Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Hearty Appetite for What's On The Menu

One week from today, I will be running a marathon.  I have one goal for it: take whatever is available.

It used to be that the main thing I wanted out of racing was PRs. And then I realized I was selling myself short and missing out on a whole lot of wonderful things- simply because I wasn't looking for them and seeing that they were there for me. Here is a list of possible "menu items" for next Saturday, in no particular order:
  • Enjoyment of running a low-key race
  • Development and experience as a runner
  • Finishing the race
  • Having a strong finish
  • Pride in knowing that I ran my best race possible for that day
  • Feeling loved and supported by Greg who will be at several places on the course
  • Learning what works and what doesn't work, so I can refine my process
  • "Testing" where my physical and mental training have landed me so far
  • Camaraderie with other runners
  • PR
  • BQ
  • Excitement
  • Feeling of "solace" without much crowd support and very few other runners
  • That feeling of pushing through physical discomfort and enduring it until the end of the race
  • Checking a new state off of my marathon list (I'm not going for all 50, but would like to do a lot of states)
  • Getting into a "groove" in the early miles and finding a rhythm
What's going to be available? I don't know. But I fully intend to take as much as possible from what's on the menu next weekend! That's my only goal. I probably won't get all of these things, but I will definitely get most of them as long as I am looking for them. I don't want to miss out. Yes, I would love a new marathon PR, but that's just one thing on a very long list. 

I'm not going soft. I'm not lowering the bar. I will run this race to the best of my ability in whatever the circumstances may be. In fact, that's bullet number 4. It's just that I am really broadening my horizons on what I can get out of the event. 

Don't Over Think It!
Many people would say that somebody who is anxiety-prone like me shouldn't be over-thinking the marathon in this way and that I shouldn't think about it until race day. That approach didn't work for me last year when I tried it, so I'm not going to try it again. Avoidance is not a strategy to deal with anxiety-- instead, you have to think about things in a way that gives you assurance and confidence that you will be able to handle them.

Keeping in mind that my goal is to get as many bullet points that are available (I know that these are not all within my control) I know I will succeed. I think that a lot of my previous anxiety stemmed from not knowing how the race was going to play out. Was I going to bonk? Would I meet my goal time? What would my splits look like? 

Now I realize that: A) I can actually predict most of what will happen  B) For the things that I can't predict, I know how I will handle them, and that's actually what makes racing so exciting.

I can predict most of what will happen. I'll have a pretty good idea of what the weather will be a few days out. I know everything I'm going to do on race morning before the race starts. I know what the course is like-- I've studied the map. I know what pace I will start at and that I will evaluate that pace at the 10K mark to see if I should maintain it or speed up. I know that I will see Greg along the course and I know when I will take my gels. I know that at some point the race will start to feel hard and I will need to continue to push through it. I know that barring any stomach issues or injuries, I will finish the race. 

There are a few things I can't predict. I don't know how I will feel and at what point the race will start to get tough. I don't know if I will have stomach issues. I can't predict what my splits will be or what my finish time will be.  But these unknowns are okay! If I do have stomach issues or if the race starts to feel hard early on, I will deal with it. If I could predict my splits and if I did know my exact finish time in advance, well then-- where's the excitement of actually racing?

Other Thoughts
  • I trained so that I would be physically prepared to run this race. If I struggle during this marathon, it doesn't diminish my hard work-- my training will serve me well at future races this spring.
  • It's been 5 years since I've had a strong marathon finish, but I don't feel like I am "due". It will happen when it's meant to happen. And it hasn't happened within the past 5 years for a reason
  • A marathon time goal is far less significant than all the other goals I am working on this year. I'm working on overhauling a perfectionist mindset that I've had my entire life. Showing progress in that area is far more meaningful to me than a time. 
  • I have a great deal of evidence to show that I can be happy, proud, and satisfied when a race doesn't go as well as I would have liked. The Love Rox half marathon is perhaps the best example of that.
  • I also have evidence that focusing on doing my best will make me feel physically and mentally strong during a race.
I feel ready for this marathon. I've been sleeping well, feeling strong, and staying focused on "taking what's available" next Saturday.


  1. Great attitude Elizabeth! Good luck next weekend! I look forward to hearing about it. :-)

  2. SO much of this post that I relate to! Thank you for writing it. It's definitely the way to approach races and one I need to learn from. I hope next Saturday is everything you want it to be and congrats on training so hard :)

  3. Girl, you're so ready for a fantastic race, I KNOW IT!! You've had such a good start to the year, you're going into it with a great attitude. Promise me one thing, don't think about US(blog people) when you're running. Think about YOU and how happy you are.

  4. Hi Elizabeth! I know you can - you know you can. You're training has been stellar! You are soooo awesome and you deserve this, just go out and run - like no one is watching - it's your day!