I remember when I was in college.
When you had a bad race it seemed like the end of the world.
You felt like that race would be with you for that race for the rest of your life. You could barely wait to prove yourself the next weekend in your next race.
But once you step up into the world of marathons, you don’t get to race very often, and you have to choose your battles wisely.
You spend months training for that one race. Dedicating your life to that few hours that you think could change your life.
Although in reality, it doesn’t change anything about who you are, and as Jared Ward and I talked about last week, even after the biggest of dreams, you still wake up the same person you were before.
But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t important to us.
We spend hours thinking about our goals. Pushing through pain, all to be ready at the right moment.
You don’t want to undertrained and not be fit for the race.
You don’t want to overtrain and end up burned out.
You don’t want to push your body too far and end up injured.
It is tough to get it right.
Thankfully, my husband/coach is very good at peaking runners for the right time.
That part I am not concerned with, I KNOW I am fit.
But on Thursday, I had an experience that I could sense was a defining moment. A moment where I could let all my hard work go to waste, or I could trust in the plan and focus ahead.
Last week I raced in the Thanksgiving Day Race in Cincinnati, and although I wasn’t expecting to run a new PR, I thought I would run fast or at least feel strong.
In my head, I envisioned having a great race.
Running conservative the first half. Cranking down the second half. Breaking the race tape feeling strong and confident.
Bring in on CIM. I am READY to race!
But I pretty much ended up with the opposite result.
I didn’t feel great the first half. I slowed down the second half. And I finished 40 seconds behind the leader, feeling deflated when I saw the time I ran (although the winner is a 15:50 5k girl I have come to find out, which helped a little!).
I averaged 5:44 pace for a 10k race, which I know is not exactly a disaster, especially on a hilly course, but it was more that in a weeks time, I am hoping my body will cover 26.2 miles just a few seconds slower per mile.
Now, I am not gonna lie, the panic attack of last year was definitely in my mind. I worried about it for a good chunk of the race, and I would say that was somewhat part of the problem, that I just could not let that go and accept that it was a fluke.
But I also struggled with most of my runs the last week. I felt tired and heavy, but racing hard has always been something I have prided myself on, but during this race, I was just going through the motions.
The best word to describe how I felt?
Not exactly the kind of mindset you want to have a week out from your marathon.
I know I am fit, I just ran 1:13 for a half marathon (5:37 pace) a few weeks ago, but that doesn’t stop the mind playing tricks.
I had a mini workout to do after the race, and I could barely manage to run marathon race pace.
Of course your mind goes wild:
I am overtrained.
I can’t do this.
I don’t want to do this.
Why do I even bother?
How can my body possibly be ready to FINISH 26.2 miles, let alone race it?
But it is during these moments we HAVE to reign ourselves in.
Even when you cannot see the way.
With just a few days to go, you feel like the path to the finish should be clear, you should be able to see how you will get there after all these months of trusting in the process.
Yet we can’t.
We don’t know how we will get there, and with a marathon, we don’t even know that we will.
We never know how the race will unfold.
All we do know is that we will make it to the finish line, you have to believe that you will make your goal, you will be there at the finish smiling, and just with the rest of training, you just have to trust that the path will unfold the way it was always meant to.
You are ready, and feeling sluggish at this point is just proving that your body is storing up, preparing for flight mode.
And that is what you are going to do; fly.
I am fearful of the race, but that is how I usually feel before. Most people try to push those feelings deep down inside, not willing to show weakness, but it is okay to show that you are scared, to admit that this means a lot to you.
But that will help me to stay in the right mindset that this is not going to be easy.
Part of the problem with this race was that I was thinking it was only a 10k. That I only had to run hard the last few miles. That I only needed to keep the intensity at an 8/10 (as opposed to a balls to the wall effort).
As I started my cool down, a huge part of me started to doubt, started to question, started to freak out.
But that was a defining moment.
Now is when I need to stay strong.
Even when every run feels tiring. Where 9 miles easy seems so much harder than it should.
Now is the time to trust in my husband, trust in Evie, trust in Drew, trust in everyone else around me who believes in me.
They (you) have all put in hours to prepare my body and mind.
Most of all, I need to trust in myself.
I am tapering. I am stale. I am….well….blah.
But my body will be ready on race day.
Whether my mind is ready, that is what this moment defines.
Am I going to let it mess with my head, or am I going to believe in myself, just like I tell you?
I am still me, and on Monday the 5th December, I still will be.
But I have come too far to give up now.
As I always say, all I can do is my best, and that is what I plan to do.
Bad race before your marathon? Are you needing some mental pick me ups? Try out my Mental Training Podcast Series with 5+ hours of content as well as a mental training guide for runners.