Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Inspiration, Perspiration, Desperation

Let's start with the good stuff: Inspiration!

Dori, of She Do Run Run reminds us of "ordinary people doing amazing things," as she documents the Twin Cities Marathon last week. Dori got some great photos of the front runners, including the 41-year-old guy who won the race, and also photos of friends, those "ordinary people" just like me, including a photo of a friend who finished the race in seven hours, and didn't get a medal because she didn't make the cut off—but kept on going. Just a little reminder to me to be proud that I am at least out there trying my best.

Next up is Anita, of Phat Girl Walking, who competed in the Portland Marathon a few weeks ago. She suffered an injury, and you might say, was a bit disappointed with her experience. And today? She posts this about two people who finished:
One crossed the finish line first. One crossed the finish line last. One ran. One walked. There's a big difference in the racing world between 2:21:54 and 10:41:22 but in my corner of world their achievements are equal because both gave it their all and did their best.
And then she added this:
I only know that whether in a marathon or in life, the thing that most matters is that we bring who we are to it and give our best. We step up to the starting line and we try.

And even if we fall short in what we hope to achieve in our lives, isn't it still better than laying in bed with a head full of dreams and a heart full of desires while we mutter from under the covers "I could never do that!"?
Damn straight!

Reading this makes all the arguing about walk/run and who gets to say they ran a marathon and who can call themselves an athlete ... well, it makes it all just so much noise.

Time for Perspiration

Saturday's run was 10 miles, my last "official" long run with my group. My usual partner, the Other Jen, ran the Army 10 Miler on Sunday, her first 10 mile race, in an impressive time of 1:59!! Go Jen! Sunday was a beautiful fall day. Saturday, on the other hand, was rainy, cold, wet, windy as hell, and generally, miserable. But! I decided I would really push myself on this run. I started with a nice young woman who was running slowly, but talking a mile a minute. She was new to the area and really needed a friend. I needed to not slow down. I told her so, and she was nice about it. So I sped (ha ha, these terms are relative) ahead and caught up with Seguna (sp?), who was by herself, wearing a GPS thing-y, and who said she was running 11:30 min miles. Perfect! We ran together the rest of the way up through Rock Creek Park and back again.

I felt good. I felt strong! As we neared the end, I checked my watch (mistake!) and saw we had already been running two hours. I asked her what the pace said on her GPS thing-y: 13:00-something! WTF??? So, with one mile to go I asked her to check again and again, until we hit 9:30 min. miles.

I hate GPS thing-y. I finished 10.35 miles in 2:08. Which made me made because I could have done better. Bah! Need to listen to body!

(Sidebar: I had to attend a conference in D.C. last week. Which meant, naturally, that I would not need a hotel room. The conference ran through Saturday, with an awards banquet on Saturday night. So Saturday morning I did my 10 miles-in-the-rain run, came home, got gussied up, went back to the hotel for an afternoon of conferencing, which ended at 5 p.m. The awards dinner started at 7 p.m. What to do for two hours with no hotel room?? Well, I found myself a cosy little corner and did what anyone in my exalted position as an awards finalist would do: I slept in the lobby. And no, I didn't win.)

Woke up Monday morning with raging sore throat. (Wait: maybe this part goes under "desperation?" hmm. not sure.) Dawdled around the house and eventually went to work. And then ran five miles Monday night (cuz my throat? has nothing to do with my feet) in 10:40 min miles. (See??) Which made me feel slightly better.


So while all the inspiration is good and all, and the perspiration, as little of it as there was, is fine, I am now completely convinced that the plan I've been following, well, sucks.

The long runs went like this (I won't start at the Very Beginning, because I realize we all have lives):

July 8: 10 miles
July 15: 10.5 miles
July 22: 10 miles
July 29: 15 miles
August 5: 10.5 miles
August 13: 20K race (substituted for 10 mile LSR)
August 19: 18 miles
August 26: 10.2 miles
Sept. 2: 10 miles
Sept. 9: 20 miles
Sept. 16: 11 miles substituted for 10 mile LSR)
Sept. 24: 13.1 (half marathon--substituted for 10 mile LSR)
Sept. 30: 22.29 miles
Oct. 7: 10.2 miles

Which brings us to today. My group is tapering. It's three weeks out, and we're in full-blown y'all done running, start tapering mode! Saturday's run is six miles. I'm freaking out. Look at that schedule! I haven't done enough long long runs! C'mon, tell me the truth. I can take it. Some people have already told me this! This schedule I'm on had, after every long long run, two step-down weeks of 10 milers. And just now, three weeks out, am I starting to think that was a really bad idea.

I've consulted people. I've looked at other training plans. I don't see ANYTHING that looks like this. I see plans that slowly build up, and then slowly build down.

I'm going to try to get in another 13 miler by myself this Saturday. Because, you know, that will really make the difference in my finish time.


Some of you, who are new to me and my tribulations, might be scratching your heads at this point, wondering why I chose this plan. Well, it's a long story. But the gist is: I was too slow for the groups that had the serious training plans. And I knew I needed a group.

And what is the moral of this story? I have no idea!

I 'spose it's something about feeling good about having done my best (but...I don't feel like I did my best. I just don't). And feeling proud that I'm even toeing the line with a goal time in mind, as opposed to last year when my goal was to just drag my carcass over the finish line. That I should be grateful that I have escaped injury so far. That I treasure my introduction to speedwork and hills and that I can now talk track. That I loved all those Saturday mornings waking at 4:30 a.m. and watching the sun rise over the Potomac. That I made a new friend, the Other Jen, who not only pushed me, but never failed to make me laugh, even in the midst of my endless bitching and moaning. That I made new friends. That, despite evidence to the contrary, I loved my wacky coaches and their nutty advice each week. That even if I feel like I haven't done my best in training, I am determined to do my best come race day.

No matter what.


nancytoby said...

Great post!! And great links!

Don't overtrain. Never overtrain. That's my philosophy and I'm sticking to it. :-)

And keep having fun.

LBTEPA said...

It sounds as though you're disappointed that even though you got all those lovely positive things, they weren't what you actually wanted or had set out to achieve. Fair enough. to be a bit dark. But don't let that dissatisfaction goad you into overdoing it 3 weeks out. You'll do the best race you are able to do, under the circumstances.
BTW anyone who criticises a marathon run/walker or walker should take a running jump up his/her own fundamental orifice.
Also BTW, there's no point telling you that you should have done more. You di d what you did, so be all Eleanor Rooseveldt and do what you can with what you have where you are.

Jack said...

Great post, I particularly like the inspiration comments. As far as another long run, I think if you have three weeks left until MCM you would have no problem completing another (up to) 20-miler and still recover in plenty of time. That said, you need to listen to your body on this one, you know better than anyone if this would be overdoing it or not. What I would probably do in your situation is to go out with the intention of doing a long run, but bail out after 13 if it appears the run is more detrimental than benefitial.

Elizabeth said...

Your training plan is definitely unique, but seriously, don't worry about it. You've done one 20-miler and one 22-miler. You're set. At this point, it doesn't matter what your step back weeks were... you put in the miles. You'll be fine. I promise! : )

You can definitely do a 12-13 miler this weekend if you want. My taper went 20, 12, 8, race. I think that's pretty typical, so if it's going to boost your confidence to do more than a 6-miler (!) then do it!

You sound exactly like I did a few weeks before my race. I felt like my training was inadequate; I was disappointed in my long run times; I was totally overthinking everything. But, as you know, I finished the race. Wasn't a PR, but I'm so over that!

Hang in there. Trust that you've done the work and your body is ready. Now you just have to get your mind in the game.

JustJunebug said...

I think you are just going through pre-race jitters. I only think this because people tell me the same thing.

Its almost time and you're gonna do fine!

The Other Jen said...

Okay, I'm starting to come around to your way of thinking.

Three week taper! TOO MUCH TAPER! I'm insufficiently trained! Improperly dressed! My coaches are numbskulls! My hat makes my head look like it's the size of a cocktail onion! AAAH!

a.maria said...

good post woman!!!

i know you're a tad worried over your schedule and long runs situation, but.. ya know what?!?!

you can't change any of that now..worry about it is going to do you no good. get another 13 miler in this weekend if it makes you feel better but then just let it go, knowing you did what you were told to do, and have faith that your body is ready to get your through those 26.2 miles.

you can do this. you WILL do this. you're just in the middle of the normal "omg i'm about to have to actually do this" worry-mode. re-read anita's post and hold onto that.

let go of the rest.

WADDLER26.2 said...

I love the inspiration. Just remember what makes you run in the first place and how much of your soul you put in to being out there. You've put your best into it and you will get it back-it may not always be in the time, it may come from the experience, or another person but you will walk away better because of it.

Anita said...

I agree with Dori about ordinary people do amazing things. I only wonder if once someone has done something truly amazing if they continue to remain ordinary or if their accomplishments have transformed them along the way. And that deep thought is free. No charge :)

So, I was rather jazzed to be included in your blog since you're one of those ordinary-amazing people who inspire me regularly. You've logged some awesome runs in distance and in pace and there's no question that you're trained and ready to go. Go those extra miles if that's what you want to do but just don't lose the fun of this whole adventure, and continue to keep your eyes on ALL that you've relished...new friendships, sunrises over the Potomac, and the confidence and pride in seeing how far you've come through your efforts.

You'll do your best on race day and your best will be great!

brent said...

i think you are on track to have a great race! you will do great, all this questioning about the training programs is all very normal indeed. i agree with elizabeth, you ran a 20 and 22+ within your training program, therefore you are ready to rock. i only ran one 20-miler for my first one (i sure wished i had done two like you are doing).

Juls said...

You did the training. You DID and you are ready. In fact you did 22 and 20. I usually only do 20 twice and last time I was only able to do 20 once. You will be fine. It *IS* time to taper. 3 weeks is not too much.

Jenny said...

Fantastic post! Such great inspiration up at the top there. Don't worry about your programme I'm sure you're going to do great on the day. Can't wait to hear about it :-)

Rae said...

I love the quotes!!

Don't worry about the program now, your really long runs all went well so I think you will be great on M day. I do think next time some of the 10s should at least be 15s with an extra 18 or two in there. I think the # of long runs and length of them really depends on what your goals are. Lot of people only do 1 20-miler.

Monica C. said...

I have never run a marathon before, so feel free to ignore my laymen's comment, but I think you're going to do fine. You have a 20 mile and a 22 mile run under your belt. If you have run 22 miles, you know you can run 26. And other people may have had a 15 mile run or an 18 mile run in place of one of your 10s, but mayeb they had to skip a week, or cut one short ... and you've been running your 10s consistently. If you add up your mileage, it's clear that you have built a good base!

I feel like I run a lot, and have not even gotten my long run to 10 miles yet (I have no marathon aspirations), so it's all about perspective! LOL!

Thomas said...

Maybe I'm elitist. I cannot see why finishing a marathon in 10:41:22 is as impressive as finishing in 2:21:54. Anyone can walk it in that time. That doesn't take weeks/months/years of dedicated preparation, and it doesn't need the same will morning after morning to get up and train, come wind or shine.

I don't know anything about Autumn Jones. If she's 90, then I'm impressed. If she's got a disability, then I'm impressed. If she's just slow, I'm not impressed.

jeanne said...

all opinions are always welcome here, thomas (so please, people, no flame wars).

What I want to know is: should i add in a longer run on saturday?!?! Cuz it's all about me.

GP said...

You go girl... Here in Montana, where there's nothing but hills and trails (and dales) outside our bed and breakfast , two "inspirations" come to me.

One is a Finnish word.. "sisu" meaning never give up and my fav
"The greatest of all victories is to be victorious over yourself"

Happy trails

David said...

... and I quote, "And what is the moral of the story? I have no idea."

You better run long or else your posts will run longer; and we can't have that.

Where's the night editor?

You're fine. Just do what you said earlier ... follow your body's direction.

David said...

oh ... and get your mind wrapped around a purpose for whatever distance you run. If it's 13 miles, think like it's the back end of MCM and imagine finishing that strong.

Dori said...

Wow, Jeanne, where to start? First, thanks for the shout-out. I'm glad that post brought you some inspiration. But you know, you inspire me. :-)

Second, when I was reading your long runs, what I was thinking wasn't "Holy crap, she didn't do enough long runs!" No. I was thinking, "Holy crap! Look at those big jumps in mileage each week. It's a wonder she didn't hurt herself!" Hal Higdon says anything over 16 is long run territory. It probably won't hurt to run 13 miles this weekend, but don't try to run the whole thing at marathon pace. Run the middle miles at MP, but the other ones 1-1.5 minutes slower. You don't get a medal for a training run.

Third, you're ready! And look back on how far you've come. Go read some of your earlier posts.

Sorry you didn't win the award, but you're a winner in my book!

Lora said...

My thinking is that you've done real well in preparing for this race. Another long run? I don't think so...not with 2 wks to go.

Time to taper...but most of all..time to get real excited and BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!! Do you realize how much of this is mental from here on in?? So put that positive feeling out there.

And don't forget to treat yourself to a wonderful massage afterwards! You deserve it!