The final countdown
December 27, 2011
Yesterday was my final long run in my training for the upcoming PF Chang’s Rock n Roll Marathon. A 20 miler. I have to be honest and say I wasn’t looking too forward to it either. In past years I have been pretty disciplined in my training and the 20 mile runs were just the natural progression of my training. a twenty miler was really no different than 14 or 18; it was just the next run. I had a great base and was getting good weekly mileage in so it was really no big deal.
However this go around for some reason I have been so unmotivated for my runs accepting almost any excuse to justified skipping them. The funny thing is I have been waking up around 4 am so it isn’t a matter of wanting to sleep in as I am wide awake anyhow. I just have the damnedest time lacing up the shoes and heading out the door. As a result I have been only been running 2 or 3 times a week plus my long runs. Certainly not good training for the grueling upcoming 26.2 mile test I have coming up.
I think since I had taken some time off and was really getting back into shape at the beginning of my schedule I had super low expectations for my race. I had no disillusion of a PR. Early on I resigned to the fact I was content with merely finishing, a goal I haven’t had since my first marathon. Hell, even in my first marathon I was really trying to break 4 hours. This go around, I seem to be happy with running in 5 hours as I would be in 3:45:41 (a PR). I was more interested in Carolyn’s training and her goal of qualifying for Boston again than my own training.
As my training progressed I was oblivious to my steady improvement. I was shaving seconds off my paces and minutes off my runs without even noticing. I remained stuck in my belief I was just going to be slow. Suddenly I was running my weekday runs at a 8:30 pace but mentally I was running 9:15’s. Not my best times, but certainly good enough progress that if I was serious I could build on it and with some diligence get to where a PR was possible. Heck, that is what Carolyn has been doing all along. I have focused on her successes and improvements, calling them out and acknowledging them, but completely disregarding my own. As a result, I am stuck in mediocrity.
And as is the case with running, I have no one to blame but myself. It is just another example of you get out of running exactly what you put into it. It is the reason I migrated from golf to running in the first place. Just like golf, running is a competition with one’s self. Sure you can play in a tournament or run a race against others, but ultimately both sports are about the inner challenge of beating your last effort. But with running, there are no bad bounces, no extra 50 yards from hitting the cart path or a sprinkler head. With running it is pure, you get exactly out of it what you put in.
I surprised myself by running a relatively comfortable twenty miles at a 9:10 pace. My goal was under 10 (another fine example of my underestimating myself). I even achieved this despite forgetting my Camelback and having no hydration during my run. When I finished, of course I was happy the run went smoothly, but I quickly became disappointed because I knew I had not committed to my training like I should have. And as a result, I have doomed myself to accepting mediocrity. This is completely counter to everything I believe in. I always believe the time is irrelevant to the effort. You run your hardest, smartest and best and whatever your time is that day is fair to the effort you put into training. But I know my time for PF Chang’s next month won’t be my hardest, smartest or best and as a result; I have cheated myself.
I only hope I am more focused this spring when I run Pittsburgh or whatever marathon I decide to run.