The Seattle Half is almost here, and it’s looking like it will be a soggy day.
I’m trying not to let the weather report get me down. I’ve proclaimed my love for winter running many times and truly mean it. We big heart each other, lots. But racing through the sideways rain is a different story. Prior to a long progression run I don’t generally stand outside for two hours with thousands of my closest friends, milling about, in the rain, in a trash bag. And even if I did practice such a weird ritual, during progression runs the first half should be slower and act as more of a warm up. Come race day the pace is less forgiving; you better be warm and ready to go when the gun fires.
Also not helpful, I’m nervous. I’ve never set my sights on what I consider such a significant PR. When you’re only talking about 13.1 miles, making up 6+ minutes is a lot. My previous 1:41:08 was what I consider a decent time, and though I know I’m faster now than I was then, 1:35:xx seems worlds away. I know I can do it, I’ve proven it in training runs, but it’s still a challenge for me to not let pressure build and to silence any negativity that creeps in.
I think that most athletes sometimes have doubts, but during my next race training cycle I want to feel more excited. I want to feel pumped up and ready to kick race butt. I want to rest easy. I want more confidence. And to channel my pre-race nerves in a productive way, here are some ways I’m going to do that:
When I have a good training run, awesome weights session, or killer swim, I need to do a better job at celebrating that success. Bi-lateral breathing through the whole workout = awesome! Weights felt effortless for the first time ever = party time! Missed your overall pace by a fraction but hit the first half of your progression run 15 seconds faster/mi than prescribed = rockin’!
No matter how good I do I always think about the portion that I could have done better. Though that drive encourages me to do better it doesn’t give me the confidence I need to sit back and let myself do what I know how to do. I need to give myself a real hug when it’s deserved, rather than one that is simultaneously whispering in my ear, “But you coulda done better.”
Ride the Line
Even if I’m just out for a long progression run I haven’t pushed myself to the point of can’t but once in recent history. I am afraid of can’t. I usually stop just short of can’t so that I get to consciously decide rather than succumb, and then spend the next minutes/hours/days/weeks cursing that I did that. Can’t is both physical and psychological, and I am too much of control freak to let it happen naturally… I want to know when to anticipate it, then decide that I’ve reached it, and then pull the trigger. I’m a control freak.
So what if I really bomb the last 400 of my last 1200? What does it matter if I can’t hold the pace for the last 1/4 mile of my long run and break just short? Who cares if I have to take an extra 30 seconds between sets to recover? All of that is better, in moderation, than just barely hitting the goal every time, but not knowing what you can do. I want to know where that line really resides, and keep pushing it backward. But I gotta ride it if I want to know where it is, and I’ll probably surprise myself.
Get More Involved
Countless times I’ve thought about helping out with Girls on the Run, or showing up for a new-to-me running club to meet some new friends and get in a few miles, or starting a lunchtime group run at work, or trying a masters swim session. And I have 101 excuses that include everything from not wasting a workout to complicated car logistics to “but then when will I do my laundry?”. Lady, you’ll find time for laundry. Or you’ll get some new running clothes to fill the gap! But either way you’ll survive.
Sport is inspiring to me and makes me happy, and has filled a void that I didn’t realize was missing since my teenage days. Training is a big part, and a favorite part, of my life, and I want it to be my lifestyle, too. There are so many fantastic people involved in running and triathlon in Seattle, and I’d like to feel truly part of that community. For a long time I felt like I wasn’t good enough or fast enough or experienced enough to hold my own, but I think I can do it now.