Friday, November 14, 2014

My 2 Cents, For What They're Worth

You've read Kit's play-by-play for tomorrow and I'm here to tell you that it's all true. You'll be like a kid on Christmas morning and wake up at 4 am. It will take forever for the start to happen. The first ten miles are so much fun. Riverside is glorious. You'll be stunned at how much of a hill Forest Hill Avenue really is. You'll make the Lee Bridge your bitch (cause it's the only way to do it). You'll curse at the overpass by the Diamond and through Bellevue. You won't even remember you name once you get to Grace Street and you'll probably do something silly like cry at the end.

Now, take all of that and file it away. Don't think about it again until you are in the moment tomorrow.

As I said, I'm not going to attempt a profound analysis for what you should do. In my day to day life, I over-analyze a lot. The strange thing is that when it comes to race day, I take on a whole different persona and do one thing:

Just run.

That is my advice for you. As I've already said in the lead up to Steamtown, the cake is in the oven. You've mixed that sucker to the max. Now you just sit back and wait. Or, more accurately, you just go out there and run.

To just run, you need to do a few things. Sounds oxymoronic, I know. But hear me out.

First and foremost, trust your training. I know you've heard this already about 500 times. I'll say it again though. Trust your training. This evening, go look at your training log. See all that you have accomplished already. Do you remember when it seemed like you'd never in a million years be able to run 15 miles? How about how nervous you were about that first 20? The second? The third? But you did it. Add up all the miles you ran. There are hundreds of them. YOU ran them. YOU did that.

What's 26.2 more? NOTHING! For my half marathon friends, what's 13.1 more? You've got this, I promise. You know what to do. You've been doing it since June. One foot in front of the other.

Just run.

Trust your training.

Be in the mile. This is the single best piece of advice anyone has ever given me. I have to give credit where credit is due - to Jeff Van Horn, the owner of Lucky Foot. This was his advice to me last year, imparted to me on Marathon Eve at the expo. I took it to heart and it has made a profound difference in the way I approach every run.

You know what lies ahead - Kit's got you prepared.

Now stop thinking about it.

Tomorrow, deal with the mile you are in and only the mile you are in. When you're at the start, don't fret about Scottview. On Forest Hill, don't think about Lee Bridge. Or the overpass. Or the last 10k.

Think about only what you are doing in that moment. The entire course is laid out for you - it will be there whether you worry over it or not. There's nothing you can do to change it. As you go through, think about what the mile you are in holds but nothing more. Deal with it as it comes. That way, it doesn't get overwhelming. You can run a mile in your sleep. So just run a mile.

Just run.

Trust your training.

Be in the mile.

Don't think about THE WALL. I spent my entire first marathon holding back because I was afraid of the wall.

I hate it when people try to scare first time marathoners with the looming specter of THE WALL. "It happens to everyone. You are going to be miserable at some point. Be ready for it." Listen, I'm no coach and I'm no seasoned marathoner, but in my opinion this is nothing more than a scare tactic.

Does it happen? Yes.

Will it definitely happen to you? NO.

I know this because I can honestly say that I've never hit THE WALL. Not even during the no-good-very-bad Raleigh Marathon.

Here's what I think about THE WALL: you have to tell yourself that it doesn't exist. Period. Kind of like the monsters under your bed. If you don't believe in it, it can't scare you.

Don't spend your whole first marathon worrying about it. My first marathon was a great experience, but in the back of my mind I kept wondering, "Where's the wall? When's it going to hit?" Everyone told me it would happen and I kept looking for it. I looked so smiley and happy in my marathon because I was holding back - out of fear of the wall. Since then, I have never wasted another minute worrying about it because it was a pointless exercise.

Don't spend your first marathon waiting and wondering when it will hit. Because it might not. And one way or the other, there's nothing you can do about it.

Just run.

Trust your training.

Be in the mile.

There is no wall.

Be thankful. Be grateful. For many reasons, lots of people can't do what you're going to do tomorrow. Putting all the time, effort, and money into marathon training and racing is a luxury that precious few in this world are able to afford. Your body is strong and healthy. It has gotten you this far without injury, it will get you to the start tomorrow and will carry you to the finish. So many of us were taken out of the game over the course of training. You're a lucky one. Don't forget it and don't take it for granted.

Just run.

Trust your training.

Be in the mile.

There is no wall.

Be grateful.

Be awed. You are doing something that very very few people do in their lifetime. When you've been living in a bubble of runners for months, it is easy to forget that we are a rare breed. Running any distance is a big deal. Accomplishing a marathon is an exceptional feat. Remember that.

Look around you tomorrow, at every other athlete who is realizing a dream. What a powerful thing to be a part of.

Thank the spectators. A lot of them don't get it. They might tell you that you are almost there when you're really not almost there. They might tell you that you look great when you know you don't. A lot of them probably don't even know exactly how long a marathon is.

But it doesn't matter. Smile. Thank them. Take their support. They are there for you, even if they don't quite understand everything that has gone into this day for you. Be grateful for their enthusiasm - it comes from the goodness of their hearts. I will never forget the older gentlemen around mile 23 of Steamtown who told me I looked great. I laughed and told him, "I know you're lying, but I love you for telling me that."

Or the guy who I think Sensei and I both imagined at mile 22. "Smile, relax, welcome to Steamtown" he said in a perfectly zen voice while bowing. I swear we imagined him. Real or not, he gave us strength when we needed it.

High five the kids, smile at the old gentlemen, laugh at the drunken revelers and the ridiculous
signs. They are out there freezing because they want to help you in some small way.

What a loving gesture by thousands of strangers.

Look for me - I'll be out there doing my best to support you all. I'll be brandishing one of these signs:



Actually, Husband will be near our house at Mile 10 brandishing the yellow sign and wearing an equally inappropriate and hilarious spectator shirt. He'll give you the laugh you need after making your way up Scottview.

I'll be waving green and orange all over the place on the north side of the river. The plan is to be somewhere on Monument near the beginning, on Main Street around mile 16-17 and then on Grace around mile 24.

You guys are my heart tomorrow. I'm running with you in spirit.

Keep your eye out for me. It will help distract you when you're feeling tired. Knowing that Marcey was up ahead is what got me through miles 20-23 last year. And then knowing that my entire family was near the finish forced me to keep it together. I didn't want them to see me looking anything but great and happy.

Not doing this race is killing me and selfishly, the only thing that is making it tolerable is the knowledge that I can maybe, just maybe, do what my spectating crew did last year and give that bit of inspiration that gets someone through a tough spot.

Just run.

Trust your training.

Be in the mile.

There is no wall.

Be grateful.

Be awed.

And my last bit of advice: drink it all in. Tomorrow is a celebration. It is the cherry on the top. Think of it as the reward for the hard work you've done. All those sweaty miles and Saturdays. All those early Wednesday mornings, waking up before the sun. All those Friday nights you couldn't go out and drink and eat whatever you wanted because you had to prepare for the Saturday long run.

Will it be hard work? Yes. But that doesn't mean you can't love every minute. Be proud of what you've accomplished. It's allowed. There is no better feeling than seeing that finish line. Let yourself cry. Don't forget to put your victory arms. Smile for the camera.

Just run.

Trust your training.

Be in the mile.

There is no wall.

Be grateful.

Be awed.

Celebrate.

You guys are amazing. I am already bursting with pride for every person who has had the guts to tackle a big dream tomorrow - whether it's the 8k, Half Marathon, or Marathon.

Your cakes are in the oven. Now,

JUST RUN.


1 comment:

  1. Damn, I feel silly for being so out of the internet loop for such a long time. But this is seriously one of the best motivational marathon posts I've ever read. I wish I'd seen it before my last one. But I might honestly read it before ALL my future 26.2s. You're awesome SFAM.

    ReplyDelete