Wednesday, May 18, 2011

attitude check.

Whoa:  this is my 1,001st post on this blog! (and want to know something adorable?  Sam's mom Lila has printed every page of this blog and she keeps them in thick three-ring binders.  She's on Volume 7 I think.) 

As you probably know by now, I trained all winter for a marathon I was unable to run because I was sick. When I was out there on the course on Sunday watching my friends run, I couldn't help but wonder where I would have been and how I would have been feeling if I hadn't gotten sick.  I had spent so much time and energy envisioning myself on that course, and it was weird to have to let it all go.

But, I scrambled and quickly made plans for a different marathon 10 days from now, a marathon I ran last year on a day that was not my best.  I have a lot of baggage about my marathon in Vermont.  I basically remember not feeling well from like mile 3 on, and really not feeling well during miles 17 to the end.  And so, I have had to bat away at negative thoughts all week since I realized Vermont was going to be my spring marathon this year. I'm also still not 100% healthy and still have an annoying and persistent cough.

For these reasons, I have had an attitude check this week and have successfully re-framed the upcoming marathon for myself, relieving myself of any unnecessary pressure.   I don't really know how my body is going to respond to this extended taper period and having been sick.  When I get to the starting line in Vermont,  I won't have done a really long run (20 miles) for 6 weeks.  Instead of weighing myself down with worry about how I'll do or what my time will be, I've allowed myself to just relax and just see what happens, to just feel thankful I get to go back to Burlington and run through that beautiful city's streets, to run past Lake Champlain again, to be with my friends, and as Christine said, some of that chocolate with the salt on top from Lake Champlain Chocolates isn't going to hurt either.

I am fully aware that there is no logical reason to make myself nervous with my own expectations of how I will run when I'm such a total amateur anyway, and yet, I tend to get so nervous for marathons that I make myself sick.    It might sound like having a relaxed attitude about an upcoming marathon is easier said than done (especially for me, in frequent battle with mental demons), but I'm surprised at how a slight shift in my attitude about this has given me a lot of relief. 

The truth is,  I'm a back-of-the-pack runner just trying to cover the distance with a light heart and a smile.  That's all.  I'll do the best I can do.  I will stay calm and carry on.  Sure, I'd like to run a better time than last year, but actually, what I really want to have happen in Vermont is to at least have some stretches of time on the course where I find my stride, feel comfortable running, and enjoy the scenery and the amazing crowd support.  If I close my eyes, I can imagine the feeling of the beat of those Taiko drummers who stand at the bottom of the hill at mile 15.  I can feel it in my whole body. That great energy is the part of the Vermont City Marathon that I'm focusing on, to feel the crowds, to relax, and to let my legs do what I know they can do.

"If movement is a sign of life and stillness is death, running is an example of life most fully lived. It's beautiful." -- British artist, Martin Creed

I also realize that I am writing this post mostly for myself, but I've dragged you with me on so many training runs and rambling reflections about running, that I figured I'd include you here too.


Meredith said...

I have to laugh at this sentence: "I'm such a total amateur anyway, and yet, I tend to get so nervous for marathons that I make myself sick."

What's that? That would be MARATHONS - with an S at the end. Having run several marathons shouldn't make you feel like an amateur! (but yet, I totally get it)...

Briana said...

I just did some catching up on your blog... I am glad you are feeling better and great job on the 9.4 miles of the Sugarloaf race. I know you had worked so hard to finish the full, but good for you to consider your health first.

I am running the full in Vermont as well next week. Last year was my 1st VCM and my 1st marathon ever and I too had a tough day. For me it was from mile 8 to 26 that was pretty much miserable. But, we can do this! good attitudes! maybe I'll see you there :)

Edward said...

Did you talk or chat with Susan B? She went through just what you are going through now. She was injured the two weeks before Pittsburgh Marathon, not sure she would be able to run, longer taper etc. But it all worked out and she was successful.

Jen said...

Didn't I just refer to you as an experienced marathoner the other day? That's right, you are! I am happy you got into the Burlington Marathon... I recently read that it is closed. You've done the training, you have this!

Susan B said...

Emilie, it sounds like you have this all figured out but just for good measure I'll add some hard anecdotal evidence that you don't need to worry about either your training or your last experience
with this marathon.

I ran my first marathon in many years on Sunday, and three weeks ago I was pretty convinced I wouldn't make it to the starting line. I was injured, and for the first time ever, I had to admit that my usual RICE and a kiss method wasn't going to make it go away. I had to get treatment (sports chiropractor), and the only running involved in my taper was a couple of test runs that failed. I did manage some cross-training, but by race day, although my 20-miler was only three weeks earlier, that was also my last real run. I had started my marathon training from a three week running base (hadn't run since last March, although I am an avid biker) to begin with, so as race day neared I had trouble picturing myself running even two miles.
On top of that, the race I had picked (because it was my birthday and my old hometown) was the Pittsburgh Marathon, a race that had gone badly for me the last time I ran it, ages ago.

Sunday morning I was dropped at the starting line not knowing whether I would make it out of downtown. Like you, I adjusted my attitude and decided to just do what I could. I took my phone with me just in case.

Bottom line? I will never again sweat having to adjust my training for legitimate reasons. The rest let my leg heal, and my fitness level did not suffer. I was able to keep the pace I wanted to. For the first time ever after a long run, my feet did not hurt.

Running a race you've run before allows you to do really effective mental planning. I remembered what parts of the course were hard for me psychologically last time and came up with specific things to coach myself through them, things that my tired self would not roll its eyes at. I wrote them down the night before, with mile markers. If you are going to practice something in order to improve at it, keeping some things constant actually helps.

You are better trained and more experienced than last year. You will feel your stride.

Emilie said...

Thank you everyone, so much, for all of the support! Susan... that is so awesome that your marathon worked out that way. I'm going to hope for a similar experience. Thanks for sharing that with me.

Carver Fam said...

Way to get yourself in the right mental place. I think you are totally right about the light heart and the smile. I think with running so far, very little comes from applied pressure, and great results can come from joy.

I with be with you in your light heart and bummed I won't get to see the man playing the accordian in his banana hammock. Oh well.

I bet you with those fresh legs you will fly anyway.