|Pace Tattoo Targets a 3:40 for RnR Arizona 2009|
And-- I felt entitled. I felt like I had done the training, I was in good shape, and therefore I deserved a specific time. If something went wrong on race day then I would feel like a huge injustice was done to me.
After the Bob Potts marathon in May of 2010, when I ran a disappointing 3:53, I started to realize how unhealthy this obsession with time was. I was tired of putting so much stock in a marathon time. It was just making me feel awful.
Next up was the NYC marathon which I ran for fun with my husband, followed by the Memphis Marathon four weeks later, which wasn't a target race. It wasn't until the fall of 2011 that I gave the marathon another serious try. Knowing how unhealthy my time-based thoughts were, and being a black-and-white thinker, I went in the complete opposite direction. Time doesn't matter at all. This is about enjoying the race and having fun. I don't have a time goal. I don't care about my time. I'm not stressed! I'm totally cool.
Lies, of course. And they will always be lies. Deep down, I didn't truly buy into that, and so I stressed about the race, didn't sleep well and wound up bonking shortly after the halfway point. Once again, I was making rules for myself about how stressed I was allowed to be. Rules about how I couldn't focus on pace or time. I definitely had made progress from 2010, but the absolutes were still there. I was lying to myself which made it even harder because I had to deny that my time mattered at all.
This left me wondering, so now what? I don't want to be obsessive about a time goal, but I don't want to lie to myself and say it doesn't matter.
I started to think about why it did matter so much to me for so long. For years, I would often ask myself why I cared so much about getting a specific time. And the answer was always "I just do!" When I really thought about it, I saw my marathon time is the validation of all my hard work. "Prove" that I was as fast and as capable of a runner as I believed myself to be. But at the same time, I knew I was working hard, so why the need for validation?
Looking back, I think it was insecurity. I needed that marathon time to proof to myself that I was capable. I also needed for everyone else to know that I was capable. I used to do the same thing with my weight. I needed the scale to read out a particular number to validate that I was thin. That I was "good" at being in control of my eating. And of course that's not a healthy attitude!
Back to my original question: what does time mean to me now? And what do I think it should mean to me? The second question is easier. I do consider myself an athlete and I am a competitive person by nature. I don't want to change who I am, so I think time should matter to some extent. I think I should set my sights on some kind of target range (as opposed to an exact time) and then on race day, focus more about the strategy/execution than that ultimate goal.
What does it mean to me now? And do I have a goal for my marathon in two weeks? I don't really know what time means to me now. Still thinking about that one. Maybe the answer is simply "it doesn't mean as much as before." I don't think I need it to validate that I've been working hard. I've had some fantastic workouts so I know that my fitness is solid. I haven't given much thought to my marathon time during this whole cycle, so I guess that's a step in the right direction. I also realized that I don't know how the paces line up with the times. I haven't spent any time on the pace calculator trying to correlate specific paces with finish times. Now that they've lowered the BQ standard, I actually don't know the specific pace of a BQ.
Why haven't I looked? Because it doesn't really matter based on what I am trying to do time-wise. I think I can run an average pace of anywhere from 8:00-8:20 so I'll start slower than 8:20, run conservatively the first half and then see how I feel. Our coach has a pace chart for workouts and I have been using the 3:30 paces as a guideline. I've never not been able to hit them, but at the same time, I don't expect a 20+ minute PR.
|2008 Shamrock Marathon-- A Success!|
My first seven marathons were all huge successes, so I know I'm capable of a strong marathon performance. I just need to make my marathon time less of a priority and my relationship with myself more of a priority.
I don't expect extreme taper madness this time, but it's definitely okay to get a little nervous and anxious. I think most marathoners get that way! I don't feel entitled to anything-- especially given my low-mileage approach. I am fully aware that anything can happen on race day, and I am prepared for whatever the day may bring. I just want to be okay. No matter what time I get, I want to be able to fall asleep the night after my marathon at peace with myself.