleep was what 3 flavors of Gu I wanted to buy for the race [I think I've decided on Chocolate Outrage, Mint Chocolate, and Tri-Berry]. I'm geeking out over what pair of shorts I want to wear. Aaah and now I'm getting myself all fired up, and I need to actually get some sleep before work in the morning, so I think I should just stop while I can still form coherent sentences haha.



Rachel Wasserman said...

I grew up in Boston and am moving back in June. I will actually be in town on Patriot's Day weekend and am trying to score my sweet viewing spot near Washington square (just across the street from Marathon sports - at the ice cream shop). I'd love to cheer you on as you pass. Will you share your race number will your bloggie friends/followers?

Lacey said...

this post makes me smile :) i think this race, this year, after your training, was MADE for you. it is YOUR race. honestly i know a lot of people are preparing for this particular race but i just get the feeling from your attitude, your preparation, your expression/interpretation, thoughts about it... that it is yours for the taking. great strategy to make the course second nature. your body could probably do it sleeping :) but you have 2 weeks to really stoke the fire and i can tell you started way back :) so it'll be a BONFIRE by boston :)

Anonymous said...

So eerily similar to everything happening down here in Austin and all of the doubts and excitement of my first Boston looming.

Training says sub 3:15:00 - PR says 3:17:43 ... do I push it? Play it safe as I have Pittsburgh 2 weeks later for a cause? You said it best - It's Boston. You have to go for it. Leave it all out there is the only way to go.

Here's wishing for cool temps as well - enjoy the last 12-13 days of the taper! Best from Austin, Joe

Vince A. said...

Ditto from Houston. In fact I ran Baystate (my son lives in Boston)and I'm in exactly the same spot, the first and last thing I think about every day now. Enjoy the heck out of the weekend and then leave it all out on the course. Best of luck to you.