Time to Get My Head on Straight

Holy crap, I’m running a marathon on Sunday. THIS SUNDAY.


Sub-4-or-bust attempt #2 is just a few days away. Right now that goal seems pretty impossible. And scary.

It’s funny how I can spend 18 weeks working toward this goal, and now I don’t feel ready. More than just my typical taper crazies, I’m scared. Scared of not finishing under four hours. Scared of completely falling apart. Scared of the pain. Scared of Eugene not meeting my expectations. Just plain scared.

Thanks goodness for these inspirational quotes; they make me feel totally normal for being a total headcase.

anything-ive-ever-done-that-was-ultimately-worthwhile-initially-scared-me-to-deathPart (but certainly not all) of the reason I’m scared is that I got sick this weekend with that stupid bug/virus thing I had in March. I’m feeling much better and I’m sure I’ll be fine by Sunday, but getting sick so close to the marathon is disconcerting.

I didn’t feel well for a couple days last week, but I didn’t acknowledge I was sick until after I ran a 15k on Saturday. When I signed up for the 15k, I had hoped it would leave me feeling confident and ready, but instead it just left me full of doubt.

My goal for the 15k was to run even marathon-paced splits to practice honing in on marathon pace. If you just look at my mile splits, you’d think I did a decent job of running even splits. I could have done better, but overall I’m happy with my even pacing.

(9:03, 8:55, 8:58, 8:56, 8:52, 8:49, 9:05, 9:00, 8:51, 7:38) *7:38 was for final .25.

Unfortunately, what my Garmin can’t tell you is that it took a lot of effort to run those paces. I was constantly staring at my Garmin and adjusting my pace to get right in the happy spot of 8:55-9:05. I blame this partly on the course: the constant curves and changes of direction made it difficult to just run and lock into my pace. The other issue was my breathing. My legs were fresh and marathon pace felt easy, but my breathing was way off.

I worked too hard to maintain what should have been an easy pace to run 9 miles, and I knew something was wrong as soon as I crossed the finish line. I ran a conservative race and by no means raced that race, so I should have felt fine after finishing. Instead, I had a bad headache, and I felt disoriented, exhausted and very weak.

I went home and rested/napped for over five hours. I had no energy and felt terrible – my entire body ached and I was so exhausted. Just like last time, the bug climaxed on Monday with painful stomach cramps and many trips to the bathroom. Not fun. I drank a lot of pepto on Monday — good thing I like how that stuff tastes!

Now that I’m just a few days away from Eugene, I need to get my head on straight. I need to stop letting myself be paralyzed by my fear and start believing in myself and my training.

When I compare this training cycle to my other four training cycles, I know I’m more prepared than I’ve ever been. My training plan didn’t go perfectly according to plan, but I logged 567 miles and 56 hours on my yoga mat. My legs and body are ready to go 26.2 miles, and the next few days are all about continuing to rest and making sure my head is ready to go as well.

Four sleeps!


2 thoughts on “Time to Get My Head on Straight

  1. It is okay to be afraid. There are times when fear is the appropriate emotion. The time just before a marathon is one of those times. There is just no way to predict how it will go. Will it be a huge triumph, an epic disaster? We all want a triumph, a PR. But without the real chance of disaster, life wouldn’t be an adventure. So, what do we do with all that fear and doubt? Some of the best moments in life happen when we just accept and admit our own fear–and then do the next right thing anyway. We can’t be brave if we aren’t afraid first; so we will line up with all the other scared runners and when the gun goes off (a GUN–really!), we will take that first tentative stride. We will be in the river of runners. And running will happen. We will do our best–for that one specific day. We will give it 100% … and if 100% isn’t enough, we will dig deeper and find something we didn’t know we had, we will search the crowds for inspiration, we will draft another runner or visualize our running partner pulling us along as if by a rope, we might even pray to the running gods … and we will be transformed by this mysterious confluence of fear and bravery. No matter how well we do, we will be humbled. No matter how poorly we do, our spirits will be buoyed by the efforts so brutally demanded of us.
    I sometimes think, “There’s got to be an easier way.” But there isn’t–if I want to be who I am. THE ONLY EASY DAY WAS YESTERDAY. Each and every day of evolution seeks to draw out what was inchoate, impossible, an inarticulate dream. “Boston” is one of those impossible dreams. And the river of runners runs through Eugene (and maybe many, many other twists and bends) before it empties into Boston.
    Yes, I am afraid. Terrified. Letting these words find acceptance and expression helps a whole lot. But the only “cure” for this fear is bravery–and we will find that at the START of the Eugene Marathon. We won’t be the only foolish scaredy-cats there!

    You’ve trained hard, Megan, harder than you ever have before. I’ve seen it. Your efforts have been intense and sincere. The hay is in the barn. I am proud of what you have already achieved. What happens next, happens next.

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