Reality Check

This weekend I ran the Lake Union 10k and did something I haven’t done in a while: I got a PW (personal worse). While I knew this was a strong possibility going into the race, getting a PW is always a blow to the ego.

I told Dad my time (53:51), and he responded, “Well, that isn’t much faster than goal marathon pace.”

Thanks, Dad. In rare cases like this, I prefer talking about running with John, because he is pretty much oblivious to my goal paces and just nods his head in agreement.

There are a few reasons I got a 30-second PW:

1. I started the race a couple of minutes late. This caused me to spend the first mile darting through slower runners, speeding up to 8 minutes mile pace and then getting stuck behind someone going 9 minute mile pace, then speeding up, slowing down, weaving through runners, etc. While I wouldn’t have PR’d even if I had started on time, I think I could have saved some time and possibly avoided the dreaded PW.

2. I’m not speedy right now. My endurance is great, but my speed sucks. I already knew this, but I’ve been happily living in lack-of-speed denial land for the last few weeks. This race was a big mirror pointing out that I need to focus on my speed and tempo runs, and improving my overall fitness.

3. My motivation is pretty low. I can blame it on the heat. I can blame it on a busy schedule. I can blame it on whatever I want, but it doesn’t matter what my excuse is. It’s time to get my attitude in check and work hard for the remainder of training. If I don’t, Portland is going to be a slow 26.2 mile death march.

This race, while definitely a disappointment in terms of my time, has lit a much needed fire under my butt. I need to work hard and smart for the remainder of training if I want any hope of having a good run on October 7. Thankfully I have a good base for endurance, but my focus is speed, speed and more SPEED!

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3 thoughts on “Reality Check

  1. You are welcome, Megan.

    Every day of our life is a Reality Check. Marathon training is like looking into a microscope at a whole new world that was always there and yet invisible. It is like looking into a telescope at planets and stars barely visible with the naked eye. Each time we run we look within ourselves. Sure, we have these grand dreams and visions of what we think we are. Then we start running. And right away it hurts. It’s hard to breathe. We sweat. Maybe our feet hurt, our shins are sore … we feel the limitations of our own body, the boundaries between the body we have and the body we want to have. And we think thoughts that magnify the limitations of our own mind, the boundaries between the mind we have and the mind we want to have. No matter how far or how fast we run, we cannot outrun Reality. Our own minds and our own bodies are embedded in it. So, what are we to do with this ruthless, relentless Reality?

    Accept “It” exactly and precisely as it is. Accept yourself exactly and precisely as you are, both your body and your mind. Everything is ripe and and juicy just the way it is. Your inner and outer world is rich with presence and potential. Embrace it all with enthusiasm, the little girl you used to be, the beautiful woman you are, and all the “Bostons” that call you like the songs of White Whales in deep dark seas. It is always there and only there, in the confluence of mind, body and that world we intuitively know is our real home. Keep running. Keep loving. Keep looking deep within yourself. And always keep at least one dream rhyming in the poetry of this adventure called your life: The Great Reality does not want to check us; listen closely and you will hear it precisely and especially in those moments when you feel as if you cannot possibly run one more step. Mystics and marathon runners and mountain climblers and poets and lovers and surfers and yogis and scientists … Reality evolves us all and pulls us beyond ourselves into an infinitely expanding circle–a Circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.

    Can you see the circles? Maybe there is a bit of the madman in your dear old Dad. But I used to “see the circles” when you were doing your gymnastics floor routine. And I see them now when I envision you and I entering the stream of yet another marathon challenge.

    I love you. And I love this shared vision of ours. No matter what, no matter how fast we ever run–this is rich material.

    I am sorry but a 53:51 10K really is pretty close to our Portland Marathon goal pace. That is not a judgement, just an acknowledgement of the Mt. Everest we have chosen to climb. It isn’t going to be easy. And Boston is maybe as far away as the moon. It will take microscopes and telescopes, it will take spaceships and ropes and crampons, it will take more courage and faith and dedication than we’ve ever realized before, and finally it might demand that we surrender everything we thought was solidly anchored.

    I’ll bet John doesn’t talk “Running” like this?

  2. Once again, Jim and Megan, I am in awe of your wisdom, your “inner knowing” and ability to express it all.

    Megan, perhaps running is different, but I noticed something quite wonderful recently when we went to watch Matt play in a soccer tournament. Ever since he was a little boy he liked playing soccer. Even when he got cut from a select team he loved, he continued on playing at Kentridge HS and a little at WWU. He has continued playing wherever and whenever he could. At times, I’ve thought he was a bit obsessed as he’s experienced injuries, gotten up at the crack of dawn on a weekend morning to go play in yet another pick-up game (in addition to whatever team he was participating in)! As he’s coached each of his kids teams over the years and fallen big time for the Sounders–he just seems to breathe soccer. But it wasn’t until I watched him in that tournament recently, seeing his face light up whenever he went onto the ‘pitch’, made a good play, scored yet another goal or made a great assist, encouraging his teammates and being encouraged by them, that I finally really understood that he plays just because he LOVES it!!!–for the shear joy of playing—because he can’t not play!!! Is he the greatest player ever, probably not, but the joy that brightens his face and brings sparkle to his eyes when he’s out there—ahhhh—whatever the sacrifice, it’s clear it’s no big deal.

    Megan, run just for the joy of running. Set your goals and then let go—enjoy the ride just for yourself. I still think you’re awesome exactly as you are.

  3. Dad — your comment is longer than the post! 🙂 And yes, this race was a big wake up call. But it was a much needed wake up call, one that will surely help me at Portland and future races.

    Christine — I like your observation about Matt, and I think you are completely right. “Set your goals and then let go.” Easier said than done (especially for people like me!), but I think that’s the right attitude to have.

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